When the Minister Goes Forward…

When the Minister Goes Forward…

Scrolling through my Facebook feed this past week, I noticed one of my minister friends had gone forward and asked the congregation to pray for him as he struggles in life. There is no need to mention his name, nor his struggle. All that is necessary is to ask that you pray for him and his family.

As a minister, I have found myself in the same position from time to time. A few weeks ago, I stood in front of the congregation, my spiritual family, after my own lesson and asked them to pray for me. There are things that I struggle with constantly and I need the prayers of my righteous, congregational family. To stand before a congregation you have just spoken to and request their prayers is a humbling, pride swallowing and can be a terrifying experience.

For a minister, someone who is supposed to be one of the most holy people around, to acknowledge sins, faults, struggles and to request prayers can be viewed differently by many people.

Consider the “Minister Perception…”

Quick, when you heard that a minister went forward, what was your first thought? Was it, “Oh no, this must be BIG.” Maybe it was, “Well, another preacher has fallen.” Or maybe you started to pray for him even before he started talking. How did you respond to his response?

For the world, when they hear that a minister has asked for prayers, the likes of Jim Bakker come to mind from the 80’s. The drastic fall of television preachers has brought many views to minds that are not reality. Over the past year there are many megachurch preachers who have fallen because of deceit, alcohol and personal issues. Each of these men has struggled in a particular area or area in which many people constantly struggle. Just because a man is a minster does not mean his problems start; it might mean Satan tries harder to accelerate the battle against him.

The perception that a minister is perfect is a stereotype which is unreal in the spiritual world. While ministers, strive to be perfect, no one can be perfect without Christ and no one will fit the image of perfection while walking on this ball of dirt we call Earth. Life is filled with struggles, frustrations and difficulties; even for the minister.

There is a perception regarding ministers, that they are perfect and without sin. A “perfect minister” perception is completely wrong. This idea of constant perfection is overwhelming and frightening. Many times ministers will not go forward because they do not want people to think “less of them.” They believe if they ask for prayers it shows weakness and weakness for a minister means you are not doing your job. Ministers, after all, are to be the if not one of the strongest people in the congregation. They are not supposed to struggle, have personal issues or even sin. This stereotype of ministers is just…well, wrong.

When you think of a minister it brings a stereotype of not doing wrong, having done wrong or even struggle. The fact is, ministers struggle. We struggle in the same area as members. Why? Because ministers are human. Ministers are human just like the people of the Bible.

Consider the Old Testament Priests…

In the Old Testament, the Levities were to offer sacrifices for their own sins before they offered sacrifices for the people (Hebrews 7.27), this was something that Jesus did not need to do because He was sinless (Hebrews 4.15). The instructions for the sin offering also included a stipulation when the priest sinned (Leviticus 4.3ff). The Levites were people just like you and I. Even though their status was one of a priest, they were still men with desires that could lead to sin. (See Leviticus 10.1,2)

A quick read of Leviticus 4, the discussion of the sin offering under the Old Law, will lead one to read these words, “When a leader sins…” The implication is that even the leaders of the nation of Israel were men who would fall short (sin) during their life. Why do leaders sin? Simple, they are human with human desires. God’s words tell us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23)

Even the Old Testament priests, in their constant working to assist the people in staying true to God faltered. To think of what it must have been like to deal with millions of people and their faults, sins and personal problems, must have been overwhelming.

Consider the New Testament Preachers…

Already, you have thought of Peter. You know Peter, he is the one who’s mouth is shaped like his foot. I wonder if every time Peter stood to speak the rest of the apostles got nervous. Whether you like Peter or not, you must acknowledge his zeal for the life of following Christ. It was Peter to which Christ said, “Get behind me Satan…” (Matthew 16.23). Jesus calls Peter, “Satan” right after Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God; what many call the Good Confession. Peter sinned.

