Priorities


As the off-spring of a Preacher’s Kid (PK) I have that inside view of the family of religious upbringing. My mom was one of seven girls and two boys. One of the boys was killed in an accident before ten years old when he fell from a horse while riding. All of those children are now gone except for one. My remaining aunt will be 93 this year. Hopefully so, I might add.

What this post is for is to say something about the importance of priorities in the callings of ministry to preachers or ministers in any level of function within the church structure.

One of the qualifications of a man who aspires to ministry should take note of the following scripture.

One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)I Tim 3:4-5

I’ve seen the results of the family structure that failed to a small degree to even larger degrees.

I’ve seen my granddad in the pulpit. He was truly a man of God, called according to His purpose. I will not besmirch his name nor speak evil of his family. What I state is fact as a warning to young men who are entering the ministry or have started pursuing the ministry and starting a family.

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen made is probably not intentional at all and it lies in the idea that men, even myself, can get tied up in what they are doing and forgetting to prioritize their lives to the will of God.

First, I give myself as an example. In over thirty years in ministry there came a point when I found myself “doing” and not “being”. I sat in the sound booth one Wednesday evening wondering to myself why was I even there. God was a distant second or even third in my priorities by that time. I lost not only my way, but my then wife, and any and all contact with my two sons. Even after ten years one son still does not talk to me. One talks to me, but keeps his distance.

I have since remarried and have a very sound life now, of which I consider the most sane years of my life. I had to come to a place where I lost most everything I had. God was faithful to restore me. For that I’m grateful and I am now an ordained minister of the Gospel. I do believe what I went through is here to help someone.

What I observed of my mom’s family was not of a similar circumstance particularly, but my granddad did put a good bit more emphasis into his ministry than his family. Most all the girls were okay as best I could remember except for one that ran away from her family leaving her kids and husband to hide in another city. The son did the same thing. Both returned home after a lengthy time, but this aunt committed suicide and the son drank a good bit as I remember. All families have issues of this nature somewhere. My own mom ran away from home when I was a teen for fear of my dad being mad at her for using money we didn’t have to spend on what she used it for. It took a couple of days, but we found her and brought her back home and we mended that fence. All I’ll say is that my mom spent the money on her dad and it could have been avoided. I know that’s cryptic, but let’s leave it at that.

The pastor of the church I grew up in had issues that I cannot be sure of other than it finally came to a head and he had to relieve himself of the ministry and he went into seclusion for some time over, what I would only say came from misplaced priorities. He did at some point return to the ministry, but was never quite the same.

The pastor who took over after that one had two daughters and a son. The girls were teens and the son was a little younger. Being the type of person I was, I thought no bad thoughts about anyone. I found the truth to be different. After I graduated from high school I worked in heavy construction building production plants. One such place was a chromium plant in Castle Hayne, NC. There I met two guys in my craft who happened to have known this particular pastor’s daughters. I was shocked by the reality of what the two girls were like. They were very promiscuous. I’m not at liberty to say what was told to me, but to know they were PK’s doing such things left me speechless. Why were they like this? I can only assume that the pastor had set his priorities in the wrong place and the girls took to a wild streak in rebellion to him and God.

In the years since, I’ve seen pastors fall from all kinds of things and it can only be because of wrong priorities. Certainly, we need to keep our eyes on God and function to the fullest in our calling, but I revert back to the verse above in I Timothy.

But we must prioritize our lives. In ruling our own house, we must not only discipline our children and love our wife, but we must also show by example what a good man is towards the family structure. He must be able to view his family as a creation of God to surround him as he fulfills God’s purpose. He must nourish that family with grace, mercy and love by teaching them how to be effective, giving members of the Christian community and on out into the world we live. He must give himself to them as much and more as he would give to a congregation.

