Romans 13:12 (NASB95)
“The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
I am speaking this weekend at Compelled Church about the darkness not being able to overpower the Light from John 1.4,5. I decided this verse did not fit into the message, but the message of this verse is amazing.
Paul is encouraging the believers (us) and the Romans to “lay aside” acts of darkness. The word in the orignal Greek means exactly that, but I define it as “knock it off” or “stop it”. If God’s people are mingling light and right things in our life with darkness or deeds that are not of God, we need to knock it off. Deeds of action, thoughts, or speech do not reflect the Jesus in us, so He is our Armour of Light.
Think of this
- Are you involved in something of darkness?
- Are you ok with watching “dark” things?
- Is your talking light and life, or darkness?
This is good
Ephesians 5:7–17 (NASB95)
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
I am so thankful for my kid’s mom. I must honor her on Mother’s Day. She so deserves it. Her love for her family is fierce and deep. He loyalty to her offspring, unprecedented. She has been an amazing mom, and continues to be. Caring for the kids physical lives. Feeding them, rocking them, loving them, seeing them through teething, ear infections, dr’s appointments, vomiting all over, and all of that. I won’t even mention the broken teeth, bones, nose, and other ER visits, she had to endure. She cared for them physically.
As a mom, she has not neglected their spiritual lives. Which reflects in their personalities and character. One of my greatest memories is Wendy reading to the kids. On the sofa they would clutter together like a pack of puppies for the precious time of mom reading to them. Books, the Bible, the Chronicles of Narnia, etc. I recall her kneeling beside their beds as they sleep, calling their names out Heaven, before any of us were up. They would then talk about what they read. She lovingly and patiently with great wisdom and understanding of God and the Bible, answered the showers of questions. Their mom chose not to disconnect from their lives, but stayed involved, informed, and immersed in what they were doing and what they were involved in.
Her voice of encouragement and her faith was/is the foundation of their confidence and identity, setting it strong, so they can build upon it with their own faith. She made sure our schedules were clear for every event, every school award, every concert, every graduation. We never missed. She loves sports (when her children are part). Thousands of hours at football, Lacrosse, Wrestling, Soccer, community ed baseball, basketball, and more. She put them before herself in every way, sacrificing in ways that moms do, with excitement and zeal.
I love their mom, prays for them, worries about them, never falls fully asleep until they are all safe, and relishes, with great depth, every time we are all together.
My three amazing kids are a product of their amazing mom. She continues to amaze me with her love and care for all of them. She has made me look good as a dad. Wendy has helped me be a better father, and our children be amazing young adults.
To think years ago, leaving a Dr’s office, we grappled with the words spoken to us that it is highly unlikely we would ever have children. For the sake of my best friend, I stormed Heaven with prayers I did not know I was capable of praying. We praise Him for the blessing of our children and I praise Him, and honor Wendy for the blessing of being married to my children’s mom for the last 30 years. She continues to warm my heart with her amazing dedication and love for her family. Happy Mother’s Day Wendy. I am so glad I am married, and am best friends, with my children’s mom. She is so awesome.
Pastoring has it’s challenges. Without a doubt, it can be overwhelming at times, but also filled with joy and fulfillment, most times. While I agree with Thom S. Rainer’s recent post, “Ten Reasons It is more Difficult to be a Pastor Today” (Click here to read it), I offer another perspective. Although these ten reasons are true and many a reality, some, not so much in healthy situations. Leaving it on that note (a little negative and discouraging), does not do the wonderful work of pastoring justice. I have given my own thoughts on why it rocks to be a pastor today.
Eleven Reasons Why it’s Easier Being a Pastor Today
- The Advent of Social media. It has become an arm of communication never matched by the old church’s monthly newsletter. Used with wisdom, we can encourage and influence more people toward Christ. Harness and use it and train your people to use it as an arsenal of communication and Christ-like encouragement.
- The Culture. While there are more “nones,” or people with no affiliation to any religion, this creates an amazing opportunity for evangelism.
- Podcast Pastors. I used to relish the thought of going to conferences and hearing my favorite authors. Now I can listen to podcasts. I can learn at a breath-taking pace from some of the best teachers and leaders in the world.
