FATHERS – YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES (SPECIAL JUNE EDITION)

The problem of fatherlessness is not new but it is dangerously increasing to an epidemic level. Pornography and sexual promiscuity has programmed young men into baby makers but little or no education on being a father. Boys as young as eight are being introduced to pornography through internet searches and phone apps.

When it comes to fatherlessness the statistics are staggering:
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Health).
85% of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control).
According to the Texas Department of Corrections, a whopping 85% of youths in prison come from a fatherless home.

And that is just the beginning. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 71% of pregnant fathers were from a fatherless home.
These statistics tragically translate into 24 million homes with children are without their biological father. That’s one out of three homes in America.

When I have spoken to men’s groups across the country, including police departments, I have found most men feel powerless, worthless, incapable and further, feel they are not effective in the family. However, a dad who spends prime time with their children has shown an extreme benefit and amazing influence on the lives of their family.

When men gather they always ask three major questions:
• How can my family become financially secure?
• How can I make my wife happy?
• And, how can I be a good Father?
God brings life and healing to the home when a Father turns his heart towards his children. Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The curse has been smitten: rapes, imprisonment, drugs, and suicides. But we can change the moral climate of our community by father’s turning their heart towards their children. I dream when there will no longer be a generation of children trying to live a balanced life without a father.

FATHER, YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!

Here are three things a father needs to know today.

THERE ARE NO PERFECT FATHERS – start where you are today. Be willing to admit to your child your mistakes, even to the point of asking for forgiveness for past failures. Admit you have not spent enough personal time with them. You can’t compare one child to another – they each have their separate personality and gifts, allow them to be themselves.

THERE A NO FATHERS WHO KNOW EVERYTHING – allow your children to make mistakes. Let your children know you are their greatest fan. Coach them in their particular gift. A father doesn’t have all the answers but is learning how to be a father while their children are growing up. Embrace their personality rather than resist it and try to change it – it will only pull them further away.

THERE ARE NO FATHERS WHO HAVEN’T FAILED – while my children were still young and I was pastoring a church with growing pressures upon my shoulders I angrily took it out on my children. They sensed my frustration and lack of understanding, then a horrible realization came to me, my children were getting on my nerves instead of being in my heart. I humbly confessed before God, it wasn’t my children had gotten increasingly worse but I had become increasingly frustrated with the ample stress of my ministry. I had failed.
I wrapped both children in my arms, looked them in the eyes and confessed my failure and my frustrations, I cried. They hugged me and forgave me. I hated that moment so much that I committed to God to not allow myself to get into that position again. I knelt and prayed, “God, help me to be a good father to my children.”
Fathers, you have what it takes. Now do it.

Some information derived from TheFatherlessGeneration.wordpress.com, Fathers.com and FocusontheFamily.com

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

 

Sabbatical for Small Church Pastors

A sabbatical is needed, a sabbatical is refreshing, and a sabbatical is required for those in leadership. Every small church pastor should experience the joy and rest of a sabbatical.

We dishonor the Sabbath Day instead of “honor the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”

In Israel, the Sabbath, from Friday evening through Saturday evening, is a national observance, except for taxis and emergency vehicles on the streets are clear, the shops and businesses closed. A family meal including scriptures, prayer, and familial blessings begins the Sabbath. No TV, radio, tablets or phones are used by family members but prayer, Bible reading, physical and mental rest and family time emphasized. This happens every Friday evening and all day Saturday.

In America, we use Sunday, as our Sabbath but filled with travel, ball games, church activities and a little relaxation, little mental rest, little recoil from activity, and little family time. For the Pastor, Sunday is our busiest day. For bi-vocational Pastors, Sunday filled with church responsibilities, Monday through Friday is time spent on the job and Saturday is mowing, cleaning, visiting, studying, hospital calls, family activities and much, much more.

The Feast of the Sabbatical year, in the Old Testament, celebrated every seven years as a Sabbath for the land. (Leviticus 25:2). According to Exodus 23:11 and Leviticus 25:4 the surplus of the six previous years provided for the seventh year. It was a festival filled with food, celebration, and cessation of all field labour. All Hebrew servants are released and the public reading of the law was the highlight of the festivities (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

Drawing from these parallels the small church pastor should deem a sabbatical necessary every seven years, the local church should set funds aside for six years to pay for the Pastor’s sabbatical including his regular salary. The Pastor’s lodging, food, transportation and other expenses paid for by the church. There should be no work; no conference, no camp meeting, no preaching, no pastoral responsibilities.