My wife and I are presently under a young man and his bride of one year this coming month and they are now with child in the womb. The ministry God has called him to is developing into what I predict will be a powerhouse of the Holy Ghost. My mind had been contemplating his need to prioritize in the face of change within his new wife and child’s forthcoming. My prayer has been answered and I will continue to pray for him and his new family. He’s only twenty-five years old.

What made me feel joy was when the congregation received a letter to everyone that he has prioritized that certain times of the week from here on are for just him, his wife and preparation for their child to come. He’s a wise man to do so.

If you have questions as to why you feel like your priorities are out of order I consider it a sign that you should indeed take time to examine where you are with God and those around you.

Posted in Abundant life, Children, Christian, church, Family, Home, Love, Ponderings, Prayer, Priorities, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual Investments | Leave a comment

Absent!?


I’ve been away from my keyboard for a week or so for the most part. Too much on my plate.

I’m working on our church’s new ministry to be launched with the coming of spring. It’s called SERVOLUTION.

I’m going for a small group of men and women who like to work in yards, cutting, trimming and cleaning out flower beds. Prime target is folks who can’t afford a lawn service. I’ve noticed a large number of disabled and limited income people in our area. We don’t want to step on the toes of lawn service people who make a living at it. But there are those who can’t pay the price of lawn service. That’s what we’re here for.

Then there’s our church’s Easter play called Immanuel. I was conscripted into the Roman army. I’m a soldier and it’s thankfully a non-speaking part since I carry a heavy Southern accent. I’d make the folks in Deliverance sound “downtown”.

Anyway, once things quieten down a bit, I’ll be back. I see what some of you are doing and it all looks great!

Posted in Christian, church, Spiritual Investments | Leave a comment

Detractions


When I was much younger I tried to please everyone. I would bend over backwards to get people to like me. As I got older I realized that is not possible.

For one thing, I have to tell you, I’m not perfect. I know, I know. Someone may find that hard to believe. (Tongue-in-cheek, please!) Of course I have my quirks, and I’ve been called opinionated in some corners, but I try to keep an open mind on life. The Bible may say something to me, but later on a light may go on that says I need to take another look.

I was a major “Hal Lindseyite” for many years, but I had to find out that what scripture says is entirely different. Also to mention, John Wolvoord earned a reputation as one of the most influential dispensational theologians of the 20th century. I, too, came away from their teachings convinced of what they had to say.

Their teaching came from inductive reasoning. Just what is this?

The term “inductive reasoning” refers to reasoning that takes specific information and makes a broader generalization that’s considered probable, while still remaining open to the fact that the conclusion may not be 100% guaranteed.

In other words, you’re making an educated or informed guess based on the information or data that you have. It might sound right, but that doesn’t mean it is right.

I went into a Christian Book store in the 70’s and picked up a book pertaining to eschatology and its various thoughts from different communities of beliefs. I came away angry that so many appeared to be making up false doctrine. I put the book aside.

Then in 1977, after I had experienced the realm of Pentecostalism, I heard a minister on a Christian radio station teaching the Word. I was caught in a new way of what appeared to be opposed to my foundational knowledge of the Rapture doctrine. He said, in short, that he believed in the literal return of Jesus Christ as it said in scripture, but disputed the Rapture doctrine. So. To give equal time I gave him a listen. By the time I figured I’d heard enough I was pretty well ticked. So I turned him off and thought I might as well do some digging of my own.

I am no Greek or Hebrew scholar, but I do know how to look up and research Greek and Hebrew words. After being in school for ministry, I chose this method of study provided me with a clearer understanding as years went by, but at the time all I had was a Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible and a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and a Vine’s Expository Dictionary. I dug out every word I heard this minister talk about. I put what I found in order in a fashion that outlined my findings. I was astonished to find I could not prove this minister to be wrong in what he taught.

Also to include here, I did a historical approach of the Rapture doctrine and found holes in it that didn’t carry weight to maintain the foundational “truths” that Lindsey and Wolvoord taught. They just don’t. I could go on for days on this subject and just might do so. We’ll see.

