Thoughts on Pastor Gary Lamb

(And addendum to this post has been added since the original.  For more click HERE.)

I am so bummed tonight to have heard the news about Pastor Gary Lamb of Revolution Church in Georgia.  I do not know Gary personally, only through Facebook, Twitter and his blog.  I would never be one to put more burdens on a man already so broken, but I cannot get some thoughts off my mind tonight and my blog is one way I express myself.  Since he addressed this in a very public way through his own blog (Read the account HERE), I thought I would share some of the things racing through my head.  They may be good for all of us to consider.

  • I started reading Brennan Manning’s “The Furious Longing of God” today before I heard this news.  On the first page of Manning’s writing he quotes Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me”.  The book is called “A love story for the brokenhearted”.  I think Gary needs this book. I do too!
  • Gary, his family and his church, along with the other woman and her family, need our prayers at this time.  Satan is smiling on this one, but Satan is a liar and a loser.  God can and will have the final word.  Let us pray He has His way in this situation for all parties concerned.
  • Whenever a pastor falls, those outside the church have another excuse to push away from truth.  Some of this comes from the way the church treats its own.  Now is not the time for judgment, now is the time for grace to abound.
  • People are going to begin dismissing everything Gary has said or will say because of this failure.  Please don’t be one of those. His failure does not diminish any truth he spoke prior to today. If anything it makes the truth he spoke even more real.  The fact is that Gary is not a perfect man.  We knew that before we knew the news of the day. If God used him to make a difference in your life or others, be thankful God uses broken people, like you and me.
  • The failure of Gary did not begin with an affair with his assistant.  Somewhere, sometime, Gary let his guard down.  We must all work harder to make sure the proper boundaries are in our life.  I have too many pastor friends who see nothing wrong with meeting with female staff members alone.  You must NEVER, EVER, EVER do this.  NEVER!  Please pastors and other leaders, build accountability and boundaries into your life now, before it is too late.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!
  • Many pastors I know need marriage counseling, but they are too proud or too afraid of what their church would think to get it. I hope this news encourages some to take that bold step.

I make this offer to pastors, I am a pastor and a former degreed Christian counselor, if I can help you talk through issues like this, if you are on a limb and need a confidential, non-judgmental friend, feel free to email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com

President Obama Absent from National Day of Prayer Celebration

President Obama has opted out of most activities in the National Day of Prayer.  While he says he intends to pray privately, as a part of his normal daily practice, he will not be active, nor will any of the executive leadership of his administration, in the organized activities of the day.  Personally I think the President should recognize the importance of this day to many and at the very least he should have sent token representation from the executive branch of government, but I am not surprised by his absence. The basic organizers of this event have not been among his greatest supporters.

Read the CNN story HERE.

What do you think?  Are you surprised by the president’s actions?  Do you agree with some who say that this year, more than most, this country needs prayer?  Should Christians make an issue of this or is this just another day and everyday is a day of prayer? How should Christians respond?

More than anything though, have you prayed today?

Try this, pray for each of these in a sentence prayer or two:

  • National Leaders
  • State Leaders
  • Local Leaders
  • Emergency Personnel
  • Military
  • School Officials
  • (If you want to really walk on the wild side, pray for your pastor and church staff!)

Things She Says To Get Me To Slow Down

speed_sign031

Cheryl and I were driving in Nashville today and she said, “Speed limit strictly enforced” as she read a sign on the roadside.  I knew what she meant.  She thought I was driving too fast.  I Twittered this and got several comments on Twitter and Facebook from other women regarding their own tactics to subtly tell their husband they are driving too fast. 

 

Here are some comments Cheryl has used before:

 

“Wow, I didn’t know the speed limit was 35 here.” 

 

“They must really be strict about speeding on this road, because I’ve seen several people pulled over lately.” 

 

“I wonder how much speeding tickets are now.”

 

“I’ve noticed Jeremy (our son) sure has been driving fast lately.  I don’t know where he gets that from.” 