Positioning: take a Bible, a writing pad, a devotional and a couple books.

Place: secluded and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, a private and quiet area, with a scenic area to walk, meditate and pray.

Pastor: should not take the week, seven complete days, at least, to work on a sermon series but a time of evaluation, reflection, refreshing and rest. Remember this is not a vacation; plan a vacation with the family at another time.

Sabbath is a time God chooses to slow us down and bring us into spiritual and mental alignment with Him. God chose a six-day work week and a Sabbath as a time to rest, reflect and refresh. The Sabbath reminds us to “slow down,” admit our breakneck speed of doing God’s work by ourselves. A Sabbath is a time of personal evaluation of our limitations, fragility and our ability to hold everything in.

A friend of mine went on a seven-day sabbatical, he takes one yearly, to a mountain hike with several other men. The guide purposely plans every stop as a spiritual quest into the Pastor’s heart, mind, and life, regarding purity, manliness, heart contact with God, devotion, fatherhood, and husbandry.

A small church Pastor should outline the scriptures to present to the local church, expressing the importance of a Pastoral Sabbatical. Meet with the board about the payment of lodging, food, and transportation while explaining this is not a vacation. Practice a “personal revival.” An alone time with God, such as Moses’ three years in the desert, David’s years in the hills watching sheep, Jesus often went alone into the mountains to pray, and Paul was three years in the desert.

Pick a place for lodging having a beautiful view, private paths to walk, and enough food for the week. This is not a time for shopping, boating or mountain climbing but a few hikes, a little fishing or a picnic may be observed. Remember, the Sabbatical is to hear the voice of God, to be spiritually rejuvenating and to rest your mind from the exhaustion of stress.

Bless you and be sure and tell me about it when you get back.

PRIDE KEEPS SHOWING UP AND SHOWING OUT

Pride shows its hand in multiple instances when we demand our way over the lives of others. Pride loves applause, clamouring for center stage. We cherish the “pat on the back,” wish for acclaim, and we do all we can to win the approval of others. Not all talented people are proud, not all handsome or beautiful people are proud, not all rich people are proud. But richly defined, pride steals the attention for ourselves. Turning each conversation around to yourself, even when the story is about another person.

 

Pride is the epidemic of self, flesh puffed up. It majors on our territory at the expense of other’s needs. Craving the limelight, crashing the party, and pouting when not acknowledged. Pride is the onslaught of humility, the massacre of motivation and the destruction of benevolence. It is difficult to care for someone else when we are working so hard to build our own statue.

 

THE STRUGGLE FOR CONFIDENCE
We like to be accepted. There is a healthy approach to winning friends and influencing people while finding our confidence is in Jesus Christ. We are who we are, we do what we do, and we operate in the gifts by the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. Confidence is in a close and viable relationship with Jesus, to pull away strikes at our confidential level but to draw near to Him brings confidence to a higher level.

STOP CONSTRUCTION
Don’t build your own statue. Building yourself up is pride and is an indicator of inner needs of emotional security. Maturity ceases building confidence and security on “what I have done,” while humility stops construction of pride and confesses “all that Jesus has done.”

DEFLECT ALL THE GLORY TO HIM
We are a mirror, not a solar panel. A solar panel absorbs sunlight to generate electricity. While this illustration is not comprehensive, it illustrates the point. Pride is when we absorb the applause and praise for our self. A mirror reflects light and humility deflects praise to Jesus. One friend said it like this, “Give the glory to Jesus and not keep it to yourself.”

CONFESS ARROGANCE
Confess it to Jesus. We may struggle from time to time with pride. It will rise but with confession bring it to Christ and watch pride diminish in our life. Walk with the Lord each day and allow the Spirit of God to infiltrate your life.

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

THE SMALL CHURCH PASTORS FIRST THREE YEARS

Pastor Smith had pastored for two years in a small church and noticed some startling information. “If you pastor a church for three years, the problems you face are your problems, not your predecessors.” The problem was Pastor Smith was still facing a long-term board who refused his suggestions for change and much of the congregation contently enjoyed their Sunday dinners.

Pastoral statistics and church analysis and armchair coaches admonish Pastors, it will take three years for the church to become your church. Or, another comment, “You won’t notice any significant change until you reach three years or more.”

Under close observation though, a lot is weighing on this perceived “three-year” Nova.

