Leadership

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#MarkedMan#FalseAccusation

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Someone has said:

To be falsely accused and retaliate is natural; to be accused and remain in control is supernatural.

No one likes to be falsely accused, especially when it has far-reaching consequences. IMHO Joseph might very well be the OT poster boy for being falsely accused.  He is sold into slavery, bought by Potiphar, and eventually distinguishes himself so that he is elevated to top dog in the household. But it only serves to make him a marked man. Talk about pressure! Not work pressure either. Boss’s wife pressure.

He is a new kid in a new culture, one completely different than the only one he had known. Not only does he have that to deal with, he now has his boss’s wife wanting to play footsie with him.  If you know the story you know he resists. Because “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” she falsely accuses him of trying to rape her and he ends up in prison.

Joseph’s public witness took place at work, and raises the question of our own attitude as followers of Christ. Do we, like Joseph, distinguish ourselves at work? Are we trustworthy? Faithful?  Hard working? Resistant to temptation (of every kind)? Pointed questions which need to be addressed. Genesis 39 is where I will be this Sunday.  I’d appreciate your prayers.

#Blessing#Challenge

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

As a grandfather, I have a desire to see my grandson more often than I have the opportunity to. He lives 4 hours away and is actively involved in baseball and football (oh, and school) so his schedule is pretty full. Him coming to visit his grandparents is not high on his list of things to do. And it is not high on his mother’s list either. She is a busy, working mom and wife. Neither Jo nor I begrudge that.  We just know our situation is unique and unless God says, “Time to move” we will be here ministering in Spencer hopefully for years to come.

My girls are adults now, each with their own life. Tami, our oldest, teaches Kindergarten in Bloomington, IN. Janna, our youngest, works in Delaware, OH for a car dealership (not selling but as a jack-of-all-trades doing rentals, office work, receptionist, etc). When they were babies I would often go into their room at night and pray for them and pray over them. I prayed a prayer of surrender, i.e. “Father, these girls are yours. Help me never to hold on to them so tightly I won’t give them to you.” Sort of like Abraham and Isaac. I also prayed for their salvation.

The first time I held Braden when he came home from the hospital and I surprised Janna by being there, I went off by myself with the little guy in my arms and prayed for him. I prayed a blessing over him. I prayed for his salvation and that he will grow up knowing Jesus.

All this flooded back to me as I read I Chronicles 22 Saturday night. David is making preparations for building the temple and then calls his son, Solomon, to him. He tells Solomon about why he is not building the temple (he was a man of war), but he also speaks a blessing over Solomon and challenges him as well.  The blessing is found in verses 11-12: “The Lord be with you.” But he also issues a challenge to Solomon to stand strong and be faithful to God. [Verses 12-13].

What a great opportunity we have as parents and grandparents to speak into our son’s and daughter’s and grandchildren’s lives with a blessing to cover them. I’m not into so-called “positive confession” that the name-it-claim-it people talk about. But I am into praying over and for our children and grandchildren.  In our case, being 4 hours away, that seems to be the next best thing to being there.  Who knows how and when God will answer our prayers for them.

#Celebrities#Pastors

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

I’m thinking it is not a coincidence that I would be reading Costi Hinn’s new book God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel the same time I would read a chapter in Skye Jethani’s book Immeasurable that goes by the title of Celebrity.  He begins his chapter with these words:

Celebrity pastors are not a new phenomenon, nor is our human tendency to exalt our leaders to unsustainable heights. What is new is the number of celebrity pastors and the speed with which they are being created and corrupted.

Skye places some of the blame on what he called the EIC (Evangelical Industrial Complex). He compares it too what outgoing President Eisenhower said about the military industrial complex (MIC).  His belief was those industries that were created to end the war would now push the country to start many more. His words were strangely prophetic.  The connection between the EIC and MIC is one of comparison. No, the EIC is not a military complex, BUT it is a force to be reckoned with.

