Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

letmedirect

Sorry for the radio silence, I was pretty sick for a couple of weeks but now I’m so grateful to be feeling better and back to my regular routine!

Pastor, Be Careful The Snapshots You Bring Home: This one is for the ministry people, and its a pretty important one. As a pastors wife I’ve experienced everything this article says, so I made sure to pass it on to my hubby immediately.

Called To Childlessness: The church can sometimes be one of the worst places to find refuge for a childless couple. But I cant imagine how much of a struggle it would be for couples who feel called to a lifetime of childlessness. We don’t often talk about this kind of calling. Give this one a read to help you understand better.

Jesus Did Not Die For ‘Comfortable’: Get ready to be slayed with conviction. But do it anyway, because its good for us. I really need reminders like this often! Following Christ leads to something better than the world’s temporary comforts; it leads to a true and better rest.

3 Questions To Consider Before You Share: Here’s a practical one! We live in the world of ‘over-share’ and sometimes we need to reel ourselves back in and ask ourselves what’s worth sharing. So read this one for some social media sharing help.

Bear’s Den – Agape: I’ve just been into this song lately.

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Pastor, It’s Your Job To Feed – 7 Reasons Why…

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I’ve noticed an unsettling trend in the church that needs to be addressed. I’m sure I’m not the first to notice nor address it, but this is my best shot at doing the latter.

Here is the trend in question: A pastor stands at the pulpit and says something like this…”If you aren’t being fed here, don’t blame me, it’s not my job to feed you, because you should be feeding yourself.”

Then usually a guilt trip follows about how Christians who aren’t “being fed” are weak, consumerist babies and its no fault of the pastor but solely the fault of the baby Christian who is sitting in front of him, starving. I’m happy to say these words have never been uttered by my current pastor, and I’m blessed to be apart of a church that feeds me. Yet I’m burdened for the churches who I know are under this kind of leadership.

Now if your reading this and think I’m overreacting or even agree with these statements, here are 7 reasons (in no particular order) on why I believe this rhetoric is damaging:

1. Pastors Who Don’t Feed, Must Not Be Given To Study: The majority of pastors who duck the feeding call, are often not preaching deep biblical messages, mainly because they no longer think they have to. Which means there’s a good chance they aren’t spending much time in the Word themselves. Why spend your work-time studying, if you aren’t going to pass it on?

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25).

Paul is saying something important to Timothy here. He’s admonishing him to be a worker of the Word. A pastors very occupation is to rightly handle Scripture by studying it and then passing it on to the flock in which they minister. And if a pastor is not doing this, he’s very plainly not doing his job. And this ought to make the pastor feel ashamed.

2. Pastors Who Don’t Feed, Don’t Teach Their Flock How To Eat: Christians should be feeding themselves. This is a true statement. Yet, they also need to be taught how. When my children where 6 months old and we began introducing solid food, I didn’t just hand them a fork and say “figure it out”! It was a slow process that involved a lot of spoon-feeding, followed by finger foods, followed by utensil training – my floors taking the biggest brunt of this journey to self-feeding. But this is how training works.

And in one of the most biblically illiterate ages, we cannot expect new Christians to just pick up the Bible and figure it out. And one of the best ways a Christian learns how to read and study the Word is by observing how their pastor, with whom they trust, handles the Word on Sunday mornings. Does he take Scripture out of context and quickly apply it to felt needs? Is he methodical, giving background and context? These things train us how to read our Bibles, whether the pastor intends to teach or not. Which means the pulpit should be an example for Scripture-reading instruction to a generation whose good at throwing a lot of food on the floor.

3. Pastors Who Don’t Feed, Don’t Protect: It’s virtually impossible to protect the body of Christ without feeding them enough to make them strong for the fight.

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:2-5).

The reality is that wolves and “strangers” enter the fold regularly. There are wolves in the church and on TV and in the book store. And it’s the job of the pastor to protect their flock from them. But how do they do this? It’s not like our pastor’s can be with us wherever we go telling us who we should or shouldn’t listen to. A pastor does this by teaching sound doctrine to the flock (Titus 2:1), in order for the flock to know the difference when they encounter bad doctrine. When they are properly instructed they become able to distinguish the good shepherds voice from a wolves howl. Protection is one of the shepherds most crucial responsibilities and they can’t protect without feeding.

4. Pastors Who Don’t Feed, Don’t Motivate Following: A pastor who ducks his duty of feeding thwarts the call on the congregation to follow. Its like saying “Hey it’s not my job to feed you, but you must obey me as your leader.” There is a firm command from God that we obey our church leaders. And I believe this is very significant, because God’s Word is weighty here.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17).

However what we see in this verse is a dual command. The writer of Hebrews is saying obey your leader but with the assumption that the leader is keeping watch over souls. He’s assuming the leader isn’t neglecting this soul-watching responsibility by saying, its your job to protect your own soulfeed yourself. We should definitely respect and submit to our leaders, but sometimes that looks like approaching them in love and reminding them of their role to be soul-protectors not CEO’s. And non-feeding pastors shouldn’t be surprised if their flock is unwilling to follow their lead, because its hard to follow when your dying of hunger.