Remember when the rooster crowed? The moment the rooster crowed, the Lord turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22.61). Peter went out and wept because the words of Jesus were true…Peter did deny Christ. In fact, Peter’s denial of Christ was not just in words, but also in actions. When Peter was recognized as having been with Christ, he quickly denied the allegations by saying, “Woman I do not know Him.” (Luke 22.57). A few moments later, Peter denied Christ again by saying, “Man, I am not” after he was called out for being one of the followers of Christ (Luke 22.58).

The last denial of Christ from Peter was not just seen in his words, but his attitude. When recognized as being one of the followers of Christ and even his accent giving him away, Peter says, “I do not know the man.” (Matthew 26.74) Before saying those final words, Matthew records Peter invoked a curse upon himself and even began to swear. (Matthew 26.74)

Some believe the words “invoke a curse” can mean that Peter was calling upon God to strike Him if he was lying. Others believe the words mean,

“…but he cursed himself; “he began to imprecate himself”, as the Arabic version renders it; he made dreadful imprecations and wishes; wished that all the miseries and calamities he could think of might fall upon him, if he was one of the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, or knew anything of him…” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible; Dr. John Gill (1690-1771); E-Sword Electronic Edition)

“Then began he to curse and to swear (tote ērxato katathematizein kai omnuein). He repeated his denial with the addition of profanity to prove that he was telling the truth instead of the lie that they all knew. His repeated denials gave him away still more, for he could not pronounce the Judean gutterals. He called down on himself (katathematizein) imprecations in his desperate irritation and loss of self-control at his exposure.” (A. T. Robertson; Word Pictures in the New Testament; E-Sword Electronic Edition)

“To curse (καταθεματίζειν) A new development of profanity. Hitherto he had merely sworn. Now he adds imprecation; invoking curses on himself if the case be not as he says.” (Vincent Word Studies; Marvin R. Vincent., D. D.; E-Sword Electronic Edition)

Peter, when pressed on the issue of knowing Christ, during a turbulent cultural time and being directly question, faltered. He messed up. He lied. He spoke against Christ. He failed. He sinned. It would later be the same man who stands on the Day of Pentecost and proclaims before the audience a risen Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Peter sinned as Christ was being tried, but he overcame the sin to proclaim Christ as risen Lord.

Later in Peter’s life he faltered again. This time he faltered on a cultural elevation of status among the brothers in Galatia. Peter chose to avoid certain men because of fear. Peter was scared. Even Paul acknowledges Peter’s fear when he says,

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” (Galatians 2:11-13 ESV)

Peter had a human desire to be liked and as a result, he had an influence on the people around him, including Barnabas. Earlier in the text, Paul mentions Peter’s name as a person who seemed to be a pillar (Galatians 2.9). Peter was a strong-willed person, but his human side was much like ours. Peter had his issues which hindered him spiritually just as ministers, and others, do today.

Even the strong men throughout the Bible messed up. They faltered. They fell short. They sinned.

Why?

Because they are human. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2.16) are from the world and they are current struggles with many today; whether ministers or members. Paul struggled throughout his life as he says in 1 Corinthians 9.27,

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Paul knew the struggles and knew what it was like to be in the world, persecuting Christians and then to stand before them and proclaim the risen Lord. Paul knew his weaknesses and his strengths, but Paul still struggled. He even struggled with the continual thought of being the chief of sinners. (1 Timothy 1.15)

How Does a Congregation Respond When the Minister Goes Forward?

If your minister comes forward, he does so because he trusts you. Over my short time in ministry, I have seen a handful of ministers go forward and ask for the prayers of the congregation. The perceptions to be a perfect minister are a great, but they need to know what no matter the issue, you have their back.

First, remember your minister is not Jesus. He is not perfect; he is a man trying to live the same life as you live and make it to heaven. The same struggles you have are the same struggles he has weekly, monthly and yearly. He is trying. He is not lording his perfection over you, but he is trying to help you. As he helps you, he will need help himself. Why? Because he is human.