So…what is the EIC?  It is (for lack of a better term) a conglomeration of companies that forego the ministry aspect, very often the “truth” aspect, for what I will call the “money aspect.” Much like an athlete at the top of his game receives offers galore for endorsements, etc, so the EIC does the same to authors, pastors, and churches.  Conferences do the same thing. Rather than ask someone who is conscientious about his lifestyle and his presentation of the gospel, the new young guy who is hip, vocal, a social media genius, and most of all charismatic, is invited. Who cares if his doctrine is skewed? Who cares if he is in the Prosperity (Un)gospel/name-it-claim-it garbage world? He’s popular. He’s funny. His church is growing (for dubious reasons).  He’s a draw.  It doesn’t matter. “Get him!” (or in these days even a “her”).  So we have a pastor who wants to shock his church by playing a very anti-God song for Easter. We have a woman “pastrix” (or whatever you would call her) who is vulgar and supportive of the LBGTQ+ agenda being given a book contract and notoriety. We have pastors who ask their people to sacrifice living in million dollar mansions. Say what? The danger of elevating immature leaders and not having any accountability is real.  There is a reason Paul tells Timothy a leader should not be a new convert.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are faithful pastors laboring daily to love their people; to shepherd their flock; to prepare good, solid, gospel sermons week in and week out (not hiring a team of writers or plagiarizing); and to labor without gaining press.  They are unconcerned with being known or running their church like a CEO.  He loves. He laughs.  He cries. He visits. He counsels. He marries and buries those whom loves and labors among. IMHO they are the ones who deserve the applause. But then again, they are not really interested in that sort of recognition. The church they serve and the Father they love and serve is gratitude enough. I should know. I used to once crave the recognition. Now? My church family and my Father’s “Well done” is all I need.

I wrote this last Thursday and scheduled it for today because I will be in Sandusky, Ohio about all week with Jo making all the final preparations for vacating her sister’s apartment and bringing some things home in a U-Haul on the 29th.  I’d like to know what you think about today’s post, so even though I won’t have internet, my phone does have access my blogs.

#Don’tQuit#StayingtheCourse

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

I’ve been reading J.D.Greear’s new book Above All over the past couple of weeks. Yeah…it is taking me awhile due to being out of town and also just trying to digest the meat in the book. I read something today that I liked so well I thought I would pass it along.  {My comment: Ministry is hard work-paid, full-time or otherwise. If you are like me, sometimes you wonder if you are making a difference or even making a dent}.  After using the example of Noah who preached for 100 years and saw no one accept his preaching and “convert” to God’s way of thinking (the world is going to be destroyed), J.D. gave some examples of others who hung in there, didn’t quit, stayed the course. I was fascinated by the examples. Hope you are as well, but I also hope you are helped and encouraged to not quit or give up.

William Carey, the father of modern missions. He was largely opposed even by the Christians in England, who told him that his missionary zeal was misplaced. Despite opposition he left for India in 1793. For seven years he worked before he ever saw his first convert. Do you think he wondered about what the folks back home said and questioned his call?

Robert Moffat was a 19th century Scottish missionary to South Africa. He spent three years (1818-1821) just traveling to his assigned mission post. He and his wife labored faithfully for 10 years with no tangible results. Then God moved and in a period of three years, the number of converts in Moffat’s city went from zero to 120. Imagine if he had quit at year #9.

Adoniram Judson was one of the first American missionaries to Burma. He spent 6 years there before he saw his first convert and he fretted over his confession of faith…largely because of the years of unfruitfulness.

William Wilberforce, a British politician who spent 48 years fighting against slavery. The Slavery Abolition Act was passed 3 days before he died, and he heard about it on his deathbed.

Hudson Taylor in China. Jonathan Edwards with the Mohican Indians.

