And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pastor Appreciation Month

As a pastor I want to share a few insights that I hope will benefit others. Mind you I could be accused of sharing these thoughts for my own personal gain. But to my advantage, I know that my people know me well enough to not judge my intentions as being self serving. Besides, if we all took such attitude of judgment then we would all go around with a false piety and playing pretend rather than being the true church.

First off, know your pastor (and his wife, don't leave her out, as a matter of fact, include the PK children, they often bear a brunt of ministry suffering too.). Know what your pastor enjoys or needs, don't assume. Find out what his (their) hobby is, look at a magazine dealing with such, and see what the latest trendy gadget or tool is. If you find difficulty in this, provide him with a gift certificate to make his own choice.

In knowing your pastor you can make the expression of appreciation achieve its greatest potential, and you will avoid the fax pas of completely missing the mark. I know of pastors who have hinted to their spouse for something they greatly desired, only to be disappointed by a greater expense being made for something they really did not desire. Don't buy him a set of books of someone who greatly differs in theology. I am a woodworker, one of the best gifts could be several board feet of oak, walnut, or plywood all to let him build to his hearts content. A golfer may be overjoyed at receiving green fees for a select golf course in the area. If he is a sports fan, git him the best seats possible for a major league team.

Next I would like to give a list of things that often make for a convenience in the pastors life.
  • Books are always in demand.
  • Gift certificates to Wal-Mart are a plus.
  • A night away for his wife and he would go along way also, sweeten the deal and provide babysitting and dinner out. One thing our church has done is provide a night out with free babysitting by a rotation of families within our church every month for a year.
  • Give him a budget to redecorate his office, I endured three years of burnt orange shag carpet with brown paneling walls
  • Find a luxury he would enjoy but not purchase for himself, maybe an iPod, GPS, or subscription. Pastors love fine writing instruments, perhaps a Mont Blanc or custom made pen?
  • Is he a history buff? Try going to and get him an antiquated Bible leaf or communion token.
  • Is his wife a scrap booker? Send her on a shopping spree/
  • Thinking about his kids, gift cards here work best, let them shop, or better yet get involved in their lives, take them shopping, buy them a cd or video game and buy them lunch.
  • How about a gift for the whole family, I like grilling, so a bundle of meat for the grill can be a huge boon to your minister (Remember, the Levies were to get a portion of the offerings, meat included)

One of the great markers of appreciation is meeting needs. How about a year's worth of automatic car washes, or four free oil changes? If your church can afford it, how about paying off one of his debts? Does he have any outstanding medical bills? Now this is one of the more difficult areas as pastors will not normally make much of their needs. Someone close to the pastor will need to feel this one out.

Another area of pastor appreciation can be taking the family out to dinner, or having them into you own home. The fellowship is often sweeter than any item.

Now much of what we think of when we talk about appreciation involves gifts. However, many pastors love experiences, kind words by letter, and time with people they love. Seek the Lord in this area, it could pay great dividends.

Let me emphasize that this should not be something just for the month of October. Real appreciation expresses itself in ways every week. Love your pastor, care for Him and God will care for you. Just as Rahab cared for the spies and David would not life his hand against God's anointed, you too will be blessed by any blessing you first give to your pastor and his family.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ray Boltz's Confession and its Effect in the Cornfield

This Week we learned that musician Ray Boltz had divorced his wife last year and has confessed that he is gay. I personally do not know Mr. Boltz, but have been the recipient of many distraught Christian’s remarks on his acknowledgment. Most are in mental shock over this story. Several can’t find how a man who has written “Thank You” and “The Alter” could hold such beliefs. Many are simply praying for him.

Now much research has been done on the subject of homosexuality and we could speculate why this situation is what it is. I want to fathom for a few moments, what we ought to consider in this situation.

First off, even adults should not have human heroes. I lost mine a few years ago when I read an autobiography of a man whom I had been entertained by in a long running television show. His life and language shattered the illusion of quality.

Second, we should fathom if we have played a part in this? What I mean by that is we give rise to a person’s pride when we idolize them and put them on a pedestal that only God should reside. If you look at the entertainment industry, there is an overstock of performers who have been pandered to that lack responsibility or character. I don’t believe they started out that way, but all in all the celebration of who they are by the adoring fans has corrupted them. They think they are a god and fans the acolytes.

Many in the past have gushed at Mr. Boltz’s abilities. Granted, he has written songs far better than I could, and sings much better. But I recall several people given to melodrama who almost fawn at the opening bars of Thank You or the mention of his name. To embellish a person, beyond encouragement, is giving them opportunity to stumble. Saul should have never been king. His pride welled up and it destroyed him. Romans one shows how our prideful thinking can usurp reason and lead us on a destructive path of life making God what He isn’t.

I am sure if I gave it the time I could find more things to learn from this event. They seem to happen with quite regularity. But in my pondering how to respond to my flock, it is imperative we also recognize our own sin. In media as in church discipline, the exposure of another’s sin should always remind us that we too are sinners, bound for God’s loving wrath apart from the cross. May we spend time on our knees, for as James teaches, we are all tempted in some form of lust.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Report from Kenya

Here are a few photos from Pastor John in Kenya!

Friday, September 5, 2008

One of my favorite activities is, The Business Meeting

Yes, I do love the business meeting. It used to be one of my least favorite activities, but one change in perspective has made all the difference.

At one point in ministry it seemed as each business meeting may be my last. Either I would quit or get fired. Things were horrible. But each time God got me through it. After one Sunday evening I went home and began the relaxation process. That is the process of letting things go and just letting your mind unwind. In particular, I used to paint in the basement with oils.

As I was painting a lighthouse from my imagination, I realized with great thankfulness the God was continually providing at every level. It may not have been at a pace I desired, but it was teaching me about God. I needed more time reflecting on Him and seeing His activity. This led to faith building and thankfulness, two essential parts of worship that quite frankly I had lost.

The next step in the heart change came in a friend’s news letter. In it they listed the praises for the month. It had answered prayer requests, unexpected blessings, and observations of truth in scripture. All in all these things were important to remember. But too easily they were forgotten. I needed a way to make the a matter that was to be recalled.

It was shortly after this that I heard Henry Blackaby (The Experiencing God guy) mention that he would have his church record such things in the minutes of the business meeting. What a great idea! This way the generations to follow would see the activity of God. It thwarts discouragement. It gives us a benchmark of where God has been working.

Soon afterwards I began this task. I have found it to be a great stimulant to the church body. Everyone now gets an e-mail reminder to send me their praises. For the noncomputer generation I remind them or this need from the pulpit. The response has been wonderful.

Since we begin our meetings reading correspondence, this sets the tone for all we are about to do. It empties selfishness. Faith in God is prominent over the strength of man. We tend to then have a God perspective on the use of money, time, and other resources. As a pastor I find it encouraging to hear of other blessings that thrill my heart. We become greatly united when we focus on God this way rather than on problems.

At the end of the year, usually the last Sunday night service of December, I reread all the praises of the year to remind us of the faithfulness of God. This in turn puts us in a worshipful mindset to give our hearts into the next year.