- We have more business savvy. Being forced to have an understanding of business, budgets, and banks is a good thing to a point, but this helps us surround ourselves with people and leaders that we can delegate these things to.
- Print is amazing. No longer do we have to depend on the local printer for marketing or any graphics. Most churches and pastors with a laptop can produce professional looking graphics to enhance ministry.
- Generational Blending. Any leader knows that generational blending in the church is so healthy and positive. If leaders see the generational diversity as a gift and as the Bible teaches, then conflict among generations will be non-existent or minimal.
- More paid pastors. There are more pastors being paid now, even part-time, than ever before in the American context. That is a plus and does makes things easier. I recognize the tension of bi-vocational ministry. When planting here in Temperance, MI, I was bi-vocational for 3 years, I then became full-time. Although not really full-time salary, I knew that for the Kingdom, sacrifice would be made, and if the church grew, my leaders would increase my salary.
- Pastors are staying longer. Because communities and churches are diverse, when a pastor has a good “match,” they stay longer. I never remember pastors being places 20-25 years. Now that is still not the norm, but more common than it used to be.
- Churches are more pastor-driven. The old model of churches being board-driven is becoming more rare. If you are at a pastor-driven church with a board’s trust and respect, there is great liberty for so many things God can do. A board is a gift and will love and support their pastor, and govern with effectiveness. We can really do things that God has called us to, set our schedule, be flexible, and run with the calling the Lord has given us.
- Support. We have more support. There is no long-distance calls anymore. We all have unlimited talking and text and can connect with our colleagues for encouragement and resourcing like never before. No pastor should live in loneliness. We have the tools, and we can sculpt our schedules to reach out to others for prayer, meeting, encouragement and resource sharing.
- We don’t have to wear suits!
What are your thoughts?
a final journal excerpt, reflections of Mexico – 4/28/16 Thursday (Malachi 1:1-10)
How quickly we can become in snared by yesterday’s, therefore allowing ourselves to be impaired for life today. As I look back on what was an incredible nine days in Mexico my mind rolls further to where and who I was before I left. It’s been four days back in the “real world” of everyday choices, relationships, decisions, responsibilities and a menacing cloak has begun creeping in. The quietness of my sprit has started to feel the noise of a transcending yolk of yesterday’s. As if it were reaching out to squelch every moment that God intended to be life altering and turn them into a static of mundane memories.
Such is the way we hear life, through the headphones of our past not receiving the clarity of a God who’s voice is outside our everyday frequency.
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A great read from my friend and family life pastor here at Compelled.
What are you standing on?
The Bible says is Psalm 75, “When the Earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I (God) am the one who keeps its foundations firm.”
It is interesting to me to read that something can “quake” and yet be held “firm” simultaneously. How can this be? How can something be shaken and yet stand still?
As I think on this verse I am challenged….
I know for my life, I have been in situations where it felt as though the ground beneath me had been swept away, like the floor dropped out on me as though I had stepped into one of those crazy, spinning carnival rides. In those moments it is easy to forget where I stand. It is easy to forget what I am standing on.
I am challenged to let my roots grow deeper into Christ as if I wanted them to…
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We are being led. Someone is speaking and influencing our life. Sometimes in America we are like lemmings. We allow the media, advertisers, and movies to shape who we are, our world view, the way we think, and yes, the way we believe. How can the voice of Christ break through the noise and prominence of so many other “leaders” in our life.
Psalm 23 is a classic Psalm and probably one of the most known. It is the “funeral” psalm, printed on the little funeral cards and recited at gravesites and memorials by countless clergy across the land. But I contend that it is not a psalm for the dead but for the living. The very first line gripped my spirit this morning as David declares who is the leader of his life.
“The Lord is my Shepherd.” Say it like this, “the Lord is MY Shepherd.” (emphasis on “my“). He is declaring who is the leader of his life. Let me fine tune that better. He is the leader of our day, our hour, our moment. The Shepherd leads, we follow. David declares without shame and without embarrassment, “The Lord is MY Shepherd”. He does the leading, the providing, the guiding, the loving. We do the faithful following.
