Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category

In the Name of Jesus, Shut Up! Battling Those Pesky Internal Voices   Leave a comment

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Sometimes I sit and wonder who my enemies are. Usually I find that the primary ones I face today are the demons within. They love telling me how I’m not good enough, talented enough, popular enough, skilled enough, worthy enough, known enough to do all of this writing for God’s kingdom work. They also say all of the above about me thinking I can make it as writer and an entrepreneur, running a business of my own that is off to a painstakingly slow start.

My #1 enemy today is within, and it is the voice of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, and poor self-esteem. These voices have their moments with me as I still trudge on to get better, do more, and hone my skills. They interrupt me when I’m writing and even coaching. They look over my shoulder when I take time to dream of what is still to come. They get agitated when I have those moments of thankful connectedness with God who trusts me, cares for me, inspires me, energizes me, loves me and believes in me.

This war within is more prominent than I desire. It is easy to become upset with myself when those voices of dissent speak because they bring with them their friend “guilt” who tells me I should feel even worse because I’m allowing them to hurt me so badly. It becomes layers of negative pressure that are difficult to overcome. This weight can be burdensome enough to stop me in my tracks at times, winning the day by overwhelming my willpower.

Thank God this is not the end of my story. This is never the end of my season. Feelings like that can sometimes last a moment, a few hours, and at their worst a few days. But they don’t last. God is always faithful in reminding me just how worthy I really am. It is because of him that I can stand up in the middle of the storm and declare to all of those voices, “In the name of Jesus, shut up!” When this happens I sit up straighter, smile while I’m working, walk taller, write faster, coach better, study and learn feverishly, and always, always feel more blessed than I know how to handle. It is the confidence that comes when you know beyond doubt that God is with you. You can feel it!

It is God who has called me into this new arena of ministry. It is God who has gifted me with the heart and passion for this work. It is God who has given me the opportunities to advance my skills to serve people in specific ways to help them in the areas of their lives where they are stuck, especially spiritually. It is God who receives all of my praise and thanksgiving. All of this is because it is God who reminds me frequently that I really can do all things in his name!

It is God who lifts me up out of the darkness where those voices reign, and conquers them with compassion, confidence, and care. Those voices are a part of me that still need work. But with God’s help, I know they will be overcome and that they will become voices that cheer me on as I move forward, deeper into God’s call. This is where victory is found. The Holy Spirit resides within me and wins every time when I avert my eyes away from my self-defeating mirror to the Lord of love.

Today, I’m praising God from whom all blessings really do flow.

For BGAV Pastors: Gathering of Silence 2021   Leave a comment

We never anticipated a global pandemic. We never anticipated the toll it would take in lives. We also could not anticipate the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll it would take on pastors. Some have done remarkably well and adapted creatively and brilliantly while others have not. All have had to navigate an entirely new paradigm of ministry. Many are worn out!

Jesus’s words are critical for pastors today when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” Matthew 11:28029 (NIV). This may be the most important time for Baptist General Association fo Virginia pastors to exercise self-care than we have seen in a generation! The Gathering of Silence is one small resource to help them with this. For 72-hours we will gather at Crossroads Camp and Conference Center for a time of resting, refreshing, and reflecting.

Churches should seriously consider sponsoring their pastor to attend this essential retreat. It is a small price to pay to give the one they count on for spiritual leadership to have a respite and be rejuvenated with the Lord. Pastors, even if your church does not sponsor you, please consider using a portion of your convention time/funds allotted and join us for this necessary rest.

We arrive at lunchtime Monday and being a time of silence. Our meals are selent as are our daytime hours. Thematic refleciton materials will be given to participatns to use throughout their time of silence whether on the hiking trails, perched upon the mountain, or enjoying the mountain stream in our exquisite surroundings. There are off-site opportunities for golfing, fishing, or more hiking. An optional time of conversation around self-care and meditative reflections is available each evening 7-9pm. One-on-one coaching sessions are also offered to those in attendance. Our time concludes with lunch Thursday where there is often much laughter and reflection and networking.

Registration is available here: http//www.crossroadscamp.com/events/gathering-of-silence/

Paralytic Point   2 comments

A verse jumped off the page at me in Mark 2 this morning. The story of the four men bringing their crippled friend to see Jesus is one of those classic tales that is told in early discipleship teachings. Rightfully so, too, as it is a great visual for children to learn of how much Jesus loved the man and healed him. It is also an early look into how the teachers of the day would challenge Jesus because of the forgiveness of sins issue Jesus raised to their objection. There’s another hidden treasure embedded because the man got up, picked up his mat, and walked away. Carrying one’s mat on the Sabbath was also breaking the law.

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What jumped at me today was not the additional tale of the crowd size. The house was filled to the brim and even at the door (and I’m assuming windows) crowds were gathered to hear Jesus. Why? What was he doing? Did they all know about the mat and roof story that was about to happen? Nope!