Second, remember he is part of your family; he is not an employee. Just because he is supported as a minister does not mean he is to be treated like an employee; he is a brother in Christ and should be treated as such. God wants those who are spiritual to bear the burdens of those who are week (Romans 15.1,2) and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6.1,2). God wants use to depend on one another as the body depends on itself (1 Corinthians 12.12-34)

Third, pray for him. Our society is one where words can be mentioned but no actions are done. It is easy to say the words, “We will pray for you” but it is another thing to do it. Spend time praying for him. As with anyone responding, pray for them immediately, then pray for them continually.

Fourth, realize he is forgiven. If he has brought his struggles, faults and sins before you, God has already forgiven him. He needs you to forgive him as well. He needs your forgiveness as a “regular member” needs your forgiveness. The forgiveness shown to a minister is sometimes different and it need not be. He is a leader, he is a servant and he has been forgiven, just as you have. If we bring our sins to God, He forgives us (1 John 1.9).

Fifth, support him. He has brought a need before his spiritual family, because they are his spiritual family. He could have easily moved on to a different location, but he needs you to support him. He needs your love, your care and your concern for his life and his work.

Sixth, keep checking up on him. As ministers know, there are things we know and burdens we help bear that we will take to our grave and no one will ever know. There are things shared in confidence and people helped that many people never realize. Ministers need your continual prayers.

A Side Note for Ministers…

It is ok to respond and many times we need to ask for prayers. As we have shed tears over others responses, we need to shed tears for our own. We need to humble ourselves. Leadership is not about being perfect; it is about being real.

Stop holding yourself to the perfect model of a preacher and beating yourself up when you fail. Ministers are their own worst critics and they need to realize the same forgiving, loving and merciful God they proclaim to others is the same God who has given His Son to save their lives as well. The same forgiveness God offers to members is the same forgiveness God offers to ministers.

Final Thoughts…

The scene played out like a Hollywood movie, but this was real. A woman stood with no friends but enemies. Those around her waited for the signal to bring down her punishment with crushing blows. The leaders were proclaiming her guilt by proclaiming only half of the truth. They had examined and judged her sin without considering the harshness of their own. Her name is one no one will ever know, but her account is one we all remember.

Jesus bent over and wrote on the ground. Head down, finger in the dirt and almost acting as if they were not there. Slowly he rises to his feet and speaks.

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

After speaking, Jesus bends down and writes on the ground again. What he writes, like the woman’s name, will never be known.

As the hate filled, punishing ready accusers heard the words, they walked away. From the oldest to the youngest, they turned from Jesus, and the woman, and they walked away. They were not ready to help; they were there to hurt. Their own anger had callused their hearts to the truth, the whole truth.

The law called for both parties to be brought (Deuteronomy 22.22) but they only brought one. They wanted to hate someone, but Jesus wanted them to realize their imperfection of judgement. The scribes and Pharisees were after personal glory, not the glory of God.

When someone brings to use their sins, are you ready to punish or are you ready to serve?

Let us, as a saved people, seek to save others through the message of a loving, merciful God who first loved us.

Just some thoughts,

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A Facebook Favor

A Facebook Favor

Another day, another stolen Facebook identity.

Friends, lock down your Facebook.

The world of identity theft is growing rapidly, because people are trying to find easier and more efficient ways to become a criminal. There are those who sit at home and do nothing more than find ways to hack someone’s account. (I say bring back tar and feathering for these people, but that is another topic).

Recently, after a large number of people having their Facebook accounts hacked, I decided to lock down my Facebook account as much as possible to prevent craziness from effecting my friends. Doing caused a brief moment of frustration because sharing my posts became a problem because they were “private.” While this caused some delay, it brought a greater sense of security. Then it happened…another friend request from an already friended friend.

Friends, I encourage you to lock down your Facebook. Spend time looking at your security settings so you are not allowing or even opening the door to have your account hacked. Use common sense when adding people to your friends list. A rule I use is to not add friends for a week once I have received the request. This gives me time to think about whether or not they are a friend or a number on a list.

