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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Dear Christian, Are You Thinking Clearly?

thinking right

We don’t always think like we should. Thinking right involves knowing the truth about ourselves and acting on it.

Especially today.

The climate of America is negative. Negative, critical people, flood social media and the Media in general. We are being told how to think.

When the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 8 He had already told us about salvation and being filled with the Spirit. He even explained our battle with sin in Romans 7.

But listen to what he writes near the end of Romans 8:

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:32-34

If I am going to think right about myself and others, then I need to see how God answers three critical questions:

1. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

God sent His Son Jesus Christ, delivered Him for us what would God ever hold back from us?

When you get the best Christmas present ever and realize you have all these other presents to open. Do you stop and say, “No thanks this is all I need?”

Of course not!

The giver (God) gave His Son (the best gift ever) first! Jesus is all we need but we get Jesus plus every other blessing!

2. Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?

God sent Jesus to do for us what we could not do. Because of Jesus death on the cross of Calvary the payment for sin, justification has been settled. Whenever the enemy tries to remind you of all your faults and failures just show him the Cross.

God is not keeping a record of sin against you believer. You have trusted Jesus and no one can charge you with wrong doing. Even your own mind!

3. Who is to condemn?

We allow the enemy and people to condemn us. We allow the enemy to put those condemning thoughts into our heads and get used like a sparring partner for Apollo Creed.

The truth is when the enemy or anyone, even ourselves, let condemnation words like: you failure, you loser, you’ll never win, I always blow it, whenever those thoughts come in, or get directed at others, we must understand we are not the ones who justify or condemn anybody.

God is for you. The Bible is clear on that. You can trust Him. Thinking right about God, others, and ourselves drives us in the right direction.

In a world filled with so much negative super stars we need to think clearly to shine. Tell the Good News of Jesus. You have already won!

Let’s start thinking about that!

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Courage in the Quiet: Sometimes A Brave Heart Waits

Courage in the Quiet: Sometimes A Brave Heart Waits

I waited patiently for the Lord… (Psalm 40:1)

Waiting can be much more difficult than walking. It requires patience. Not a very natural fruit of the spirit we’re born with. As babies, we cried until we were content. As children, we ignored the stop signs. In our adolescence, we found ways around the rules. And as a teen, we flat out rebelled against ‘no’. And now, here we are as adults. Now, we can buy our way through the delay.

Did you know that God has a purpose in ALL His delays? And the ‘stops’ too.

When we don’t rush the race, this steady walk provides a renewal of strength. We are empowered by our self-control in the stops. Edges are chiseled as we wait. The wait is growing endurance and perseverance below the surface. It is refining the steps in front of us. But so often we see standing still as failure and being forced into inaction – required to watch the tides of life as we stand on the shore.

It takes a fierce faith to submit to the will of God and give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others. To be quiet. Confident. And even rejoicing while the busyness rushes past you.

In a cloud of isolated quick thinking, our fleeting feelings are apt to react with coward logic when life isn’t moving. Poor decisions are made. Life-staking choices. We exchange God’s best for an offer of immediate gratification. Almost always, we regret it.

The winner’s circle is a quiet waiting. Stay still. Surrender your schedule. When the pressure in life hits your tender places and the reflex is to react, remember it requires more courage to stand still, wait and still not lose heart or hope.

Instead of running for relief, relax. Rest. Push through the crowded thoughts that are limiting time and self-defeating in light of your submission. Your words carry weight and create reality. Your words in your own mind, about yourself, circulate the truth. What truth are you telling yourself?

In the heat of pressure and resistance, reach into the vault of God’s Truth and align your thinking with the path of faith and perseverance.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

You are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:25)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

Be still. And know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Visualize yourself in the winner’s circle. You have the power of Jesus to create life or death with what you think about. Speak the right words into your situation. Push your thoughts around. Pray the burdens down. Get your faith and focus set on His strength. Nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26). He holds this world securely in His grip. His supernatural love surrounds us and can break through the heartache of letting go.

