Supporting Missionaries

God has been dealing with me about supporting people and ministries these last few weeks. Tonight we had a missionary from Ezra International in to speak. I love any person who talks about, supports and serves Israel. After he spoke our pastor came up to take an offering. That’s when God started speaking to me again.

He has been challenging me to “put my money (also life and heart) where my mouth has been”. I say I support Israel and missionaries in word, but how much do I give and really pray for them? The answer: very little.

I’m thankful that God is changing that in my life. He has started burdening me for those in the mission field. I know they covet my prayers and desire my financial support. In the past I made a lot of excuses, but now He’s helping me say “yes”, especially in a small ways. No one starts out giving a large portion of their income to missions (which is my desire). No one starts out devoting hours of their day to prayer on behalf of those serving in the mission field. God works in us over the months and years; conquering greed, selfishness and stinginess in our lives until He brings us to that place of humility, love and giving.

I know that if I say yes to support missionaries in small ways, that one day God will help me reach my desire.

Remembering People

I’ve been reflecting recently on a lesson that God has been teaching me. He has been going after this spirit and attitude in me that tramples others in order to complete a task or reach a goal. I desire to see our church be more design-savy, to see people rise up to who they were created to be, to make ministries the best they can be and even to see my workplace operate like a business should.

While those are all good desires, my methods in order to achieve those goals and desires have been sinful at best. God recently said to me:

You desire perfection and completion, but you don’t desire people. You trample and hurt whoever you need to in order to achieve your desire or goal. If you reach your goal but disillusion people (who now will never try or help again) in the process, what have you gained? Nothing. For if you have not love…anything you do is counted as nothing.

I’m trying now to remember people instead of focusing on goals and desires. I now realize that part of the “goal” is to see others reach it with you. I seem to be a slow learner in this issue, but it’s starting to click.  All I can think of right now is that I’m so glad God remembers people.

How To Bless Your Pastor

I went to a youth leader’s conference last weekend. They had several awesome main sessions and a bunch of good breakout sessions. On the list I saw that they had a breakout session called “How To Bless Your Pastor”. I was really glad to see a breakout session taking time to teach how to do this. Even though I didn’t go to the session, thoughts of how to bless my pastor have been circling in my head for a few days and I wanted to post some of them.

Pray for him

This is the most important and, if I am honest, the one I do least. There are things that pastors face that only God can help and resolve. By praying, I am petitioning God to do what only He can do. I also try to make sure that I pray positively. I pray for wisdom, strength and grace for my leadership and as a result I am helping cut through the demonic attack against them and helping God encourage their souls.

God has been challenging me to pray for them instead of criticizing them. I used to say I pray for my pastor, but then God challenged me track how much I prayed versus how much I spoke negatively against him. The result shocked me. He reminded me that in James 3:10 the Bible states that “blessing and cursing flow from the same mouth…this should not be”.

Stand up and defend him in times of criticism

What pastors need are people who will shield, guard and defend them. They need people who will speak out for them and be their voice when they hear someone criticizing them especially since the majority of criticism comes from behind the back of a pastor). They need people around them who believe and trust them. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan’s armor bearer believed, followed and protected his leader in whatever his leader wanted to do. Abishai was one of David’s “mighty men” and he was constantly defending and protecting David. He went so far to ask David if he could kill those who slandered him (David said no.). Where are the people who long to protect and defend their leaders in every way possible?

I try to do my best to defend my leadership, sometimes to a fault. One of the reasons I think I do it is because of how I was raised. At the church I grew up in, the senior pastor fell into a serious scandal, yet my family would not participate in any rumors or criticisms of the pastor. Why? Cause it’s a principle in the Bible. David would not speak against anyone the Lord had anointed, no matter how deceived they were or how much sin they were in. God doesn’t approve of all of His anointed ones’ actions, but He requires us not to speak ill of them, or “touch” them (in a harmful or negative manner) in any way.

Help, love and support his family

One of the most encouraging things for a pastor to know is that you not only support them but you also support and love their family. Pastors are blessed when people not only help out the pastor, but do whatever they can to help out the entire family, especially when hard times come.

Please understand, many pastors don’t get to spend Christmas or other special days with their families. They respond to church family emergencies and many times their own family suffers for it. People who come along side the pastor and help them in whatever way they can to make sure their family is taken care of and loved  is truly a blessing for anyone in leadership. Sometimes it’s you taking the hospital visit, fixing dinner for their family or taking their kids out to the beach for a day of fun.

Serve, serve, serve (and don’t argue or complain about it)

Words without action do very little in life. I may say I support my pastor, but what am I actually doing to prove it? I try to do everything I possibly can to help my pastors out. This sometimes can be taxing and frustrating, but showing love and support often is. That’s the hardest part about serving. It calls you to deny your flesh, take up the towel and wash another’s feet, whether they are a stranger, friend or leader.

I remember one time that I did not have any desire to serve (for whatever reason) but then I read in Luke 16:12 where Jesus asked His disciples:

And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

I realized that even when I have no desire to serve, by serving today I am investing in my own ministry and life one day. I want people who will help me one day fulfill the call of God on my life, so according to that scripture I must help others fulfill theirs.

Speak words of encouragement (this will benefit both parties)

This is very easy and practical to do. Saying how much you’re thankful to a pastor or how well of a job they’re doing in a particular area encourages a pastor to keep going. Even if they’re doing a lot wrong, everyone does something right so try to focus on that. One of the tricks of the enemy is to make a pastor feel that they’re not being effective. Another way to combat this (after prayer and defending) is to verbal tell them what God has done in your life through them. The testimonies that you give them with help them wage war with the “accuser of the brethren”. It will bring hope and cheer to his soul, and when your pastor is encouraged and he is happy and joyous, it will benefit the entire church, including you.

