Archives for posts with tag: Ministry

Jesus talked many times while He was on this earth about our closeness to Him . . . our reliance on Him. But how does that play out in our real, rubber meets the road lives?! On one hand, we know that Jesus is perfect and we are anything but. So does that mean that we should not make a move in our lives without consulting Him and waiting on his direction and guidance?

We have been given free will after all! Does that mean that we go through life making all of our own decisions without ANY input from God . . . except of course when we run into trouble and start our negotiations with God for not consulting Him more. This approach can easily take us to the place of having the illusion of self-sufficiency . . . not having a need for God.

This issue is a fine line for all Christians to walk. We can’t live our lives paralyzed waiting on instructions from God for our every action, yet, we have to have a certain reliance on Him. After all, He IS the creator of the universe . . . He knows better than anyone else how it is that our existence works!

After praying and studying on this, I am of the current thought that it boils down to each of our own personal relationships with God. He knows the right mix of independence vs. dependence each of our own personality requires to best serve Him . . . and when we are in harmony with His will for us . . . that is where we find purpose, peace and confidence.

Weigh in on this. What do you think? What is your experience? Please share!

Thanks for reading!

Pat

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Several years ago, my wife Kris and I sensed a need to get a better handle on our finances.  So, in our quest to figure it all out, we found “Crown Financial Ministries” http://www.crown.org/ and a small group study at our church.

I can’t say enough about Crown and how it helps to lead you to a biblical perspective of your finances.  I didn’t know it before getting involved in Crown but the bible talks about money more than any other subject . . . who knew?!?!

I tell you that to tell you this; part of the curriculum of small group study of Crown was to memorize a bible verse each week.  One memory verse, which was the longest and most difficult to memorize, had the greatest impact in my life and consequently has become my “life verse”.  This was David’s prayer of praise in 1st Chronicles 29: 11 & 12.  Here it is:

“Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom.  We adore you as the one who is over all things.  Riches and honor come from you alone, you are the ruler of all mankind.  Power and might come from you alone, and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength”

Think on this scripture.  For me, it puts everything in perspective; God is over all things and it is at HIS discretion that people are made great and given strength!  Of course we have our part to do in this life.  We can’t be successful just sitting on the beach eating bon bons but our success is at God’s discretion.

Those are some of the ways that God spoke to me through this verse.  Think on it yourself.  I am confident He will speak to you also . . . not necessarily in the same way He spoke to me.

By the way, if you sense God telling you to get a better handle on your finances, Crown Financial Ministry is a great place to gain God’s perspective on this.  Also a great place to become close to others with similar issues.  We have many life long friends and small group member who we met through Crown.

Have a blessed day!

Thank you for reading and following!

Pat

I’ve written about prayer a lot and to me it is for good reason . . . that is how we connect and communicate with the God of the Universe . . . our creator.

My favorite model for prayer and the one which works best for me is Bill Hybells’ acronym “ACTS” as I have shared many times.  Just to review “ACTS” stands for:

A  – Adoration . . . telling God how much we love him and affirming that we believe that He is the one and only God of the universe.

C – Confession . . . confessing our sins to God and asking Him for His forgiveness.

T – Thanksgiving . . . Giving God thanks for everything in our lives . . . the good stuff and even the not so good . . . the challenges and trials and troubles.

S – Supplication . . . This is where we ask God to work in our lives . . . to change circumstances . . . to speak to us  . . . to help us to hear His voice and to help us to change . . . just to name a few things.

I am great with all of this and as I said, since finding this model, it has radically changed my prayer life.

I currently have a sister in law who is critically ill.  We have been spending lots of time in continuous prayer for her as well as having other people pray for her also.  As I was praying yesterday the question came to my mind; What is it you are actually praying for?  Well of course for my sister in law’s healing . . . recovery and in the event those don’t match with God’s will for her and He decides to take her home . . . for Kris and I to understand and have peace in all of that . . . just to cover all my bases.

But really, when we pray for someone to be healed or someone to change or for a circumstance to change . . . what are we really praying for?!

I met a guy during a break at a Christian Men’s conference and we were discussing prayer and his take was that by praying we can change God’s mind to do something other than what He was planning on.  Really?!?!  That seems pretty powerful.  What do you think?