 

“We don’t ever get to just talk.   Let’s just slow down today, take it easy, and catch up.”  (Okay, she hasn’t actually used that one, but it’s only because she hasn’t thought of it yet.) 

 

So my question is: Why not just say, “YOU ARE DRIVING TOO FAST YOU IDIOT!”? I think I’d understand that one better.  When talking to men, it’s best to be direct.  They may get mad at first, but that’s the way we handle things.   (For more on this subject, read my post “My Right to Get Angry/Your Right to Cry”) 

 

Women, what tactics do you have to get your man to slow down?   (or speed up as the case may be) 

Learning to Handle the Stress of Growth as a Pastor

Our church is three and half years old. We have seen God do some amazing things in our short time and we continue to stand in awe of His grace upon us. Planting a church is hard work and not for the faint-hearted, but it’s been a joy ride at the same time. I love seeing people get excited about life, and especially gaining passion for Jesus, so these have been some of the best years of my life.

I need to be honest about something though. It all seemed to be fun when we were starting the church and had a few hundred people hanging out with us. Last Fall when we broke the 1,000 mark in average attendance (now over 1,800) some things changed. It has actually become work some days!

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not complaining. It is still fun and I’m glad we are growing and meeting needs as a church.  I love the team I work with and we have some of the most fun people in the world at our church, but I am realizing my need to be more focused, more intentional, and more consistent in my leadership if we are going to continue at this pace of growth as a church. I certainly don’t want to quench what God is doing!

I’m spending more time learning from church leaders, trying to balance my time, encouraging our team, delegating when possible, exercising more, and spending more time in prayer and in God’s Word.

What other suggestions do you have for me?  How do you handle the stress of leadership?

Encouragement Amidst Tragedy from Pastor Fred Winters

My heart goes out to the family of Rev. Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church, Maryville, IL. According to news reports a gunman killed him in the middle of services at his church this morning. Read a news report HERE.

Cheryl shared the story with me this afternoon while driving back into town. It’s all I’ve been able to think about since. There’s not a sense of fear on my part as a pastor, I just can’t stop thinking about his family and his church. I don’t want to bring more undue attention to the family at such a time as this, although I’m sure the media will cover it thoroughly, but you can read about his family and even see a picture of them on the church’s website. (It wouldn’t surprise me if they take the site down for a couple days shortly.)

In looking through the site I was impressed with the church’s vision. Rev. Winters seemed to have great plans for the future. If you spend some time on the church’s website, check out the future building plans of the church.  Wow! One thing that impressed me, and made me realize how God prepares us at times, is the current sermon series Dr. Winters was preaching through. You can listen HERE. Pastor Winters was teaching his church how to be happy in the midst of a scary world. Listen to his sermon from February 22, 2009. He says, “The number one factor in finding happiness in life is faith”, based on Philippians 4:4-9. He goes onto say that all of us desire something deeper than happiness. We want joy and it is not based on our circumstances, but our faith. The news report says Dr. Winters was a “happy” person. I think I know why.  (He ends his faith message with a story about his daughters. Prior to the message on faith he had preached on the importance of family. I plan to listen to that sermon next.)  I would say he left a great legacy to all who will follow.  Let Reverend Winter’s message encourage all of us during the times of uncertainty in the world.

Please pray for this pastor’s family, the church, and the Kingdom of God in the coming days.

Vote Here: President Obama and Family Need a First Dog

Regardless of your politics, we will soon have a new first family. Honestly, I’m excited about watching children growing up in the White House again.  The Obama’s seem like a loving, close family, and it will be interesting getting to know them as they become the daily news focus in the coming months.   

 

True story.  This morning I was thinking about and praying for our new president-elect and the changes about to occur in his young family’s life.  The thought occurred to me that the new president and first lady should help their girls acclimate to their new home by gifting them with a new puppy. 

