|H.B. London Ministries|
|─ A Heart for Pastors ─|
|Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during that war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who had died while in the military service. But, also by the early 20th century, Memorial Day had become an occasion for more general expressions of remembrance as people recognized and honored their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not.
When we talk about remembering, honoring, and commemorating those who have passed away, what we are really discussing are their legacies. What did these people do with the life God gave them? How did they use that gift to help or hurt the world? How did they serve the One who gave them life?
Several years ago, I was invited to Shreveport, Louisiana, to participate in the 65th anniversary of a church that was planted by Dr. James Dobson’s and my grandparents. It was a marvelous experience.
Through good times and bad, this church’s faith has remained strong. Time and time again, references were made to our grandparents — the Dillinghams — and their legacy that has carried on through some six or seven decades.
I stood at my grandparents’ grave site and thanked God for my heritage and the godly influence they displayed. They were never famous people. I don’t believe they wrote books or experienced fame beyond the churches they pastored. But they had a passion for the lost souls in their town, and a heart for people that was contagious.
In reality, that is where most of our legacies, what we do for God, will be played out — where we have been placed. I beg you not to downplay your value by attempting to estimate or analyze your own success. Just remain faithful. I promise you that your contribution will not go unnoticed by the One who matters most.
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
|The news lately should make us all clearly aware that evil exists in this world. Often, even seemingly good people do terrible things. We need to be in constant prayer for those around us, near and far. But how about you? Could you soon be that good person who makes a serious mistake? What can you do to protect yourself?
Each of us is just one decision away from failure, and none of us is immune to temptations and weaknesses. I am no paragon of virtue, so I built several habits into my life as a pastor that helped me stay accountable:
During my three decades as a pastor, I found a man in each ministry who was willing to enter into a covenant with me. Like Jonathan did with David, this friend “made a covenant ... because he loved [me] as himself” (1 Samuel 18:3). We promised each other to meet once a week, pray for one another by name every time we prayed, and ask each other the big questions.
The third point of accountability was Beverley, my wife. She asked me the big questions. She also addressed little weaknesses or concerns along the way that were potentially dangerous to us and to my ministry.
As you probably noticed, being accountable means asking ourselves some hard questions, searching our hearts, and being honest with ourselves and our Lord. It requires taking the time to think deeply about where we are in our spiritual walk.
Here are the hard questions someone should ask you regularly, according to Chuck Swindoll:
Have you been with a member of the opposite sex anywhere lately that might be seen as compromising?
Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?
Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?
Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?
Have you given priority time to your family?
Have you fulfilled the mandate of your calling?
Have you just lied to me?
I deal every day with members of the clergy and their families who are facing their own dilemmas — forced terminations, unrealistic expectations, false accusations, moral failures, doubtful calling, mistakes in judgment, and spouses who just do not want to be in the ministry any longer. The list seems endless.
There are those at Focus on the Family who are still available for pastors and their families. They listen to these folks when they call. They may offer advice, if it is requested. They pray with them. Just call the Pastoral Care Line at (877) 233-4455.
Each person must face his own issues in his own way. Asking yourself the hard questions can help you gauge where you are in your walk with the Lord and where you need to pay extra attention. Have an accountability friend ask you the hard questions often and answer honestly. They may just spare you and your family some pain.
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13).
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
|There have been a number of high-profile deaths in the past week. Among them were Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, movie critic Roger Ebert, and original Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. But the death that has the Christian community abuzz was that of Matthew Warren, the 27-year-old son of Pastor Rick Warren.
Matthew Warren took his own life late Friday at his Mission Viejo home. He had struggled with mental illness, deep depression, and suicidal thoughts throughout his life, Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement, after his body was found Friday night. “Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life,” the church said. Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, said Sunday the congregation would face the tragedy together, “as a church family.”
Rick Warren and his wife had enjoyed a fun Friday evening with their son. But their son then returned home to take his life in “a momentary wave of despair.” Warren posted a message on both Twitter and Facebook Sunday saying he was “overwhelmed” by the love and support the family had received after the apparent suicide of the youngest of his three children.
How do you help the sorrowful or depressed person? When was the last time you read Psalm 88? I’m telling you — that writer was a man who was really going through some rough water. I think you will agree that the psalmist suffered from mood swings.