If we subscribe to the idea of predestination then is there a reason to pray at all other than to do the A, C and T and not the . . . Affirm God, Confess to Him and Thank Him but never ask for anything because under predestination, God already has it dialed in . . . no changes?!

Another guy I spoke with about this concept told me “well you have to give predestination some lee way . . . it’s not like you think.”  But he never could tell me if it wasn’t what I thought . . . what it was like.

What about the idea “ask it shall be given unto you”.  I think in one of my previous postings I gave a ridiculous example of this: “Dear God I really need the money and if you answer my prayer I will give you some of it, so help me to be successful in robbing this bank and don’t let me kill more than two people.”  Ridiculous though that example is, it does demonstrate that somewhere in the mix of praying, we need to be in line with God’s will for us.

Where I have ended up with this is that we pray to let our hearts’ desires known to God.   Isn’t this one of the ways we nurture our relationships, to share our feelings and needs and wants with one another?   If those desires are in keeping with His will for us then He will answer them . . . now get this . . . not necessarily the way that we would like for Him to.  As I once heard Dr. Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral say: “God will answer in one of three ways: No, Yes or Not yet.

I think the big thing with our relationship with God and our prayer life is to be open to God’s will for us, and be willing to accept that however He chooses to answer our prayers . . . it is for the best for us and all those involved . . . whether we know who is affected by our prayers or not.

Don’t forget the song of the great sage; Garth Brooks: “I thank God for unanswered Prayers” in speaking about a love who broke his heart and now he is so thankful that the relationship didn’t work out!

Make sense?

Prayer is a deep and complex issue and a HUGE part of our prayer life and relationship with God.

I invite you to sound off with your thoughts and ideas about prayer.  Please comment on this blog with your input.

As always, thanks for reading and weighing in on this.

Many Blessings!
Pat

I was reading my daily devotional “Jesus Calling” this morning . . . I highly recommend it.  The subject was Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Oh, we’ve all heard the story of Eve and the fall and we men tend to joke that it (the fall) was all the women’s fault and so on.

The subject this morning was the fact that the way Satan tempted Eve was to get her to darken her perspective by showing her the one thing she could not have . . . the fruit from the apple tree.  Think about it . . . . she was in the Garden of Eden . . . everything was perfect for cryin’ out loud!  Yet Satan coerced her into looking right past all the perfection she lived in every day and to focus on the one . . . the only thing on the planet that she was forbidden to have . . . the fruit from the apple tree.

I don’t know about you but I sure have a tendency to do exactly the thing that Eve did.  I live a life with an over abundance of blessings . . . good health . . . wonderful marriage . . . great lifestyle . . . and the list goes on into eternity . . . the blessings I live with.  Yet, when there is one thing not exactly right, we tend to be unhappy . . . discontent until that thing is fixed.  How self-centered and selfish is that?!

As I was thinking about this, the thought occurred to me that we need to be good stewards of what God has given us.  Oh, we have all heard those stewardship sermons where the preacher tells us that we have been blessed with income and we should give 10% to God and I don’t disagree with that.

But let me take that a step further . . . I challenge you to think about ALL of the blessings of our lives . . . our finances . . . the sunrise . . . the blooming flowers you saw on the way to have a root canal . . . ALL of your blessings as something we need to be a good steward of.  Rather than taking those wonderful things for granted . . . give thanks!

Don’t let Satan . . . and the world darken your perspective into only being able to focus on the things that need fixing . . . look at ALL the things in your life that God has ALREADY fixed . . . and give thanks!  Our perspectives will brighten and our minds will be more open to hearing God’s voice in our lives!

Amen and Amen!

Pat

I don’t know about you but I am guilty of missing God’s best because many times I am focused on an area that may not be my God-Given Gift set.  Sometimes, either for the sake of convenience, or out of need, we are tempted to focus our efforts in areas which we were never intended to focus on.

Especially in times of economic tough times, we are inclined to take a job outside of our gift set just to provide for our family.  There’s nothing wrong with that . . . as long as we realize that it is a temporary situation.

In Ephesians 4:16 the New Living Translation of the bible says:  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

I think a lot of us do this.  As we move through life and follow our careers doing the things wear are specially gifted by God to do . . . are passionate about, we learn a lot of skills that are simply a by-product of doing what we are specially gifted by God to do.  Example, as a business owner, I have learned to keep my financial records in pretty good order . . . at least until I plug them into my taxman at tax time.  Does that mean that I should start up a new business as an accountant?  Heavens no!