But to include here as well, this same minister tore down the buildings of about every thing I’d ever thought about as being Biblical truth in Christmas and Easter as well. I got so angry I total cut him off.

Five or six months later at the request of a couple of grandmotherly figures in my life at the time, I went to hear this same minister in person over a three night span. His teaching was specifically on the Kingdom of God, where it is, what it is and who rules it. It was seven 90 minutes cassette tapes. I was totally blown away. An open heaven came over me and the whole concept of Biblical doctrine was opened to me. From there on, I could not get enough of the Word.

My family and I eventually sold our home, I quit my job and moved to where this man’s church was to be a part of that ministry. All this time, I listened to many different preachers and teachers. One was even a Welch pastor, who was saved during the Welch Revival. He was almost 90 yrs old at the time. He was a most fascinating man to listen to. He taught the homiletic class where I went to school. He was a deep believer in prayer. He would tell stories of being in London during WWII when the bomber sirens would go off and he and his fellow Christians would congregate in a church. They would pray all the while the bombs were being dropped. When it would be over and they exited the church they found all the surrounding buildings would have been demolished by bombs, but the church remained intact. Made me have chills to hear him speak about how God kept him.

I firmly believe in the eventual, literal return of Jesus Christ in the same manner as he left. I had to readjust my thinking and get away from the any-minute rapture doctrine. If you have ought with this post, I’m not going to defend it. I just ask you do your own digging as I did, without the influence of anyone outside of scripture save the use of strictly research books without commentaries. That and prayer will likely prove to be the most life changing moments you’ll experience.

Posted in Christian, church, Patience, Ponderings, Possibilities, Prayer, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual, Spiritual Investments | 5 Comments

An Example


I don’t normally write about blessing someone else. I’d rather share about the Father or something I see in the Word. But I make exception here only to show a principle in motion in real life from a different prospective.

Most of the time I read about people who say someone paid my grocery bill while in line at the store or at a restaurant where someone paid my tab. You know. Things like that.

I grew up poor and unable to do things I wanted to do and was always scrounging coins together to get something I wanted. It made me selfish in a way, because I had already seen other people seemly with little or no effort get what they wanted. Being the oldest son of a tobacco farmer, I was put to work at the age of seven. My only pay was a roof over my head and a plate of food on the table. My first paying job was working in tobacco on someone else’s farm. But my first real paying job off the farm was driving a school bus while in high school.

Okay. Enough of the rabbit trail. Suffice to say, I was selfish.

Fast forward to now. Over the last few years there has been attempts to hobble me with circumstances, yet even in that God has provided a home, vehicles to drive and a good job. Now I’m retired, draw my Social Security check, a very small pension and once again drive a school bus for the local school system.

But here’s what I’m getting at. God has never, ever, never let me down. I have not had to live in the street or go without. Numbers of times over my walk I’ve seen God fill a need with hardly any trepidation that God’s provision would be limited. I’ve learned to loosen my purse strings and I’ve invested several thousands of dollars to one in particular and have concluded that God has spoken to even forgive them for that debt and release them from it. That’s been a hard thing to comprehend and I’m about settled with that.

So, why am I writing this? To give you an example that belonging to God’s family will give you pause to reflect on the fact that when you give, you can’t out give your Father.

Now, here is the example. It kind of caught me off guard, but my wife and I were in the store picking up a few items before going home from a long day after church and a memorial service of a dear friend. We got in line in the checkout and the lady in front of us was about checked through. She had her two grandchildren with her and the two children and I was bantering about child stuff. All the while I found I had moved in front of the card reader and the grandmother was wanting to pay her bill. My wife calls to me to move so the woman could pay her bill. But instead, I was standing there with my wallet in my hand and without hesitation, I pulled my debit card out and put it into the card reader and proceeded to pay her bill. She protested of course, but I refused to let her do so. I had absolutely no qualms about doing a good deed for this lady. She thanked me and went on her way.