“There are seasons when being still is the hardest, most obedient thing we can do. God doesn’t require you to do everything. He does ask for your obedience.” — Christina Patterson, Daughters of Fire

Be still. Watch Him work. Waiting and keeping yourself steady, faithful in His leading is the secret of strength. Anything that does not align with obedience to His will is a waste of time and energy.

Sometimes the most effective thing we can do is to let go of the reins and trust Him. Do you trust God enough to just be still? It’s tempting to fill the stillness to distract us from the discomfort of feeling alone. Yet in the stillness is where we realize God is enough.

Trisha Keehn

Read more from Trisha  at: trishakeehn.com

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How Do You Identify?

He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. Genesis 5:2

 “How do you identify?” is the hot question of the day.

Everyone is talking about it. It’s trending everywhere. Our nation is embroiled in an identity crisis. Never has identity been more controversial than in the 21st century. Ironically, the question is as old as dirt.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.

God formed man from dirt and breathed life into him. He created them male and female. Men and women. Not men or women. Created things have no choice as to what they were created to be.  The sun is not the moon, oranges aren’t apples, lions are not elephants. Men are not women. Straight up. To the point. No choice. Men and women were created. Not self-made, not man-made, but God-made. And Satan twisted God’s plan.

 He attacked Eve’s identity.

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

Satan cast doubt on the goodness of man’s identity. He tempted Eve to believe God held out on her and made her less then she could be. #secondrate.

Eve fell for it—and we’ve been falling for it ever since.

Sin entered the world and everything was skewed, even identity; we are left wondering whose we are and who we are. Not knowing our true identity, we won’t become what we were created to be, or fulfill our calling in Christ. We will only accomplish all that God has planned for us when we are what He created us to be.

Satan also attacked Jesus’ identity.

 Read his words:

 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’?”

5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ …

8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, … 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’?”

Satan thought he could cause Jesus to act apart from the will of God by casting doubt on Jesus’ identity.

Instead of acting on Satan’s temptation to prove who He was, Jesus stood firm in His identity. He didn’t need to prove or defend Himself. He knew who He was.

 Where can we learn the truth about our identity?

The world cannot be trusted. Friends often lead us astray. Our heart is deceitful above all things. Our identity is found only in Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life.

In Christ we are:

  1. Children of God. John 1:12
  2. Accepted in Christ. Romans 15:7
  3. The image of God. Genesis 1:27
  4. Known by God. Jeremiah 1:5
  5. Chosen by God. 1 Peter 2:9
  6. One in Christ. Galatians 3:28
  7. A temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19
  8. Seated at the right hand of God and our life is hidden in Christ. Colossians 3:1-3
  9. Redeemed from our sins. Ephesians 1:7
  10. Restored, strengthened and established. 1 Peter 5:10

  “He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.” Genesis 5:2

Mary Kane

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He Is What?

He is What?

Years ago at a Women of Faith conference, I had one of those moments. Well, a few actually. I was brought to tears as several speaker’s and singer’s words touched my heart.

But the song that had me weeping and wondering why tissue boxes weren’t handed out as you walked in the door was, “I am,”

When Nichole Nordeman spoke about the meaning of the song, she very articulately explained the meaning of God’s name for Himself in Exodus, “I Am.” I’m unable to quote her now, as it has been a number of years…but in essence, she said that God has promised to be all that we need no matter the situation.

Her song moves chronologically through a typical lifetime of events.

From a childhood fall off a bike, to teenage angst, wedding vows, starting a family, and to the time God calls us home, she beautifully expresses through the lyrics that God is the filler of every single void that we have. It is not just what He does…it is Who He is!

Anytime I am reminded of God deeply loving me, His ultimate sacrifice, and the fact that He desires a genuine relationship with me, it brings me to my knees (sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively) in tearful praise of Him. We are not worthy, but He sure seems to find us worth it.