5. Pastor’s Who Don’t Feed, Will Have To Give An Account For It: This is where it all gets real. The Hebrews verse above should alarm every person in pastoral ministry. Souls hang in the balance with this work. Real souls – who will live forever either with God or without God. This is no small task nor empty duty. And all who fulfill this role will have to stand in front of the Almighty and give an account for how they shepherded the flock. Will the reasoning for not feeding hold up on that day?

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”  (1 Peter 5:2)

Oversight, unlike popular western-churchy thought, does not mean being the most dynamic and charismatic leader who knows how to inspire people with scripture-light messages. Oversight in this text is Old Testament language harkening back to how priests in the temple taught the Torah and interceded for the people. This is soul work that requires a pastor to be a minister of the Word and prayer. Which is no small thing. Feeding the flock should not be done under compulsion, but willingly. Not for shameful, church-growth strategy gain…but eagerly, how God would have them. Because its God who we all stand before in the end.

6. Pastor’s Who don’t Feed, Are Lazy: Is this too harsh? I don’t think so. In Ezekiel 34, a Word from the Lord is revealed to Ezekiel about the Shepherds of Israel. And it’s not good. The reason being? These Shepherds were lazy by not feeding the flock.

Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. (Ezekiel 34:2-4)

Feeding is the most basic need to meet. And yet when this need gets explained away, so much more ends up being lost as well. The health of the sheep is at risk…and if the shepherd is unwilling or too lazy to bind up and help heal, that sheep will not survive. Same goes for the church of God. If we aren’t fed and taught to feed, you better believe we will suffer for it.

It’s also just really convenient for pastors to relieve themselves from this responsibility as it side-steps any criticism that might come their way. It’s lazy.

7. Congregations Who Aren’t Fed…Starve: They stay babies, they remain malnourished, and they become comfortable in their infancy and weakness. Meanwhile the pastor becomes more irritated with the congregations immaturity. I’ve seen it happen. Pastor’s who don’t feed, shoot themselves in the foot. This is not a duty to abandon. If anything, it’s the most important job of the pastor. And pastors should do it, because it’s the loving thing to do. This is why when Jesus badgered Peter about whether or not Peter loved Him…He did so with great purpose.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

If you love Jesus…you feed His sheep. Because they are His. And because you love Him and you love them. It’s as simple as that.

Dear pastors, the sheep are hungry and fickle and in need of your guidance. We know the job is a challenging one. You often have to call us back into the fold, warn us and bind up our wounds. But when you feed us from the deep well of His Word you give us the bread of life.

You give us Jesus, and that’s the most important and pressing need we have.

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Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

letmedirect

Sorry for the radio silence…it happens, you know…..life.

Stop Calling Everything A Bible Study: How true this is in the church! If we aren’t careful, its very easy to do this. “Biblical illiteracy pervades our churches, unintentionally aided by our labeling. Too often, I’m told at the end of a basic, line-by-line study, “I’ve done Bible studies for years, and I’ve never studied the Bible like this.”

The Story Behind John Piper’s Most Famous Attack On The Prosperity Gospel: I’ll never forget when I first watched that video. I was in the thick of infertility and heartache – questioning the goodness of God. And watching that video both encouraged and challenged me. It was powerful then and its powerful now. Its very interesting to hear how it all came about!

Where Is God When Things Keep Getting Worse: But will all our disappointments get tied up with a bow? Does God mean everything for my good? Some of my losses cannot or will not be reversed in this life, and I have seen faithful friends die without being rescued. How do I reconcile that? If this is where you find yourself, give this one a read!

We Will Come To You – Christian Help For Hurting Peoples: “Every Christian is a refugee in this world. We of all people should understand the plight of the displaced.” And I would add, even if it brings risk upon ourselves, we will welcome in or go to them!

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What Do We Do With This World In Turmoil?…

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I can’t be the only one completely overwhelmed and disheartened by the constant barrage of headlines and News reels that have filled the past couple of weeks. It’s just so upsetting to live in a world that inhabits so much chaos and turmoil.

Everyone believes they have the right answers, but no one really knows what to do aside from fight and debate about it online. What else can we do? We feel helpless to the mess.

I write about this often because I find myself in this place often. I find myself feeling so lost in the frightening reality that humanity is perishing. It feels like I’m in a whirlpool, spinning and spinning trying to grip the edge to find some steady, only to miss the edge and get sucked into the center.

What can we do?

My husband said something to me that gave me such perspective in the midst of my rant to him on how confused and depressed I was about what I was seeing in the News. He said, “Think of Daniel, and what he had to go through. Think of what was going on at that point in history. Daniel didn’t seem to concern himself with all of the enormous, fearful things he had no control over. But he dedicated himself to prayer and was faithful in the place God had him. Remember?”

Right. Yes I remember.

Deep breaths.

This is, by the way, why I married my husband.

Yes, lets all think about Daniel for second. After Babylon attacked Jerusalem, Daniel was taken into exile. Horrible. Can you imagine? Abruptly he had to live with the people who plundered his home and somehow he had to remain faithful to his God-given Jewish identity while being pressured to conform to the Babylonian way of life. They wanted him to bow to idols, eat unclean food and worship the King. What was he to do?

