What is the Pastor’s Real Calling?

real calling

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”           2 Timothy 2:24-26

I didn’t like it when God opened my eyes to this passage. Matter of fact, these verses are tough to swallow. However, they are the job description of ministry. If we are going to be pastors, then we have to believe that Paul’s final letter to his “son” in the faith is very important.

The “Lord’s servant” (pastor) must not quarrel, argue, or fight with the people. The pastor must be kind. Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t like being the nice guy. But, in order to “teach” instruct His people in the Word, they must know that we care.

Sadly, when our hearts get poisoned with battles we get resentful. We resent our people, calling, and then God Himself for calling us to ministry. When battles come, we must remain gentle. After all, loving shepherds never beat their sheep.

We are not the Holy Spirit. Our anger towards them, or if we ignore them that is not going to cause them to truly repent. Repentance is something only God can “grant.”

Wow! No amount of hard preaching or clever anecdotes will bring them back to the throne of grace.

The real kicker is this, they don’t know they are caught in the trap of the devil. Satan has taken argumentative, quarrelsome people, captive. They are doing the will of the enemy and don’t even know it.

If we act in the flesh or act like the devil, they may never come back to the church or God. Our call is to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. Why? Finish the song. Jesus is merciful.

That’s it.

We are the ones that need to show mercy even if they attack us. We have to act like Jesus at His trial. He didn’t utter a word. Our glory is not His plan. His plan is for those blind to the enemy, to see Him.

It’s not easy, but that’s why He called you! 🙂

Keep Looking UP!

Pastor Rodney

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Are We Ashamed of the Blood?

the Cross

When was the last time you sang or Thought about the blood of Jesus?

Somewhere the blood has taken a back seat (or pew) and some churches shrink from singing about Jesus shed blood for us on the cross. Have we lost something? Have we forgotten that the cross of Christ and the blood of Christ are the essential elements in salvation?

The Bible tells us, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

The blood is critical to our justification and remembering that is crucial to our sanctification.

In Psalm 22:6 David calls himself a worm. Jesus is mentioned and even quotes part of Psalm 22:6 on the cross. The word David uses for worm is not the normal insect in the Greek. This word worm refers to a crimson worm. A crimson worm can be used for its red dye.

When a crimson worm is about to give birth, momma worm attaches herself to a tree. She becomes so attached she cannot be pulled off without dying. She also secrets a fluid that makes a hardened shell and the babies are born inside.

Once birth occurs the larvae begin to eat the shell. At the appropriate time, momma dies and bursts the crimson gel over all her babies. They and the tree are literally covered in her blood.

You and I are covered in the precious blood of Jesus on Calvary. Never be ashamed of singing (and shouting) about the blood of Jesus.

Revelation reminds us how we win, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).

Pastor Rodney

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Did You Quit Before Your Blessing?

Didn't Quit

At fifty-one, Dwight Eisenhower considered himself to be a failure with no future. One biographer said it this way, “He had given his life to the army. He was fifty-one years old; only the coming of war had saved him from a life of forced retirement and a life with no savings and but a small pension to live on.”

Could you imagine if General Eisenhower would have quit? What if he would have retired?

The biographer went on to say, “He had impressed every superior for whom he had worked, he had no accomplishments to his credit that he could point to with pride for his grandchildren. Had he died in 1941, at an age when most great men have their monumental assignments behind them, he would be completely unknown today.”

Little did General Eisenhower know that God had a much bigger plan for His life. That’s how God is…He is a BIG GOD. However, many people never come to that conclusion. Far too many people never see themselves as living in the plan of God.

Let me say, God, is not done with you. He wants what is best for you.

But too many today feel passed over, underappreciated, neglected, and cast aside. They don’t even know that they are operating in their own strength and living life their own way rather than God’s way.

We must come to this conclusion: We have to build a daily discipline into our lives to be ready for what God has for us and have a faith that is ready for the plan of God in our own lives.

Difficulties will come. Sin will stymie the plan. But the plan and purpose for our life are bigger than you or me.

What is God’s plan?

The Bible says, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV)

You have a gift that,“Builds up” the church. BUT you have to use it. You and I are being prepared for works of service.