Before that conference, when I heard the phrase, “I am,” in reference to God, I secretly waited for the rest of the sentence. Finally, I grasped the awesome truth and promise that name contains. The name, “I am,” means He is.

He IS.

Are you hurting? He is Healer. Grieving? He is Comforter. Sinner? He is Savior. Fearful? He is Peace. Lonely? He is Friend. And on, and on, and on to infinity. Any need you throw at the King of Kings will be met in the only way He does things – perfectly.

My tearful-turned-full-out-weepy praise of Him in that moment was caused by finally realizing that God’s presence in every situation is something that He desires. We are not a bother or a burden to our Heavenly Father.

We have a God that seeks us, loves us, and is in it for the long haul with us. He wants to be in it with us. He wants to be our I AM.

Maybe you have a deep need today, and you do not know how it can be met. Bring it to God. God not only knows the way to meet your need, He IS the way to meet your need.

Thank You, God.

Gwen Thielges

Visit Gwen @writewhereheleads.wordpress.com

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I Recognize You, Lord

Recognize the Lord

when we walk together,
discussing scripture
as though we’re on
the Emmaus Road.

I recognize You
in the breaking of
communal bread
at communion,
family suppers,
and potluck dinners
when we talk of You
around the table.

Your peace, I recognize
within – and without
as trouble stirs
when I forgot to pray.

I recognize You, Lord,
in inspired songs and music,
in babies with arms upraised
in glowing faces, and in
worship overflowing with praise.

Mary Harwell Sayler
From: www.praisepoems.us on 3/31/16

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Tell It Like It Is!

integrity

Psalm 15:1-3

Eternal One, who is invited to stay in Your dwelling?  Who is granted passage to Your holy mountain?  Here is the answer:  The one who lives with integrity, does what is right, and speaks honestly with truth from the heart.  The one who doesn’t speak evil against others or wrong his neighbor, or slander his friends.

Our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, has the endearing quality of telling it like it is.  Whether the news is good or bad, she consistently reports to her mother what happened during her day at kindergarten.

“Mommy, I was talking when the teacher was reading to the class, so I had to turn in a dollar today.”  (They have a play money reward system, and can cash their dollars in for a reward every Friday.)

“Beverly wouldn’t stop poking at me on the bus, so I whacked her with my lunch bag.  She started crying, and I felt bad.  I apologized, but I think she’s still mad at me.”

“Guess what, Mommy?  I have a boyfriend and one day we’re going to get married.”  (It starts!)

Yep!  Virginia just comes right out with things.  Maybe such fearless honesty comes with a five-year-old’s territory.  The cognitive skills aren’t yet developed enough to think to tell anything but the truth.

But there’s also a definite element of trust.  Virginia knows her mother will listen and not judge.  If a situation requires correction, it is done with love and gentleness.

Virginia has nothing to fear.

And when I reflect upon what it means to speak honestly with truth from the heart, I think back to times in my own childhood when I lied about something.  It was always, always because I feared, imagined or not, retribution and punishment should the truth come out.

Yes, I admit it, I was a people-pleaser from the get-go and felt strongly that if I didn’t keep up my “perfect” façade, no one would love me.

I bought into that lie for way too many years . . .

But when I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life, everything changed.  The knowledge that I was loved as God’s child, warts and all, and could trust in His saving grace replaced the person I wanted others to see with the authentic me.

I could live with integrity.

With truth from the heart.

And like Virginia, I can tell it like it is, for I have nothing to fear.

Martha Orlando

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Are You a Part of The War on Women?

Is There a War on Women?

Political pundits love to use the phrase “War on Women” every time they believe women’s rights are being restricted in the workplace and in society. Yet, the more I look around me and in my own life, I’d argue that there is indeed a war on women, but it’s a war we often rage against ourselves.

I’d argue that there is indeed a war on women, but it’s a war we often rage against ourselves.

