I was reading through Matthew 23 and a thought came to me based upon how the religious people of Jesus’s day acted. They put such emphasis on looking the part. They were certain that looking clean was the same as being clean.
Think with me for a moment. Someone with end stage liver disease will show outward signs, specifically their color. This individual with end stage liver disease cannot take a bath and look any less jaundice than he did before the bath. He needs something to take place on the inside. That liver must be healed in order for the person’s color to be restored.
I don’t care how much you “go to church”, post Christian statements on Facebook, give to the poor, or speak fluent “Christianese”. None of these things will take care of the inner problem that you and I have had since birth. We need an inner cleansing from the inner problem of sin by the blood of Jesus. We must stop trying to get people to look “Christian” when they are not. I can tell people that I am African, but it must be in my DNA. Call out to Jesus and let His soul-cleansing blood become part of your DNA. He will heal your sin problem and be the remedy to our feeling that we have to earn God’s forgiveness. Just having a bath won’t cut it.
Image from dreamstime.com
If you are from my era, you may be singing, humming, or at least thinking the lyrics from Alanis Morrisette’s song “Ironic”. Before you go questioning my salvation or sanctification, this post has nothing to do with the song of the singer. And all the spiritual folk said, “Amen!”
This Sunday, our church is moving into another facility. If you have been involved in a church plant, you know the thrills (or frustrations) of having to move around. The irony of this is in the location. First, it is directly in front of the building where we met for 9 months. Second, the building has multiple offices. Our entrance is the same one that is used for the public defender’s office. Hang a left for the public defender and a right to my office and the conference room where we will hold our worship services. As I sat in my office for the first time today, no one was responding at the public defender’s office. Therefore, the guy who needed to speak to someone there tells me why he is there. He is trying to put down a payment to get his friend out of jail and was running into a few snags. I pray that the public defender’s office sign will not be a deterrent. Overcomers does not care about your past. Our desire is that people enter a relationship with Jesus Christ and begin their new life without looking back.
Speaking of public defenders, Jesus is our Defender. First John 2:1 says, “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (NLT). When you give your life to Christ, He becomes your Defender. The devil is your accuser, but Jesus is your Defender. He will plead your case before God the Father. You have no need to fear. Even when people will try to speak evil against you because of your faith and make up lies about you, Jesus will take care of it. God is just, and sin does not go unpunished.
While there may be irony to some degree in our location, it is totally planned before the foundation of the world that Jesus Christ would be the Defender of all who would place their faith and trust in Christ. If you have no defender today, Jesus stands ready to welcome you home. Turn from your sin and turn to Him today.
Almost 9 years ago, I came to the upstate of South Carolina as a call to serve a particular church as their Minister of Music. God was doing a special thing there, and the rate of retention among those who were youth is high. One of those young men is now a WordPress blogger and a Student Pastor at another church in our area. His love for Christ and others is evident. It thrills my heart to see what God has done in him and through him since we met in 2009.
I want to encourage those who follow my blog to also follow greysonwilliams.blog. He published his first post today, and I have no doubt that it will resonate with countless people. Please pray for Greyson as he serves the Lord and makes the difference in the lives of students in our county.
Some of you may be thinking that I’m going to go on a rant about sinful lifestyles. If so, I will kindly tell you that you are…
Here I will talk about investment. Not financial investment, but the investment of your life.
Today, I had the sweet privilege of visiting with a lady whose husband received his eternal reward a few weeks ago. Outside our area, I would doubt she is well known. But among those whom she has influenced, she is loved and respected. Why is this?
I think it boils down to a simple thing – she reaped love and sowed it in return. She and I are from different ethnic backgrounds, but you are instantly family when you walk in the door. She not only sows love but also wisdom and life experience. When she speaks, I take notes.
When I reach my 80s, I want to be able to leave that kind of legacy. If you find people avoiding you, ask what you are sowing into their lives. If you are sowing something, check your motives. Motives matter too. We don’t give with the expectation of glory, high fives, newspaper ads about our kindness, and people singing our praises. There is something to be said about the one who quietly sows love because of her deep desire to give. May we sow like this precious lady. Only eternity will reveal the impact.
Image from blog.startwithwhy.com
I enjoy getting into online discussions with Christian community. One must keep tight boundaries, but it is good to reach out and encourage others.
The other day, Facebook recommended the 2or3 app, so I tried it. It is a small Christian community, but I have been able to chat in groups and exchange Bible verses and even encourage a young man who is called to ministry. If you know me, you know that lights my fire. You can create your own groups in there, so this may be an opportunity to start Christian writers groups, pastors groups, mental health support groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, etc.
I want to encourage you to join this if you maintain good accountability and boundaries. God can really use you. If you have bad boundaries and can find this pulling you in a bad direction, I would encourage you to refrain.
Don’t forget! Christians thrive in community. Be a part of a faith community today!
I was recently asked about the question, “Where does a pastor’s salary come from?” I was a bit surprised by the question, but I answered that it comes through the tithes and offerings of the people. I explained that churches budget based on how much income they receive and designate it to each line item. So much goes to children’s ministry, so much to youth ministry, so much to daily operations of the church such as electricity, water, etc. The attitude in the room was almost that of “I can’t believe my money would go to the preacher.” As a pastor of a small church plant, I don’t make any money off the church and I still give. First and foremost, I give to the Lord. Second, I know that the ministry of Overcomers Church cannot function without tithes and offerings.