 

A LOT DEPENDS ON THE PASTOR

WHAT IS HIS VISION? Does the pastor maintain a clear and consistent vision? Let’s be honest, your church may not look like the church down the road. Every church has its own personality. It may take two or three years to define the vision for the church. Pastor, you can bring your experience from the last church but you can’t bring your vision from the last church. Each church vision fits the church, the community, the people and by God’s directives.
WHAT IS HIS MINISTRY STYLE? There is a difference in a teaching pastor, a lead pastor or an evangelistic pastor. Each fulfills their gift and calling and each important to the ministry but each style will reveal varied results.
1Co 3:6-9 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
The ministry style may see immediate growth in much-needed areas and be lacking in other areas of the church health.

 

A LOT DEPENDS ON THE CHURCH

WHAT IS AROUND THE CHURCH? A church filled with older people may have difficulty reaching out without prayerful introspection. Change may not be achievable in a short three-year span. However, if the church saw the need before the new Pastor arrived, the church may be ready to make immediate and significant changes. If the church doesn’t realize the need, it may take three years or more to convince the congregation of changes needed.

WHAT ARE THE NEEDS OF THE CHURCH? Finding the needs of the church and the needs of the community may be the key to making adjustments in the church. A church that majors on offerings and participants, only to watch both decrease, will complain about the problem but may not be willing to change progressively. Some church changes may be years down the road no matter how hard the pastor has pushed to make things happen. A wise pastor who finds needs and finds ways to meet the needs may have a better chance at making changes within the three-year window.

Causally speaking, three to five years a Pastor needs to make himself known in the community and the church, establishing his style of ministry and finding the needs of the church and community. However, the time for change may be shorter than three years or longer than five years, depending on the leadership and the congregational responses.

To begin the “three-year” process,
First, pray privately for a clear and consist vision for the personality of your church.
Secondly, begin to meet with the church regularly for prayer.
Thirdly, meet regularly with community leaders and your church leaders discussing your five year and ten year needs and goals.
Fourthly, check for funds to be earmarked for outreach and to equip the church for a change.
Lastly, communicate and implement vision with the church team (inner circle).

Three years may not be the turning point. A pastor may be able to baby step into changes before the first year and make one significant change in the second year. You may see the most important changes in your third or fourth year but time is not the deciding factor only God’s directive and calling on your life. Take heart, Pastor, all heaven is behind you.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

Does Holiness and Grace Clash?

Often within the church, debate opponents, are required to take the grace side or the holiness side. Those who prefer liberty in thought and action often refer to the holiness side as rigid, legalistic or law keepers. Those who prefer the “narrow way” often refer to the grace side as liberal and worldly. These two have clashed since the biblical portions of scripture have been penned, often leaving no room for reconciliation.
There are differences in people and interpretation as noted in Mark 15;25 When Jesus is crucified at nine in the morning and John 19;24 records Jesus as crucified at “six in the morning.” Jesus could have been crucified either in the middle of the two hours or Mark and John writing of two different events leading up to the crucifixion. Did the crucifixion occur at the whipping, the actual cross bearing, at Golgotha’s hill, or once the cross was raised?

While differences in people may develop different theological arguments the Holy Bible is the anchor of truth holding all hearts accountable.

Holiness, best defined, is the nature of God and defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “the quality or state of being holy. Grace, best defined, according to Webster’s Dictionary, as “the unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” The qualifying definition of both grace and holiness must be biblically defined, if we are to ascertain the truth of God’s Word. Sadly, we have adapted a “Christian worldview” that has become increasingly apart from a “biblical worldview.”
In the Old Testament, God is referenced as HOLINESS, Kadesh, sacred, consecrated, or hallowed. Because God is holy, (Isaiah 6), he can set apart and consecrate, and He did make holy:
Holy Habitation
Holy Sabbath
Holy Nation
Holy Men
Holy Garment
Holy Gifts
Holy Crown
Holy Anointing Oil
And much more, it appears what God touched, consecrated and set apart were made holy.

In the New Testament, we  are determined by God to live holy. Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And commanded to be holy, 1 Peter 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Holy is not to be fought against but actually we are to be passionate for His nature of holiness to live within us. Resistance, struggle and disobedience are enemies of God’s holiness. 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

If I am responsible to allow the nature of God, holiness, to flourish within me, doesn’t this contradict grace?, There is nothing I can do to be holy, or I am working for my salvation? And of course, the answer is, there is no clash. We can never work or be “good enough” to be saved, that is a works based salvation and it absolves the power of grace. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Grace and grace alone saves but when grace saves you, it also changes you.     2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
When the nature of God, holiness, is imparted in your life, the nature of God creates a new creature and you begin to adapt the nature of God to be your nature. Grace empowers you to live holy. Examine this verse carefully, notice grace opens the door for God’s nature of holiness to live within you. Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Grace and holiness are not opposites but actually partners in the path of salvation. Grace opens the door for the nature of God, holiness, to live within us. We are given grace to deny ungodliness, to deny worldly lusts, liver soberly, live righteously, live godly – all pointing us to God’s nature of holiness.

