Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV
It is hard being the nice guy all the time, is it not? I have heard people ask, “Why do I always have to be the one to give?” I’ve heard that question relating to marriages, to parenting, and among friends. Sometimes it just seems that we are the only ones doing good unto others. I know that is not true, but it does feel that way at times. We sometimes start to feel that we are being taken advantage of, do we not?
Paul knew that feeling. Think of the cold nights he spent praying over the church, knowing all the while that many of them would not suffer for him as he was for them. He knew the struggles of building the first church, trying to start from nothing, while many others enjoy the freedom of “Sunday’s off”. A large portion of Paul’s letters is devoted to encouraging the believer to keep going!
May I offer you the same encouragement? Don’t give up! Keep doing the good you know you ought to do. Go the second mile in your Christian walk. Keep serving others, even when it hurts or you feel unappreciated. Not because everyone else is doing it, but because of the love you have for your Heavenly Father. Do it because it is the right thing to do. Do it because in the end, you will be rewarded for your faithfulness.
Though it may seem you are being taken for granted, or that no one really cares, remember that Jesus is watching. He’s keeping track and He’s building your reward accordingly. Hang in there! It will be worth it in the end!
Possibly because I watched this movie on the long plane ride home from Lithuania and had visited the KGB Museum while I was there, but the movie Defiance left a huge impression on me. (Read about my KGB Museum experience HERE.) Maybe it was because I knew this was based on a true story and it graphically displays the conditions of people during times of war and domination by another nation. Whatever the reason, I am not usually an emphatic person and it is hard to impress me (just being honest), but this movie may well be remembered as one of greatest impact and even favorite movies of my life.
This is a movie about:
This movie reminds me that when one has no more prayers to offer and all they have is what is left of their strength and faith, that, if they are following God’s command on their life they should continue to move forward. (I realize this is not a movie about faith per se, but I see the illustration of perseverance in seeking a direction or pursuing a cause as a great demonstration of what we are called to do with our faith.)
If you have not seen this movie, I encourage you to rent it today. If you saw it, did it have that kind of an impact on you?
This is video two from our student ministry mission trip to New Orleans. God is using them this week. As you know, this is my personal blog, so aside from my role as a pastor at Grace Community Church I am also a dad. I am very proud of Nate Edmondson this week. You’ll see him in this video several times in the gray shirt teaching with his hands. He loves teaching God’s Word. I love him loving to teach God’s Word. God has great things planned for him. He leaves in a few weeks for a new adventure at Moody Bible College. Prayers appreciated…
I love shirts that do not have to be ironed. I travel a lot and right now the nylon, breathable shirt appears popular, at least among my age, and so I can be “in style”, comfortable and basically wrinkle-free with little effort. I have to confess to something, however. My style is usually determined by what other people do not want. I choose to dress primarily in rejected clothing! You see I am hugely price conscious. I love new clothes, but the thoughts of spending more than $10 for a shirt bothers me, so if it’s on sale for $6, I tend to like it even more. I have often wished there were a store for folks like me that sold only the clothes others didn’t want…the rejects…at dirt cheap prices.
I realize this would not be the best marketing approach for the clothing industry. Imagine the ads going after customers no one else wants. What kind of commercial would you make from the clearance rack?
It may not be the best approach in retail marketing, but guess what? The system I use in clothing myself is a great marketing approach for churches. If you want your church to grow, go after people no one else wants. Go after the ones who feel unwanted. Attempt to reach the people the world has rejected.
It worked well for Jesus. It has worked well for Grace Community Church. Perhaps it will for your church as well.
One of the primary purposes for our recent visit to Lithuania was to work with business leaders and individuals on issues related to personal finance, leadership, and budgeting. This was our initial trip, but we were able to open doors and build trust with key people in the church and community for future interaction. Our end goal is Kingdom-building, but instead of a medical or construction project, which is typical for many mission trips, we went addressing the primary need of the Lithuanians at this time; the economy. Naturally we received lots of questions about the economy in the United States. There was keen awareness that our economy impacts their economy.
Lithuania was under the communist rule of the Soviet Union until the early 90’s, so capitalism is a fairly new concept for most of the people. The fast introduction to a free market has led to tremendous problems in the country. There were lots of “instant” millionaires and success stories and now they are experiencing a natural correction. Unfortunately, because their economy grew so fast it will also decline fast and that has caused panic within the country.
In one of our meetings a leading businessman seemed to capture the essence of the problem in a couple of words. He said, “It appears to me that the problems in our country started with greed and now they are being continued with fear.”
