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We Were Here!
By: James Smith
As you look through history, you find remnants of people who preached and believed the Apostolic doctrine. Whether in parts or in whole, the Acts 2:38 message has been found throughout history. Consider the countless, precious people who gave their lives in defense of the Apostolic message. People who suffered the death of martyrdom unnoticed. Praying saints who never did see their world come to Christ. Men and women who held on to the promises of God's Word, in a day and place when it would cost them their lives.
Being Pentecostal is popular today. Even a good Catholic friend of mine recently told me that their services are becoming more Charismatic. I'm not sure what he meant by that, but I guess he was trying to say, that they were embracing the Spirit of worshipfound in Pentecost.
However, time has a way of erasing things. The tide of generations coming and going, dull and even erase people, governments and religions. Why, if we didn't dig into the earth in the deserts, we wouldn't even know that some civilizations ever existed. Whole nations have been erased from the earth without anyone even noticing that they were there. People who were once proud and who ruled large kingdoms are only remembered in small bits of history if at all.
What will be said of our generation should the Lord tarry 500 more years? Now, I'm with most of you on this one. I believe the Lord is coming back very soon. However, we do not know this for sure. What will future generations remember about us? What will be in the history books of the future about us?
I don't believe there has ever been a brighter day for the Church. We are living on a planet with over 6 billion people living on it. If there ever was a day in which God wanted to give a great revival, I believe today is that day. However, we should ask ourselves, are we looking forward? Are we considering the effect of all that we are doing for the Lord, on future people. What will they say about us? Will they remember us?
Some time ago, I read a book about the Nazi concentration camps from World War II. The story was about a little Jewish girl who was too small to work for the Nazis, and had somehow escaped being shot for being too young. It was often their practice to kill someone if they could not work. So, this little girl lived her life through much of the war and many of the concentration camps.
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One of the biggest problems in many of our churches is a lack of leadership. Where do you find people who have leadership abilities?
"You don't have to bring in a hireling to find leadership in your church…the person you are looking for might be closer than you think."
People who have displayed faithfulness in small things. He might be the usher who is constantly faithful to the duties of ushering. Don't leave that person doing the same thing for 30 years because they do it so well. Move them into areas of leadership.
Look for people who worship well and who love their pastor. You might think they have no leadership ability, and they may not. But their love for God and their Pastor will give them the zeal they will need to learn how to lead from you.[ read more...]
Have you ever preached a message, then walked away from the pulpit feeling like the message was more for you than anyone in the congregation?
I preached one of those last night. The title of it was Being Fruitful. In John chapter 15, Jesus lets us know that if we are going to be a part of the vine, that we are going to have to be fruitful. I'm not sure we totally understand what that means. Often times we allow ourselves to be overwhelmingly busy with situations that will never be fruitful. So much of a ministers time is spent on things that if we were to take the time to think about it, could be delegated. People will let you do all the work if you let them. They will smile at you, thank you and tell you that you are the greatest thing that ever happened to their church. But ultimately you have to ask yourself, what am I really accomplishing that is relative to my calling.
The scripture tells us to make our calling and election sure. Of course it is calling us here to settle in our minds what is our calling. However, it is saying more than that to us. It is telling us also to know our job description. I have learned by Pastoring, that people will let the Pastor mop the floors, shovel the sidewalks, cut the grass, and nearly every other menial task of the church if he lets them. There is a certain source of self gratification that comes with having done some manual labor. It is even good exercise. However, we truly have to ask ourselves, is this my calling. Did God call me to this city to mop the kitchen floor and to cut the grass? Did he call me here to teach every single Bible Study? If you answered yes to those questions, then keep at it. However, you are about to find that the human body is only capable of so much. As well, your mind can only take in so much information.
If however, you were called to that city to Preach the Gospel and Pastor a church, you may need to learn the art of delegation. Finding someone to accomplish a simple task is not as hard as we make it. It might be as easy as making a list of areas you need help with and putting it on the bulletin board of the church. Let people sign up to help you. God brought those people to your church for more reasons than paying a tithe and showing up on time. He brought them into your local assembly to help you raise up a church for the name of Jesus.
Reaching the lost is not just the Pastor's job. In fact, your soul winning efforts would be better served by teaching and training others to be soul winners. Now we all know that you may be better at it than they are, but training and delegating others may serve to bring more results. The scripture tells us that we are chosen and anointed to bear much fruit. I'm not sure I fully understand this idea of much fruit. I'm only capable of so much. However, by using the many talents and abilities of those placed in my care, much fruit can be harvested.[ read more...]
What attributes qualify us for leadership? Here is a few suggestions on how these qualities might be put to use.
1. Integrity – Where integrity is at stake, the leader works publicly. Behavior is the only score that’s kept. Lose integrity, and a leader will find himself in a directionless organization going nowhere.
2. Vulnerability – Vulnerable leaders trust in the abilities of other people and allow those who follow them to do their best. An invulnerable leader can be only as good as his own performance.
3. Discernment – This attribute lies somewhere between wisdom and judgement. Leaders are required to see many things (pain, beauty, anxiety, loneliness, and heartbreak). Two elements to keep your eye on: the detection of nuance and the perception of changing realities. What kind of antennae do you have?
4. Empathy – Without understanding the cares, yearnings, and struggles of the human spirit, how could anyone presume to lead a group of people? Person skills always precede professional skills.
5. Courage – When conflict must be resolved, when justice must be defined and carried out, when promises need to be kept, when the organization needs to hear who counts – these are the times when leaders act with ruthless honesty and live up to their covenant with the people they lead.