From 5 to 12 percent of men suffer from clinical depression at some time in their lives, along with 10 to 25 percent of women. Those who do suffer depression will most likely not seek treatment, even though it is a treatable illness.
I have been, at one time or another, in that percentage of men who have suffered from depression. Many type-A personalities do. The sadness and darkness were miserable, and I have prayed for that veil of sadness to lift. I have carried on a schedule that was filled with smiles and joy on the outside while, on the inside, I was dying. When the veil lifted, it was wonderful.
As a pastor, you have probably counseled members of your congregation suffering from depression. My colleague, please do not overlook those under your care who live their lives in sadness.
But what about you? Are you floundering in the depths of depression? If so, what should you do?
The first steps to wellness are a physical examination by a physician, prayer with a colleague, and openness with your spouse. Don’t be too proud to admit that you need help and the support of others.
One of the most painful expressions from Scripture is found in Psalm 88:18: “The darkness is my closest friend.” I pray that never becomes your expression.
Here’s a list of scriptures that might help you yourself and/or other people touched by your ministry as you guide them back to wholeness:
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
‘‘A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8).
“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).
|I hope you are aware of and have begun watching the new mini-series, “The Bible,” that debuted Sunday evening on the History Channel. (Lifetime will air a repeat each week after a new episode appears on History.) Created and produced by Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, this five-week, 10-hour docudrama features an international cast as it explores some of the sacred text’s most significant episodes, including Noah’s journey in the ark, the Exodus, and the life of Jesus. It uses modern computer-generated graphics to bring new life to images like Moses parting the Red Sea on screen.
Instead of being all-encompassing, the producers tried to concentrate on a few major stories in depth and on characters who would emotionally engage the audience — especially a non-religious one. Downey and Burnett are attempting to portray an interconnected grand story rather than a series of disconnected “Bible stories.” In particular, it seems that they have selected some rather dramatic scenes from the Bible in which certain men and women come “face-to-face” with God — divine moments.
Our lives are filled with divine opportunities. What I mean is, there are times when you and I confront moments that only God could arrange. Think about it! Those are the times when you cross paths with a person or a situation that, as you reflect on it, could have happened only by divine appointment.
Once I was on a flight from Cincinnati to Chicago. It was scheduled to take 56 minutes. It took nearly five hours! It was one of the most frustrating days I have had in a long time. But during those five hours, I was seated next to a lady from the East Coast who was going through marital problems. During the long delay, she shared some heartbreaking information about her family. I mostly listened. She needed someone to hear her out. To be honest, I feel God had me on that plane for that lady. Maybe it was for more hours than I had wanted, but nevertheless, it was a divinely directed moment.
With so much pain in our world, and so many people needing to be helped to their feet, you as a Christian leader need to be even more aware of such divine moments. Those are the moments when God places you in the right place at the right time to represent Christ to someone who needs “a cup of cold water” in His name.
Many of my most meaningful ministry moments have occurred outside the pulpit and in the marketplace, where people live who may never enter the doors of a church. How about you?
So — be alert! Be available! Be sensitive! Be prepared! God has some divine appointments set for you. They may appear subtle at first, but, in eternal terms, are life-changing.
“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
|By now, you have seen the reports and images of the spectacular multicar crash that occurred Saturday, February 23, on the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive4COPD 300 race, on the same Florida track where Sunday’s Daytona 500 was held. A massive 28-car pile-up sent flying debris into a packed crowd at Daytona International Speedway, injuring ten drivers and at least 33 fans, and leaving a 14-year-old boy and a 53-year-old man in critical condition. (Thankfully, both are now stable and out of danger.)
Twenty-year-old driver Kyle Larson’s car was catapulted from the crash, flying high into the catch fence, which separates the track from tens-of-thousands of fans. The entire front end was sheared off Larson’s car, and his burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence. Chunks of debris from the car were thrown into the stands at speeds nearing 190 miles per hour, including a tire that cleared the top of the fence and landed midway up the spectator section closest to the track. A forklift had to be used to extract his engine from the fence.
One minute, racing fans were cheering excitedly as a close race was coming to an end. The next, people were screaming and running, calling for help or trying to assist those who had been hurt. Very unexpectedly, everything changed in a moment’s time.
I have been witness to many events that suddenly and forever changed the lives of those involved. One moment, life was normal — the next, it was not.