 

I did a quick online search to make sure the Obama family does not already have a family pet.  According to published reports, President-elect Obama has promised his daughter Malia a puppy.  The dilemma is whether to get her a pedigree to help with her allergies or support the animal shelter and get a mutt. 

 

If you had to pick a first dog, which breed would you select?  Could you see the Obama family with a Pembroke Welsh corgi or a West Highland white terrier?  Or, are they a “pick the dog who needs the most love from the animal shelter” type of family?  What do you think?  

 

 

10 Goals/Dreams Yet To Be Fulfilled

I’m a dreamer. I always want to do more with life.  I believe dreams are a healthy way to stretch the mind, keep a person growing, and even stay emotionally healthy.  (“Where there is not vision, the people perish.”)  On a recent plane ride I jotted down ten goals that I still have for my life.  God willing, I’m going to spend my life dreaming they come true! 

 

1.      Train young leaders to be “giant killers” for the Kingdom of God.

2.      Help hurting pastors be restored to vibrant ministry.

3.      See dying churches revitalized.

4.      Help Cheryl fulfill her dreams; and help her dream bigger dreams for herself!

5.      Watch more boys marry godly women.

6.      Become a granddad!  (I’ll take number 5 first, but I’ll be ready!)

7.      Travel to Africa and Asia.

8.      See patriotism restored as a personal value for all Americans.

9.      Accept fully Christ’s love and forgiveness (with no regrets from the past).

10.  Hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

 

What dreams do you have for your life?  What are your current goals?  Feel free to share them here. 

Soldiers Coming Home! Good News is Here!

I’ve been asking lately to see some good news.  Well I saw some today. It was the headline in our local paper.  The headline in the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reads: 101st begins mass return from Iraq 80 soldiers home from a 14-month deployment.  We love our soldiers and their families.  Welcome home heroes!  Over the next few months our church and community will be surrounded with smiling faces, tears, and reunions as our troops come home from Afghanistan and Iraq!  I can’t wait!  God bless their speedy return. 

7 Ways to Make Your Prayers More Effective

There is a king in the Bible who when I have thought of or studied prayer, I have often come back to him. The king is a man named Hezekiah. Hezekiah ruled over Judah and he was a good king. He tried to honor God in everything he did and because of his faithfulness, God honored Hezekiah greatly.

Hezekiah became the target of warring nations. The king of a rival nation to God’s people, Assyria, decided he was going to try and take over Hezekiah’s kingdom. Yet throughout it all, Hezekiah consistently used the same battle plan. He went before the Lord in prayer and followed the Lord’s commands. Hezekiah relied on prayer to rule his life. This man knew how to pray and pray in a way that got results.

Some time ago, in a message at Grace Community Church we looked at one of the recorded prayers of Hezekiah to see what we can pull from it. To understand the prayer we should know that the Assyrian nation was stronger than Hezekiah’s nation. They would have easily been favored in a war. The Assyrian king launched a huge smear campaign against Hezekiah with his own people. It scared all Hezekiah’s people to death.

Hezekiah heard about it and went before the Lord. God assured Hezekiah everything would be ok, but the Assyrians wouldn’t let up. They kept taunting and taunting, throwing threats towards Hezekiah. They sent a letter by messenger to Hezekiah that basically said, “The Assyrians are tough and they are coming for you next.”

What do you do when you are backed into a corner about to face something bigger than your ability to handle? Well, Hezekiah received the letter with all the threats and began to pray.

Now find a Bible and read 2 Kings 19:14-19 (Or click on the passage to read it online.)

What can we learn from listening in as Hezekiah prayed?

First, Hezekiah got alone with God. There is corporate prayer like we do at church, and there is prayer where a few are gathered, but probably some of the most effective prayer time of your life will be the time you invest alone with God.

Second Hezekiah’s prayer was Immediate. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was prior to making his plans. We are so geared to react that it’s hard for us to go first to God. He may be second or third or when we get backed into a corner and have no choice, but as a habit we need to make God the first place we turn in our lives.