Service. That’s a word not often used today. I am here to serve. We don’t say that in the world or even in the church.

Could that be why we have difficulty seeing God’s plan? We want to move up the ladder. Be the General before God has prepared us to lead the army.

He has a plan. In His time the plan will unfold. But we have to be ready.

Eisenhower was chosen to lead the Allied forces. He developed the plan we call D-Day. The plan was named “Operation OverLord.” It was originally planned for May but had to be pushed back until June because they didn’t have enough landing crafts.

But on June 6, 1944, “Operation OverLord” became a reality.

Maybe we are not ready for the operation? Maybe you and I have some things God is still working on?

Don’t quit, or retire. His plan, your D-Day will happen. Victory is assured.

Keep Looking Up! Heaven is Closer than you think. May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Faith and Obedience Must go Hand in Hand

We pray because prayer changes us.

I grew up in a home where we practiced prayer. I can recall visiting my grandparents and reciting this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest. And let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It was what we did. It was our family ritual. We said grace before our meals and before our bedtime.

However, I believe there is much more to prayer than what is sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” Over the years I have discovered that prayer is much more than making a list of demands to get what I want. It is much more than a therapy session. It is much more than asking God to perform, and then feeling disappointed when He doesn’t answer. I’ve learned over the years that there is more to prayer.

Prayer is not to get what I want out of God, prayer is to get what God wants inside of me.

Broadly speaking, prayer is “asking God to be glorified in the midst of our needs.” In the midst of our sin. In the midst of our difficult circumstances. In the midst of our good things; the things we are thankful for.

Prayer is opening up our lives to complete, utter dependence on an invisible God, acknowledging who He is and what He has done.

It is not limited to Sundays or a certain day of the week. It is not restricted to a schedule or timeline. It is not exclusive for pastors or elders. It is not limited to a memorized list of words.

Prayer is an act of surrendering our lives to God and being present to do His will. Anywhere. Any time. I’ve heard prayer described as “spoken faith.” It takes faith to pray. Otherwise, we are simply saying words blindly in the dark. We become no different than those who hopefully wish things will go their way. Without faith, we are no different than those who believe in the stars or good luck charms or genies in a bottle. Faith is what makes our prayers different from the prayers of other religions or do-gooders.  According to Mark 11:22, we have faith in God. God is the focal point of prayer. We pray so our will WILL align with God, our Heavenly Father. Faith is an essential ingredient. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

It is faith that propels our prayers.

Our faith grows as we begin to experience God. When we hear God speak, our faith takes root. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” But it doesn’t stop here…there is more to it than simply hearing the Word of God. There is a required response on our part. We must obey. Obedience is “faith in action.”

Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” What did Abraham do by faith? He obeyed. And we too must obey. We pray. We listen. We obey.

Why is prayer so necessary? Because the act of surrendering to God does not come easily or readily. Our flesh fights the will of God. We do not want to admit that we are broken, messy, needy people. There is a war raging inside of us bellowing loudly, “I’m good. I can figure life out on my own. I don’t need God.”

But it is through prayer that God is reproducing His heart in us. It is through prayer that we come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is. It is through prayer we realize that our dependence is on God and God alone.

We pray because prayer changes us.

Sue Allen

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And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/

What Do You Do in Galilee?

followers

“He departed to Galilee…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah…The people who sat is darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” Matthew 4:12-16

Here in Matthew 4:12-16, Jesus started His ministry. It was immediately after His baptism, and then the Bible tells us He began to preach. Jesus ministry began in Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum.

Very often the call of God is moving from a place we know into the unknown. It’s a shove of our faith to launch out into the unexpected. Maybe God is moving you from a safe place to a stretch place?

Are you ready?

Whatever the season of life we all start out in Galilee. It’s the first place of ministry. We may not feel prepared but for that place we are. You may not be a polished pastor, a gifted speaker, or a well-worn writer but Galilee is calling you.

Like Jesus, we must go because those folks who are there are either lost (“darkness”) or in the “shadow of death” (maybe of hope) and a new light must dawn. We are the ones who should bring the light of Christ to every ministry God calls us to.

