ministry with nachos

28 10 2013

If you’re a Christian, you’re called to do ministry.  Maybe not full-time ministry as in it being your occupation, but to help people around you.  But for many of us, even if we want to, ministry can seem scary or difficult.  Maybe it seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin.  Perhaps you wish you had training (which is available in many forms).

mixed fajita nachos with bacon on International Bacon DayI was discussing this recently with a friend, telling him how I recently went to lunch with a guy because he was feeling down on life and needed encouraging.  So I met that guy for lunch.  We discussed life, shared a few laughs, and I happened to get nachos for my meal.  My friend replied with, “I bet ministry with an order of nachos is the best kind of ministry.”  🙂  I’ll admit it was a good time.  I wasn’t preaching at him or telling him what he needs to do.  I prayed about it beforehand, and my goal was to encourage him and potentially offer advice if the right opportunity developed.  His countenance seemed improved afterward, so I think the discussion helped him.

Ministry doesn’t have to be hard or scary — start with caring about people and trying to help them, whether with encouragement, advice, testimony, etc.  You could also buy someone’s lunch, which could be a blessing to them from a financial standpoint, but also showing them that someone cares.

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quotes by Leonard Ravenhill

25 08 2010

I just saw where one of my friends on Facebook referenced a quote by Leonard Ravenhill.  (Now there’s a good use for Facebook!)  They paraphrased it and I wanted to get the actual wording because I collect good quotes, so I searched online for it.  Here’s that quote (watch your toes!):

How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t even have the strength to turn off your TV? ~ Leonard Ravenhill

If you aren’t familiar with Leonard Ravenhill, here’s a short summary from a bio of him I found online that had that quote.  Leonard Ravenhill was one of the foremost outdoor evangelists of the 20th century, reaching thousands of people.  There’s a lot more that could be said about that, obviously, but one interesting tidbit in his life story is that he never quit ministry.  Even when he had become frail from old age and couldn’t get around well, he still held prayer meetings in his home, and some people would drive four hours round-trip to attend these prayer meetings.  The man who wrote the short biography at that page attended these meetings, and he said he was always challenged by what Leonard had said.  He always took a notebook to the prayer meetings so he would remember some of these great observations and maxims.  There’s some of them listed at that page.

Just in case you’re not sure if you’re going to read the quotes at that link, here’s a couple more of them that stand out to me.

There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin. ~ Leonard Ravenhill

We must do what we can do for God, before He will give us the power to do what we can’t do. ~ Leonard Ravenhill

If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong! ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously.  But do they really think that on Judgment Day, Christ will chastise me, saying, “Leonard, you took Me too seriously”? ~ Leonard Ravenhill





fasting

29 01 2010

Fasting is one of those subjects that usually doesn’t get discussed much nor preached on often enough.   Yet Jesus made it clear that we are expected to fast.  So why is it a neglected topic? I think the answer is simple — it’s not a popular topic, because we don’t want to, and being asked to deny ourselves can reveal how non-submitted we actually are.

My pastor recently asked the whole church to participate in a 21-day fast.   We’re not all doing a complete fast from food — there are options like the Daniel fast (eating only fruits and vegetables, or foods you don’t like), or fasting one or two meals a day.  Basically, the terms are flexible (unless God tells you to do something specific).  And I do want to reiterate something my pastor said about it: fasting involves giving up food and using that time to pray more; fasting without praying is just a weight-loss program.

So why do we not like to fast?  That’s also an easy answer — we like to eat!  Fasting also reveals how much influence our body has on us.  Are we really fully submitted to God?  It’s easy to say, but tougher to live out when having to deny self.

But if you think about it, fasting is a win-win situation.  You’re bringing your body into submission, you’re denying yourself and realizing how much your body fights you, and you’re making more time for prayer and Bible study.  Those are all big points, but the last one is very much needed in our current society.  It seems like everyone talks about how busy they are, and sometimes we neglect our quiet time with God.  We might even be busy with good works, but that’s still not a valid excuse to neglect our personal time with God.

If you don’t fast on a regular basis, you can start with something small and build from there.  It takes away our “too busy” excuse, because most of us make time for eating on a regular basis.





it’s easy to get complacent

3 10 2009

I’ve noticed that sometimes we can get complacent, even when we’re trying to do what’s right.  We can still be in love with God, doing what He called us to do, and attending church regularly, yet still get somewhat complacent.  I realized this had happened to me recently.  Thankfully God showed me how I need to raise the bar, to aim for more and expect more.