Holiness is not works but holiness is grace at work in our life and works will follow.

If the nature of God is within us then we will live, walk, talk, and act like God. Any other grace is simply a cheap or weak substitute.

God’s grace must “teach us” what ungodliness we should deny, what worldly lusts we should deny and how to live soberly, righteously and godly. That is grace and holiness in partnership to conform us into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.

 

 

WHAT IS A FACEBOOK FAST?

“Every time I scroll through Facebook, I see an acquaintance bragging about their dynamic spiritual life, perfectly obedient children, and vibrant career. I want that for my life, but I seriously don’t know where they find the time.” (echurch quote)
Facebook has become the idol of many. Facebook is the connection tool from February 4, 2004, created by two Harvard University students to keep the classmates in touch with profiles, posts and pictures. Now some 2 billion people use Facebook, some checking Facebook multiple times per day. Mobile FB has made it easy for users to check their status or their friend’s status many times throughout the day sometimes creating an addiction to “likes” and “shares”.

The problem is, while we connect with others we have found ourselves drowning in a pool of information, an addiction to “being in the loop” and a host of other philosophical dilemmas. Facebook addiction is common and there is even a Facebook Addiction Test online. (Now I know you are secretly going to see how you score on it – aren’t you?).
Maybe it is time for a Facebook fast. Occasionally I will read someone post, “I’m going to be off Facebook for a while.” Or, another will dramatically comment, “I can’t take the drama anymore – getting off FB.”

A Facebook fast is when a time is set aside away from Facebook for vacation, renwed focus or a fresh mental picture of life. Maybe it is time to take a Facebook Fast, let’s look at the next few reasons why a person would want to take a season of time to withdraw from Facebook.

FOCUS ON INVESTING IN INSPIRATION From Facebook to face look. Honestly, we could spend more time in prayer, Bible reading, and reflection, if we prayed to the proportionate amount of time we have been spending on FB we could settle into  peaceful and fulfilling spiritual refreshment.

CREATE REAL RELATIONSHIPS Instead of having platonic relationships via the computer, step into the real world and strengthen a relationship that is waning or fractured. Invite someone to have a cup of coffee or get together with another couple for lunch.

One of the major, hidden mental and emotional dangers of FB is to compare my life with my FB friends. Examine the list below and evaluate how many times we have compared ourselves to someone’s post.

WOW! Look where they went on vacation
My friend’s marriage is more romantic than mine
There children are so much better behaved
They have the dream life – my life is so ordinary
My friends just got a new car – we are still driving a “Junker”
How come they get to do that?
They must have a lot of money

“LIKES” AND “SHARES” DON”T DETERMINE YOUR SELF VALUE If we get minimal “likes” we have a bad day but if we get elevated “likes” it changes our mood and our emotions. There are people who really care for you but don’t express it openly on FB. Value is determined by who you are not a fabricated or perceived lifestyle on FB.

DEPRESSION ABATED Deep concern over our Facebook image can bring about bouts of depression. Finding ourselves with “nothing exciting to post” can bring us to a state of withdraw and intense loneliness. Connecting digitally while avoiding personal encounters can be damaging in our psychological and/or physical health. Taking a break and spending quality time with our family, friends or relatives can create healing bonds and emotional outlets. Having a week or month of not comparing weight, looks, opportunities, children, homes and other subjects could lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

FOCUS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES Is it just me or have you noticed how magnetized a person is to their phone, tablet or laptop while missing moments with their spouse, their children, their friends or other acquaintances? Several guests are having an important conversation and they are sitting in a corner sharing a comical post on FB. A FB fast may bring a renewed focus on what is important. Certainly we will have more time to devote to a hobby, family or other activities.

Let’s take a FB Break or a FB fast and give our emotions, mind and family a break. (Even though I’ll be participating in a FB Fast several posts may appear on FB through a Twitter post or with Buffer).Do you think a FB would help your family? What’s your thoughts about a FB Break?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal, counselling or professional advice.