Suddenly! The world is complicated and, at times, laced with fear. Suddenly, a baby dies. Suddenly, a marriage is over. Suddenly, a job is lost. Suddenly, a diagnosis is made. Suddenly, a ministry ends.
Yet, on the other hand, suddenly can also be positive and liberating. Suddenly, a baby is born. Suddenly, a marriage is reconciled. Suddenly, there is good news. Suddenly, a ministry is given new hope.
How do we as clergy react to those moments in our personal and professional lives when we are confronted with the unexpected? Are we ever really prepared for such times?
I would suggest that one can better cope with “sudden moments” when one is living consistently close to the Lord. I would further suggest that the rain and the sunshine touch all of us. I am reminded that this world is fallen, and we are admonished to be thankful, regardless of the situation. I believe we can be assured that the circumstances of our lives — difficult or pleasant — in no way change how God feels about us. I also know life is tough and, often, the greater witness for our Lord is in times of adversity.
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man [suddenly] do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).
|I am a huge fan of my wife, Beverley, and I want her to know it. But sometimes there is a language barrier. Do you know what I mean? Consider the following (just having some fun).
When a wife says:
“FINE” — This is a word women use to end an argument when they are right, and a husband should not say anything more.
“NOTHING” — This is the calm before the storm. This definitely means “something,” and a husband should be on his toes. Discussions that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine.”
“WE NEED TO TALK” — What this means is that a husband probably will not be saying anything for a long time.
“OH, GO AHEAD” — This one is tricky. It may be a dare, not really permission.
“JUST FIVE MINUTES MORE” — If she’s getting dressed, this could mean “I’ll be down in 30 minutes.”
“THANKS” — If you are thanked, do not question or faint. Just say, “You’re welcome.”
Express your love genuinely.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7, KJV).
|It’s a beautiful winter day in Colorado Springs, but our weather can change dramatically from one day to the next (or one moment to the next). We, in our city, are blessed by a sight we sometimes take for granted — Pikes Peak. It stands majestically along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. When you look to the west, it is nearly always visible. But there are days when the clouds hang low and the 14,000-foot peak is hidden.
It seems strange when you can’t see “The Peak,” but I am reminded of a truth I heard from an old pastor years ago. He said, “Remember, son, even when the clouds hide the beauty of the mountains, the mountains are still there, and that is what makes the difference.”
What a comforting thought for folks like you and me. Sometimes trouble, distress, setbacks, or sickness overwhelms us to the point where we feel separated from God. During those times — behind the clouds of despair, beyond the fog of doubt — we know God is there, and that is what makes the difference. That is what we call faith.
In writing her little daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, author Sarah Young “listened to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.” Her devotionals, therefore, reflect what Jesus might say to us in first person. Open your ears of faith as you read one of her entries:
J a n u a r y 28
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. These were the last words I spoke before ascending into heaven. I continue to proclaim this promise to all who will listen. People respond to My continual Presence in various ways. Most Christians accept this teaching as truth but ignore it in their daily living. Some ill-taught or wounded believers fear (and may even resent) My awareness of all they do, say, and think. A few people center their lives around this glorious promise and find themselves blessed beyond all expectations.
When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place. As you gaze at Me through the eyes of your heart, you can see the world around you from My perspective. The fact that I am with you makes every moment of your life meaningful.
MATTHEW 28:20; PSALM 139:1-4
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
This week, my colleagues, I want to remind you that your number-one priority at this time of the year is your own family. They need to hear the story of Christmas from you, to have some quiet moments of reflection as you share with them from your childhood. Make some memories. Establish some family traditions of your own.
For many of us, the pressures of the season are so intense that our attitudes are anything but yuletide bright. And, even when we are at home, we are distracted from, or even disinterested in, the events surrounding our own families. Do everything in your power to prevent Advent adversity. Be especially sensitive to your spouse and children.
One of the things about the Christmas season I remember as a pastor was the toll it took on my wife. There were years when Beverley could barely wait for December 26th. Why? Because we worked her almost to death.
I think back to those days and the round of seasonal parties I dragged her to, not to mention the decorating, shopping, and planning for the in-laws’ arrival. And, of course, there were the school programs. Whew! I know what you are saying: “What’s the big deal? That’s what we do every year!” I know, but do you enjoy all of the busyness? Does your spouse? Sometimes, I feel like it was not the Grinch that stole Christmas, but the church.
