Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ 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.

Lonely, or Perfect?   Leave a comment

Mark’s first chapter indicates a couple of times that Jesus went to lonely or secluded places.

The first reference is that Jesus got up early and went to the wilderness, arid, a lonely place where he could pray. Morning quiet time is what works best for me. What about you? Any other time of day is far too difficult because my mind has already hit overdrive later and is challenging at best to bring to a crawl for a sound, fulfilling time alone with God. It isn’t impossible, just hard to achieve for me.

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The other reference is when Jesus was simply trapped in place by large crowds. Of course he had the compassion to heal them all and cast out all of their evil spirits, so he would do so (and I’d say) with great joy. But this was overwhelming for his human capacity, so for any kind of rest or opportunity to spend time in prayer, he had to go to secluded places. Seclusion is an intentional separation where you are either running from something or being forced somewhere not of your own will.

Seclusion has negative connotations. Loneliness can be similar, but in this case, it is an intentional choice. For me it would be to say that each morning when I get up and around and have my cup of coffee that I have my quiet time because it is mandated, a command, an order. If it is something I have to do, my motivation is decreased greatly. If it is something that I want to do, desire comes easily.

Where I go for my quiet time is in the peaceful setting of my home office. I say peaceful simply because early in the morning it is very quiet. I’m literally surrounded by work opportunities but ignore them for this sacred moment. I’m up long before my wife and can read and meditate, using candles to set the mood if I like or low lighting. I’ll read Scripture and poetry and then open my laptop and write in this journal. Often, my prayer itself comes through these moments without the traditional-formal closing of the eyes and bowing of the head. In here, in this time, I am in the arms of God, sipping coffee and enjoying the presence.

It is a lonely place, but I’m anything but alone. That makes it perfect!

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!