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By: James Smith
I'm trying to understand Mark 9. I have been examining every word spoken by the disciples and our Lord. We know that the disciples wanted with everything that was in them to be able to deliver the boy. Why else would they later risk criticism and His strong rebuke to ask why they had failed. We know that the Lord wanted them to be able to do the miracle because of the rebuke. So what went wrong? Why a prayer and no miracle.
I've been praying for the answer to that. I have always thought that if I prayed enough or fasted enough, the prayer would be answered. If I could somehow earn enough points by fasting, then a miracle was sure to come. But then I read IS 58. Here we find that it's not the fact that you are fasting, but rather the intent or purpose for which you are fasting. And so I have been praying and fasting with Isa 58 in my heart and mind. Lord help me to fast for the right reasons, to provoke Love.
Beyond Isa 58 though, I have found what I believe is a key to what I am searching for. "Compassion"
When I read the account of Mark 9, I was looking at what the Lord said. How could we not hear Him. "O faithless and Perverse generation, how long shall I suffer you?" Then I was looking at what the disciples asked when they desired to know why they had failed. But what I had totally overlooked was what the little boys father said to the Lord. Did you get it? "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us"!
As a father, I have felt that man's compassion. I have held my sick children up to the Lord with tears of compassion for a sick baby. So, I think I understand the pleading and hunger he had in his heart when he asked the Lord to have compassion on them. When I read that I began a search on the word compassion.
It is in the Bible 41 times in 39 verses. The Old Testament is full of verses which tell how the Lord is "Full of Compassion".
- Mat 9:36 Compassion on the multitude...of lost people.
- Mat 14:14 Compassion caused Him to heal the sick of the multitude there.
- Mat 15:32 Compassion caused Him to feed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes.
- Mat 18:27 It was the lack of compassion which caused the servant to be given to the tormentors.
- Mat 20:34 Compassion caused Him to heal blinded eyes.
- Mat 1:41 Compassion moved Him to heal the Leper.
- Luke 7:13 Compassion made Him raise the widow's son.
- Luke 15:20 With compassion the father received the prodigal son.
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When God fills us with His Spirit and we become a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we automatically have a ministry. What is that ministry? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:
17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
We have a ministry of reconciliation. Reconcile is a verb that means to reconsecrate (devote or dedicate to some purpose). Our responsibility to our world is one that requires us to reach out and "minister" to those in need. There are various ministries that we can take on. Whether one is a greeter as David desired in Psalm 84:
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.[ read more...]
“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” I found this old Russian proverb in the early pages of a recent book written by Gary Keller. The title of this book, “The One Thing” jumped out at me above all the other titles on the shelf. This concept of One Thing is totally foreign to me. I have always thought myself quite adept at doing several things at one time. I have done it all my life. I learned this early in my working career. In fact, the manager of the McDonalds restaurant where I found my first job told me, “The one thing you will learn and take with you from this job is the ability to do many things at one time.” It was not long before I learned first hand what he was talking about. Since that day to this, I can rarely remember doing only one thing at a time.
There is in me a drive that feels like I am not being productive unless I am accomplishing several things at once. Rarely do I ever do “One Thing”. According to Keller’s book, doing more than One Thing is usually not the most productive or profitable way to conduct oneself. This book has some incredible insight as to how to stay on track and build momentum towards your goals, but for many of us preachers, doing more than one thing at a time is a way of life that we are unable to change.
Most Pastors and ministers of the Gospel have families and ministries as well as secular jobs or businesses. This creates a constant pulling in different directions that leaves us feeling tired, confused and even guilty that we are unable to accomplish all that we want to do in any of these areas. We endlessly wrestle with our time constraints as well as our energy levels for each of these.
It would be very nice to do only One Thing Mr. Keller, but for the average preacher out there, this prospect of staying focused, is probably going to be a challenge for us beyond the pages of your book.
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God gives leaders gifts and talents that fit the mission to which they were called. What raises men above their fellows is the degree to which they developed those gifts through devotion and discipline.
Discipline - Without this essential quality, all other gifts remain as dwarfs; they cannot grow. Before we can conquer the world, we must first conquer self.
Vision - Those who have most powerfully and permanently influenced their generation have been "seers" - people who ha e seen more and father than others - persons of faith, for faith is vision.
