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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Pastor's Prayer

For almost three years I have struggled in the place I have been placed by God. This is the prayer that seemed to simply pour out of me in order to be what I am supposed to be in God's plan. I submit this with the hopes to encourage all who may struggle in their faith. And I am so grateful for a congregation that loves me.

"Father the prayer of your son comes to you now. Your Son's sacrifice is all that I have, yet it is also all that I need to be your son. while I am not allowed to take your grace as a cheap overture, but to soberly remember it was a priceless, sacrificial grace given to me, I am grateful you are not focused on my imperfections, but the possibility of what Your Son's Perfection can accomplish in me and through me.
Father, I have slipped in my confidence. Not in your provisions, but in my confidence to lead your people. I have discounted my value, my influence on people, and for that I seek your forgiveness. You chose me, equipped me and and abundantly provided for me in leading your people.
Lord God of Moses I have behaved like this great patriarch in arguing with you about my abilities. I am foolish! It isn't my abilities that put me in this position. It was your Sovereign Hand which placed me at CCC and developed HCCD. It is your Hand which will deliver victory in the ministry you created.
Lord, bless me with your power & wisdom and give me your heart for people. My heart must be in love with our people as well as with you. I love you. I love most of your people and I love those who don't know you. Father, I need to love everyone. God said to Moses, as Moses argued about his assignment, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf & mute? Who gives them sight and makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Ex. 4:12)
I am behaving like your servant Moses when he was chosen by you. Father, despite this you used Him in a powerful way. There would be other confrontations, yet you stayed with him.
Father, I ask for your mercy. Help me Father not to use that power to do things my way, but to always stay patient with your people. father, i do not wish to be insolent or to ask for more than is due me, but may Your ministry prosper under the time I am in leadership. Father, as it prospers in numerical growth, spiritual growth, and influential growth, may Joshuas be raised up. Joshuas which run CCC ministries, HCCD ministries, CCC itself and aother ministries throughout Your Kingdom.
Father, i know i need to guard my heart, but Lord I desire this for your glory and not my prestige.
Father, as your performed miracles to Pharoah may you do the same through me. Lord, I know it won't be me, but you that is moving powerfully through your servant. Help me to NEVER lose sight of that fact.
Lord, if it pleases you, if this is truly your plan in CCC, HCCD and the Kingdom at large, use me to draw people to you. Lord, I pray that it is in large numbers. I pray for the unsaved to discover you through Your children's care and ministry. I pray for your wayward children to find an assembly they feel welcomed in and encourages them to live out their faith in a genuine, bold way.
I also pray for leadership provisions from two perspectives. The first Father is that I would do and allow what is necessary to insure that leadership development is part and parcel to the CCC & HCCD ministry. Secondly, godly "transfers" that unify the Kingdom would come and help us.
Lord, without any doubt I believe you have placed us at 4710 N. Polk Ave. the work You have designed is to be taught and transferred to other minstry sites.
Lord you know the needs for running ministry today and you can and will provide should our faith, humbleness and obedience seek to be good representations of Your Son. May that be so in CCC & HCCD. Prosper us Father so we may care for the poor, the broken-hearted, the alien in our land.
Father, if I may ask, and I know it must be in your will to be answered, could you move in these matters staring today? May I ask that growth begins this Sunday (the 26th)? Please return your people and I ask that our "current people" whould embrace our "future people." Truly, may we be one as You and Your Son are One. I pray this in the glory and honor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

It is early after this prayer was read to the CCC congregation and I have important steps to take to insure I do not stand in the way of the movement of God, but the Spirit of God is working in a profound way. If you pray, pray that I would do what I should as someone appointed by God to my position.
If you need to know God, respond to this message and I will be glad to speak or write to you about life with this Incredible God.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Christianity without a cause