Reasons I Love Chick-fil-a

  1. They have a killer marketing plan and team. 
  2. The building has a great layout.
  3. The little details and smart design sense in their products and setup. Their tables and booths are so perfect.
  4. They’re closed on Sundays. Talk about blowing that whole mindset away that “you give up your standards and beliefs to satisfy the customer’s desires.
  5. Customer service!!! They have always gone above and beyond the norm to make sure my dining experience is a joyous one. Now they are even coming around to tables to refill drinks and such. It’s like I get a waiter/waitress that doesn’t accept tips!!!
  6. Incredible products. (No other place can boast that their food is as good as Chick-fil-a. They have the best chicken sandwiches and the best ice cream & milkshakes. I can’t find anyone who will argue that)
  7. It seems like their employees actually want to serve you and it seems like they are happy doing it. I listened to two Chick-fil-a employees brag/argue joyfully about who is serving better and who is making more customers happy. Business became a challenge to overcome instead of a weight to be dropped. For once, I ate not being under the weight of “I am stressing people out, even though i’m paying them”.
  8. Customization? No problem!!! I can do or have anything i want. If I can dream it, they will do it.
  9. Working/helping the non-profits. I am blown away by how many non-profit organizations and churches that get fundraising help and support from Chick-fil-a. More church parties and things are held at Chick-fil-a than any other restaurant. That tells me they understand how to help their community.
  10. A sense of humor. Their employees, marketing campaign and even their cheap calendars constantly state their wit and humor. It’s nice to be able to go somewhere for lunch where you can escape the madness of your day and just sit there and laugh.

Although there have been times where I have had an issue with the service or something else at Chick-fil-a, they have proven over the years to sincerely care about me and my life and likes. Any problem or issue that arises is quickly taken care of, and that’s why i love Chick-fil-a.

“Pretty Women” On Valentine’s Day

today is valentine’s day (or as my friends and i call it…”sucky singles day”…lol). normally i hate this day. why? cause i’ve been forever single and this “holiday” is the world’s way of reminding me of that. normally it would be just another day in my life (although i love the day after…cheap candy!!!). but this year is different. not because i have somebody (i’m not even close to having a relationship) but because of a song, thought and memories i’ve had over the last few days.

i’ve been listening to the song “pretty women” from the sweeny todd soundtrack (yes! i loved the movie!). here is the part that gripped me:

pretty women, at their mirrors, in their gardens,
letter-writing, flower-picking, weather-watching…
how they make a man sing!
proof of heaven as you’re living, pretty women

listen to the full song here

that (emphasized) line started me thinking. i am so blessed to have so many pretty women around me. you see, i’m a songwriter. not a great one, but i write things that people have and do use including worship songs and love songs for weddings/anniversaries/etc. several people have asked me where i get inspiration for many of the songs i have written and the truth is most of them have been inspired by “pretty women”…even the worship songs.

when i use the word “pretty”, i’m NOT just talking about a stunning physical appearance. i’m talking about a matter of the heart. its beautiful things that make women “pretty” or truly beautiful in God’s sight and mine. things like devotion, humility, love, joy, truth and many other character qualities and foundations. many times i have admired a trait in someone and have written a song about it. i remembered that every love song i have written i have had my “own person” i was writing it to (instead of “just writing it” for the person who asked me to, or to make “another good song”). it means more and “feels” more when it comes from truth deep in your heart. i wrote a song called “always” six years ago and thought i had forgotten it. in the last week the song has come back to me (out of the blue) and i realize i still have the same passions when i sing that song then when i wrote it.

it is the beauty of a woman (among other things) that has kept me singing. of course God (and HIS beauty) is the biggest reason i sing, write and worship…but i’m glad that He designed women for beauty so i could see beauty with my naked eye. so i agree with my friend when she says:

So whether you are single or married, remember Valentines isn’t about the card or the chocolate or the flowers. It’s really just another day. Have fun, spend the day with people you genuinely like. Love is all those perfect memories with the people who have made your life better. Cherish the people you love, whether they are “just friends” or something more.

i am looking forward to spending time today with my friends (men and women) who’s lives have inspired me to sing all these years. i am so grateful to God for giving me an eye (and a fake holiday…lol) to admire beauty…even if i don’t have anyone yet. who knows? maybe i’ll write another song. lol

UPDATE: seems like others think godliness is attractive.

what are you planning on doing for valentine’s day? does this day hold more meaning to you than what our culture says it is? can you find no redeemable purpose in this day? (to guys…) what makes women “pretty”? (to girls) do you have a similar reaction to how you see men?

(LINK) True Joy

i read this post last week and i still find my soul longing for this. check it out:

…imagine then, Father Leo, that we arrive at the monastery and the men refuse to let us in. In fact, they mistake us for thieves that have been troubling them and, after a long and fruitless attempt on our part to convince them otherwise, they angrily send us away. Thus, in the cold and rain we go to the entire village trying to find shelter for the night; yet none show us any kindness or give us a place to stay. So, desperate, we return to the monastery and try again. This time, the men there, in their frustration to drive us away for good, come out and beat us.

“Then there, lying on the ground, cold and wet, we find that there is no anger in our hearts towards those who have wronged us.

“That, Father Leo, would be true joy.”