Our text says the people “have seen a great light.” When Saul (Paul) was called, that’s exactly what He saw. However, it’s a humbling call. Paul would later write some of the most beautiful words on God’s call in the Bible:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

He tells them all I know is Jesus, the Great Light. Then Paul says, I was weak, scared, and didn’t have the right words. Been there?

When God calls us to Galilee, Corinth, or the Church in the Wildwood, we just give them Jesus. In our speech, spirit, and especially in our actions. When Jesus is all we know, then the people will see His light in us.

Are you in Galilee?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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God Will Not Fail You or Forsake You

Throne

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’” Psalm 2:4-6

God is on the throne. Terrorism is not the first war He’s seen! It’s not the first time that nations have rebelled against Him. God says, “You have plans to stop My purposes? You take your stand against Me? That’s funny!”

He judges nations. How? Biblical history teaches that God judges nations through other nations. He judged the wickedness of the Canaanites by sending the Israelites to take the Promised Land.

Later, He judged the wickedness of the Israelites by sending Babylon to carry them to captivity. God judges’ nations through nations.

There God sits as Judge over all the world. He’s perfectly aware that all His purposes and plans, despite all opposition, will be accomplished. Psalm 29:10 says, “He sits as King forever.”

All the uproar in the nations doesn’t threaten His plan.

“Behold, they [the nations] belch forth with their mouth; swords are in their lips, for they say, “Who hears?” But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.” Psalm 59:7-8

God sits and laughs! With all earth in rebellion, God remains seated. He has set in process a plan that cannot fail. While there is wildness on the earth, there is wonderful calm in heaven. But even though God sits, He is not a distant, silent, unconcerned spectator.

After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

We must remember that. The God of all the earth is on our side. The whole world may come against us, but the King of the universe is in our corner.

He will not fail you or forsake you. God Himself, rules and reigns and there is no one who can stop His plan for this world or your life.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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4 Facts of Forgiveness

forgiveness

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 

A survey was made of 200 married adults regarding forgiveness: The researchers were wondering how one’s ability to forgive others would affect their marital satisfaction and personal well-being. The results were incredible!

This research suggests that there is a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. In fact, it appears that as much as one-third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness.

Not only does the ability to forgive impact the marriage relationship, it was significantly related to personal emotional distress. As forgiveness ability went up, individuals reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue!

Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

But what does this mean?

It doesn’t mean God won’t forgive our sin if we can’t forgive others. It means we won’t be able to accept God’s forgiveness for ourselves. We won’t feel forgiven by God because we have a hard time forgiving others.

There are many in our world who struggle with the reality of forgiveness. They have been victims of all types of abuse and trauma. People who have been lied to and lied about. So let’s clear up some misconceptions about biblical forgiveness.

By stating 4 Facts:

1. When we forgive a person, this does not mean we are instantly over it.

It’s not just all over. Forgiveness takes time and it may take years. Just because we say,
“I forgive you” doesn’t mean we feel it right away. It will be difficult, especially in areas of abuse.

2. When you forgive a person, this does not mean you have to be their friend again.

You won’t be best friends after an apology it depends on how deep the hurt and the length of hard feelings. The severity and the length of the hurt is important.
3. When we forgive a person, this does not mean that we trust them, yet.

Trust is something that will take time—it’s earned. And again it depends on how long the hard feelings and severity of the wound.

There is nothing biblically based that says we have to trust them again.

4. When we forgive a person, we are not avoiding the pain we are opening the door to healing.

Choosing to forgive, and it is a choice, starts releasing the person from our justice to God’s justice. GOD is much better and making a person miserable than we are. Give it to God.

Forgiveness is an ACT of FAITH.

Richard Rohr said, ”If you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it.”

OR Hurting people Hurt people.

Giving it to God means I won’t transmit my hurt to someone else specifically—my new relationships. This isn’t easy BUT when we forgive we take the journey at the pace we are able to handle…the deeper the hurt, the longer the journey.

But as a Christian, because we have been forgiven, we should have a deep desire to forgive others. At times forgiveness is very difficult. But trust God. Accept the apology and give it when needed.