If you were to declare who your leader was this hour, moment, what would be in this blank? “The ____________ is my shepherd (leader), for this day.” Would you, could you be honest? We know the correct answer is the Lord, but is that the true answer? I must confess a lot of the time “I” am my shepherd, or “outlook” is my shepherd (LOL).
Immerse yourself in being led by the Lord. His Word will guide, His Spirit will lead, His voice will direct us on the paths of life, for this day, this moment that we need to walk. He will lead us in peace, even in valleys. H restores our soul, and helps us live “right”. He takes away fear, with His presence, he leads us to a greater understanding, and friendship, of our relationship with him, by knowing him more and trusting his leading.
Say it, and live it like David. “The Lord is MY shepherd.” Now, follow your leader “all the days of your life.” I will for my life, but I must start with today, right now.
The LORD is MY shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,*
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 23:1–6). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
We know much about God, but few really know God and fewer understand Him. We know and experience a lot of the “culture” of God, or the church. The potlucks, the music, the jargon of God’s people,, the do’s and don’ts of faith. These things are familiar to us, yet really knowing God escapes most. We understand the way to God or the Father is Jesus and His work on the cross, and resurrection, but to know the Lord, and to have friendship with God is elusive to most, never thought about to some, and pursued by the minority of those who admit to being His people.
To know someone takes time. Sadly, I must confess, we try to know God, while investing as little time as possible. Many families worship together now, only a couple times a month, some do some Bible reading at home, and say some prayers. I must confess to my own lethargic attention at times to my efforts to know the God of the universe. It is no wonder when hard times hit us, we wonder where God is? When the comforts of our modern culture are interrupted we question the very existence of God and our own faith. Making large investments into our soul, must no longer seem impossible, out of reach, or unrealistic. It is time to take time to know Him.
I have learned and I am being being reminded (as of late), that there are no short cuts to knowing God. There are no “hacks” or apps that make it faster and easier than daily investing some time, reserving some place in our thoughts, and making choices in our day, to carve out time to get to know our closest friend. It is all about time. We, I, am too much in a hurry. We have too many things to do, and we are hurried even when there is respite and time off. We must complete the yard work quickly, get the kids to bed, eat and do chores fast, and we never pace our lives to enjoy the life God has given us, for He is not separated from us, therefore, He is not separated from our daily activities of our lives, however mundane and routine they are. We must grasp the realization that we are living with Christ, all the time. So setting aside extra time in the day to know Him, is not that out of reach.
Being taught by the living Christ, through contemplative prayer, solitude, true study of Scripture, and prayer will lead us to knowing God on a level we never thought was possible. We must reserve room in our mind to think of him, and to become one in thought, heart, and soul. We must immerse ourselves in solitude and silence, with undisturbed times from the electronics, of phones, and IPads, that ding, alert us, and drag us back to the hurried world, and out of His presence. We must rush off, making money, making friends, making our mark on this earth, but without knowing God it is all in vain, hollow, and pointless.
We must invest in our spirit, in the same way in invest in our physical bodies. This investment has the greatest return. We will slowly, day by day, understand the Lord, feel His heart, grow in love, and many things in the world that we have been deceived as being such a high priority begin to grow, “strangely dim”.
We make time to do so many things, that I think the “I don’t have time” excuses have no more merit. The stakes are too high. Your transformation is imperative to your parenting, marriage, vocation, and enjoyment of life if we truly want the abundant life Christ promised us (John 10.10).
May this Psalm be the cry of our heart, and the evidence of that cry
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 63:1–8). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Chilly sent this out from a writing in 2014. I reprint it here with his permission. It deeply spoke to me and my spirit agreed. Please read it slowly and think and reflect. For more writings of his go to his website Ichilly.com . I am impacted this afternoon by this encouragement to be who God intended me to be.
