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Posts Tagged ‘submission’

I remember when I was a younger in the ministry, how excited I was to have mentors built into my education track. Each year, I would receive a new mentor to work with who had more years of training and experience than I did. I treasured the thought of mentors so much that I was the only student in my class that not only enjoyed the new mentor each year but asked my previous mentors is they would still mentor me.

However, with a little time and experience, I stopped feeling the need for my mentors as much. Actually, in some ways they became a little frustrating because they had come from different backgrounds and had different views than mine on where God was leading. As I would talk to them about issues that were coming up in day to day ministry, I found their perspectives were a little more frustrating than appreciated. My time with them became less and less as I felt I knew more than I used to and didn’t need their help any longer.

This was a mistake. This was going from being a toddler in ministry to being a teenager in ministry. I thought I understood things better than these heroes who had gone before me and I lost the benefit of their wisdom for a season. Yes, I was getting a better foothold under my feet of what God was leading me to do. Yes, they had different backgrounds and understandings of where God was leading me. However, instead of pulling away, I needed to learn more about submission, discernment, and wisdom.

As God shaped my understanding more, another strange thing happened. I starting become a mentor. I had people who were newer to ministry start reaching out to me for coaching. While it seemed odd at first, I was happy to help any way I could in the situations people were finding themselves since I have traveled that path before. It was encouraging to give advice that made a difference and put people into roles God was leading them to but needed someone to believe in them.

Some of those relationships continue today. They are my closest of friends and they mean so much to me. Many of those relationships went to the road side. After a little bit of time, they were no longer interested in counsel. They would still ask the questions but you could see their eyes glaze over as you answered. They would nod politely but then say something like “Thanks but I’m going to go ahead and do what I wanted to anyways.” with no consideration of a different point of view. Others would be so thankful for you believing in them to give them a role but within a short amount of time they change your counsel or authority from helpful to “getting in the way”.

I have learned not to be so bothered about it mostly because I did it to others in my past. However, I have learned after many years in ministry that the person hurting is the mentored more then the mentor.

I have mentors in my life. I love getting counsel from people who have different backgrounds and outlooks. I love to pray over and struggle over their thoughts and see where God leads me.

I have people that I mentor in my life. I love their hearts and passion for the work of the Lord. They have vibrant ministries and passion to help others. I love talking with them, praying together, and helping them avoid some of the mistakes of my past.

I have people in my life that have called me mentor but have since pushed that away. That’s ok. I went through that too. My prayer is they will seek other mentors and not try to do it on their own. Our personal views alone (or even as a leadership team) can get off base when we don’t get outside counsel. Seek Godly men and women who have been there before who can give you more resources than you have on your own.

Mentorship is awesome! It’s Biblical! The problem is when we shut it down without prayerful consideration.

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Provers 15:22

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Before I get into this blog, I want to put forward that I am making an assumption. I am assuming your pastor is called by God, preaches the Word, has a burden for the message God has laid on his heart that week, and begs the Holy Spirit to speak through him (or her) so the message is not the pastor’s but is coming from the Lord himself. If that is not a description of your pastor, you need to communicate with him and then look up my blog “Thinking about leaving a church?”

So moving forward with my assumption in place, let’s explore a story in Mark 3: 1-6

“Another time (Jesus) went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Mark 3: 1-3

Here we have Jesus going to the synagogue, a tradition He would generally do to worship and to teach. This is much like your pastor today where he goes to his local church focused on teaching the Word. Now like some of our churches, He is there to teach to a group that is pumped, ready to dig in, and respect and encourage their pastor as well as those sitting back just waiting for the pastor to mess up to jump on him. Why people with this attitude don’t find something better to do with their time, I have no idea. It’s something hurting within them but it tends to happen at times.

Some pastors who are aware of these people get timid and very cautious with every little thing they say and do hoping to avoid a conflict. This is not the case with Jesus! He has the man with the damaged hand stand up in front of all to do what is right and loving. Every one is on the edge of their seats wanting to see what happens next.

“Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.” Mark 3: 4

Here it is…. a one sentence sermon in the form of a question. The law (that Christ came to fulfill so we are no longer under it through grace) said no work could be done and Jesus challenged it. Which is God’s heart on the Sabbath? Good or evil? Life or death?

No one said a word….. No one responded. This is not because they didn’t know the correct answer. It’s because they closed down their hearts and didn’t want to do the right thing. Didn’t want to follow God’s heart. They were hard-hearted and closed down.

