You Have Time, 168 Hours to Be Exact

I am thankful for Pastors who pour into my life and challenge me in my walk. The basis of what I am teaching on Sunday’s comes directly from what others have poured into me and I believe the way it has challenged and changed me will do the same for those whom I Pastor. Currently at 11:00AM on Sunday Mornings at North Aiken Church of God we are taking a good look at Acts 2:41-47. The two main questions I am asking are, “What am I doing that is growing the Church?” To narrow that down a bit, “Am I growing in my walk with Christ.”

When we personally grow the Church grows. The body of Christ is more than just an event or experience but a lifestyle. A lifestyle of dying to self and living for Christ. As we grow, become mature, we don’t focus on how we can serve ourselves but rather how we can serve Christ in the context in which we live. Serving Christ means serving others.

One of the things which we learned yesterday is that we have no problem making time for the things which we want to make time for. My friend Mike DeGuzman said, “Growing is not a lack of opportunity but a lack of desire.” How true that is. If I am going to grow in my relationship with Christ I need to weed out the things that are keeping me from continually devoting myself to Him. This comes by shifting our focus and efforts and making God first priority. We always make time for what we want to do.

We each have a total of 168 hours this week. We have a ton of stuff which has the ability to distract us from the main thing. My encouragement to you is to take a good look at what you spend time doing before saying I don’t have time. Rearrange your priorities and let the God things be the main things. Your growth depends on it, so do others.

Individually United

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT

The past few days in my daily Bible reading I have highlighted verses regarding harmony or unity. When a particular topic keeps coming to the forefront through various passages and texts I can only be left with the conclusion that God wants me to stop and listen more intently.

Harmony is a beautiful thing. There’s nothing better than a seeing a group of people who are not distracted by their personal differences but in harmony with the overall mission.

The overall goal as a body of Christ, that there be no divisions in the Church. Simply put, no two visions can work at any one place. That creates division. It doesn’t mean any one vision is necessarily wrong but it does mean there is a divided front. One individual or group believe the Church should be about _______________ another individual or group believe the Church should be about _____________ and what you end up with is valuable time being spent trying to decipher which you are going to do.

The antidote for division among the Church is pretty clear according to the above verse, “Be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” Simply put, think about the same things and put all your energy and effort into fulfilling one mission. This doesn’t mean you take away your individuality but it does mean you are going to use your individuality to help accomplish the collective goal.

Live in harmony, set aside division, and be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

The Weight of When God Speaks

“Work while it is day because great darkness is coming.” 9-24-2013 NACOG Revival Service

Last night during our revival services we had what I would like to call a Holy Interruption as the Evangelist was giving the invitation to prayer. The above words were the message of this interruption. I believe when God speaks we are to listen. Further I believe he has already spoken through his word; therefore, when a message is given to his people it will not be contrary or go against what is already handed down through his word.

The message last night through the unction of the Holy Spirit moving upon Gods messenger was “work while it is day because great darkness is coming.” I believe that when God pulls back the curtain and a word is giving it can be written down and the body needs to remember it. The weight of the word is still heavy on my heart and wanted to process it a little through writing. As I process it here are a few things I am reminded of from God’s word.

Jesus wants us to work hard. John 4:35 (NKJV) – Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

Jesus wants us to work now. John 9:4 (NKJV) – I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

Ultimately we have to decide NOW to get involved in the work of Christ. Along with me, ask yourself…

“What work am I doing to advance the gospel of Christ?”
“Am I more concerned with things other than fulfilling the purpose God has for my life?

People Over Personal Preference

“So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” -Romans 14:19 NLT

I love the simplistic way the NLT translates this verse. It leaves no doubt whom Paul is addressing and what He hopes the hearers will do. Paul writes to believers about believers. The ultimate goal, harmony. The process by which the goal is accomplished, edification, or the process of building one another up. In other words, harmony takes place when each person makes a deliberate effort to choose people over personal preference.

I firmly believe if we as believers are going to be an example to those outside of the church, harmony must be present among us as a collective body. The Church (fellowship) should be a place where peace, unity, and harmony is prevalent. Discord and disputes should be as common as a frog with wings.

I am convinced that the reason there is a lack of harmony in most Churches and homes is do to the fact that our aim is off. We’ve chosen personal preference over people.

I’ve seen through the years of growing up in church that our aim/focus has been on lesser things than the main thing. For instance, we can rally around a particular team, sport, political party, and or candidate but not around the mission that Christ has called the church to accomplish. We aim for lesser things than the main reason for our existence, Jesus Christ. Let this be a reminder,

Christ built the church, Christ loves the church, and Christ is coming back for the Church, and the Church is made up of people.

In the movie The Patriot, the main character played by Mel Gibson taught his young sons how to shoot. Before firing in a tense situation the young boy kept reminding himself of the lesson his dad taught him, “Aim Small, Miss Small.” In other words, the only way you can hit your desired target is to be accurate.

The means by which we obtain harmony in the body of Christ is the process of building one another up, edification.

It’s not about my personal convictions, it’s about helping one another grow in their personal walk with Christ. I am reminded that I must aim for harmony and be deliberate about building one another up in the faith. People matter and they must be built up.

Who can you build up today? Give them a call, send them a note, stop by their home or place of work just to tell them they matter.