I believe there is a limit to what should be expected of your spouse, and I am just waving the flag on his or her behalf.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Give your spouse private time to do Christmas things without worrying about dinner or kids — his or her night out!
2. On your day off, just the two of you take on the season and have fun while doing the “Christmas thing.”
3. Make one night family decorating night with the entire family putting up the tree or helping with the lights and other home decorations.
4. Make baking a family event. Let the kids do their magic, and you wash the pots and pans.
5. Take the kids and go shopping for your mate. Even wrap the presents together.
6. Give him or her the gift of knowing that, after the Christmas excitement, all of you can get away for a few days — away from the phone and church expectations.
Wishful thinking? Not really. A lot of this is up to you. I challenge you to make it different this year. Be creative. Smile a lot, sing a lot, laugh a lot, encourage, and affirm a lot. Schedule time with your family so that Christmas will truly be a time of peace and goodwill rather than a bah-humbug event filled with resentful feelings. Make it the most Christ-centered, family-focused Christmas you have ever experienced. If you do, I promise it will be your most memorable Christmas ever.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
|Do you remember when Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32)? Jesus became an intercessor on Simon’s behalf.
In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said, “Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective. ... Our work is to be in such close contact with God that we may have His mind about everything.”
Who intercedes for you? For whom do you intercede? Someone has said, “Praying for others is one of the best ways of loving people.” I agree. When we pray for others, and others pray for us, several things happen:
We become interdependent. We develop a sense of responsibility for one another that is awesome in its power. We take our relationships very seriously.
We make God’s resources available to others. The liberating, healing power of the Almighty God flows out to those about whom we care.
We put the needs and hurts of the other individual into perspective. We understand more clearly the plight of another.
We develop a spirit of hope and optimism. When we are lifted or lift another into the hands of God, we feel at peace because we are convinced that God can conquer anything.
We sense belonging and significance. To say to another, “I am praying for you,” is the sweetest sound imaginable — especially to a pastor when it comes from a member of his flock.
We determine to do all we can to help be an answer to our own prayers. We do all in our power to become “labourers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9, KJV).
We are obedient to the will of God, especially in the area of faithfulness. He desires to give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
The earth on which we live is constantly experiencing earthquakes. Some we feel, some we don’t (although others probably do). Did you know that, according to the United States Geological Survey, the following major earthquakes rattled our world since last Monday?
M 6.5, 30km WSW of Champerico, Guatemala - Sunday, November 11, 2012 22:15:00 UTC
M 6.8, 52km NNE of Shwebo, Myanmar - Sunday, November 11, 2012 01:12:38 UTC
M 4.3, 13km W of Whitesburg, Kentucky - Saturday, November 10, 2012 17:08:14 UTC
M 6.3, 186km SSW of Port Hardy, Canada - Thursday, November 08, 2012 02:01:51 UTC
M 7.4, 35km S of Champerico, Guatemala - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 16:35:47 UTC
I did a little research on earthquakes, and here is an article that sums up the basics nicely. It was originally written by Lisa Wald for “The Green Frog News.”
What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane. The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter.
Sometimes an earthquake has foreshocks. These are smaller earthquakes that happen in the same place as the larger earthquake that follows. Scientists can’t tell that an earthquake is a foreshock until the larger earthquake happens. The largest, main earthquake is called the mainshock. Mainshocks always have aftershocks that follow. These are smaller earthquakes that occur afterwards in the same place as the mainshock. Depending on the size of the mainshock, aftershocks can continue for weeks, months, and even years after the mainshock!
What causes earthquakes and where do they happen?
The earth has four major layers: the inner core, outer core, mantle and crust. The crust and the top of the mantle make up a thin skin on the surface of our planet. But this skin is not all in one piece – it is made up of many pieces like a puzzle covering the surface of the earth. Not only that, but these puzzle pieces keep slowly moving around, sliding past one another and bumping into each other. We call these puzzle pieces tectonic plates, and the edges of the plates are called the plate boundaries. The plate boundaries are made up of many faults, and most of the earthquakes around the world occur on these faults. Since the edges of the plates are rough, they get stuck while the rest of the plate keeps moving. Finally, when the plate has moved far enough, the edges unstick on one of the faults and there is an earthquake.