In Elton Trueblood's, The Company of the Committed, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is quoted. Coleridge said, "He, who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth, will proceed by loving his own Sect or Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all."
A little later in the book Trueblood writes, "...labor union members often think that they have found a cause of their won which makes the Christian cause unnecessary." This book was published in 1961 and there a plenty of "prophetic" statements made by Trueblood which have, unfortunately, come to pass. While Trueblood may not have been writing to "foretell" he was certainly writing as a means to provide a corrective to the church universal. Unfortunately, much of what he wrote is still, largely, not being applied.
Back to the two quotes at the beginning of this dialogue.
Both statements help to point out the probelm of the christian church, whether evangelical or mainline or catholic, whether "conservative" or "liberal," our agendas tend to replace Truth, and we love our causes, thus ourselves, more than the truth.
Let me apply this to the "conservative" side, often referred to as the evangelical side, and the issue of global warning. So many of the political "right" and evangelicals are in bed together so they share ideologies which includes the notion that there isn't global warming. Now I am not here to argue this issue at all, for me this issue is irrelevant to the purpose of this writing.
The issue is that Truth is being ignored in order for the "cause" to be perpetuated. The cause being that we should continue to consume and live as if we cannot affect/effect our environment and that stewardship of resources somehow doesn't apply to this issue.
Of first note, often pushed forward by Limbaugh and Hannity, is that we should continue to consume because we can and because we are American. Since they believe that global warming is a hoax (again not here to argue that issue) we shouldn't make correctives in our materialistic/consumeristic society.
For the believers of Truth, the global warming issue (again, regardless of factuality or not) is an excellent time to teach about the proper stewardship of the earth's resources, conservation of those resources, and learning to live life with less consumption.
The argument that we can't hurt this hurt is ludicrous in a spiritual sense as well as in historical realities. We are commanded to steward, in part, because of our human nature to abuse, serve ourselves, and ignore others.
Historically, we have witnesses the devastation wrought on our environments due to strip mining, deforestation, and even nuclear mishaps. We can bring plenty of harm to this world we have been created to live in and ordered to care for.
An important step for the church to reclaiming relevancy in society would be to establish leadership in biblical stewardship and care for this planet's resources and encourage our children to pursue the sciences, through a biblical worldview, which would help humanity discover ways to develop cleaner, more efficient uses of energy, while the church teaches strongly the Truth about stewardship/conservation being part and parcel to the transformed life given to us through Christ.
I doubt Christ would have been "green." But I'm certain he would have minimized His consumption and sought the most efficient means to live in this society. That seems quite apparent when He walked this earth. SUV's are not from the devil, but thinking that it is a "right" to purchase one just because we can does come from evil.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Christian Social Action

Not too long ago I "tweeted" that christian Social Action requires standing against injustice, dignity driven compassion, and the willingness to use wealth for the benefit of community.

To do so is to live out a rather inconvenient faith. Each of these issues carries with it a significant costs. Costs that can be difficult to overcome and "investments" which may not show a "benefit" in the course of our lifetimes.

Injustice is something we tend to overlook or ignore in our American culture. There are still many who believe that our bigotry and prejudices no longer exist and if people would just "try harder" they would succeed. These same people think that everyone is on an even footing, that we all have the same opportunities and that the "rules of the game" are equally applied to all participants. Unfortunately, injustice can be found quite easily if we just would take a serious look at our surrounding communities. If one looks, with the intent to find, slum lords will be found, unequal access to quality education will be discovered, farm workers living in conditions worse than inner city slums, and much more. It is the responsibility of those who claim to follow Jesus to not only be the voice, but to take the necessary actions to irradicate these issues not only in our own society, but in other areas of the world as well.

Dignity driven compassion goes far beyond charity and service opportunties. Dignity driven compassion requires substantial efforts in developing relationships with those in need. Dignity drvien compassion addresses tomorrow, as well as today. It requires the one who can provide for needs to become involved in the day to day living of the one who has needs. It requires involvement with the person to be more important than the service itself. While the service required cannot be neglected, it is simply the means to the more important requirement on a believers life, is to use the service as the means to build relationships and let the person in need know they belong to a community that cares. Dignity driven compassion insures that the person understands that they are not a "project" to be completed, but the invaluable tool of God to teach people with means to see beyond themselves.

A willingness to use wealth for the benefit of the community is a fundamental reason for God allowing a person to have wealth in the first place. Our hard work doesn't mean we deserve wealth. Millions, if not billions, of people work extraordinarily hard and never have the "hope" of being wealthy. Wealth is something God grants, even to those who don't believe in His provisions. For the believer, wealth should not be equated as a "reward" from God for some kind of good behavior. Wealth should be considered in line with our talents and abilities. It is simply a resource meant to be used to show others the Loving God. Bigger houses, expensive cars, expensive clothing etc. are not how the wealth of believers is to be spent. Instead, better housing for the poor, better access to transportation, creating opportunities for those who might not afford clothing being able to earn clothes, or food, or quality used items is how God expects the wealth He grants to be used. Wealth is supposed to benefit the whole community of the individual, not just the individual. Whether the wealth has been given to an individual person, a family, or even a church body, it is meant to be used to leverage good in the community. Anything less than this is unacceptable to the Lord.

While you may have not responded to Christ because you haven't seen the above take place, please understand many believers, throughout the world, do live under these principles, and they do so gladly. Please also understand that should you make the decision to follow Christ that this requirement will also be on your life. It is a truly great way to live.