I had to stop and chastise myself for my lack of faith to stay the course at times. The desire to quit and give up in the ministry because of a lack of fruit. The tears I shed because of no “ministry success.” (Perhaps we ought to ban those two words put together?).  J.D. helped me put things in perspective as we go through a slow time here at OVCF.

#Faithfulness#Don’tQuit#StaytheCourse#NeverGiveUp. Those are to be my monikers. Why not join me make them yours as well?

#LittlePeople#YouMatter

Friday, July 5th, 2019

It is not unusual to hear people say they feel insignificant. They feel unseen. Or they feel small. I’m not insinuating at all by the hashtag above that “little people” are insignificant. A little person plays a very significant part in one of my favorite shows on TV: MacGyver.  And one of the funniest lines said to me recently by a young boy maybe 4-5 years old is when I said Hi to him, he looked at me and said, “What you looking at flopdoodle?” His mother about died on the spot. She was mortified since she had only been coming to the church for a couple weeks. I howled. It is from the “Little Napoleon” in The Greatest Showman.  It’s a running joke with us now.

People serving God often feel insignificant. They keep thinking they ought to do something bigger. But I am not interested in people looking for the next great thing to do. I love seeing people take care of the littlest thing and taking great pride and joy in it.

My sermon this Sunday is the first of two from Judges. I could have spent weeks in that book but I wanted to stick with my theme of Heroes and keep it short because of the series coming next. So this week my sermon will be from Judges 3:7-31. Three household names: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar.  🙂

I will have spent the week in Ohio helping to clean Jo’s sister’s apartment so the normal interaction with people and personal connection I like will not be there. But I’m trusting God to bless the meager effort I make to present His Word. I’d appreciate your prayers.  Thanks.

#MarksofIntegrity#Follow#Absent

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

I find myself in a precarious situation these days. I’m trying to balance being the pastor of OVCF and being a supportive husband to Jo.  In this post about our trip to PA I also mentioned that we would be taking a side trip to Ohio to see Jo’s sister who was put in the hospital.  She has since been placed in a long-term facility and just this past Thursday was placed back in the hospital as the doctor was concerned about her kidney function.  Meanwhile, we found out on that side excursion that she did not have an apartment to go back to. So it falls on me and Jo to clean it and “divest it” of clutter and other items.  So we leaving today (Sunday after worship) and planning to stay the week to get as much done as we can.  On Friday we are heading to Columbus to watch our grandson play baseball then coming home Saturday morning. On Sunday we plan to repeat everything (except watching him play). We have no clue how long it will take to empty her place.  She has no TV, no phone, no internet so I am going to be out of commission unless I can find a Wifi somewhere close by.  So I will be absent from this blog (and possibly my other one) for the week.  So I leave you with this:

Daniel lived a life of integrity. In Daniel 6 there are 4 marks of integrity we find:

  1. His attitude. [Verse 3].  Psalm 75:7 is a good verse to go along with that.
  2. He was faithful at work. [Verse 4]. They could find no grounds for complaint against him.  Pr.20:6-7  is important for us.
  3. His personal purity. [Verse 4b].  Isn’t that interesting? “They could find no complaint against him.”
  4. A consistent walk with God. [Verse 10].  Daniel knew it meant trouble to do what he always did but guess what? He did what he always did!! 🙂

Living a life of integrity is no guarantee things will go well. But we are not here to gain man’s approval. We are to please an audience of One.

Have a great week if I don’t see you here sooner!

#Shepherd#Platform#Integrity

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

In Psalm 78:72 it says of David “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with skillful hands.”  Some translations use the word “integrity” for upright.  This verse is talking about David’s approach toward the people of Israel. David served the people as their shepherd with integrity. That verse has always been at the forefront of my brain ever since I read it years ago.  It serves as a challenge to me to shepherd the people i serve with integrity.