Pastor Rodney

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1. Peter J. Larson, New Forgiveness Research Jan 27, 2003

The Role of a Christian Woman in Leadership

leadership

Leadership starts with a purpose, not a plan. The leader is driven by beliefs that lead to action. The leader develops the capacity to think in convictional terms and leads followers to do the same. The leader draws followers into a story that frames all of life. A leader shapes the worldview of follows.

Passionate leaders driven by purpose beliefs draw passionate followers. Leadership begins when you learn to think like a leader. Leadership is not achieved until followers begin to think as well. The effective leader is the master teacher within a learning organization.

Character, communication, stewardship, and endurance are all important aspects of leadership. Not all managers are leaders but all leaders are managers.

Leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. Character is, in fact, the only secure foundation of leadership itself —any form of leadership.

Character is contagious.

Being a leader that communicates clearly and well is also important. Leaders must all endure and be good stewards of the position they have been given. 2 Timothy 1:12b says, “He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me.”

Leadership is influence. A leader is someone who leads a group of people towards a specific vision or goal. We lead because we are possessed by deep beliefs that mature into convictions.

Our leadership consists of developing these convictions in others who will then act together in the service of those beliefs, motivated to common action in the mission of sharing those convictions and living them out before watching the world.

James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

The roles of women change due to age, marital status, motherhood, life experiences, and cultural influences. The roles of women in ministry are vast and consist of more than one responsibility. The roles of women in ministry are wide-ranging because ministry, in general, is very wide-ranging.

While the are specific “roles” of women in ministry may change, there are specific “principles” for the Christian woman in ministry to embrace that remain forever unchangeable. These principles cannot exist apart from a true relationship with Jesus Christ and a submissive and teachable spirit to obey.
Biblical principles for the Christian woman are:
1 A handmaiden and servant of the Lord
a Luke 1:26-38
2 A calling to be recklessly abandoned to all the Word of God commands
a Acts 17
3 A calling to go wherever He may lead you to go
a Matthew 28:19-20
4 A woman who spends time in prayer
a Luke 10:38-42
5 A woman who spends time in the Word
a Luke 10:38-41
6 A woman who has a teachable spirit
a Luke 7:36-50
7 A woman who obeys the Word
a Psalm 119:11
b Luke 21:1-3
8 A woman who is burdened for others
a John 4
9 A woman who ministers to others
a Luke 8:1-3
10 A woman who is discerning
a Esther
11 A woman who stands up for her convictions and keeps herself pure: above reproach
a Proverbs 31
12 A woman who is evangelizing the lost
a Matthew 28:1-10
13 A woman who is discipling others
a Luke 1:35-45
14 A woman who is actively being mentored by someone else
a Ruth
15 A woman who influences someone others can follow

These principles are descriptive of the inward nature of a woman walking in the right relationship with Christ. Regardless of your role in ministry, you are called to live lives that have the principles listed above.

These principles are not manufactured by self-effort but should be the fruits of a spiritually born-again woman. Leadership is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly especially Christian leadership. Leadership is the ability to have influence.

Will we have a positive, lasting influence for the sake of Christ? Are we going to lead others to Him or to ourselves? Understanding leadership and all it takes and entails is important. Let us lead as Christ did in all we do and say. May our leadership be a reflection of who He is and how He leads us.

Nikki Hogan

Visit Nikki @hogannikki.wordpress.com

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Is it Worth it?

worth

Many times, in our personal lives and in church we ask the question is it worth it?  Is this relationship worth it? Is this thing I’m buying worth the price? Is the diet and exercise I’m doing worth it? Let’s see what the Bible says:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:5-6

The principle of sowing and reaping tells us we get out of something what we put in. There must be hard work, a level of commitment or persistence to the goal in order to receive a feeling of reward in the end.

However, that’s not the day we live in. We want it now. We think that success should show on our first day on the job. We think showing up should be enough.

Much like church. Without commitment or a persistent focus on prayer can God bring revival to a church or community?

This is what King Hezekiah is writing about here in our text. He’s calling for the former glory of Israel to be restored. He’s NOT asking for a physical blessing of prosperity but a spiritual revival in the land.

The king is praying Lord send a great revival IN your people.

