Don’t Let 2016 Define You!

Thoughts have been flowing, so I don’t mean to bombard my Facebook page and other social media. I just know that some of those who will read this are going to continue to live in the mistakes and hardships of 2016 and not let go. I want to declare to you today that your financial mistakes this year do not have to define you. Bad relationships in 2016 don’t have to define you. Horrible things you said and did don’t have to define you. A divorce, a straying child, or anything that happened in 2016 does not have to define you. 

The consequences may still exist, but you don’t have to live in guilt if this stems from something you have done wrong. The blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse anything if you confess and turn from it. If this relates to something that happened to you that is out of your control, the journey on the road to you forgiving the one who sinned against you can begin NOW! 

I want to end with this song. This was my theme for 2014 when the circumstances of my life were less than desirable. May these words bring you hope as you begin 2017.


What Do You Want in 2017?

As I write to close out 2016, I reflect on many ups and downs. On a positive note, we welcomed a precious little girl into the world. It seems as if most of the year was focused on her arrival. Shortly after that, God began to open doors for me to preach and minister in various churches after a drought that lasted almost a year. Now 2016 is pretty much in the rear view mirror.

What do you want for 2017? I’m not talking about a slimmer body, 6-pack, tummy tuck, Botox, etc. I’m not talking about cars, houses, and earthly possessions. A fellow blogger challenged me in this area by reflecting on his goal for 2016 and how he rated. I want to ask myself and you, “Who do you want to be in 2017?” For clarification, I’m not asking if you want to alter your gender or any such thing. I’m talking about character. How do you want to be more like Jesus in 2017? 

It’s time we pray and ask the Lord who He wants us to be in this new year. If you really want to know, He will answer. May we all become more like Jesus in 2017.

Pastor “Pacifier”

I have known many pastors in my 20 years of ministry, but the “pacifier” is the most dangerous type. This one is growing in popularity. In fact, most churches want to hire him. What is this guy like?

  1. He preaches what people want to hear. The Bible warns about people who have “itching ears”. This pastor says, “Tickle, tickle, tickle!”
  2. He values his paycheck and popularity more than pleasing God. When the deacons start making threats and people start leaving or threatening to leave, he pulls out the pacifier again so that all the church will be happy (so he thinks).
  3. He won’t initiate or suggest change because they’ve “never done it that way before”. Why rock the boat? It’s much easier to do nothing for Jesus than to be uncomfortably obedient. He will base every move on whether or not someone might get mad. The church won’t do squat, but all is peaceful because it’s dead!

If you are a true believer who wants to grow in your faith, Pastor “Pacifier” won’t be good for you. The church will stifle you, and you will always crave for more in your Christian life. Go where you can grow and be challenged while praying that Pastor “Pacifier” gets some guts.

Preacher, You’re Fired!

Because I know how pastors are treated (from personal experience and the stories of friends), no wonder many have become disillusioned with the church. I am still a believer in what God can do through the local church, but many people who say (but don’t act like) they are Christians have taken authority into their own hands that is often not theirs to begin with. I will be glad to give you an example. 

I heard a story about a pastor who told the congregation at the end of the service to read Mark 31 in preparation for the evening message. A man whom I know personally was visiting the church and was curious enough to return since he knew Mark only has 16 chapters. When the pastor began the evening message, he asked how many read the passage for the evening. A handful of people raised their hands. The pastor asked for those people to sit on the reserved front pew and that he was going to preach on lying. Those people walked out, and the pastor was fired that week. The man commented to me, “Baptists are great at finding a reason to fire their pastor.” Sadly, I agreed with him. 

That is one of thousands of stories where pastors were wrongfully terminated or asked to leave. I served a church once where we sent money to a pastor who came home to an eviction notice on the parsonage after he had a brain tumor removed. The church did not find him useful anymore, so they decided to kick him while he was down. Spiritual, huh?

I have known countless pastors who did nothing wrong. They led the church as God led them. If you belong to a church and have any “authority”, please understand that whatever role you play in your church should not be abused. This is for pastors, deacons, committee members, etc. Do not abuse it! You will answer to the Lord Jesus Christ for what you have done. If you have a pastor with whom you disagree, go to him biblically. If it’s about personal preference, sometimes we have to put our big boy/girl pants on and accept that things won’t go our way. If it’s that bad, go to another church but get your heart right on the way! If his attitude is wrong, pray for him. 

There are times when pastors do need to move on. Sometimes they commit crimes or sinful acts that need to be addressed. In those cases, handle it with love. Try to restore the pastor and love him and his family. Remember, he has a wife and children who are already in a fragile state and do not need the situation to be mishandled.