Many of us are recipients of church’s ministries. We attend Easter egg hunts, worship services, Vacation Bible Schools, and maybe even receive financial assistance in dire times. That money had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from people who believed enough in the mission of the church to financially give to that ministry. They may have given a full 10 percent or just a few dollars, but they gave because they knew it would meet a need.
The next time we take our children to a church because of what their children’s or youth ministry offers, we should consider that someone’s financial sacrifice made it possible. Some say they cannot afford to give. Set a goal. Decide that you will give up your favorite coffee drink for a day and give that back to the Lord. He gave you His money anyway.
I know that many are leery of giving to churches because of the ones who have misappropriated funds. Many ministries across the country don’t waste God’s money on lavish things like $54 million jets. They give back to the community.
I hope this is a helpful post about how God uses what you give back to Him to invest in the spiritual condition of others. If you are uncomfortable with a ministry that doesn’t streamline and has a lot of overhead costs that aren’t going anywhere but to fancy buildings rather than the spread of the gospel, find somewhere that is investing in people rather than possessions. They do exist. Most importantly, remember that you are giving to the Lord and He honors that alone. It is an act of worship, so trust that He will use what you return to Him.
Because of the strong self-help movement, many panic when things do not fall into place. We hear lines like “God helps those who help themselves”, so wouldn’t it stand to reason that we have to help God out a little bit? Or is there a line between human responsibility and the work of God? I affirm the latter.
I see those who operate from panic make mistakes in the following areas:
- Money – They often borrow money from others or take out loans they may never be able to repay. God will not bless impulse. Bigger homes or efforts to buy the happiness of your spouse may prolong the death of your marriage, but the fatal blow is still on its way.
- Vocation – People who operate from panic or fear often leave jobs frequently because the grass has to be greener on the other side, right? Wrong! Sometimes it might be. At other times, you would have been better off waiting for the right opportunity rather than jumping at the quickest one.
- Blame shifting – Those who operate from panic cannot possibly take responsibility for their own situation. Everyone else is at fault, and so are you if you do not see their “emergency” as dire as they do.
Fear is a liar. It is False Evidence Appearing Real. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Wait on Him, and He will strengthen your heart (Psalm 27:14). You can walk in peace and find joy, even if things don’t appear to be working the way you wish.
Don’t make a bunch of wrong moves because you are afraid! Relax and leave everything to the One who created the world and holds your life in His hands.
Image from beyondanxietyanddepression.com
For many years, mental health issues have been taboo in churches. Those who do not understand are quick to say that it is a demon, a lack of faith, or a plea for attention among many other accusations. Few care to take the time to understand let alone try to offer a refuge for those who are struggling.
One of the bloggers I follow has had her world turned upside down as her son was diagnosed within the last year. God is expanding her influence and territory as a voice for those who struggle with mental illness. I encourage you to check out her website at healthymindministry.com. May it deepen your understanding and desire to provide support.
Repentance means to turn your back against sin. That does not mean to pick your old habits back up. This is not being clearly defined by many pastors, thus creating a cheap grace that says Jesus died so we can do whatever we want. That is a slap in the face to the One who loved us so much to give His life.
I found this on Facebook, and it gives an accurate definition of what “fake repentance” is. It is not real repentance at all. If this is you, God can bring true sorrow to your heart over sin. Don’t fake it and “turn over a new leaf”. Let God change you from the inside out.
I am connected to pastors across the country and around the world through this blog and through Facebook groups. Many of them are in the process of moving. Some of them by choice, and others by force. There is always a sense of expectation as to what is ahead, while the pain of leaving special people behind is always difficult.
As I have been keeping up with my friend Pastor Randy’s blog, The Kingdom Pastor, I began to reminisce about ministry transitions. Those early transitions were big adventures in my mind. I was going to somewhere a little bit bigger and take on a little bit more responsibility. For most of my ministry, it meant larger and more involved music ministries.
My first difficult transition was leaving a ministry where I was serving in an interim capacity. My heart’s desire was to stay, but I knew in the end it would not have worked well. The difficult part was leaving so many people who loved me and followed my leadership when I had more zeal than I had knowledge. I learned what it meant to love a church and pour myself into their lives.
My second difficult transition was leaving music ministry to take my first pastorate. I was excited to lead a congregation and preach my heart out, but leaving behind a place where God did some great things in a little over 3 years was tough. These people also loved me and knew I loved them. We had developed friendships that were very special. I had a gut feeling that I would be back in the same area at least within the next 10 years, but it was actually a year later. This time, I was separated, jobless, and clueless about what the future held. It would be these special people who would love me through that difficult time.
I am still just a few miles away from many of these folks. I see some when I shop or am around town. They will always hold a special place in my heart. Many know that God has done a new work in my heart and rejoice with me.
These seasons of change can often be unbearable. As I think about how hot it is here in South Carolina and that it will only get hotter, I press on toward the Fall. I’m trying to balance the art of looking for lessons in this season while being a visionary and seeing the future that God is laying out before me.
I know it is difficult to patiently await a season’s end, but seasons give birth to new seasons. There are waves of change and beautiful things that spring forth. May you too strive to find the balance of embracing your current season while looking ahead. As someone told me when I thought Ministry was over, “If God were done with you, you would be dead.” Don’t sit around and wait! God is up to something great!
Image from dailyverses.net