Wisdom - If knowledge is the accumulation of facts, and intelligence the development of reason, wisdom is heavenly discernment. It is insight into the heart of things. Wisdom involves knowing God and the subtleties of the human heart. More than knowledge, it is the right application of knowledge in moral and spiritual matters, in handling dilemmas, in negotiating complex relationships.
Decision - When all the facts are in, swift and clear decision is the mark of a true leader. A visionary may see, but a leader must decide. An impulsive person may be quick to declare a preference; but a leader must weigh evidence and make his decision on sound premises.[ read more...]
In The Holy War by John Bunyan we find that for Prince Emmanuel to take back the city of Mansoul, he will go through the same gates that Diabolus took advantage of. In the first part, there were a listing of four of the captains and their first lieutenants who were assigned to go after the gates. From the analogy that Bunyan uses, these four men were preachers who were specifically going to gain a foothold in the Ear Gate.
The first captain is Captain Boanerges along with aide, Mr. Thunder. They all wore black and the insignia on their uniforms was three lightning bolts. They led a company of ten thousand men. Obviously, Bunyan gets his word picture from the description of James and John who were referred to as the Sons of Thunder by the Lord. They were men who appealed to the authority aspect of ministry.
For Mansoul to be redeemed, the gates will have to be stormed with authority. This brings up the question as to where a preacher gets his authority. This is not the contrived and manipulative power that comes from spiritual abuse but rather it is an authority that confronts the issue of sin and points to the way of redemption. For this kind of authority to come to a preacher’s life there are some key components that will have to be incorporated.
Before going further, here are the words spoken by Captain Boanerges:
Be it known unto you, O unhappy and rebellious Mansoul, that the most gracious King, the great King Shaddai, my Master, hath sent me unto you with a commission (and so he showed to the town his broad seal) to reduce you to his obedience; and he hath commanded me, in case you yield upon my summons, to carry it to you as if you were my friends or brethren; but he also hath bid , that if, after the summons to submit, you still stand out and rebel, we should endeavor to take you by force.
First, he will have to be a man who has an absolute confidence in the authority of the Scriptures. This means that he will have to believe that Scripture as we have it today is infallible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), inerrant (Psalm 12:6; 19:7-11; 119:140), authoritative (Psalm 119:89), and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:17). For the lightning bolts to be able to thunder from a pulpit, the man who is standing in that pulpit must have the belief that what he is preaching is literally the words of God.
Second, he will have to be a man who unwaveringly preaches those Scriptures. This means that a preacher ought to make a commitment to preaching through the whole of the Scriptures. He cannot afford to take a hodge-podge approach to preach here and there and cherry pick the texts that come to his mind but rather to make a commitment to work through books of the Bible and make them useful for the edification and equipping of the saints (Ephesians 4:12-14). We will have to clearly mark the thought that however the Word is handled in the pulpit will be the way the Word is handled by those who hear us. If you place a high priority on the Word, you shall discover that over time, the congregation will place a high priority on the Word also.[ read more...]
All churches must learn to use their announcements as a tool to create anticipation and excitement for the future growth of the church, both short and long term.
Announcements are part of the 'marketing' campaign of the Church. Why is it that corporations will spend millions of dollars and months of planning on their 'announcing', yet we spend very little time and money concerning the marketing of our church and its events.
· Make sure to announce only those events that pertain to the entire body of the church.
· If you start announcing personal events, you are guaranteed to forget something or somebody along the way, and you will end up offending somebody.
· Personal events such as showers, weddings, etc. can be included in Church Bulletins, and Church Websites.
· Another easy way to announce personal events is to create a power point slide show of all of the upcoming events of the church including these personal events. This slide show can be shown before each service as part of a countdown, or simply as a media presentation before service.
· Announcements can also be used to create excitement for[ read more...]
Five Things you must do to get Unstuck!
Has your church replaced truth with tradition? Have you done the same things for so long that neither God nor man could change things at your church? Do committees and programs substitute for the moving of the Holy Ghost? Has your church become boring and predictable? If so, your church may be stuck in a rut and may be unable to see a way out.
In his book, Rut, Rot or Revival, A.W. Tozer states,
"The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday's service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut.
The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been, determines what is, and what is, determines what will be. That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so.
You can predict what everyone will do in a cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God's people are supposed to grow. As long as there is growth, there is an air of unpredictability. Certainly we cannot predict exactly, but in many churches you just about can. Everybody knows just what will happen, and this has become our deadliest enemy."[ read more...]
