“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
– 1 Timothy 1:17
Paul closes out his testimony with a word of praise. This tells us there is a connection between praise and salvation. He tells us Jesus came to the earth to save sinners. He tells us that he was the worst. Even though He was the worst, God was able to save Him. He is speaking of the change Christ brought into His life. We see a Saul who became Paul whose behaviors changed. His entire purpose changed. His life now is controlled by God. His life was different. Which explains why he breaks into praise. He looked at what his life was, looked at what his life is- and broke into praise.
This applies to our lives in two ways. Some have experienced this change and know exactly what Paul is talking about. They can resonate with a break out in praise.
Others have not experienced this change and are not sure what direction their life is taking.
Here’s how to apply this-
Regardless of which category you fall into, you are being called now to break forth in praise. If you have experienced His salvation, you have a reason to praise. If you haven’t experienced this, you ALSO have a reason to praise. Praise Him for the change He is going to bring about in your life. While you are praising Him, you will start to experience this same change.
The solution to fix our lives can be easily overlooked, if we want to complicate it.
So what’s a pastor to do?
I was reminded this week of an incident that took place in my first ministry assignment. I was a young pastor and within the first six months I fired a daycare teacher, hired and fired an associate (previous pastors son), was lied to many times, and constantly threatened of members departure if they didn’t get their way.
Something also happened that took me years to process and understand. Within the first six months many had left the church causing financial problems. I had been in contact with my District Superintendent about each issue as it came up.
He decided to come and speak to the congregation specifically about stewardship. I was prepping my wife as to what this visit entailed. I had grown up in the church so I had an idea of how things worked. I explained to my wife not to plan anything for lunch as the District Superintendent ALWAYS takes the pastor and family out afterwards. I remember looking out the window of the church and watching the District Superintendent, his assistant, the wealthiest man in the church and his wife all getting in the same car and going to lunch together. They left my wife and I behind. What did they talk about over lunch? Well, he was a big complainer of what I was doing.
What can you do in this situation? Chase after them? Tell him he’s wrong? There really isn’t anything you can do when something like this happens. I attempted to spend all afternoon talking myself out of the obvious. Maybe they weren’t talking about me? Maybe they are just good friends? Perhaps they are planning my surprise party? (Still waiting for that one….)
This hurt. It hurts when you realize there is a meeting or a luncheon where the entire purpose is to complain about you, and you can’t be a part of it. You are left guessing what is being said.
The truth is you can’t do anything about this. All you can do is continue to minister in the way God has called you and let the naysayers do what they will. The good news is, God is bigger than ANY deceit out there. Trust in Him, not in people. If you trust in people, you will be let down every single time.
But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man. – John 2:24-25
- Pastor Wildman
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“I have moved on; I have a much healthier congregation now. But I can’t seem to get past the hurt.”
So....What about the sermon?
I recently read an article listing several things the church should reconsider. Among many suggestions there was the elimination of the sermon. It suggested people today need to process, discuss and learn through a Q and A session instead of through a lecture. This brought up concerns within me. The concerns aren’t that our culture learns this way, they do. These times do need to take place in the church. Should they replace the sermon?
The problem is we live in a talk back culture. Think about it. Everywhere we look people are talking back. Children talk back to parents. Students talk back to teachers. Civilians talk back to police officers. Just the other day I saw a lion cub talking back to its........
Ok, that didn’t happen.
Do you remember statements like, “Don’t talk back!” or “Don’t sass me!” (I heard these VERY often, I even deserved them a time or two, when I took a break from being perfect). Not every person from this era who made these statements were correct, nor good disciplinarians. But there is something to be said for someone being able to listen and not thinking only of how to demand their rights. Yes, there are times when one must stand up. But it seems lately we have taken this to the extreme.
The next time you attend church, try this. Make the message the most important part of your time. This means that during the sermon you are on the edge of your seat, taking notes with Bible open (or Bible app). Listen for how God may want to change you. It might surprise you, and your pastor might be a little better preacher then what you have come to remember.