This happens in our own lives at times during the message time too, doesn’t it? We know God is wanting to break down some walls in our lives. We know that He is calling us to do something, change something, or release something as the pastor brings the Word but we just decide to fold our arms, sit in the shadows, and decide to blow it off.

You might say, “Wait, Tom…maybe they didn’t know the right answer.” OK, let’s read on…..

“He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Mark 2: 5-6

Did you catch that?They would not submit to his challenge and encouragement to change and respond so Jesus was… ANGRY! We are used to Jesus getting angry at the temple and kicking out the money changers but here we see He gets mad at people who refuse Him. He was DISTRESSED at their stubborn hearts.

We get this view that Jesus is ever gentle with so much patience that we can do whatever we want…. whenever we want… and He will just sit on the sidelines until we need Him. Come on now!

He calls us for one reason; he wants us to respond. When you feel a challenge from your pastor in the Word, when you feel a conviction as you read the Word, when you know He’s trying to reach out to you……. Listen! Act! Move!

Will you act on the Word today or, like the Pharisees, will you blame the messenger and plot against him?

What you do with the Word……MATTERS!

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Jesus once said ” I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist…” Matthew 11: 11

That would be pretty cool to hear Jesus say that about you, wouldn’t it? I know I would be rather pumped….. So today I was looking at some of the things that made John so great and wondered if we could do the same…. Here’s where I started…..

“And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you withwater, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1: 4-8

Some things I noticed….

John was not afraid to live in the desert: We often feel the most comfortable living in structure. We enjoy a roof over our head, food in the fridge, a set job to go to, and a hospital close by if we get hurt. However, God will call us at times into the exile where things are scary, new, and fluid. While structure is great, we naturally pull closer to the Lord when  we are in the desert. Are we willing to follow Jesus there?

John had his needs met by God: Jesus spoke at another time telling us not to worry about what we would wear or what we would eat. He reminded us that His Father who loves us would provide for us. John is an example of this. His clothes were not the norm. His food was not the norm. But He was provided for! Are we willing to get what God wants to give us for our needs instead of trying to provide for our wants.

John was confident and humble : John said Jesus would be greater than himself. He didn’t say that he (John) was trash or worthless. He said Jesus would be greater!

Then he humbled himself…. “I am not worthy of untying the thongs of His sandals.”

John knew the calling he had and was confident within it. But even though he had the whole Judean countryside and everyone from Jerusalem coming to him, he knew his place. He didn’t need to brag about being used by God, he waited and let Jesus be the one to lift John up. Are we willing to do the same?

John knew he had to do his part, and then Jesus would do His: John knew his baptism was of water (repentance) as well as knowing that Jesus had a more powerful baptism (baptism of the Holy Spirit). That didn’t lead John to sit around and say “Hey, when the Messiah comes, his deal is so much more powerful, let’s just wait on it.” He did his part, led people to repentance and prepared them for what Jesus would do next. God won’t do our part but He will do immeasurably greater things with it.

Those are random thoughts There is so much more about John the Baptist we can learn from. I suggest doing your own study, see what qualities he had that made Jesus say this about him and then share your findings below…. More importantly, will you adopt John’s qualities to follow the Lord?

The Shepherd’s Fellowship

 

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There have been several times that I have taught through the elements of the Lord’s prayer and I wanted to take a moment and put some of those thoughts here. This is mostly for a recent prayer challenge I have given to our church family at The Shepherd’s Fellowship but it may be of interest to others as well.

In Matthew 6, we find where Jesus is teaching on prayer. He states, “This, then, is how you should pray…” Now I do not believe that Jesus was saying each and every time you prayer, it must be these words, in this order, and don’t mess up (though it is a beautiful prayer). However, if we look at the prayer, I do believe it gives a model that, if followed in honesty and in love will lead you to some of the most incredible prayers you have ever had.

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This past Sunday we studied the story of Abraham and Isaac at church as part of our Sunday morning gathering and an interesting pattern emerged. I won’t go into the whole thing to save you time but I did want to share the jist. (If you want to hear the whole thing the online podcast should be up soon on the church web-site.) 

There appears (at least to me) to be a few different levels of following God that Abraham goes through. I believe each one are important in our spiritual walk but at the same time, grow into one another as we mature in our faith. The following are those levels….

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Well, here’s some random thoughts from this past week’s message that I keep running back to and thought I’d share them with you. We are going through a series we’re calling “WWJS”. What would Jesus say to us as a church and as Christians by looking at his teachings mostly in the book of Matthew.

Now this week we were talking about submission and something interesting jumped out at me. Jesus would have made himself a fine ministry with thousands of followers if He just dropped the submission thing.

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