GREED and FEAR
My new friend may be onto something. In fact, I think he is. The problem in his country seems to mirror the problems in our country. It may have taken us longer to get to our place of struggle than in his country, but we face the same struggles. What got us into our economic condition was largely triggered by greed and what is keeping us from fully recovering is largely triggered out of fear.
I was also reminded that the church has answers to each of these struggles, greed and fear. Perhaps it could be said that we should have been addressing the first problem better all along and we may not have to be addressing the second problem as much, but either way, we have a role to play in the current state of the economy.
But you, O God, DO see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Psalm 10:14 NIV
The man was really just trying to be nice. The cute little boy cowered, however, into his Daddy’s shoulder…..
I remember when my son was younger, three or less, and we would be in public and a stranger would come up to take notice of the cute little blonde in my arms. The more the person would try to get my son’s attention, the more my son would hide his face in my chest. We called it shyness, but it was really a son seeking protection in his father.
Do you ever have need to seek your Father’s protection?
We see so many hardships in life. We endure struggles and heartaches and are sometimes tempted to ask, “where is God in all this?” Often we fail to recognize God in the midst of trials.
May I assure you of something? God does see trouble and grief. He is not oblivious to our pain. He is carefully watching over His children. At just the right time, God will literally take our struggles in His mighty hand and lift us up out of our pit of despair.
The Psalmist talks about the victim. Have you ever felt like a victim? Do you often feel there is nowhere to turn? God wants to protect His children. God is looking for victims who will call upon His name.
Climb into Daddy’s lap today! Rest your weary head on His powerful shoulders! Cast your burdens upon Him, because He cares for you! Tell Daddy you love Him and trust Him with all your heart! You might even want to read the Bible together.
The vision or end goal or an organization or business should be consistent, but the way the vision is reached should mostly be flexible. As demands of consumers or clients change, as the economy changes, or if improvements need to be made to the existing methods of reaching the defined vision, an organization or business needs to remain flexible to tweaking the way it attempts to reach its set goals.
There are times, however, when an organization or business can be totally inflexible. Take my favorite Philadelphia breakfast dive, Little Pete’s Diner. Little Pete has been doing the same thing, in the same building, with no remodeling and no major changes to their huge menu for years. They are cash only, 2 people minimum per booth (NO EXCEPTIONS), they are not keen on substitutions (trust me), you get 2 minutes to decide on your order, and they turn tables quickly. It’s a typical no nonsense diner that has won countless “Best Of” awards, but they are the way they are and they aren’t changing anytime soon. Why? They offer the best breakfast in central city Philly and have good, cheap food 24 hours a day and people often wait to get a seat. Bottom line: they don’t have to, that’s why.
Here are some reasons I can think of that an organization can be inflexible:
When it is the best at what it does and there is no close second.
When there is no competition.
When demand for the product or service far exceeds supply.
For the rest of us, we may need to consider remaining flexible in our methods if we want to continue to realize our goals. (Just ask General Motors about this principle!)
Recently I posted about the need to use the summer to plan for the fall. Read that post HERE. I have been heeding my own advice and dreaming and planning for the fall. This is going to be an exciting time. We are experiencing record growth at Grace Community Church, God is showing up mightily in people’s lives, and we think this fall is going to be crazy.
This week one of our elders stopped by my office to pray with me and I was able to share where my wheels have been spinning lately with him. Putting it all on paper excites me, so I thought I would share them here also.
Here’s the current major initiative list on my agenda for this fall:
Financial development. We want to work with our people to teach them Biblical principles of money and help those who are willing receive coaching in their own personal finances.
Serve Strategy. We have a 3-part strategy at Grace Community Church. Gather/Commit/Serve. This fall a major emphasis will be placed on the Serve part of that strategy.
Systems development. We have grown so fast and now we need some structure in place to sustain that growth and continue to grow. Read a post about that process HERE.
Staff development. We have an incredible staff, but new people have been added and we need to intentionally build understanding of and relationship with each other. We want build on our strengths and improve our teamwork.
Growth of people. We want to strategically think through the discipleship process at Grace through community groups and service opportunities to help people grow spiritually.
Social media. We want to expand our use of social media and take advantage of the cultural opportunities those mediums provide.
College Ministry. This is the year we intend to launch college ministry in a big way. We are excited about our outreach to Austin Peay State University! We love our university and college students!
What new initiatives are you planning for this fall?