Pastors are human beings who have just as much time in the day as you do, have financial and family responsibilities, but are expected to minister equally to sometimes hundreds of people. Whatever you do, don’t kick them to the curb because they are not meeting YOUR performance standards. If they are meeting God’s, that is all that matters.

We Never Know

Within the last 24-48 hours, many across our country and the world were shocked by the death of actress Carrie Fisher. Today, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed away. These two were icons in their own right, but these deaths remind us that life is a vapor as the Bible says in the book of James. We never know how long we have, so we must make the most of our time.

This begins by turning from our sin and entering a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Making this life count also includes living a life that pleases God. He wants you to live out your God-given mission. His mission field for you may be working in a hospital, post office, grocery store, etc. You have a purpose, and God wants to touch some lives through you. 

I cannot say a thing about where Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds stood with God, but you have a decision about yourself. You have a Lord who has invited you into His presence. Will you embrace Him today as Lord and Master of your life?

Christmas Faces

This morning, I had to go into a well known store to pick up some medicine. Because everyone goes to this particular place to purchase everything from groceries to Christmas presents, the place was packed. Something stood out to me more today than any other day – the faces of those who were shopping. There was such sadness, worry, panic, and other negative expressions everywhere I turned. While this season should be one of joy, most people are consumed with how they are going to buy presents, how much they will spend on these presents, while many of them either don’t have the real gift of Christmas or don’t want Him. 

When the announcement of Christ’s birth came, the message was labeled as “glad tidings of great joy”. Somewhere along the way, this joy became lost because the true meaning of Christmas was lost or replaced. 

A dear friend of mine, Greg Griffin, came up with the idea that was later made into a video clip. I think this clip depicts the reason why these Christmas faces are gloomy. They need to remember!

Need a Tongue Reduction?

We are in the day of nips and tucks. People are getting things tightened and lifted, altered and enhanced. As I was reading the verse of the day on my Bible app, I thought about how most all of us could use a tongue reduction. We are all guilty of negativity and gossip. I’ll admit my own faults when it comes to what I say, and I know I’m not alone.

People who gossip and spread rumors have been referred to as people with long tongues. While we often said “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, we lied to cover the hurt that comes from the same tongue that the Bible calls a “fire” in James 3.

Have you ever been burned by what someone has said to you or about you, or have you been the one who hurt someone else? We all have. Is anyone willing to join me in going to God to get a tongue reduction?

I Don’t Want a Bandaid!

I had the opportunity to reconnect with an old college friend recently, and we have messaged back and forth some. I shared a prayer request with him, and his response was worth blogging. He said, “Praying that God will grant you peaceful steadfastness and utmost confidence in him today as Provider. Oswald Chambers’ words today remind me that even as I pray, I am not praying for a ‘patch job’ on anything; we pray for ultimate resolution.” 

All I could think about was how many times I had an issue in my life and tried to take care of it with a quick fix only to make it a bigger problem. I bet you have done the same. We get desperate and do something foolish because we are impatient. It’s like having a small wound that needs medical attention. We don’t want to go to the doctor, so we put a bandaid on it. The wound becomes infected, and we find that we need more medical attention than we did initially.

When my friend sent that reply, I found my wife and read it to her because I found the deep spiritual lesson there to be beneficial for us both. ULTIMATE RESOLUTION! Think about it! I don’t want a cheap or quick fix. I want God to ultimately resolve this thing so that I can know He did something miraculous, and I can give Him the credit! 

For those of you who need a solution, don’t settle for a cheap fix. God wants to do better than that. Sometimes we must wait. In the end, it is worth the wait. 

Cut & Paste or Highlight & Delete

Have you ever wished your life was like a Microsoft Word document where you could cut parts of your story and paste them into someone else’s life or just highlight and delete portions and leave mysterious gaps so you wouldn’t have to face that those things ever happened? I have. You have maybe left certain places you lived off your Facebook profile because of the painful memories that are associated with that place or removed every memory of a painful relationship because it seems easier to pretend that the relationship never happened than to face the pain and trauma it may have brought to your life. 

We all have our defense mechanisms. One thing I have learned – you will eventually have to process the pain and grief of those traumatic times of your life.  Pastors and families often take years to heal from being fired from churches. If they weren’t fired, many were treated horribly and left feeling useless in God’s kingdom work. Wives or husbands were dumped for “something better”, only to deal with the feeling that they were used and unwanted while the other spouse goes on without a second glance. The list goes on.

There is a Healer, and His name is Jesus. I have learned personally that the healing process never happens as quickly as we would like. That does not mean that God is absent. You may not be able to cut and paste or highlight and delete in real life, but I can assure you that there is a point where the hurt and the Healer collide. I pray that the song below will minister to you in your brokenness and give you hope and strength to move forward.