Regarding Facebook Messenger, some messages of people you are not friends with fall into the Message Request category. When I go through the message request category, I am very cautious on what I read or even open. Normally, I clear them out. Be wary about clicking links in Messenger, or any links, because you never know where you will end up.

As you seek greater security for your Facebook account, remember to do the same for your spouse and your children. Share this article with others and let them know you want them to be safe as well.

There are some links and information below to consider regarding Facebook and Security.

Consider reading this short article and making changes – How Do Facebook Hacks Lead to Identity Theft (ITRC)

A few resources to read:

Just some thoughts,

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Review: Psalm 23 Pamphlet by Rose Publishing

Review: Psalm 23 Pamphlet by Rose Publishing

Today, another section of the website makes its debut –  a “Review” section. This section will consist of reviews on a variety of products: books, food, and many other things which make their way across my desk.

The review today is for a pamphlet from Rose Publishing on Psalm 23.

(Full disclosure: I received a free PDF copy of the brochure for providing a review. However, receiving a copy will not effect the review.)

Before reviewing this pamphlet, let me mention a few things about Rose Publishing. I first ran across this company while researching for an upcoming sermon years ago. While I cannot remember the first chart I received from Rose Publishing, I will say that over the years I have been privileged to enjoy many of their Bible echarts for free because I signed-up in their mailing list. You can do that as well by going here: http://www.rose-publishing.com/

Now, onto the review…

psalm-23

While Psalm 23 is the most beloved psalm, it is also one that many take for granted. There is a powerful story behind the psalm and it is only magnified when one becomes a greater student of the language and culture. The Psalm 23 pamphlet by Rose Publishing allows the reader to understand the language as well as the cultural context of the time of its writing. Admittedly, many of us are unfamiliar with the what a shepherd does except for watching sheep. This pamphlet provides tidbits of information relating to the responsibilities of a shepherd through out the text. Further, the pamphlet gives an overview of the nature of sheep. Since the shepherd-sheep relationship is a key component to Scripture (and to Christian Living) it is vital to understanding the cultural background of the Psalmist.

The format of the pamphlet is well put together for reading and study. The verses are broken down into three sections: Meaning, Application and Related Passages. The Meaning section gives a brief overview of the verse while the Application sections give a few more insights before providing questions. The questions are designed to challenge your thinking by reflecting on the passage as well as your current spiritual condition. The Related Passage section will give you verses for further study.

Visually, the pamphlet is eye catching. There are materials on the market that are very dull in color and you would walk by, but not with this one. The colors, along with the pictures and the color charts, provide a pleasant experience to the eyes. All of this makes for a great reading experience.

Throughout the pamphlet there are charts, lists and tidbits of information to assist you in understanding the various key points of the Psalm along with other related terms in scripture. A good example is Psalm 23.4 where the phrase “Your rod and staff, they comfort me” occurs. In this section, a chart is provided mentioning the various rods and staffs in the Bible. Charts like that one on “Rods and staffs” are helpful for further study and Bible knowledge.

Having read through the pamphlet several times, I feel this would be a great pamphlet for a variety of settings: small group study, a large group study and even a personal study. Due to the usefulness of the material, it would also be a great way to study with someone since most people are familiar with Psalm 23.

You can find out more about the pamphlet here: http://www.rose-publishing.com/Psalm-23-Pamphlet-P400.aspx

Just my thoughts,

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Review Opportunities:

If you are interested in having your product reviewed, you can send an email by using the form below and I will reply within 24 hours.

20 Minute Habits (Podcast Episode #2)

20 Minute Habits (Podcast Episode #2)

Download the Podcast MP3 here.

Welcome to episode #2 of the podcast.

This episode is a little over 20 minutes, just barely, but the information can help you develop 20 minute daily habits to assist you in personal growth.  20 minutes can give you the edge you need. Just 1,200 seconds and provide you the edge you need to conquer a new area of life. 20 minutes one time may not change your future, but it can. In fact, 20 minutes every day can begin to plant a seed for further growth later in life.