Maybe that is why I have not cared whether I became “known” or not.  Oh…wait a minute. That’s not true. There was a time I cared a lot…an awful lot. I would hear of friends of mine who were preaching at large churches or conducting meetings in other churches and the “J” word would kick in. (That would be “J”ealousy for those who are unsure).  But then I began to think about time and schedule. I began to be involved in watching my daughters play ball. I wondered about sermon prep. When did they have the time to do that while jetsetting all over the globe? (Then I found out many of them have assistants who do all the research and sometimes even write the sermons).  I thought about the one thing I really like to do as an aside (cycle) and wondered when could I do that? Certainly not on a plane or in a hotel (stationary bikes are another word for B-O-O-O-R-I-N-G!).  Perhaps the biggest revelation in all this was “finding” the verse from Psalm 78. When would I have the time to be a shepherd?  Now, if I wanted to be a CEO-type  then, by all means, have at it! But I wasn’t called to be a CEO. I was called to be a pastor, a shepherd. The day I realized that was the day I quit worrying about what others thought; how big I could get; how “known” I could be; and became satisfied with being a shepherd of the church God gave me to serve.  Amazing how the perspective changes.  My worst enemy (ME) was put to death that day.

I’d rather be found faithful shepherding my sheep in an obscure, out-of-the-way little town than be serving an image of myself being applauded.  I’d rather be here than anywhere else.

#Stand!#Don’tBowDown!

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

With traveling to PA and then to Ohio my week definitely got away from me as did posting about Sunday’s sermon. Let me put it this way: I started a new series last week that will go through the whole summer. I am calling it Heroes. The first one last week was from Daniel 1. If you read that chapter you know it is the story of Daniel and his 3 friends: Rack, Shack and Benny (as Veggie Tales puts it).  It was titled Cooperation without Compromise. Daniel and his 3 friends had the choice all of us have when confronted by a “test.”

  1. The first option is Absorption. This person basically is absorbed and assimilated into the culture.
  2. The second option is Withdrawal. This is commonly seen in cults and, in the days of the early church, the Essenes. We see this now in the Amish people who believe withdrawal is the best way to avoid evil. (Have I got news for them!)
  3. The third is Cooperation without Compromise. This is the Daniel way. I’d like to encourage you to read Daniel 1 to find out how that happens.

This week’s sermon is called We Won’t Bow Down! Bet you can’t guess what that story is about!! 🙂  If you guessed Daniel’s three friends give yourself a virtual high-five. Daniel 3 is where the story is.  I’m not going to say much more about it here except this- Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego made a choice not to bow down to the image. They were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace when they were given one last chance to change their minds. I love their words: “We believe our God will deliver us but even if not we will not bow down!” WOW!!

So Sunday I’m going to take that very familiar story and try to breathe some life into it so that we can all walk away, especially the dads, with a resolve to stand not bow. Your prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.

#LoneRanger#DIY

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

On my other blog, Living in the Shadow, I touched on this idea of being a Lone Ranger or a Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY). Since that is more of a devotional blog I had to limit what I said and how I applied it. I’d like to expand on my thoughts here.  Perhaps you might like to read my devotion here and then come back with an idea of where my head is.

As a pastor, it is easy to get the “heady” idea-both personally and given by others-that I (any pastor) is a solver of all sorts of problems. When I was talking about going into the ministry when I was in high school, I can still remember my mom turning in the car and saying, “Just remember, honey, to do it for the right reason.” You see, back then the pastor was “the parson” and looked up to by about everyone. The business community respected them. The schools looked to them for help.  No question the people in the church sought him out for help in about every area of life. As I see it, pride was a constant enemy to guard against.  But, of course, it is no longer that way. For the most part it is because of our changing world. But some of it is our own fault.  Pride did become an issue. As well as several other nefarious acts.

