Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 3.29.17 – A Difficult But Hopeful Transition

This past Sunday March 26, our church marked the changing of a season as Josh Miller, Youth Director of almost seven years spent his last Sunday with us. If you would like to listen to the message God gave me for that day, you can listen to it here: Three Encouragements In Transition.

I’m hoping anyone reading this post will find encouragement, help, and perspective. A few summary thoughts:

1. Yes, this situation is difficult.

I don’t have it in me to smile and portray some fake reality. That benefits no one. When God leads someone  away who has developed programming, supported many teens and families, improved your office atmosphere, and befriended you and many in your church and community, it stings.

When someone experiences wide levels of love, support, and friendship, plain facts say they will leave a hole in people’s lives. Yes, of course!

2. No, this situation is not unbearable. God leads the way.

Refer to point #1. “When God leads…” It sounds simple to say “If God authors the change, He will author the path forward.” Well, simple or not, that statement lines up with the truth.

The day Josh told me of their final decision to make the move, I felt a huge sense of loss. But I remember going to my office to do nothing but seek and worship God for about an hour. I am convinced that sweet time spent with God in those difficult moments has provided the foundation of trust He’s (slowly) brought about.

Since Sunday, I’ve gotten a lot of work done in the office the past couple days. Lord willing, a worship service will happen Sunday. I’m beginning to wonder how God will move in our staffing situation. I’m sure Josh looks forward to his new position at Riverwood. I know my friends at Riverwood will anxiously and lovingly receive him.

I don’t claim to know God’s purposes, but I trust His leading more than I trust my ability to comprehend. I am in awe of God, not just when it feels good. Yes, even when it feels bad.

In short, God allows us to see that life goes in in the midst of difficult seasons!

 

3. Personally…

  • I would ask you to pray for our church and all from Josh’s pool of family, friends, and co-workers who will truly miss his presence at our church.
  • Our church’s response has encouraged me greatly, as many have openly committed to praying for God’s leading in both Josh and Kristi’s lives and the future life of our church.
  • These past couple years have forced me to lean into my own calling. God has moved my closest friends/co-workers yet I have no sense He desires to move me. I will press on!

4. So, challenge yourself. How do you handle transition and season changes?

God leads through seasons of life. Do we have an understanding of our world where we expect changes to come? Let’s say God allows me to stay in full time ministry into my 60’s. These seven years working with Josh would represent less than 20% of my total ministry career and much less over my statistically projected lifespan (which currently stands around 80). I hope to remember it fondly and talk with Josh at that point about all God taught us during this season.

Simply put, worshiping God prevents the past from developing into an idol that stifles both present effectiveness and future vision. With an appropriate mixture of sting and optimism, it’s time to acknowledge the end of a very sweet season with a sweet friend and his family…

And to look forward by God’s grace to the season that lies ahead!

Think. When you don’t understand what God’s plans, do you ask Him first or try to figure it all out on your own?

Act. Treasure the seasons of your lives and how God has lead you through them!

Tuesday Rambling 3.28.17 – Walking By Faith

Rambling about faith on this fine Tuesday morning:

  • “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
  • Any relationship with God must have faith as its foundation. To truly trust in the promises of God means you can’t see all the outcomes and results.
  • “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7
  • The opposite of faith is sight. Relying on our own sight means we trust our view better than God’s.
  • Faith requires trust – at all times.
  • Faith often wavers in difficulty; faith comes easily when good times roll.
  • Faith means we trust God’s plans supersede our own – always.
  • Faith means we operate out of conviction God will work in ways we cannot understand.
  • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” – Ephesians 2:8. 
  • Without faith we have no relationship with God. Without God, we have no faith. We cannot originate faith – we must ask God for more and more faith!
  • The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” – Luke 17:5. Reading Romans 12 and passages like the ones in Luke 17 will encourage us to ask for more faith!
  • And when we have it we should glorify God for it rather than take credit ourselves!
  • So, for salvation, for heaven, for forgiveness, for everything God gives us, we must ask for the faith it takes to see God’s ways and plans.

Monday Challenge 3.27.17 – Porn Testimony, Facebook Still Great, Weight of Pastoring

Monday again! The exclamation point may approach overkill for some. Enjoy and let the articles challenge you anyhow. (!)

Porn Testimony

This testimony from a man who grew up as a missionary kid brings to light how porn can damage relationships and our sense of awe and wonder.

Question: Do you have a sense of awe in general? If porn doesn’t threaten your sense of awe, what does?

Facebook Is Still Great

This article gives several reasons why Facebook still possesses great value. I agree! Recently I saw a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in almost thirty years, simply by scrolling Facebook at a baseball game we both just happened to be attending.

Question: Do you use social media for its positive benefits?

Learning Styles Don’t Exist

I know little about eduction. This grabbed my attention on the level of science, theory, and shifting.

Question: How wary should we be of current trends, even if based on research?

The Weight of Pastoring

This can prove helpful in understanding those in ministry positions, paid or not.

Question: What did you specifically learn that can help you better relate to a pastor or church leader?

Tuesday Rambling 3.21.17 – Heroin and Our Neighborhood

Usually the topic itself would require a bit deeper or more lengthy post. I’ll assume familiarity with the topic.

  • I thought I’d ramble in response to the Akron Beacon Journal article in Sunday’s paper.
  • I’ve heard several different reactions to the article, ranging from anger to understanding.
  • Ranging responses should be expected, but I’d at least say we should wrestle with the facts.
  • Data show poorer neighborhoods have more overdoses. What does that mean?
  • It doesn’t mean heroin has no impact in the suburbs; indeed it does.
  • Nor does it mean the neighborhood should wallow unto death. Many pursue the greater good here in civic, educational, and spiritual arenas.
  • It does mean those who count overdoses can show that more of them happen in neighborhoods where incomes remain lower.
  • I hate to admit that. I love my community and don’t see our family leaving anytime soon.
  • So, I take it as a challenge. How can I strive to help improve life in the neighborhood where I live?
  • I can find out more about ways every day citizens can respond.
  • I can continue to aid those working with recovering addicts or grieving family members.
  • I can pray for the movement of the Holy Spirit, drawing people to fulfillment in Christ rather than drugs.
  • What other thoughts would you add?

Monday Challenge 3.20.17 – Gospel Communication, The Shack, Faith In Our Culture

Good Monday morning. Yes! Good!

And…hopefully that will include some challenging articles. Think!

Text, Tweet, Gospel

Technology and device-based communication bring many challenges to faith. This article addresses them in a thoughtful and challenging way.

Question: Which suggestion can you implement right away? Which would make the most drastic improvement to your approach?

Jesus and Rest

Even toward the end of his life and earthly mission, Jesus made time to rest. Challenging indeed.

Question: How important is rest in your routine?

The Benedict Option

Never heard of it? Don’t worry. I hadn’t either. But “The Benedict Option” represents a new option for believers in a decaying culture. This article provides good analysis.

Question: How can you plan to live intentionally now in view of likely future decline?

What The Shack Teaches

The author of The Shack has a non-fiction book out discussing his views about God. It is helpful (and sad) to read what he truly believes about God.

Question: How important to you is theology?