You’ll notice in v.1 he starts with praising God and then in v.2-3 he announces, “The Lord has done great things.”

It is God’s people praising Him for how good God is. When we think of this in the world today, isn’t that exactly what people need to see in us? We need to tell the world: We believe Jesus has done great things for us and let us show you by how we live.

But sometimes we give up. If you are a church member you may have at least thought about giving up on the church. If you are a pastor you may have thought about a job change.

What do we do? Remember the promise. Reaping brings joy.

It is true rejoicing only comes through tears of pain. But isn’t it worth it?

Keep Looking up! Heaven is closer than you think. May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Spiritual Fixed Mindset

People trapped in a fixed mindset believe God gifted some people and not others. www.liftupyourday.com

“Guess what?! I just got an email! The book I submitted is going to be published!”

“Hey! I have great news! I’ve just been asked to speak on a Christian women’s cruise to the Bahamas! I sail January 15th!”

 

Have you ever been jealous of a brother or sister in Christ?

I have too. When I’ve seen all the fabulous things others have accomplished, I have felt less. I used to think God wouldn’t use a person like me; He’d only use super Christians. You know, those people who got saved at three, baptized at four and went on their first mission trip at five. I was too messed up. Too broken. Too unlovely. I believed in Jesus, but I thought I could never change. Wrong.

What about you?

Do you think you’re too messed up, trapped in your addiction/codependent relationship/shopping habit/food problem/embarrassing sin to ever be transformed?  Do you think you will always be stuck right where you are, battling the same old stuff? Then you are suffering from a Spiritual Fixed Mindset.

Spiritual Fixed Mindset: a belief that basic qualities like intelligence, flaws, sin and talent are fixed traits, therefore a person can never change, grow or overcome challenges or sins. This is the way I was born, This is the way I am, are the mantras of people trapped in a spiritual fixed mindset.

People trapped in a fixed mindset believe God gifted some people and not others.

They spend their time documenting their failures and sins. They believe talent alone creates success—without effort. They believe there is something wrong with them that can never be fixed. They are stuck. People with a fixed spiritual mindset constantly try to prove their worth. They are very sensitive to criticism, always anxious and prone to self-doubt.

Spiritual Fixed Mindset is marked by:

  • negative self-talk
  • second guessing decisions (and third and fourth guessing)
  • focusing on self
  • seeing only failures and replaying them in living color over and over
  • condemning self
  • hiding gifts
  • keeping head down and playing it safe
  • walking by sight

The poster child for the fixed spiritual-mindset is the man with one talent.

A man was going on a journey and he left three servants money to invest while he was gone. Two servants used their master’s money wisely and the master entrusted them with more. When called to account for how he used his master’s money, the man who had received one talent answered,

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25: 14-21, 24-29

What did the One-Talent Servant do?

He was afraid, and he hid his gifts. He did not use them for the benefit of his master or anyone else. The One-Talent Servant was not punished because he tried and failed—but because he did not try. I believe pride was at the bottom of his failure to launch. He didn’t want to look bad in the eyes of the world. He was walking by sight and not by faith.

How about you (and me)? We’ve got gifts. We’ve got talent. We’ve got treasure. We’ve also got calling. Go forth. Make disciples. Tell everyone.

Whatever your gifts, serving, loving, mercy, cooking, cleaning, fixing, babysitting, acting, blogging, gaming, sewing, doing hair and make-up, fishing, hunting, turning a wrench, there is a need for it in your church/community/housing project/town. Get going!

You won’t find the will of God apart from the word of God. When I got serious about following Jesus, new giftings and interests seemed to pop up from nowhere, so did new opportunities.

Action Steps:

  1. Think: What do you love to do? Where is your passion? If it isn’t against God’s word, there is a way to use it for His kingdom.
  2. Pray: Ask God to show you how He wants you to use your gifts and to open doors for you.
  3. Start: Do something today to start using your gifts. Make a call, share your vision, take a class, or join a group.

Let me know your thoughts about Spiritual Fixed Mindset, how you plan to use your gifts and how I can pray for you, by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

God is good!

Mary Kane

Read more from Mary at: onlybyprayer.com