Between describing the crowd and the introduction of the crippled man and his companions, the text simply says this, Jesus was preaching the word to them (Mark 2:2). That’s it. He wasn’t healing the lame or the blind or the deaf. He wasn’t performing other miracles of any kind or even magic tricks. He wasn’t glowing in the dark and telling people to pray to him. He wasn’t turning water into wine (I’d follow him around for that-just kidding). He was preaching the word to them.

Overlooked a lot in the teachings about Jesus today is how much he preached. The stories and healings and miracles and dialogues are rich with messages to share, and they should be shared. But we see more than a time or two in Scripture that when he is out and about he is teaching and preaching, “as one with authority.” His preaching was powerful, penetrating, unique, bold, and obviously engaging to have so many come from all over the place to hear him.

Maybe I should ditch my scrolls of questions about how things are done when I get to heaven and just do the Mary thing – sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him teach. Perhaps that’s the point.

Gyon   Leave a comment

I have no idea if I have spelled it correctly. I also have little faith that it is an actual word. All I know is that I have heard it a lot over the years, and to this day I am unsure what it means. Language and dialect tend to do these things to us. They separate us and cause us to look at each other differently, sometimes cocking our heads and wondering what on earth the other person is trying to communicate with us.

For example, my Aunt Joan was notorious for using this word, “gyon.” She pronounced it (as I have heard others) much like it is spelled (or at least my attempt at it): a hard “g” followed by “yahn.” She used it much where I would use the word “darned.” If I wanted to know where something was and she was unaware, she would reply, “Gyon if I know.”

I remember countless times asking her what that word meant. Mind you, I would often get the same statement in response, “Gyon if I know.” This is not helpful. I can imagine the day of Pentecost where all of the disciples were speaking languages unknown to them. The people were justifiably amazed at this. There were rumblings among the people, some saying the disciples were drunk. My imagination does not have to work hard to visualize my aunt as one of the disciples that day. I can easily see someone coming up to her and asking how she is speaking in their language. I can even hear her voice as she would utter her response, “Gyon if I know.”

Bless her heart.

What was true when I was growing up is still an issue in some churches today. There is a language barrier between those who have been in church all of their lives and those who are just beginning to explore what church is all about. Church folks will use church words and the explorers just scratch their heads and wonder what language they are hearing or question if they’re still in the same galaxy when they walked through the front door that looks strangely like some portal. They came in, sat on our hard benches, and noticed how some folks appeared to not get “bleacher butt” like they did because the “from here” folk were used to the discomfort. Then someone spoke from a podium with thees and thous and confused the heck out of their children.

I suppose that I will never understand how and why some of God’s really good folks insist on speaking a language that other folks–especially those seeking something incredibly important–will never understand. But if anyone ever asks me why I think this is still the case in some circles, I know what my response will be.

Gyon if I know!

Overflow Leadership   Leave a comment

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I grew up at the end of the age of full-service service stations. My Dad and his brother co-owned one and I could not wait to be old enough to work there. When I turned 13, I was finally given my opportunity. With training on the cash register and gas pumps, checking tires and oil levels, I was placed in charge of the gas customers. There was one rule I had to live by in front of all others–when the bell rang to indicate a vehicle had pulled in to get gas I was never to walk to provide their services.

Principle: Whenever you serve others, RUN!

That principle guided much of my work life for several years, especially whenever customer service was involved. Anyone who had a need was served as quickly as possible because they were the most highly valued person on earth at that moment. While that is a wonderful principle for service, the methodology needs some tweaking for those serving in ministry.

Much of the service of a ministerial leader is built upon the spiritual health of the leader. The better their connection with the Divine, the more authentic the service they provide. This is true for more than professional clergy; it applies to all those who serve others in God’s name and is easily applied to all who serve in caring capacities.

The key to offering relevant service is in how we serve, not necessarily how fast. Pastors can tell you that if they “run” every time someone in their congregation needs some form of pastoral care, they will burn out sooner than later. Yes, there are times when running is appropriate, but to do so as a regular practice often comes from an unhealthy sense of duty, as if you are being graded by your speed. When this occurs, it’s as if you are serving God because of a debt.

You do not owe God anything.

The best way to serve one another is not to see how quickly you can react, but how authentically you can respond. If leaders are to be true vessels for the Lord, then we must do what it takes to ensure we are being filled. Cars don’t get far on empty tanks (or batteries, tipping the cap to electric tech here). Leaders do not serve effectively when drained.

Lead from your strong connection with God. Do everything it takes to tap into the strength God gives you because of how you relate with God. Your connection is uniquely yours, so do whatever practices work best for you, be it meditation, prayer, Scripture/Lectio, silence, etc. Whatever it is that best fills you with the Presence, allow God’s love to flow through you. This is done with great joy because you know that what you are sharing is God’s gift of love for everyone in your path.

The best service you can offer to others comes from overflow and not obligation.