I recently heard about two women at a Bible study that got into an argument about whether Christian women should go back to work after having a baby. While the disagreement eventually died down, both women left angry and determined they were right.  Besides women judging other women on career choices, I know I’ve judged my friends and acquaintances for a whole string of reasons.

I’ve thought my friend who wanted her husband to stay home with their kids because she made more money was emasculating her husband. I’ve also (silently) criticized women who decided to return to work after having a baby for being selfish. Or (not so silently) asked whether that was the best decision.

Then again, I’ve had friends tell me they’ve criticized other women who choose to be stay-at-home moms and homemakers. They judged them while believing these women were throwing away their education and talents.

But our issue isn’t really with each other’s choices. For me, I was lamenting the fact that I wasn’t married yet (although recently married now!) and didn’t even have the option of getting to figure out a work/life balance.  Instead of encouraging my friends to make the best decision for their families, I’d take out my jealousy on them. I’ve judged to make myself feel better about my own choices. But the Bible has many warnings against this:

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). 

In other words, if you are judging others wrongly, or in cases that the Bible does not speak on (differences and gray areas) by the same unfair measure you will be judged, too. That’s not to say there isn’t a place to judge or speak to your brother or sister about their sins — but make sure it is a sin and not just because you disagree with his or her choice.

Here are four guidelines the Bible offers on judging:

1. Judge only other believers.

It’s easy to judge non-Christians. They’re sinning all over the place! But the Bible clearly states that we are not to judge nonbelievers.  First Corinthians 5:12 says:

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”

It should come as no surprise that nonbelievers do not obey God’s Word. But we are still called to live life with them.  After all, aren’t we sinners ourselves? Instead, giving a reason for the hope that is in us, let’s live a pure and blameless life before everyone.

2. Judge based on biblical principles.

We’re told in 1 Corinthians 5:11 not to associate with brothers and sisters (Christians) that claim Christ, but are blatant about their sins and show no repentance: the sexually immoral, idolaters, chronic liars, drunks or cheats. The Bible says do not even eat with them. These are the people that are defiant about their sin, knowing they’re wrong but not caring.  We are to judge them but always in truth and with pure motives. Being right isn’t an excuse to be unkind. We must think about how we would want a friend to approach us about our sins.

3. Examine yourself first before judging others.

Are there sins you need to repent of and get right with God about before you are able to approach your sister or brother about theirs? Don’t judge if you have a plank in your eye. As an example, if I was involved in a sexually immoral relationship but called out my friend for being a glutton, I’d be trying to take a piece of dirt out of her eye while knocking others over with the log in my own. First, let’s take the log out of our own eyes and then go to our brother and sister about theirs.  Then we can all see more clearly.

4. Be willing to let others speak into your life.

Do not judge, or as Christians like to say nowadays, “speak the truth in love,” unless you are willing to let others speak into your life as well.  We are quick to see other’s shortcomings — and tell them about it, but I know I dislike when someone is brave enough to show me my own sin. Yet when we do the same it is just “speaking the truth in love” to a sister. Let’s allow others to speak into our lives, and they will be more willing to do the same. I know at times God has called me to speak the truth with more boldness to people in my life. And at the same time I have learned to check my heart first and make sure I am not wrongly judging them.

What I’ve never seen in the Bible is to judge each other because we disagree on Santa, eating organic food, or whether or not we want to pursue a certain career. Instead, it says to speak the truth to each other, backed up by Scripture, and always following prayer.

Forget men’s “war against women.” As women, let’s stop the war against ourselves. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to each other, stop assuming others are judging us and stop trying to prove we have it all together. Instead, let’s surrender our dreams and hopes at the foot of the cross and ask, “Lord, what is Your will for my life?” Then when we find peace knowing we’re following God’s will for our lives — and not our own or someone else’s — we can encourage other women to do the same.

Sarah Kuziomko

Visit Sarah @prettysimpleideas.com

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