Perhaps God’s truth is waiting for you, maybe He is just waiting for you to be quiet and listen.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. - James 1:19
I remember when I started pastoring my second church. I had the experience of my first church. I also had the experience of traveling as an evangelist for a few years, so now I understood people better. I was more prepared for ministry. Sure, I took some lumps in my first church, but who doesn’t? Going into my second church all I could see was how much better this congregation was. Finally, I had grown with experience and now I was in a good spot where we could really see some great growth! Right?? Wrong! During my first six months I realized the treasurer who had been the treasurer for forty years, wasn’t the nice old sweet man he appeared to be. He basically informed me multiple times in many ways he was in charge of this church. This as well as other troubling situations brought back sad memories of my first assignment. I was left wondering if I may be the problem. I didn’t understand why the same conflicts were happening- AGAIN! I called a close pastor friend of mine who advised me to talk with a mutual friend. He was also a pastor and was known for speaking hard truths when necessary. I gave him a call, and I will never forget this conversation. He asked me some questions about the church. (how old it was etc.) I explained to him about the power struggle with the treasurer and others. He then said something I will never forget. I wasn’t hurt by his statement, I was shocked. The irony is I knew down deep he was correct. “You’re in for a flogging, brother!” The reason this statement surprised me was because other than one other time (This is explained in part one) this was the only time someone was this honest with me about the reality before me. This was an experienced pastor explaining to me that at least for a while, things are not going to get any better.
I find it interesting how we are in such a result-oriented culture. Everything we do is based on results. As pastors we are measured by attendance. As bloggers we are measured by subscribers. As tweeters we are measured by followers. Do I believe in results? Absolutely. As followers of Jesus we are here to bring others to the faith. At the same time, we tend to forget that serving Christ can be pretty ugly. It involves denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Luke 9:23). The cross isn’t lovely. The results of the cross include hatred, scoffing, and abandonment. These three things are what I naturally do everything within my power to avoid. However, these three things have ALWAYS been present in my ministry. It’s like trying to run away from my own oxygen-impossible! As followers of Jesus life is not going to be easy. He never promised it would be. The only thing He promised was that He would not leave us (Matthew 28:20). Whether it’s in ministry, your job, your family or other relationships, one thing is for sure- Life is a struggle and the struggle is worth it because we have the greatest gift of all which is knowing Jesus.
- Wild Man
They Call Me Pastor, Sometimes I Like It- Series
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
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From the first time I can remember I loved the sound of rock and roll. I loved the distorted guitar, the hard hitting drums and the fist pumping choruses. Being raised in a Christian home I had many guidelines to follow concerning what is right and what is wrong. Much of the teaching was important, it did keep me from making mistakes as a kid, and I appreciate the oversight I was given. Lets face it, what kid is smart enough to make their own decisions?
But, there was something about music. I was raised around the piano. As kids my brother, sister and I would bang around on the piano just for fun. Our mother, aunt and uncle used to travel and sing in a gospel trio, so music was a huge part of our lives. I was on stage singing solos in church from a very young age. In high school, I was in the church’s cantata. One year I was Judas, the next year I played Jesus- It was quite a year.
I started to play trombone in the school band. By the eighth grade I wanted to learn guitar. Why? Because I wanted to rock! My dad finally gave me the permission to switch to guitar as long as I didn’t give up playing an instrument. From day one they had to keep me from playing my guitar. I loved it, I would play up to six hours a day, it became my life. After a long time of convincing with many discussions and listening to many songs, my parents finally permitted me to listen to Petra. At the same time this was going on, Stryper had just come out with To Hell With The Devil. In a word-no. My parents didn’t give Stryper the time of day. They couldn’t stand how they looked. They thought their sound was too hard to be Christian (although my mother did admit how much she appreciated the rich harmonies). Long story short, Petra- yes, Stryper- no. The only way I was able to listen to Stryper was either at a friends house or the local Christian book store which had demos you could listen to before buying. I remember listening to To Hell With The Devil and I was hooked. The sound was incredible. I mean who can’t appreciate the in your face guitar opening, and the powerful vocals with nothing but drums in the back until the guitar comes back in? Epic!
The lyrics weren’t heavy theology but basic truths such as who the devil is and to stay away from him. What I appreciate the most about Michael Sweet is his transparency. From the beginning he has always been honest and willing to admit mistakes that have been made along the way. If you haven’t read his book “Honestly”, it is a must read and explains the highs and lows of this band.