Today I felt led to share with you an article that I wrote for my blog in April 2014. God brought it back to my attention early this morning with urgency and conviction. I made some minor edits and now I’m asking a few of my friends, mentors and allies to read it. Please only read it if you have time to read it slowly and all the way to the end. I’m not asking for a response but I certainly would welcome it. In some way, I feel as if God may be preparing me to take this message to leaders, pastors and those just beginning to sense His call. I believe there’s an adventure being missed by MOST that God is really stirring in my heart today. Thanks for reading this — please don’t post it (at least not yet)… I’m not sure, exactly, where to go from here. Thanks again!
Here’s the article
When the Adventure becomes a job…
Do you remember when God called you?
- was it after getting the results of your ACT or SAT exam?
- did it come in a certified letter?
- were you walking through a job fair?
- did it come with a paycheck?
Probably not, right? It was probably more spontaneous, crazy and epic than a human designed promotion. It was supernatural, right? It made you insanely excited and totally overwhelmed all at the same time! You had the thought, ‘there’s no way I can do this’ and yet, you also KNEW, ‘ there’s no way that I CAN’T do this!’
Maybe I’m just weird, but I’m more than a little concerned about what’s happening in what we call ‘Christianity.’ Way too many pastors are burned out, depressed, suicidal, wimpy, self-loathing, excuse-making complainers. They’re lonely, hated, misunderstood, tapped-out, and overwhelmed.
Yep, I’ve been beat-up (a little bit physically, somewhat spiritually and lots emotionally). I’ve been robbed, betrayed and played. I’ve been out of money, abandoned, over-worked and super tired. SO WHAT!
It’s not like Jesus and the Bible didn’t warn us. And, it’s not like Jesus and the Bible didn’t tell us what to do when this stuff happened.
Being miserable, cynical or sarcastic IS NOT the answer!
Turning the body of Christ into God’s robot isn’t the answer, either! Our need to control is making our lives out-of-control and stressed out.
“Doing church” was never God’s plan… the church is a living organism that’s growing, changing, and functioning through with authority of God, the leading of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’m really concerned about the structure, professionalism and business-like approach to ministry that has become commonplace in our churches – and, more personally, in our lives.
Yes, many are producing churches that are big, well-oiled-machines, that function with precision and reliability. We run staff gatherings and board meetings like Fortune 500 think-tanks… little risk or faith desired or required.
Checks and balances. Budgets. Protocol, precedents and procedures. We’ve got manuals and job descriptions for everything. We can’t have chaos after all.
Hmmm… have you ever been in a healthy father’s (or grandfather’s) house? Does he give job descriptions to his grand kids? Things are messy, loud, unorganized and spontaneous. Yet, laughter and love are everywhere! Now, I’m not saying that’s, exactly, what church should be like… but, I do think Jesus was saying something when He rebuked His disciples by saying, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17 Speaking of kid’s with callings…
I’m also concerned about how we train those called. $100,000+ for a Bible College degree is the norm. Student loans, classroom lectures, test taking and term-paper writing may not provide proper training or evaluation. Remember, some of the original disciples, church-leaders and church planters were ‘untrained’ — They had not attended the rabbinical schools of their day, yet they knew how to quote and explain scripture better than the rabbis. I’m not hating on seminary – I attended one – but, it’s not the only (or always the best) way to develop the calling on someone’s life.
Maybe we’re too serious, controlled and up-tight? Maybe we’ve lost the adventure of our calling and turned it into a job? Maybe we’re more full of ourselves than we are full of the Holy Spirit?
Here’s some things that concern me about what’s happening in our churches and/or ministries…
- We give them instructions, but not purpose.We say ‘what’ to do without answering the ‘why’ we do it. Pray this. Read this. Attend this. Do this. Don’t do this. And, then, when you complete this; do more of this! Few people seem to be discovering who they are because we’re telling them what to ‘do.’ As a result …
- We develop systems to evaluate the success and efficiency of everything. But, we’re making disciples not employees… we’re making missionaries not machines. As a result …
- We create check-lists, measurements and levels to show maturity and progress. We require classes, tests, attendance and conformity before most ministry opportunites can be considered. As a result …
- We give out titles, positions and leadership like awards or promotions. There’s an elite aura around most upper-level pastors & leaders. There are people who may achieve board or staff level because of their faithfulness to a system or generosity (of time, talent or treasure). As a result …
- People are confused about how to love God and their neighbors without losing their minds. They can operate their ministry in the church with precision but never talk to their next-door neighbors. Their cars are used for multiple church events like a soccer-mom’s van in the summer! They’re too focused and busy to play with their kids, date their spouse, go to the park, or sleep in on Saturday morning As a result …
- Insecurity, Stress, Fatigue are having a party just on the other side of fake smiles. Ouch. Or, maybe the manifestation is pride, control and rules. Either way, both have roots in FEAR. And, fear has NOTHING to do with the adventure of God’s calling. His perfect love drives away ALL fear (1 John 4:18).