What we see in the book of Daniel is a man’s unwavering devotion to God, even when his very life was in danger. He was faithful to the call of God to live in obedience to the Word at great risk to himself. But Daniel was successful in obedience and he gave himself to prayer. And what he experienced in the process was the mighty hand of God protecting him through it all. Yes, God allowed Daniel’s capture, which means it didn’t always go well for him, but with Daniels trust in God came God’s protection.

Listen, I can only imagine Daniels thought-life was a battle ground. He was not an infallible man, which means I’m sure there was inner struggle and confusion. However his outer life remained devoted and unwavering to the Ancient Of Days.

Daniel must have been utterly convinced that the God he served was absolutely in control even in the midst of the worlds current chaos.

What a guy! The enduring reverence of Daniel…how I desire but a fragment of it.

When we look at this regular man from Jerusalem and the story God told with his life, we must learn and look and remember what it tells us about our Father in heaven. Learn, look and remember what it speaks of the world we inhabit.

The book of Daniel shockingly is meant to be a book of hope. Hope that leads to obedience. Which is exactly what the Christian life is. Daniel exhibits this wonderfully even though he didn’t have the full revelation of this hope, like we do. Unlike Daniel, we know the fullest extent of this hope. And because of this, we should have the same kind of perseverance and unwavering obedience.

The kind of obedience that puts boots on the ground even when we’re weary of the good fight. Obedience that reach’s out to those in need and shares the love of Christ. God requires us not to fix all the big problems mankind faces, but to remain faithful right where he has us. Steadfast and resolute in action right here…right where you and I are…right now.

I have my corner of the world to deal with and the troubles it faces pales in comparison to that of Babylon. And yet you and I have our own Babylon to navigate and the struggle to remain faithful in it is a generational battle, no matter the geographical placing. But do I pray like Daniel? Am I just as obedient in the face of it?

“Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” ~ Daniel 10:12

If this tells us anything about who God is, it’s that He wants us to set our heart on Him and humble ourselves in prayer. The promises He made to Daniel aren’t necessarily going to be the same for us today. However God never changes. And here we see what pleases Him. Daniel cried out to his Father in a time of uncertainty. And there is no doubt He wants us to do the same. He wants to hear His people – as He heard Daniel.

God was sovereign over humanity and the globe when Daniel lived and died and He’s sovereign still. It won’t always go well for us, there is likely to be suffering. But Jesus is on His throne and our hope is secure.

May this comforting knowledge be our food in these times of consternation. When the whirlpool starts spinning…think of Daniel.

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Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

letmedirect

One, Broken World: This is such a great reminder for us. I’m not going to even begin to say I understand what’s happening in the US right now with refugees, because truthfully its all very confusing. But this sums up how Christians should be thinking.

Do You Exercise For The Right Reasons: Well this is an interesting one! I hate to say that I do not exercise with these things in mind…but I actually think it would be a better motivator for me in the long-run.

Planned Parenthood’s Most Misleading Statistic: Here is another good article that will help keep you better informed on this very important and relevant topic.

To The American Church – John Piper: I know I’ve posted this before a long time ago, but it feels very relevant to us today again.

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Stepping In Ancient Footprints…

hisgracemygrowth

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Almost everyday I go for a walk at a park that is right across the street from my house. In the last couple weeks we’ve had some wet snow immediately followed by very cold temperatures. What this has done to my beloved walking track is create huge patches of ice upon ice. Which makes for a tricky walking experience.

However I learned quickly that in order to not slip and constantly catch myself from falling, I had to step in the footprints of the people who came before me. Their tracks have created firm, shoe gripping spots for me to step in.

When I tried to walk outside their tracks onto the slick ice, I lost my balance and had to catch myself by grabbing a chain link fence beside me. This, as you can imagine, was pretty embarrassing. No matter how cool I tried to play off the slip (I was just working on some dance…

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Let Me Direct You Elsewhere…

letmedirect

“44 years ago today, the Supreme Court defined ones personhood by one’s power. As people of the cross, we dissent.” ~ Russell Moore

Because of this important anniversary, this little blog needs to make a bit of racket about it, in order to show all the dissent I have.

When Is Abortion Racism?: I do not believe that most people who support abortion rights are racists, any more than I believe there are no racists among pro-lifers. I am simply suggesting that regardless of motives, a closer look at both the history and present strategies of the pro-choice movement suggests that “abortion for the minorities” may not serve the cause of equality as much as the cause of supremacy for the healthy, wealthy and white. (Randy Alcorn – Eternal Perspectives, Sept.-Oct. 1993, p. 9)

The Power Of Pro-Life Women: It’s an old article but extremely relevant. Especially after yesterdays Women’s March. As women we should be fearless advocates of life.

Why I Pray For An End To Sanctity Of Life Day:it reminds me we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, or economic status. The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness. And I hate it.

9 Myths About Abortion Rights And Roe V. Wade: Inform yourself on what’s true and what’s false by reading this quick article. I learned stuff I never knew before!

Lord Huron – Ghost On The Shore: Current mood song.

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