You see, my God-given gift is for running a business, not keeping financial records.  Does that make sense?  Oh I can do a passable job at bookkeeping but, the scripture says “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow.”  If I am focusing my time and energy doing something that God hasn’t particularly gifted me for . . . that I have no passion for, I am out of my Passion Zone . . . and consequently, I am missing the goodness of the passion that God has built in to each one of us.  I am frustrated because it isn’t how I was gifted and it is unnatural for me to be do this at least at this level.

It’s difficult for me to help the others grow when I am focused on trying to be an expert at something I was never intended to be an expert in in the first place.  Does that make sense?

It can take a lot of focus and time to figure out what God has designed us for.  But it is much easier to go the opposite way . . . to figure out areas where you have no passion . . . that you could probably do if you had to.  These are the areas where we need to minimize our focus.  This process will help us to surface the areas we are specially gifted in and are passionate about.
When we are doing something that we are ho-hum about . . . we may be doing Good for God and His kingdom.  When we are doing what God has specially gifted us for . . . we are giving our Best for Him and His kingdom!

A resource for helping you discover your special gifts and talents which my wife Kris and I have found to be very helpful is a book by Eric Reese “S.H.A.P.E.”.

As always thank you for reading!  Let’s not settle for the Good that God has given us, let’s find our passion and discover the Best that He has for us and in so doing help God’s kingdom grow as well as our own contentment!

Blessings!

Pat

A friend of mine, whose cancer was in remission just heard that it (the cancer) is back.  That brings to mind all the things we are taught about death and dying and heaven and hell.

It also brings up a host of questions that seem to become more and more prevalent as I become older myself and I see death’s sweeping hand taking people closer and closer to me; Is heaven really a place I will go when I die?  Will I go there if I said the Baptist sinner’s prayer and not the Presbyterian’s or vice a versa?

Assuming that I got it right on the sinner’s prayer and that heaven is an actual place where I will see my deceased loved ones and enjoy no judgment, no right and wrong and . . . get to actually be with Jesus . . . why would I want to put myself through hell on earth to stay here and not go on to utopia?  That mindset just doesn’t seem to make sense . . . do we truly believe what we hear about utopia . . . heaven?!

Could it be that when we have terminal ailments . . . me with my blocked arteries . . . my friend with cancer . . . that that is the time that God intends for us to come home to Him?

Could it be that by exercising our free will and seeking out medical care we extend our time here on earth . . . beyond what may have been God’s plan?

Or, did God put the medical care here for us in order that we could extend our lives . . . so that we could continue to positively impact others’ lives for longer than we would have?

We westerners have been trained and taught that that is just what we do.  We get sick, we do everything in our power to get well.  This mindset goes from the smallest sniffle to the blocked artery or bone cancer.

Or is our advanced medical care technology and system just something God allowed us to figure out in order to offset the processed and otherwise unhealthy foods that we have come up with to cause many of these terminal ailments?!?!

I can’t tell you that I have answers to all these questions that I pose this morning.  All I can tell you is that God knows everything, including, what is best for us!  We just have to talk to Him but more than that, we need to listen to Him for His direction and guidance in our lives.  That is an easy statement to make . . . just listen to God and do what He says . . . I am the living proof that that is a life long and super challenging task . . . I make progress  . . . I lose ground . . . I make progress . . . I lose ground.  Hopefully, overall, I make progress in God’s eyes.

I think it boils down to a couple of central messages, one of which is: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 
John 14:5-7 (NIV).  We have to first seek our creator before we can hear from Him the direction for our next step.

Thank you for reading and for your support,

Blessings,

Pat

I read a lot of things relating to my spiritual growth and living the way God wants me to . . . doesn’t mean that I am always successful.  But one I have to tell you that I have received a lot of good, solid teaching from Rick Warren at Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California.  Today’s posting was inspired by a daily devotional e-mail I received from Rick “Purpose Driven Connection”, several weeks ago.  That coupled with my own walk and experiences helped to create today’s post.  Thank you Pastor Rick!