I don’t want another job. I want an adventure!
I want to wake up each day FULL of wonder, passion, energy and joy!
I want to pray because it’s fun and because Jesus talks to me! I want to read the Bible because it’s alive and it rocks my world every single time I read it! I want to make disciples because I’m called to do it and because I’m uniquely designed to reach, love, mentor, train and help others become disciples.
I want my wife, kids and friends to LOVE living life together. I want church to be about who we are becoming not what we are doing. I want the community to change through love, miracles, kindness, compassion and friendship.
I want other young Christians to WANT God to call them into the ministry even before it happens simply because they’re around the adventure of my life!
This is NOT a depressing view or rebuke of others, church, ministry or whatever … nope! Don’t get all worked up or defensive. I wrote this in my journal — and, my journal is not the Bible! Asking questions is how we get answers.
It’s just me saying that I’m CHOOSING to keep living the adventure and inviting others to join me! It WILL be imperfect, it will include failing and it will be unpredictable. It may NOT pay much in money but it will be INSANELY rewarding and super exciting!
The ADVENTURE continues!
© 2017 Chilly Chilton Ministries
Thanks for allowing me to be vulnerable with you. I’d welcome your thoughts & insight. Your friendship is very valuable to me — thank you for believing the best … ALWAYS!
We are constantly being shaped and molded. No one is static. We are changing, morphing into what we are becoming. I am not the man I was in my twenties (thank you Lord!), and I am not the man now, that I will be in my 70’s. I am changing, being shaped, every so slowly, every day.
Habits and routines shape us. We wake up and immediately grab our phones, scrolling through the most recent Facebook posts, like something important would have happened to our “friends” since we last checked it at 11 pm. Our day is shaped by the technological stream of information we cram into our minds the first 15 or 20 minutes of waking up. News, twitter, political rants, shape our mind and day and we are imprinted, not by what we have chosen to look at, but by the algorithms of twitter, Facebook, or snapshot.
I am surprised by how many people turn on the TV immediately, as if the silence of the new day cannot be tolerated. News media, with their own bias and agenda, begin to imprint us and shape our lives. Slowly, morning after morning, one brain cell at a time, we become them, and “parrot” their news bites in our views as if we came up with it from scratch rather than admitting we are lemmings of some producer somewhere who is deciding how we should think and believe.
Our habits throughout the day shape us. The jokes, hobbies, vices, talk, radio, friends, and what we read, investments in our marriage, our family, our God, are slowly digested into our person, character, and personality. Our daily exposure to people, information, and relationships are changing us, for the better or the worse. We are being shaped, whether we think so or not.
So are your habits shaping you into who you want to be, or are you just letting a “routine” shape you into whatever you, by chance, you end up becoming? Can we allow our God to shape us? I am talking about habits outside of a church service a couple of times a month. Habits of a pursuit of a God, through Christ, that wants to shape us into the person that lives without addictions, regrets, fear, and pain of the past? Could a new habit of silence, prayer, family time, worship, daily shape you into a person better than the current routine? We each choose what we allow to be part of our life, our mind, and our spirit. It may be time for some honest evaluation. Time to stop being a slave to our phones and tablets? It might be time to be shaped by living outside ourselves and for others? To read and look at things that add value and don’t diminish us. New routines, and new habits, can bring a new you. The Lord of our souls wills that. Choose wisely, every day we are all being shaped.