Let’s look at some real examples of effective preaching. Our text will be from Acts 2 where Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and from Acts 3 where the lame man was healed while they were on their way to the temple. In both of these instances Peter ministered in such a way that thousands were saved. I think we can learn a lot from Peter (Acts 2:14-38 & 3:12-26).
Effective preachers must study. As you look at these two messages from Peter, you will see that he had studied the word. In both instances he was suddenly given the opportunity to preach, and he was “instant in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). There is no shortcut to “studying to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
When I first started preaching I would minister on a different book of the bible every service – and we had three services each week! I used at least seven commentaries on each book. After researching them thoroughly, I would then seek the Lord as to how He wanted me to present the message and what kind of application He wanted for His people.
This took a lot of time and effort, but it was well worth it. It placed ample research under my belt to draw upon later when I wouldn’t have as much time. Taking shortcuts to in depth study will rob you of the rich jewels that the Lord desires to give you from His word and Spirit.
Effective preachers must memorize the Word. There is nothing more powerful than the Word of God. Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, quoted large and obscure passages of scripture. He didn’t pull out a scroll and start looking things up, he knew them by heart. We have the promise that His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11). It is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The word will do more in the hearts of people than I ever can. When I was first saved I made up my mind that I wanted to give people God’s answer to the problems of life and not only what I thought. My opinion is not worth much, but what God has to say is of eternal value.
Nothing has helped me in my preaching and teaching more than the memorization of scripture. Even if people have a hard time taking it all in, it will go on to work in their lives for years to come. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever he has said unto us” (John 14:26). His promise is that He will bring the appropriate scripture to us when it is needed the most. It was said of Jesus that when He was in a house in Capernaum, and there was so many people crowding into the house that there was no longer any room, that “He preached the word unto them” (Mark 2:2). It’s the word that makes our ministry truly effective as it did Jesus’.[ read more...]
Early on in my days as an RN, I greatly enjoyed working with patients who had come through multiple trauma situations. Even when I was in nursing school, I would frequently spend my evenings at work as a patient care tech, in the Emergency Department or in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. The reason was because these areas were generally the hubs for patients who had multiple trauma insults to contend with. Then when I graduated from nursing school, I went to work in the SICU and it was there that I found a niche specifically with neuro-trauma and the other injuries associated with the brain and the spinal cord.
There have been numerous times that I have seen patients that hardly had a mark on their body but had been dealt a massive blow to the head to the extent that they never recovered. In fact, far more than I would like to have liked, we would send them to long-term care facilities basically in a very obtunded or comatose state. Never again would they function normally and be able to assume even the most basic of daily functions of living. A perfectly healthy body but with horrific brain injury that disabled them.
John Bunyan wrote another classic besides Pilgrim’s Progress. It was a book called The Holy War. The focus of the story was the capture of a city called Mansoul. In it Diabolus (the devil) has taken it and the battle rages as the Prince Emmanuel works to recapture it. The way it was overcome was because the gates of the city had been compromised. Diabolus and his wicked imps had traversed it by taking advantage of the Eye Gate and Eye Gate which are symbolic of the use of the senses to cause the capture of the city.
It is imperative that a minister guards the gates of his mind. He is constantly under the assault and duress of the devil and because of this, our mind must be worked on very diligently to prevent the capture of it. Don’t be surprised at the tares, which may loom among the wheat because this is the way it has to be. In fact Paul cautioned the ever-vigilant servant when he expressed the fact that there must be heresies to grow like clover in a pasture. The reason is for the church to be approved by God (1 Cor. 11:19).[ read more...]
Developing and maintaining a budget is a FAMILY AFFAIR. If you are married, you must work together. If you have children, this is the proper time to teach them how to operate within their means.
To make a budget work, there are some things that must be attended to prior to spending.
Together you should:
- Decide on needed items and plan how much can be spent before going shopping.
- Always use a shopping list that has been approved by both spouses.
- Buy only the planned items.
- Compare prices and quality before buying.
- Use credit only when necessary for necessary items.
- Do not use credit for items that are not realistically needed.
- Decide together on a vacation spending
- Encourage each other of the benefits of saving
- Make realistic goals of being debt free
- Start gift shopping early and stay within a prescribed means
- Don’t over spend just to make someone in the family feel good.
- Decide how much to save on a regular basis.
Set down together and discuss the family budget and include in the discussion the benefits of becoming debt free for the future.[ read more...]