Why does the earth shake when there is an earthquake?
While the edges of faults are stuck together, and the rest of the block is moving, the energy that would normally cause the blocks to slide past one another is being stored up. When the force of the moving blocks finally overcomes the friction of the jagged edges of the fault and it unsticks, all that stored up energy is released. The energy radiates outward from the fault in all directions in the form of seismic waves like ripples on a pond. The seismic waves shake the earth as they move through it, and when the waves reach the earth’s surface, they shake the ground and anything on it, like our houses and us!
The “earthquakes” that many of us experience in the ministry should not come as surprises, but most of the time they do. And there are always the aftershocks. Can you relate?
I really dislike earthquakes. I went through several of them while living in California. You can prepare for a tornado or hurricane, but the moving of the earth can be really scary. I have learned this about earthquakes:
- They are unexpected.
- You cannot control them.
- Everyone has their own story to tell related to their experience.
- You can be prepared for them, but you’re never really ready.
- They happen quickly, and then you pick up the pieces.
We in the ministry face tremors nearly every day. The magnitude of what we face runs the gamut from minor to major. How we handle these times can change the face of our assignments forever. How do we deal with the things we cannot control? Some of you may be going through, or are about to go through, your own “earthquakes.” What should you do?
“There will be ... earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7).
- Be very aware of your surroundings.
- Do not face these happenings alone.
- Make advance plans with your leadership.
- Know that God knows. Trust Him!
- Do not let the issue fester.
- Remember ─ it is not the end of anything.
- Learn from the challenge.
- Help everyone you can.
- Begin immediately to repair the damage.
- Keep your head up. Your people need to see you courageous.
There’s a popular song sung by Lee Greenwood entitled “God Bless the USA.” Some of the lyrics go like this:
And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free ...
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today.
This song will be sung a lot during Independence Day week this year. Are you proud to be an American? I know I am.
Oh, there are things I am not so proud of:
- I agonize over the issue of same-sex marriage. Why would we, as a nation, ever want to destroy the institution of marriage defined as a union between a man and a woman?
- I worry about the easy availability of pornography over the Internet. I see its hold on so many men and women — even in the clergy. I wish our laws in America were stricter.
- I still can’t believe that abortion is legal and that it is such a powder keg of opinion. Why is it that the school requires parental consent to give a child an aspirin, but the same child can get an abortion without notifying a parent?
- I see racism growing in America. If we would only take seriously Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech! But folks still seem to make too many decisions based on the color of one’s skin.
- I wish politics in our country were not so dirty. The science of getting elected has become more about what’s wrong with a person than what they believe.
- It bothers me that there are so many people in poverty, that we import so much oil, that church attendance is declining, and that our education system is lacking.
But I’m proud to be an American because I'm free to say what I just said, and you can say what you want to say. That, as a country, we care for others who are less fortunate. And that we do have a faith-based heritage and a democracy that gives all men and women an opportunity to become what they want to be. I’m blessed by the fact that our United States House and Senate open their sessions with prayer, and that we support our troops who serve in harm’s way. I’m proud when we sing our national anthem and offer a pledge to the flag. I love it that we have a National Day of Prayer and print “In God We Trust” on our currency.
I am proud to be an American because it is my country and I have inalienable rights as its citizen. I can vote, and so can you. And it would be a shame if we did not take advantage of our freedom. This Independence Day, celebrate your freedom. Be proud to be an American. I know I am.
“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
I often sit and ponder the reality that all people will not get into heaven — because not all will respond to the life-changing, eternal life-giving message of the gospel.
I walk through airports and sit in packed stadiums. I eat in crowded restaurants and travel busy highways. I have the opportunity to look deep into the eyes of others and wonder: If life ended for them this day, would they enter into the safety of our Lord’s arms? They represent all men and women.
Embrace these words:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever [all people] believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“I write these things to you who believe [all people] in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us [all people] alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you [all people] have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
There are so many more scriptures. Most of you, as you stand before your congregations, cannot do much about all people. But you can do something about those you encounter and those to whom you proclaim the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). Preach the truth — Jesus Christ alive and available to all men and women.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men [all men] by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
I once heard a pastor say that we in ministry often treat our parishioners with more tenderness and affirmation than we do our own families. That would be a serious problem!