There is no question God has used this band through all the controversy. Many lives have been touched and many know Christ because of them. Now, as a middle aged Pastor, I can honestly say one thing Stryper taught me was not to put God in a box. And most definitely not to judge by appearance. People would look at Stryper and wouldn’t give them the time of day, and people would write them off without knowing who they were or understanding their story. I remember my pastor and youth pastor rolling their eyes and speaking condescendingly to me regarding this subject.
We need to understand that God can use many things to bring people to Him, some of the ways He uses will shock us. Why? Because, we don’t have His ways figured out as much as we think we do- nobody does. The disciples constantly thought they had it figured out, only to be confused and realize they didn’t. Are we to have standards? Absolutely, but those standards need to be based on an ACCURATE study of the scriptures, not on ones personal preference and bias. After twenty two years of being a pastor, God is still showing me continuously where I am wrong. So many of my beliefs are nothing more than personal preference. I never want to be like my pastor and youth pastor, I would rather spend time understanding things before making premature judgments. The youth of today need this as well. When they come into our lives we need to be able not to make fun of what they enjoy doing, but accept them and understand, God may minister to them in a way we would NEVER expect. The woman at the wells priority was just to get water, yet she met Jesus! (John 8) Many will come not looking for Jesus, it is our responsibility to show Christ to them.
I must close this post referencing the incredible musicianship of Stryper. Perhaps you had been turned off of Stryper because of the controversy or the made up stories about them. (There are several of those!) I would encourage you to listen to ANY Stryper song and tell me we are not dealing with top notch musicianship. Their sound is amazing! Any guitarist, vocalist, musician has to appreciate that……
- Wild Man
P.S. I was never able to see Stryper live, but it looks like I will finally have the opportunity next month!
Though I don’t play guitar nearly as much as I used to, I still love it, hey Mike if you ever want to rock out with a pastor let me know!
I am one those unique individuals who loves talk radio. For some reason I like listening to debates. People call in and challenge the host, which of course is what the host wants. This is how they get ratings etc. This reminds me of many situations I have been in, where I talked but didn’t listen. I have learned over the years I like to talk too much. Have you ever been in a situation where everyone was talking and no one was listening? If so, you must have been at a pastors meeting, we love to talk! As you know, this isn’t always a good thing.
In the Gospel of Luke, we see a strong contrast between God’s word and man's word. At the beginning God is speaking through the angel Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary (Luke 1-2). Both question God's plan. Reading through the entire Gospel this is evident all throughout. God speaks, man questions. Man struggled with what God had to say. It didn’t make much sense. This also took place in the book of Acts which was also written by Luke. It wasn’t until Peter spoke for God that people began to realize the need to submit to God’s word. They said, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
Today we are surrounded with the word of man. Everywhere we look man's word monopolizes our time, thoughts and energy. With this 24/7 news cycle we are hearing about Trumps wall. Is it going to happen? Is it not going to happen? As a result, people are debating about a speculation. It is no wonder there is much confusion in our world today. This is because any time man's word is prioritized, God’s word is diminished. When this takes place, people are left without a standard. They don’t know what is right or what is wrong. Opinions of man rule the day, and this is why we have chaos in our schools, communities, and homes.
So, what are we to do? This is the question isn’t it? What are followers of Jesus to do in the midst of this confusion? Do we start pointing out what is wrong and call others to repentance? Possibly. Do we begin to pray for the future of our country? For our children and their grandchildren? Yes. Absolutely. Yet, these shouldn’t be the priority. The priority should be for each of us to ask our self the question, “Am I living according to God’s Word or Man's?”
My prayer today is, “Oh, God, I don’t want to miss you! If there is anything in my thoughts or life that is not of You, please point it out and get rid of it. Most of all make me a servant ONLY of Your Word.” Please join me in this prayer today.
- Wild Man
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. - James 2:26
The focus of this second chapter is how we are to treat others. (James 2:1). The point is to view others through the eyes of Jesus. Here are three suggestions to help us do this in the coming year.
1. Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). God inspires all Scripture. But, if we desire to know who Jesus is it starts with the Gospels. The Gospels tell us about the life and teachings of Jesus. It shows us an example of what we are to endeavor to be. If we want to know how to treat others the Gospels are a great place to start.