Many of you know that Kris and I have spent time serving as missionaries in Kenya.  During our first trip there, Kris and I separated.  No . . . No . . . nothing like that!  I mean, on this particular day, Kris when with one group to work at an orphanage and I went with another to high school in the slums.

As a little background to this about 30 of us were on this trip and we though we were allowed to bring two suitcases at no extra charge (that dates me doesn’t it!) we each only brought one suitcase and a plastic storage container.  These containers were filled with everything from medical supplies, medicines, school supplies, clothing and shoes for the folks we would be working with.

Back to our story; my group was at the school to deliver some of the school supplies we brought with us.  We all met in the schoolmaster’s office with Pastor Steve who was our leader as well as some of the teachers and unpacked our gifts for them.

Afterwards, our little group broke up and we went out into the schoolyard to connect with some of the kids.  While I was standing there, I saw the schoolmaster walking across the makeshift soccer field toward me.  When he finally reached me he greeted me again with his sing-songy Kenyan accent.  And then he said, “Ah yew a meenistah?”  I was taken aback because he knew who our pastor was.  He had just had him in his office 5 minutes ago!  I answered, “No, I’m not a minister, I am just one of the people here on mission.  Steve, the tall guy over there is our pastor.”  He retorted, “Yew ah weeth thees group yes?” I agreed.  He continued, “ahnd yew ah heeya serving Christ yes?” Again, I answered yes.  With his voice elevated for effect he concluded, “Theen yew ah a meenistah!  We ah ahll meenistahs!”  I got it!

In chapter 40 of his book; “The Purpose Driven Life” Pastor Rick Warren asks the question: “What will be the contribution of your life?”  My translation of this what will be the legacy you will leave behind after you are gone?  Will it be money, fame, property or lots of toys?  Or will it be changed enriched lives . . . Lives that are different because those people came in contact with you during their life?

That is ministry.  It’s not a big scary thing it is just simply anytime you use your gifts and talents to help others . . . you are ministering.

The bible talks a lot about ministry and the fact that every Christian on this earth for ministry:

We were Created for ministry (Ephisians, 2:10)
We were Saved for ministry (2 Timothy 1:9)
We are Called Into ministry (1 Peteer 2:9-10)
We are Gifted for ministry (1 Peter 4:10)
We are Authorized for ministry (Mathew 28:18-20)
We are Commanded to minister (Mathew 20:26-28)
We are Prepared for ministry (Ephisians 4:11-12)
WE are Needed for ministry (1 Corithians 12:27)
We are Accountable For and Rewarded according to his or her ministry (Colossians 3:23-24)

Look at 2 Timothy 1:9 LB

                          “He saved us and chose us for His holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was His plan long before the world began.” 

Why did God save us?  So we could serve Him.  A non-serving Christian is a contradiction

So, If we were saved to serve God, how do we do that?  We do through ministry by using the gifts and talents God gave us!

But how do we serve in ministry?  Well, I can tell you this, It is much, much easier than may think.  As the schoolmaster in Kenya helped me to understand: When we help others in the name of God . . . “We ah ahll meenistahs!”

In upcoming posts, I will discuss some of the super easy but effective ways of being in ministry, helping others.

As always, thank you for reading and following.

Blessings,

Pat

Being a believer is a life full of contrasts and inside out thinking . . . it’s a real balancing act.

The world’s values and economy and God’s values and economy are pretty much at odds with each other . . . about 180 degrees apart.  The world tells us to look out for number one . . . that it’s all about us . . . grab everything you can before someone else gets it.  Do whatever we have to so that we will feel good!

God’s values tell us to turn the other cheek . . . to love our enemies . . . care for the widows and orphans . . . to first be a servant in order to be a leader.

But, as I was studying and preparing a sermon message, it came to me that there is a great way to marry these two diametrically opposed value systems . . . it’s with ministry!

It is actually pretty simple but it does require a difficult first step . . . start serving others.  When we put others first and help them in the name of God . . . that’s ministry.  And the way God set the universe into motion, is that when we open our hearts to serve others and help others . . . we are the ones who are blessed . . . and feel good about ourselves.  Oh, we definitely bless those we are helping but I would argue that we are the ones with the biggest blessing and . . . we develop a purpose and passion for our lives and become the really self-actualized people.

Want to look out for number one . . . help someone else!
Just a thought!

Thanks for following and reading.
Blessings,

Pat