Future Success is Built on the Past

“The future won’t look like the past, but it will build on the past, on its great history.”Dr. Bob Rhoden

The above quote was stated by interim Pastor at Calvary Assembly in Orlando, FL. Calvary was once a mega church that through the years has declined. It was an article on Ed Stetzers blog that brought me to the story and this quote by Dr Rhoden. Personally, as a young Pastor given the charge to Shepard a church which just celebrated 58 years of ministry, Dr. Rhodes quote inspired me.

Often as Pastor’s, especially young ones like myself, we have so much zeal and vision going into a position for the first time or as we move from one place to another, that we end up doing more harm than good at the place which God has called us. In short, God opens a door and we go. We feel Gods plans for that congregation is __________________. In our zeal and inexperience we push our vision without putting in the time to build trust and learn about the particular place God has called us. Often we hurt our chances of doing the most good because we haven’t taken the time to know the history and people whom God has called us to Shepherd.

With that said, here are a few things that I am in the process of learning and even gleaned from the above quote.

We can’t go back but we can look back.
Here’s the truth, you may have the zeal but the reality is you do not have the tenure. Get to know the past history of the place God has called you to. I am not asking you to go back, but get to know the past successes and failures. Learn who came before you, their tenure and investment in the life of the congregation you Pastor. Remember, early on you may have the title of Pastor but the trust has not been built to be the Pastor.

Build the Foundation of the Future on the Pillars of the Past.
I have come to view Church ministry as multi-level as opposed to single story. A single story building has one large foundation separated by rooms. A multi-level building consist of a base foundation of a certain size in which pillars/supports would go up in order to be a support for the floor above it. As we Pastor, especially in a Church that has been in existence for any length of time with multiple Pastor’s preceding us, it is not our job to tear down the foundations that have been laid. It is our job to go in a build on the pillars that have already been established. Building the foundation for the future it isn’t going back to a certain style but it is proclaiming that you embrace the identity of the past and allow that to be a launching pad for the future. The pillars which have been erected prior to your arrival, if you let them, will give structural support for the foundation you lay today. The pillars you erect are going to be the structural support for the foundation that the person lays once you are gone.

Celebrate the Churches History while Offering Vision for the Future
Celebrate the past but don’t get stuck in the past. You need to know the past in order to build the future. A detrimental mistake is to be a cocky pastor who doesn’t listen to the history. I understand why we choose not to listen, we are arrogant. We think our way is the best way. We may be uncomfortable who God created us to be that we squirm when we here praise for the people who came before us. Please allow me to speak into your life, listen carefully. Celebrate the men and women who came before you in front of the people you serve. The only way to build a future is to celebrate the history.

Maybe you are like me and are serving in a new ministry assignment. It’s been a little over six months at the time of this posting in which North Aiken Church of God has given me the opportunity to be their Pastor. I served at my previous assignment just a couple of weeks shy of two years. I write this with a little under 3 years of Pastoral ministry experience but I want to leave you with 6 things that you can do today which I believe can give you success over the next 6 months. I will expound on how I have put these into practice in the coming days but for the sake of time in this post, here is a short list.

  • Preach the Word
  • Build Relationships
  • Learn the history of the Church, the past success and failures
  • Find out the organization date, former Pastor’s names, length of tenure
  • Remind those you lead of the past success of the Church
  • Don’t just tell the people you serve your vision, preach and live your vision.
  • Helpful links from this post:
    Morning Round Up 9/23/2013Moody’s Policy Change; Megachurch Not For Sale; Ph.D. Perils | Ed Stetzer
    North Aiken Church of God, Aiken SCAn assembly of devoted Christ followers with a passion for God and a Love for people who are reaching upward and reaching outward in order make a difference in their community.

    Now is not forever…

    What a powerful statement and thought to ponder. Now is not forever.

    Pastor Kemp's Blog

    • 2 Peter 3:8 (NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    Now is not forever.

    On one occasion Albert Einstein, famous for his theory of relativity, was asked to explain what relativity was. He responded, “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”

    For me, an hour sitting in a dentist’s chair can seem like a lifetime and an hour with one of my grandchildren can seem like a minute. But the truth is: now is not forever.

    Savor—deeply those precious moments; endure faithfully the tough ones…now is not forever.

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    Present Suffering and Future Promises

    “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.-Romans 8:18 NLT

    I find it easy to focus on the here and now giving no thought to what will be. Our present sufferings have a way to dictate how we view the rest of our life. Again, we have choices. We can choose to allow our sufferings to distort the beauty that is truly around us or we can allow our sufferings to elevate us to a greater dependency upon God and hope in what will be.

    I am amazed as I read through the book of Acts recently and saw how the suffering/persecution of the early Christians didn’t stop them from their God given task to being witnesses in the culture which they lived. Why, because they understood this truth which would be revealed in Romans 8, what we suffer NOW is NOTHING compared to the glory he will REVEAL to us LATER. The point is this, present suffering is nothing compared to future promises. Now and Later. What is now will not be later. Here are a few words which come to mind; Endurance, Persistence, Outlook, Hope, Steadfast, Immovable and the list could go on.

    I will leave you with this, nothing your going through now can be compared to the glory which God will reveal to us later.

    Keep pressing forward.