2. Once a month help someone in need. Do this not through an organization. Organizations that help the needy are great and we should support them. At the same time each of us should be willing to get our own hands dirty in helping others. This could be shoveling snow for an elderly neighbor, paying for someones meal at a restaurant, or giving money to a family in need. This will help us connect with those who are in need, a step closer to seeing others the way Jesus does.
3. Once a quarter sacrifice something-anything. Start looking for something you could give up. Just because we can have something doesn’t mean we should. We can routinely give up a convenience. Instead of driving we can walk/ride a bike. Instead of texting we could write a handwritten letter and snail mail it (imagine that). We could skip our favorite dessert or food and go for one less appealing. We could wait to watch that movie later instead of right when it comes out. Whatever the case may be, sacrificing something reminds us why we are here. Life is more than getting what we want.
These suggestions are not the only way to accomplish this, but they are a way. Share in the comments any ideas you would add to the list.
I close this post with the words of Thomas O. Chisholm, the great Hymn writer who said it best:
“I have one deep, supreme desire, that I may be like Jesus...”
May this be our desire for 2019 and for the rest of our lives.
- Wild Man
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. - James 2:26
Faith versus works is a constant debate in Christianity. People choose a side when it benefits them the most. If I am in a situation where I notice my works don’t measure up, I will choose the faith side. If my works are good, I will choose the works side. This inconsistency does no good. Taking the advantage of one side or the other out of convenience puts me in control instead of God. There is a better way.
James makes it clear faith without works is useless. I can say, “I believe in God” or “I follow Jesus” or “I am a Christian” yet if my life doesn’t prove this, my faith is dead. Belief in God is not enough-unless it is expressed in behavior. I can say I love my wife. But there must be some action demonstrating this. Saying it isn’t enough. I can say I am committed to my job. If I never show up, my words mean nothing. I can say I follow Christ but if following does nothing to change my behavior that claim means nothing. There is no way to follow Jesus where behavior is not challenged. The disciples were asked to surrender. The apostle Paul changed his ways dramatically.
James' recipients were currently under persecution. His concern was they would be tempted to justify their behavior. When I face a trial, wrong actions are not justified. Regardless of what I am facing my belief in God should dictate what I do. May this be true today!
- Wild Man
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a powerful message of God’s truth. It possesses overlooked Christian themes. Not only did Dickens write a great story, he wrote a powerful message. The obvious one is the change that can happen to a person. They realize there is something more than their own desires. A thorough reading of the book uncovers the less obvious. Reading the book again this year, I was surprised at a statement I hadn't focused on before.
"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."
- Ghost of Christmas Present
Many claim to know God yet their behavior does not match what He desires. I guess that Dickens received this truth from the pharisees we read about in the New Testament. They were wealthy, greedy, selfish, self-righteous, haughty, evil and hypocrites. Their actions did not represent the God they claimed to serve.
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
- Luke 12:1
Suppose I told you I liked Chinese food. Not only that I like it, but that I love it. I eat it at least once a day and have been eating it for years. Because of this to be nice, you decide to take me out to the Chinese buffet. While we are eating, you observe all I am eating from is the American side of the buffet. While you are enjoying Egg Foo Yong, I’m enjoying fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. You ask me what Chinese dishes I like. Each one you ask me about, I respond with a confused look, stammer and try to change the subject. After a while you realize that I have no idea what you are talking about. At this moment you would say I am a hypocrite.
I claimed something, I was not. This is how many view Christians. At the very least a follower of Jesus should have a desire to represent Him.
What area(s) do you believe Christ desires to change in you? Perhaps its your temper, gossip, attitude, self righteousness, selfishness, or dislike for others. Whatever the case may be, Jesus wants to change this behavior in you.
Take some time before 2019 begins and write down at least one area He may want to change. Use something like this,
"Jesus, I know this is not pleasing to you. Please show me how to stop _______________________."
Post this on your fridge, bathroom mirror, phone and computer wallpaper as a reminder. He will be faithful to make you like Him.
"Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." - 1 John 2:9
I am The Wild Man...
I am a...
Husband, Father, Christian, Pastor, Pastor Coach, Leader, Preacher, Guitarist, Political Junkie, 80's Christian Rock/Metal Fan
I blog about all the above....simply put what interests me...