Archive | February, 2014

Knowing God is at work

17 Feb

One of the greatest compliments someone can ever pay me on a Sunday morning is “Were you preaching directly to me??”  Not that I do that.  The number of times I write a sermon and then something happens in the life of the church that is a perfect match for it is MORE than coincidence.  Often people think “David is just preaching to address this.. or that ..”  And they give me far too much credit.

When someone says “You were speaking directly to me” they need to realize that God engineered that!!  I really pray and seek His face for everything that I bring to the pulpit at EBC.  And there are even times when He leads me in a direction and, like Jeremiah, I say “Do we REALLY want to say that, Lord?”

S0 every time someone says something like that to me, it serves to confirm that HE is at work at Ebenezer.  And His people are listening to Him.  And I really like that!

So you want to lead??

13 Feb

Why?? Why do you want to lead??

When I first surrendered to ministry, I found myself receiving advice from every minister in the woods around Greenville, SC. Some of it was priceless. Some… Well, let’s not go there. And one puzzled me for YEARS. One minister looked me dead in the eyes, quite dramatically, and said “If you can be happy doing anything else, don’t do this.” And that was all.

I wondered about that for years… I’d like to think this is what he meant:

Leaders will be held to a higher standard one day when we stand before Christ. I firmly believe Jesus will hold me accountable for every church I serve. If this doesn’t make a pastor quake in his boots, something is wrong with him. So you want to lead?? Remember, God will hold you accountable.

Others will look up to you. And about that, Jesus warned in Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” (NASB). Wow! We WILL be held accountable for EVERYTHING. ESPECIALLY the influence you have over young ones in Christ.

Leadership is a heavy mantle. Honestly, if I ever get it figured out I will let you know. If God truly calls you to it, He will make it happen. As long as you trust Him and follow as tightly as you can, you will make it through. But if you seek leadership for the pride or “fame” of it, now is the time to run and run like crazy.

One of THOSE moments

3 Feb

I had one of those moments yesterday in worship … One of those for which I am so thankful.

I have never heard a fellow pastor say “I just love doing funerals.”  I probably never will.  And you will NEVER hear me say that.  While a funeral is typically a simple service, every one takes a little out of you as a pastor.  Even though it does help when the deceased knows Christ, it makes these massive emotional withdrawals from your heart.  And when we have a bunch of them back to back, you get to this place where you feel like you are in the surf and huge waves keep crashing and knocking you down.

January is usually a busy month for these kinds of things.  And in 2014, February might be just as bad. After far too many funerals this past month, I got a phone call on Saturday that a dear lady was close to death.  I drove out to see her and her family.  I drove back, thinking soon Diana and I would get dressed for the EBC Sweetheart Banquet and have a date!!  Then, another call … Yet ANOTHER sweet lady from EBC was close to death.  I drove back to the hospital and prayed with her and her family.  As I drove back to the house, I started thinking to myself “Man, I’m not sure I can take this.”  After so much of it, your heart just aches.

During the Sweetheart Banquet I got a text that one of those ladies died.  Right before 8:30 worship Sunday morning, I got a phone call that the other one died.  Within 12 hours, Ebenezer lost two of the kindest ladies I have known in a while.

So, there I sat on the front pew during 8:30 worship.  Hurting.  Thinking about how those families were hurting.  Thinking about how empty my emotional gas tank was right then.  And we began to sing … Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praise of His people.  So I just started signing as hard and loud as I could.  IT WAS AWESOME!! (Not the sound, mind you.  I am sure somewhere a pack of hound dogs was howling at the tops of their lungs.)

Then as I sat there, listening to the choir, God spoke …  I realized that I was right:  I cannot do this.  BUT HE CAN!!  He filled my heart.  He reminded me to stop TRYING to do it myself.  The words the choir sang were like medicine for my wounds.

Every time I come to worship with an empty cup, He fills it.  And not because I am a pastor.  Because I am HIS child!!

An Open Letter to the Parents of young children

1 Feb

Specifically, I hope every parent of a young child at Ebenezer will read this.  But it applies to every parent I know.  There is a battle waging for the hearts of your children.  Satan is trying everything he knows to steer them away from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  And much of his success or failure will be placed in YOUR HANDS.

Been praying and thinking a lot today.  Thinking about my role at Ebenezer.  Thinking about how one day, I will stand before God and He will not only ask me about how I lived my life, He will hold me accountable for how I shepherded His flocks at the churches I have served.  One huge truth swelled up in my heart today and, even though I seldom EVER blog on a Saturday, I had to write this down.  One of my jobs is to remind parents of this fact:

YOU will teach your children FAR MORE about the reality of a relationship with Christ than I ever will.  

Your children will see if God is real to you in how YOU SERVE HIM.  HOW YOU REVERE HIM.  HOW YOU WORSHIP HIM.  Makes me wonder about what the children of parents who send them to church but never make time for it themselves REALLY think about God.  I KNOW there are parents with jobs that prevent them from being at church, and I KNOW there are circumstances that sometimes prevent it.  But how about those times when parents do the drive-by and then go out with friends or do their own thing??  Those that deep down, if they really would admit it, don’t find a relationship with God to be all that??  What are they teaching their children about LIVING FOR CHRIST?

But those are not the only parents who need to think about this.  WE ALL DO.  Because how we handle adversity and how we deal with crises and how ethically we do business with others ALL teach our children about how people live and conduct themselves.  We are teaching our children the realities of God by HOW WE LIVE.  No excuses.  No bones to be made about it.

Even when we do our best,  ULTIMATELY, each child will grow into an adult and be responsible for their own decision. All a parent can do it do their best to show Christ to their children. Some parents do the best they can to show their children Christ and the children still grow up and go their own way … Don’t ever stop loving, praying, and showing them Christ!!

What are YOU teaching your children about God?  Because you will teach them far more than I ever will …