So, you say, you did a good thing. But here’s the rest of the story. The principle of sowing and reaping took into motion. By seven thirty that evening I was paid for an item I had for sale. I had just put it in the yard sale page on FB and didn’t really think it would be so sought after. I had fifteen people wanting it, but most wanted to give me less than I was asking. It’s typical of such sales talk. But for the second time in about a year this happened. The person who came to the house, bought the item and paid me more than I was asking. You call that rare. I call that God. It was for more than that grocery bill. But it doesn’t stop there. Today I went out to the mailbox and in all the stuff I pulled out there was a check for about two thirds of what that grocery bill was. In all God brought back to me in less than a day more than double what that grocery bill was.

You might disagree with me and say it was a return on something I had for sale, but I tell you I disagree. I’ve tried to sell stuff many times and ended up with no takers and what I was selling wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or as I said was talked down from the asking price, but God had a bidding war going on over those items and I got more than anticipated.

Like I said, You can’t out give God. If you think you can, give it a try. It never hurts to give to those in need or to just plain out be nice to someone.

Posted in Abundant life, Children, Christian, church, Financial Investing, Ponderings, Possibilities, Random Thoughts, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual, Spiritual Investment, Spiritual Investments | 4 Comments

Prayer


Although I’d like to dissect the Word of God more in this blog, I find that I can’t help but use this form of writing to project what is going on with me as well. It is the reason I started it in the beginning. In a way it isn’t about “me”, so much as it is where God is taking me. Everything I write is about His goodness to me, in me and through me. I am so gratefully blessed to be alive in this time. So, what brings me to this post?

Prayer. For those of you who read this can you honestly say you give enough attention to communication with God? One thing I’ve learned about “pray without ceasing” is that I’m constantly open to allowing God to speak to me even if my mind is far away into something I’m doing. It’s one way I know He’s trying to get my attention. God speaks to me at times when I’m least expecting it. How do I know, you ask? Have you been doing or thinking about one thing and suddenly something else interjects itself into your thoughts. When I do I sometimes go “huh?!” Weighing what it was will usually lead me to something God is speaking to me about. You know you sometimes have to decern the spirit that speaks.

Prayer is conversational. I think my prayer life suffered most of my life because I thought it was a one-way talk. I petitioned God and then stepped away and waited for His answer. If I’d have stayed in position and calmed my speech and listened, don’t you suppose He would talk back? It was when I learned this that I began to have a normal everyday conversation as if I were talking to someone in front of me. God does talk to me. He talks to you. Do you stop and listen?

One thing I’m learning lately is there is another way God calls me to prayer. It’s a prayer of intercession. I have no idea why or for whom that may be. It’s a much deeper prayer in the heavenly language I possess. My spirit literally feels bigger than life as I pray out for whatever it is He wants done. My body actually surrenders to the spirit. My soul stills its self. All inside of me gets quiet and my spirit and His go to war in the spiritual realm. I can feel the forcefulness of it. It reminds me of David as he RAN towards Goliath with sling in hand. We are doing battle through my entity.

Now there are other times when God speaks to me and it’s to engage someone else. Take this morning for instance. I was walking into Walmart the same time as a man with a cane was hobbling in. God spoke to me about Him and I said back, I won’t engage him right now. He said okay and I went on in. I worked my way around the store and as I was coming back up there he was with his cart and he said good morning and nodded and I said something back and that was it. We engaged. I found out his name was Linwood Straughn (sic). I found out he was a Christian man, and my neighbors are his friends. They go to church together. He’d had a stroke twelve years ago and he still deals with some things, but he feels well enough to get on with life. We talked about God and Bible principles and after a bit we both agreed to break it off and go finish what we came for or we’d have been there all day. I encouraged him and he gave me strength in our conversation and I went on my way. I’ll see him again. I don’t know the reason of our meeting as total strangers and walking away as brothers, but I’m sure, as I said, I’ll see him again. God put him in my path today.

Never pass up the opportunity. Talk to God, but be sure to listen as well.