6. Humor – A compassionate sense of humor requires a broad perspective on the human condition and an accounting for many points of view. You’ll find a sense of humor essential to living with ambiguity.[ read more...]
Any licensed or ordained minister in the U.S. who performs ministerial duties and who is employed by the church qualifies for a housing allowance which is a great tax benefit. Housing allowances are not taxable to federal or state income taxes, so you can save taxes by utilizing the housing allowance. In general the rules are as follows.
To have a housing allowance, you must have a resolution pre-authorizing the housing allowance. A pastor cannot designate his own housing…it must be done by either the church board or the church membership. The amount designated goes to pay all housing expenses: rent or house payment, utilities, taxes, insurance, repairs & maintenance, upkeep, association dues, furnishing & appliances (purchase or repair). Any expenditure that is for the upkeep of the house you live in is included in the housing allowance.
The housing allowance is ONLY for your primary residence, not any other vacation home, etc. The allowance is paid by church funds as a portion of the overall compensation of the minister. The housing allowance used cannot exceed the actual expenses incurred for the housing expenses. The amount paid toward the house payment cannot exceed the fair rental value of the home.
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"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:47-51)
At the beginning of this chapter in John we find Jesus feeding a multitude of people. This multitude of people had followed Jesus because they saw all of the miracles that He had been doing. He had been healing the sick everywhere he went. After a while, this group of people were getting hungry. Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread, although Jesus already had a plan about what He was going to do. While they were talking, Peter's brother, Andrew, mentioned that there was a young boy who had brought his lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish. Jesus told the disciples to sit the men down. When they sat them down there were about five thousand men. Jesus takes the loaves of bread, gives thanks and distributes it out to the disciples to give to the men. Afterwards, when all were full, they gathered up the leftovers and filled up twelve baskets. Jesus leaves from this place and crosses over to Capernaum. The people finally realize that Jesus and the disciples have left. They get in their ships and go to Capernaum and find Him there. Jesus turns and says to the multitude:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26)
Jesus was telling this multitude that they were seeking Him for the wrong reasons and ultimately, for the wrong bread. He then tells them that He is the bread of Life. And when you eat of that Bread you will never hunger again.[ read more...]
One of the reasons so many ministries become discouraged and too often fail is the inability to understand God's timing. Having lived for the Lord for over 25 years and served Him in ministry for over 20, I admit that there are very few times when God acts when I think He should.
In my own ministry, this has caused me much grief and discouragement. I'm an action person. When I see a job that needs to be done, I find a way to get it done before others even realize there was a need. It drives me nuts when I see other people drag their feet when there should be action in a needful situation. So waiting on God who does not operate in the same time zone as I do has been very hard. (CAN I GET A WITNESS?)[ read more...]
Investing The Talents
The following is an article being shared with the Indiana Trumpet. You might want to place it in your weekly bulletin or in a place where your members can read it.
Mt 25 14-30
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey...
This often misunderstood passage of scripture is a key parable for real revival. Revival and growth can only come when we understand and implement the simple factors spoken of here.
The man traveling into a far country is Jesus Christ. His servants are the Pastors of churches and the talents are the saints of the churches. When Jesus placed a shepherd in the church, he was doing more than placing someone there who would watch over the souls of the church. He was also placing someone there who would lead that group of people into personal and numerical growth (Revival).
This parable was not written to the saints, it was written to the Pastors of the churches. As a saint, this is important for me to understand as it allows me to comprehend the burden and psyche of my Pastor.
Every Pastor is under a great burden for the souls of not only those who attend the local church, but also for the souls of those people in the community who do not attend. This burden does not leave a Pastor day or night, the entire time he Pastor’s a particular church. Those who do not understand this burden will usually misunderstand the actions and decisions of their Pastor.
Notice in the parable the Lord gave us, the servant/Pastor pays a great price if he does not invest his Lord’s talents/saints wisely. Saints will wonder why their Pastor is pushing so hard to begin a new program or simply encourage the church to get involved in evangelism. They will grumble and complain because he has asked them to consider a new ministry the church is capable of implementing. Yet, regardless of their lack of cooperation, the Pastor is still under the directive to cause every talent/saint in the church to become involved.
Notice what happened to the servant who buried his talent in the ground. His labor was to hide his talents. This Pastor simply preached to the “Us 4 and no more crowd”. He was satisfied with a lack of growth and had grown weary of trying to get the church to become involved in soul winning. So he stopped trying. He just kept the same old crowd. His burden for the community died and his church had no increase. With this mindset, this servant purchased a harsh judgment.[ read more...]
If you desire for people to follow you, you have to connect with them. The catalyst of your relationship with them at any level may very well have to be a result of your constant effort to associate with them. An unbeliever’s only basis for coming into the knowledge of truth may well be his relationship with his teacher/preacher.
Connect with them on a personal level. Find out what it is that interests them and try to find a common interest. Get to know them personally. Visit their home. Invite them to yours. Go places with them. Let them know you care for them on more than a Pastoral level. If they consider you to be their friend, they will support you much more than if you are only an authority to them.
Connect with them on a professional level. If he is a doctor, read a few books on the latest surgery procedures. If he coaches football, learn a bit about the game. If she is a teacher, talk education with her.
Connect with them in your preaching. Personalize your preaching. Major newspapers write their articles on the 6th grade educational level. Hence they are able to reach a broader audience than if they wrote them on the college level where most people may not understand certain wording. Bring bible stories and situations into present day circumstances. Touch home once in a while.[ read more...]