Part of the reason this happens is just our human nature, that we’re battling our own self-will and crucifying it.   But we all have a ways to go.  We may have made great progress in becoming like Christ, and maintained that progress, but then if we stop growing, we plateau — we stay at the same level.  Getting to where we are now might be a huge achievement, looking at what we’ve overcome and how we’ve changed for the better.  But we must not stop, because there’s still a lot more to change.

Another reason we tend to slow down in our spiritual growth is because of the standard of “Christianity” around us, and that we naturally compare ourselves to others (which we shouldn’t do).   I think this is a big problem in America (and I’m in the “Bible Belt”).   What does it mean to be an on-fire, sold-out Christian?  What is a great church like?  Think about those questions.  If your church has a few people getting excited during the services and it sees a few people get saved each year, is it doing really good?  If someone gets emotionally excited about God and actually talks about Him to other people, are they fired-up?   How high are we setting the bar?

This is what I’ve felt convicted about lately.  I still love God and am serving Him, but how high am I aiming?   I know, the standard is supposed to be Jesus Christ, to live like Him and be like Him and to know Him.  And the standard for the Church is the book of Acts.  It’s easy to acknowledge these things, but sometimes it’s harder to see it happening.   It takes faith, which seems to be more difficult to believe for ourselves, because we know all about our own shortcomings and failures.   But God wants each of us to be very intimate with Him, and to walk in His power.   Can you picture yourself walking in the power of God, seeing supernatural miracles worked through your ministry?  That’s what we should be aiming for.   Can you see your church in revival, with services lasting hours longer because the people are so passionate about God they don’t want to leave, and thousands of people getting saved each year?  That’s what our churches should be aiming for (and then some).

Like I said, this can be hard to believe for ourselves and our church.  But we must remember it’s not by our power and might that this can happen — it’s the power of God.  We just have to believe and do our absolute best.  And speaking of doing our absolute best, that means there’s a cost to us.   We have to give up things — even things that aren’t sinful in themselves — to grow.  We’ll have to make some changes to how we think and see things and what we do.  Our life won’t be about us anymore — it’ll be about God and ministering to others.  Are we willing to pay the price?





how do you know what you know?

7 05 2009

Have you ever wondered how many facts you “know” that you have never seen proof for?  There are a LOT of things we are taught in schools that we accept as true without ever seeing any amount of proof.  Of course, we have scientists and researchers who conduct studies to figure out what is true, and they then report it to us.  But how do we know what they are saying is true?

My point in this is not to get you to doubt everything — because some of what we’re taught is true — but I want you to consider how much faith you put in other people to validate what you believe is true about the world.  I’m sure we can think of examples where “facts” were incorrectly taught, such as that the Earth is flat, that the Earth is the center of the universe and everything revolved around it, and how old the universe is (which has changed several times since I started school).  Are there “facts” being taught today that are not accurate?

I started thinking about this after reading an article called “On Some Epistemic Pathologies, or Why the Human Mind is a Terrarium for So Many Lies“.   This was my first visit to this blog, so I don’t know anything about the authors, but a few articles gave me some things to think about.  This particular article started out mentioning some historical events that some people don’t believe in, such as the Moon landing, William Shakespeare writing the works he’s famous for, the Twin Towers being destroyed by terrorists on 9/11, the existence of Jesus Christ, and the Holocaust.   There’s proof that all these things happened, yet there are people who believe some of them never happened.

The article doesn’t offer proof of those events — that can be found elsewhere — but it does discuss why people might choose to not believe in them (from a sociological point-of-view).  It also discusses why most people tend to believe research studies, even though it’s been proven that some are wrong.  (I once read that something like 1/3 of medical research is proven wrong within a year or two of its release.  Thinking of all the claims I’ve heard about whether eggs are healthy for you or not, I’m inclined to believe that number.)  Before I ramble too much (if I haven’t already), let me quote a part of that article for your convenience (because if you think this post is long, then the linked one may overwhelm you):