Posted in Abundant life, Christian, Patience, Ponderings, Possibilities, Prayer, Random Thoughts, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual, Spiritual Investment, Spiritual Investments | 3 Comments

A Short Note


The thought below is an excerpt from a previous post of mine.  It was just on my mind writeratworktoday.  I was remembering what the Pastor said on Saturday evening during ordination.  The same thing that I said below from sometime last summer.

I’ve never been able to understand a called-of-God minister pop up one day and say they are retiring.  Being called of God to the ministry is like marriage.  Do you for one instant think of retiring from marriage?  I hope not.  Some of us have our circumstances in life that prevent us from a life-long marriage to one person, but if we are married and intent to make it a life-long commitment there is no retiring.

That connection is a bringing of two together to make one.

Posted in Ponderings | 1 Comment

I Remember The Day


I remember the day

When my wife would say

How do you hear from God?

That seems so odd.

I said prayer is talking.

Meditation is to listen

Conversation starts forming

It’s a two way street.

Talk, then listen.

He will speak.

___________________________________

In the beginning of my wife’s walk with God, I had already been talking and walking with God for decades. She had been in denominational churches that didn’t necessarily say anything about a conversational God. Most will pray. They don’t expect God to talk back, only listen.

I told her to pray, but to listen as well. It was a novel idea to her. Not that’s she’s dense or something. In fact, she a very intelligent person. My brother described her as quirky, but that’s another story for another day. I’d say she’s curious and apt to search a thing for it’s truth and relativity in her thinking.

The first time I told to her to listen, she came back a few days later and told me God did speak to her that she had “the key”. She was puzzled for weeks, maybe months then one day we were at the funeral of a friend of ours and through the minister she found “the key”. It was simply Jesus. She’s like “duh”.

She was still a bit puzzled at God speaking to a person. I just told her not to think in the “thees”, “thous” and such of the old English such as the King James Version of the Bible. Just talk to Him in everyday speech. God and I talk anytime He wants my attention or I have a moment to tell Him I’m thinking about Him or have a question. Have you ever been just doing whatever and all of a sudden some thought comes from out of left field, so to speak? Did you realize that was God talking or trying to get your attention? Well?

God has encouraged me through our conversations (another word for prayer). He had scolded me likewise in conversation. We’ve laughed together, cried together and I’ve even listened to Him as He told me what to say to a person I’m conversing with. It’s a bit like having an ear piece in your ear like a person in a cop show as he goes in for the sting and the cops are in a van out on the street are telling him what to say. You get the idea.

Well, Libby came home yesterday and she was telling me she was talking to God about a particular situation with our lives and surprisingly God said back to her this. “Why do you ask Me this? There’s nothing lacking in you and Jim’s lives with Me.” Well, something of that order as I heard it. He kind of scolded her for asking something of Him we don’t really need. I would admit that I have asked God for the same thing and it hasn’t changed. So I guess I could take it as towards me as well, since she was passing it along to me.

Then suddenly I realized something. From years ago till now, Libby has developed the ability to hear from God and then speak back to Him very matter-of-factly. She’s no longer a young babe in Christ. She can talk and hear from Him. That was a revelation to me. I am so pleased with this little light that I saw.

I had a first grader on my bus say something to me about God “up there”. He was pointing up. I asked him did God say something. He pointed up again and said God is up there. He never said anything about Him speaking. I looked at him and said God does indeed lives “up there”, but He also lives in here, pointing to my chest. He looked at me and said “really?” I said yes. And He talks to me directly, right here, again pointing to my chest. The little boy then said God lives in me, too. I had planted a seed inside of him. Let’s see how it grows.

No matter who you talk to, plant those seeds of thought in them. Somebody is sure to come by and water it. Watch then as God brings forth the increase.

Posted in Abundant life, Christian, church, Patience, Poetry, Ponderings, Possibilities, Prayer, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual, Spiritual Investments | Leave a comment