As I have gotten older I have realized more and more that the Lone Ranger with the silver bullet was not wise. For years I thought I could do my work on my own, by myself. Experience AND AGE has taught me differently. In spite of myself, I have come to see God is so much bigger than I had given Him credit for and can actually work better if I get out of the way! 🙂 🙂  We often hear people talking (myself included) about how we often put God in a box. Well, I have come to the conclusion that is what I often did. Not on purpose mind you, but I have to now admit that. I had narrowed Him by my own attitude.

You can see how God handled that in Numbers 11 and by checking out my devotion. But what is interesting to me is Joshua’s reaction.  He had been with Moses since childhood and saw God’s involvement as a threat to Moses’ leadership. Moses gently corrected him. Joshua saw God as acting outside the system he was used to. But God was expanding Moses’ influence and Joshua’s perception and world. I like the quote I read by Skye Jethani in his book, Immeasurable. He writes:

Rather than operate like the wind, we’d prefer the Spirit operate like an electric fan that we can control to perpetually blow in the same direction. (p.90)

I’m not an advocate of “willy-nilly-Spirit-work” but he has a point. Sometimes God just doesn’t operate like we would like Him to. “The wind blows where it wants” is also true of the work of the Spirit. What Joshua needed to realize, and I do as well, is that God will do what He wants with or without my input or help.

I need to get out of His way. I also need to realize I am not a Lone Ranger; I need others to help do the work. Moses had 70 others (Numbers 11). Joshua had to get with the program. May I, may you, be humble enough to submit to His agenda.

#SayWhat?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

I don’t normally do this type of post but it is one of those “I-just-can’t-help-myself” moments. Notice the title of the post and when I am done hopefully you will understand why I have chosen that title.

Like I said, I try to avoid this type of post but I have become passionately concerned about the Gospel. I remember once in a college class the professor was talking about one of the personalities and the issue of defending the Bible came up. The personality said, “The Bible doesn’t need defended.” So it may seem to be superfluous for me to write this post but I feel a very strong urge to write this. I guess some might see it as nit-picking where I don’t need to pick nits but I do hope you will see why.

I recently read an article written by Al Mohler entitled “Theology makes its way into the headlines again.” The rest of the title is a dead giveaway as to the reason for my post so I’m going to hold off on that. Edward Luce, who is the American editor of the Financial Times in London, visited Lakewood Church and then wrote about it in the pages of the Financial Times. His article was entitled “A Preacher for Trump’s America: Joel Osteen and the Prosperity Gospel.” Now you know…

I’m not going to comment on the article but I do want to share a few things that were in it and they are not political! They are insane. They are ungodly. They are heretical.

First, the insane. Luce writes, “With a fortune estimated at $60 million and a mansion listed on Zillow at $10.7 million, Osteen is hardly living like a friar. His suburban Houston home has three elevators, a swimming pool and parking for 20 cars, including his $230,000 Ferrari 458 Italia.”  {My comment:I guess the prosperity gospel has really worked for him! But that is insane! Asking people to sacrifice so someone can benefit? Nah doesn’t fly}.

Now for the heretical. Two things.

Paula White, another heretical prosperity guru (now married to Jonathan Cain the keyboardist for Journey) said, “Anyone who tells you to deny yourself is Satan.” Say What? What did she just call Jesus?

Mr. Osteen comes down to Jesus’ last words spoken by Jesus on the Cross, “It is finished.” And we are told that Jesus was not actually declaring His imminent death. In effect, said Osteen, Jesus meant instead, “The guilt is finished, the depression is finished, the low self-esteem is finished, the mediocrity is finished, it is all finished.”

Can I gag? Do you get that same lurching feeling? How, in the name of all that is holy and righteous, can two people get things so wrong? And they are not alone. I could name names but will choose not to.  And there is more to the Financial Times article, but this is enough. Make no mistake about what I am saying please! These are not godly speakers. (I cringe at using the word preachers about either one of them). This is pure, unadulterated heresy.

My questions are many but three stand out: why can’t people see this? Are we so biblically illiterate that we have no discernment? Why are we not speaking out against junk like this?

So…what do you think?