My experience leads me to ask you: Are your expectations for your family as unrealistic as some that your congregation may have for you or yours? Or do you give yourselves the permission and the opportunity to be real? Do you praise your spouse and children as often as you can, or do you tend to take them for granted?
I remember another minister who told me without shame that he and his family were like actors in a play. They went so far as to match their clothing for Sunday morning! Ouch!
But, if we succeed in our congregations and alienate those in our homes, what will we have accomplished? We are human, not perfect. You are more accountable to God for your family than you are for your congregation or your calling.
Please — love the people in your home for who they are and not for what you and they are perceived to be. You can express this love in a number of ways. Praise each other regularly. Be patient with one another. Hesitate before you express a negative opinion. Take time for one another. In big and small ways, honor each other as the people God created you to be. When you get old and look back, you’ll be very glad you did.
“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Social networks, radio stations, television programs, newspapers, and the Internet have been abuzz this weekend with the sad news that Whitney Houston, one of America’s greatest singers of all time, has died at the age of 48. In Colorado Springs last week, many mourned the sudden death of a 57-year-old local sportscaster and disc jockey who had made an impact here for some 30 years. We’ve all been surprised, at one time or another, to learn of the untimely passing of some legendary pastor or evangelist. You probably have someone in your congregation — well known or not — for whom you recently performed a funeral or memorial service. Life is fragile, and none of us knows how much time we have left.
Entertainment reporters today are wondering whether Whitney Houston will be most remembered for her love of life, that amazing voice, and the songs she has left with us or for the downward spiral her life took in its later years — for her successes or her tragedies?
Whenever one of our colleagues leaves the ministry or is called home by the Lord, I wonder once again about my/our/your legacy. We work so diligently only to see it all eventually end. Does that make it all in vain, as Solomon postulated? I don’t think so. The conclusion I have drawn is that we build our legacies one day at a time. Therefore, we need to make the most of each day God allows us because no one really knows what tomorrow will bring.
What will they say about you when you are gone? Oh, your name will appear on the long list of pastors who have served your church. Your picture might be placed in the foyer or your name given to a room, but for what will you be most remembered? I think it depends on what you do today, then tomorrow. In the eternal records, your legacy will be who you have faithfully been and what you have continuously done to glorify the Lord.
That’s why it bothers me to hear those in the clergy, especially local pastors, lament about their present situations. They live in the world of “if only” and “why not me?” They really need to be careful because their discouragement may become their legacy. And they need to begin reshaping their reputations now. If they were gone tomorrow, there would be another filling those pulpits on Sunday. None of us is indispensable. We can all be replaced.
But we will all be remembered, too. What reputation do you seek? Will you be known as one who always represented God well, whether or not it was in the spotlight? Most importantly, what will your legacy be with Him? What will He say to you when you meet Him face to face? I hope it will be, “Well done, faithful servant.”
So, what do you say? Let’s do the best we can today! Let’s determine not to coast or simply go through the motions. Have a plan for each day. Do things that matter and give you deep satisfaction. Value people just as the Lord does, and help them feel good about themselves. Be thankful for your family. And, when the day is done, give God the glory. We will all be remembered for something, so let’s be and do something meaningful today!
“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm” (Psalm 37:23).
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished many things in his much-too-short life, and he initiated many more — some of which continue to blossom today. His most-remembered moment came on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when he delivered his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C.
That speech had a particularly important impact on African Americans from that day to this as they have strived for and largely achieved the same opportunities, freedoms, and successes as those with whom they live throughout this nation. Its essence has also inspired so many others through its message of optimism in general.
I think that includes us, my colleagues. A wise old preacher was right when he told two young beginning pastors, ''A pastor never achieves more than his dreams."
That's an important starting point for ministry in every generation. Every pastor needs dreams that are passionately focused on the gospel and its supernatural effect on people who make up the congregation he or she serves.
So much depends on the combined dreams of pastors around the world.
Think of the needs: perplexed persons, dysfunctional families, indifferent churches, deteriorating neighborhoods, and a rotting society. Think of the possibilities: thousands of ministers representing an incredible force for setting direction, restoring purpose, and calling the world back to God.
What is the impossible dream you think about, pray about, and talk about? Begin to live that impossible dream. Reveal it to someone. Write it down in your Bible, and believe God for it!
"You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:14).
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