Here are a few of my 20 minute tools:

New Language:

  • Duolingo – Duolingo is the app I use to study Spanish. It is a simple and rewarding way to spend about 20 minutes a day learning a new language.
  • Sign Language – Soon I am going to start learning sign language but I have not found the best training system yet. If you know of one, let me know.

 

Audio Podcasts:

  • Player FM Podcast Player – Player FM gives me the features I need in a simple way. Easily download podcasts, auto-delete feature to delete them after you listen to them and more.
  • ****My Current podcast List – Here is a link to my current podcast list. You can download it and import it into your podcast player.
    • **** The site I use is down (figures). I will update this with a link as soon as I get it.

 

Meditation / Thought Reset

  • Headspace – This app is free for the first ten episodes of guided meditation. Each guided meditation takes about ten minutes.
  • Accupuncture Back Mat – When not using headspace and just laying on the floor, I use this acupuncture backmat and listen to a few classical songs or other calming songs on Amazon MP3

 

Fitness

  • Push up Bars – Simple push up bars can make a difference in your training.
  • Hand Therapy – I use these in the car, at the office, and wherever else.

 

Spiritual Life

  • Prayer – Prayer is my one way verbal discussion with my Creator.
  • Reading – To be a “man of the book” you have to read the book.

 

New Hobby

  • Back to Guitar – It has been a while, but I am starting to get back to playing. I discovered several four chord guitar programs that I am looking to try. Here is one – Musopia; FourChords.
  • I also mentioned my brothers site, FreeandEasyGuitar.com
  • Ukelele – A crazy purchase got me to start this long process.

I hope you enjoyed the podcast and the links in the show notes. Stay tuned for some upcoming podcasts and more information.

Just some thoughts,

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Some 40 + Favorite Quotes

Some 40 + Favorite Quotes

As many of you know I am a quote hoarder. I have a collection of quotes scattered throughout my journal, planner, Evernote files and Onenote files. I am constantly looking and saving great quotes to stir my mind. A one line quote should be something that stirs our thinking. They are not to be a cure-all, but instead a few words to bring us out of our comfort zone and into a great sense of creativity.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes I have collected. If you would like the entire set of the quotes in a PDF document, you can click here to open and then print or download the PDF – Some of My Favorite Quotes

Some of My Favorite Quotes1 Some of My Favorite Quotes2 Some of My Favorite Quotes3 Some of My Favorite Quotes4 Some of My Favorite Quotes5 Some of My Favorite Quotes6 Some of My Favorite Quotes7 Some of My Favorite Quotes8 Some of My Favorite Quotes9 Some of My Favorite Quotes10 Some of My Favorite Quotes11 Some of My Favorite Quotes12 Some of My Favorite Quotes13 Some of My Favorite Quotes14 Some of My Favorite Quotes15 Some of My Favorite Quotes16 Some of My Favorite Quotes17 Some of My Favorite Quotes18 Some of My Favorite Quotes19 Some of My Favorite Quotes20 Some of My Favorite Quotes21 Some of My Favorite Quotes22 Some of My Favorite Quotes23 Some of My Favorite Quotes24 Some of My Favorite Quotes25 Some of My Favorite Quotes26 Some of My Favorite Quotes27 Some of My Favorite Quotes28 Some of My Favorite Quotes29 Some of My Favorite Quotes30 Some of My Favorite Quotes31 Some of My Favorite Quotes32 Some of My Favorite Quotes33 Some of My Favorite Quotes34 Some of My Favorite Quotes35 Some of My Favorite Quotes36 Some of My Favorite Quotes37 Some of My Favorite Quotes38 Some of My Favorite Quotes39 Some of My Favorite Quotes40 Some of My Favorite Quotes41 Some of My Favorite Quotes42 Some of My Favorite Quotes43 Some of My Favorite Quotes44

If you have made it this far, you should get a prize. Thank you for taking a moment of your day to view the quotes. I hope they are able to benefit you as they have benefited me.

Just my thoughts,

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Thoughts in Your Inbox

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