Third, Hezekiah’s prayer was Open and honest. Hezekiah was transparent before the Lord.  I love the imagery here in this prayer story of Hezekiah. He took the letter, went to the house of the Lord, and spread it out before Him. I get this visual image of Hezekiah, and this letter…laying it there on the table, and saying, “Okay, God, what now? What do I do next?”

Are you in a tough spot right now? You may just need to get you some note cards right down all the things you are struggling with….lay them out on a table…then say, “Okay God, here are my struggles…I can’t do anything about them. What now?”

Writing your prayer requests before God is a great idea for 2 reasons.

a. It helps you remember to pray for them.

b. It helps you to watch as God answers. We get more answers than we realize if we only ask.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Honoring, humble and respectful of who God is.  Hezekiah knew his place as king….and he knew God’s place in the Kingdom. Hezekiah was king of a nation and that is an important job, yet Hezekiah willingly humbled himself in prayer, because he knew his place before the King of kings.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Bold. He said, “Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD…” Hezekiah had the kind of relationship with God where it wasn’t a surprise when Hezekiah showed up to pray. They talked frequently; probably throughout the day. Because of that relationship, Hezekiah didn’t wonder if God would be there when he came before Him. He knew he could ask God to act on his behalf.

The more you grow in your relationship with God, the bolder your prayers can become, because the more your heart will begin to line up with God’s heart.

Hezekiah’s prayer was Dependent. In verses 17-18 he prays, “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.” Hezekiah knew he was out of his league facing the Assyrians. From the way I see that Hezekiah responded to life, however, I don’t think it mattered the size of the battle Hezekiah was going to depend on God.

Finally, Hezekiah’s prayer was certain…Because it was based on his personal faith and trust in God.  In verse 19, Hezekiah prayed, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Hezekiah had a faith in God that allowed him to pray with confidence. You need to understand that faith is always based on the promises of God. Some things God has promised to do…some He hasn’t. God has promised to always get glory for Himself and always work things for an ultimate good. He hasn’t promised to rid everyone of cancer or to heal every bad relationship.

(That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for everything. We don’t know His will, but we can’t guarantee God to do that which He hasn’t promised to do.) Sometimes we get upset because God doesn’t do something we asked or wanted Him to do but the fact is He had never promised to do it.

Hezekiah knew God had promised to save His people. He knew God had placed him in the position of authority over them. He had confidence that God would do what He had promised to do. Hezekiah trusted God to be faithful to His word so he was willing to act in faith.

What situations are you dealing with today that you know you are helpless to do on your own and you desperately desire God’s answer?

Get alone with God, spread your problems out before Him, honestly, humbly and boldly and dependently on God; and then allow His will to be done, as you wait for His response.


Encouragement to Stay Faithful Today

This morning on the radio we looked at Psalm 119.  I love the heart of the Psalmist. It seems from reading that he has had a taste of the goodness of God and of following His ways and he is vowing to never walk apart from a life of devotion to God again.   That’s the heart I seek.     

                                                    

Look at the words of the Psalmist and see his passion. 

 

Psalms 119:33-38

Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.

Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;

preserve my life according to your word.  

Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.  

(NIV…emphasis mine)

 

Yet the Psalmist had apparently lived long enough to know himself.  He would make a vow, but then normalcy would set in again and, if not careful, he’d be right back to living to please himself again.  He dreaded that return to the mundane Christian experience.   

 

Continue to look at his words:

Verse 39-40

Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.

How I long for your precepts!  Preserve my life in your righteousness. (NIV….emphasis mine)

 

It reminds me of what happened to Jonah in the belly of a fish.  He cried out to God with a heavy realization of what truly is valuable in life:

 

Jonah 2:8

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  (NIV….emphasis mine)

 

God, help me today not to sacrifice your grace for the seemingly glamorous temporary pleasures and trappings of this world.