Leaving aside questions of outright fraud, media gullibility, and PR spin, the lay public must also now take on faith (no other word will do) some very counterintuitive claims by honest scientists, such as the wave/particle duality in the behavior of light, the constancy of the speed of light, the relativity of the contraction or expansion of spacetime according to the speed of the observer, and the origin of the universe in a “singularity” that was at one time, roughly fourteen billion years ago, infinitely dense and infinitely small.  If the lay citizen — a resident of the Show Me State of Missouri, for example — were to demand irrefutable evidence for any of these assertions, how could he be answered?  But the problem goes deeper than the suspicion that science has turned the universe into a vast Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.  The real problem is that almost all of what people claim they know — and not just the esoterica of science — must be taken on faith, from the number of planets in the solar system (who, by the way, demoted Pluto from the pantheon of planets, and on what grounds?) to the age of the earth and the chemical composition of water. ~ Edward T. Oakes, S.J.

Think about how many things you accept as true but have never seen proof for.  (Feel free to pause reading for a few minutes to let your mind ponder that.  Continue when ready.)  🙂  I’m going to mention a few things here, for your future thinking and/or discussion.

* politics — When we hear politicians make claims about their values, do we check if they are speaking in accordance with how they actually vote?  This is also important for claims they make of other candidates — they do lie.  In fact, in the 2008 Presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and John McCain were caught lying in their own TV ads in the same week.  So it’s known that politicians lie.  But do we have any idea how often they do and how often we believe their lies?

* Global Warming — This is an issue that has scientific facts which supposedly support both sides on whether it’s occurring now and whether it’s man-made.   Yet there is a lot of disagreement, and there are respected scientists on each side.   How do you know who is right?  Do you actually look at facts and research from both sides?  If not, how do you choose who to believe?

* faith / religion — This is the biggest issue.  Why do you believe what you believe?  Obviously this question is huge and we could discuss it for a LONG time, so this is just an intro to it.  Some people believe what their parents told them to believe, which has led to many believing in false religions.  Some people believe what seems right to them or what is most convenient for their lifestyle.  Some people make up their own beliefs and call it Christianity (or some other religion).  Obviously some faith is required, but we should also have some proof — that is, actual encounters with God — which lines up with the Word of God (the Bible).  We must be careful to not blindly follow others, because even some well-meaning people teach false doctrine sometimes.  But the truth is out there, and God wants you to find it.  (I discuss this more thoroughly in other parts of my blog, so I’ll stop here now.)

I could go on, but more examples are left as an exercise for the reader — that’s you.  🙂  You’re welcome to share your thoughts in a comment.





Can God trust you?

12 04 2009

Last weekend several churches joined together for a service where Brian Jarrett was the speaker.  Bro. Jarrett is a pastor in Dallas, TX, formerly in Pine Bluff, AR.  He’s traveling around the world, sharing this message with anyone who will hear it.  The sermon title is “Give It All”, which may sound elementary, but this sermon will challenge you in ways you probably aren’t used to.

Bro. Jarrett’s main points were “Do you trust God?” and “Can God trust you?”  Think about that.  It’s easy to say the “right answer”, which would be yes.  But do we really mean that?  Are we really living it?  Look at it this way: if God asks you to trust Him, can you say “Yes Lord” without knowing the conditions?  Would you sign the “contract” without reading it?  And what if the request doesn’t make sense to you?  The Bible is full of examples where God asked someone to do something that seems irrational to us, yet it was part of His plan.

Another point Bro. Jarrett made is that most Christians today are so caught up in image management that they make their plans very safe, so that if God doesn’t come through they can still “save face”.  Are you willing to be so dependent on God that if He were to not come through, you would fail?

Bro. Jarrett also shares some of his testimony, which is amazing.  He’s very transparent in sharing, which is refreshing (and needed).  He tells of a time when God told him to give away everything — his house and all his savings.  He argued with God, but finally submitted in obedience.  Can you imagine that request?  Although, we should surrender everything to God already, since we are just stewards.  That doesn’t mean He will tell you to give it away, but it’s not an unreasonable request, since He owns it anyway.

I could share a lot more from that sermon, but instead I’ll provide a link for you to download an MP3 of it or watch a video of it online.  I highly recommend you find the time to listen, because it may change your life.  There is a level of surrender to God that he talks about, and it’s deeper than you typically hear about.   I realize we’re all busy these days and the sermon is long, but if you want to be challenged in your spiritual walk, this will do it.

Here’s a link to the MP3 file of the sermon, and here’s a link to the video of the sermon (if you have the proper plug-in to play it).