Category Archives: Guest Blog & Message Notes

THE VALLEY IS NOT YOUR DESTINATION

Tom Schumacher

THE VALLEY IS NOT YOUR DESTINATION

Pastor Tom Schumacher

Ezekiel 37:1-3 NKJV “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

  1. Although Ezekiel’s vision applied to the children of Israel…we can apply the principle of this vision to us today.

Right information leads to the right destination.

  1. Valleys are not destinations.

Psalms 23:4 NKJV “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Proverbs 4:25-26 NKJV “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.”

  1. Jesus told His followers to pick up the Cross…crucify the flesh, deny yourselves, govern your soul.

Luke 9:23 NKJV “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

  1. The bones in the valley are dry because they are meant to be connected to the body.
  1. Just as the Prophet was sent to the valley…God will send His voice to the valley of your life.
  1. God has a message for your valley and breath for your bones.
  1. When God speaks (Genesis 1:2), light order, and design come into being.

Ezekiel 37:11 NKJV “Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’”

  1. God’s truth will bring water to the bones, hope where there is no hope, meaning to your design.
  1. God has a message that you may live again. God has put a message in YOU that others may hear and see and live again.

AWARENESS & SPIRITUAL GIFTS, Dr. Robert Bice

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Awareness: Do I Really Know What is Going On?

Dr. Robert Bice, as shared with Rejoice Church 7-26-15

  1. Know Who I Am

Nature, Learning Style, Communication Style, Personality Style, World View

Be aware of my biases I use for making decisions in my life, my lenses I wear (video)

Gifts and Calling, What are my primary and secondary gifts I have been given

THE GIFTS IN ROMANS 12, 1 CORINTHIANS 12, AND EPHESIANS 4

Rom 12:6-8 NLTIn his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

Eph 4:11-12 NLT “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

1 Cor 12:7-11 NLT “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”

“Conformed to His Image, by Ken Boa”

A spiritual gift is a manifestation of the Spirit … given for the benefit of all (1 Cor. 12:7). As a supernatural endowment, its source is always the Holy Spirit, and its purpose is the building up of others to the glory of God.

  1. Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29; 14:1-40; Eph. 4:11)–The ability to receive and proclaim a message from God. This could involve the foretelling of future events, though its primary purpose as seen in 1 Corinthians 14:3 is forth-telling: one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. This gift provides a word from God to a specific group, not the normative Word of God to all believers. Some maintain that prophecy is still operative in this sense today, while others say that the nearest current equivalent is Spirit-empowered preaching.
  2. Service (Rom. 12:7)–The ability to identify and care for the physical needs of the body through a variety of means. The Greek word for this gift is the same as that for ministry or deacon, but the gift should not be confused with the office.
  3. Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11)–The ability to clearly explain and effectively apply the truths of God’s Word so that others will learn. This requires the capacity to accurately interpret Scripture, engage in necessary research, and organize the results in a way that is easily communicated.
  4. Exhortation (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to motivate others to respond to the truth by providing timely words of counsel, encouragement, and consolation. When this gift is exercised, believers are challenged to stimulate their faith by putting God’s truth to the test in their lives.
  5. Giving (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to contribute material resources with generosity and cheerfulness for the benefit of others and the glory of God. Christians with this spiritual gift need not be wealthy.
  6. Leadership (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to discern God’s purpose for a group, set and communicate appropriate goals, and motivate others to work together to fulfill them in the service of God. A person with this gift is effective at delegating tasks to followers without manipulation or coercion.
  7. Mercy (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to deeply empathize and engage in compassionate acts on behalf of people who are suffering physical, mental, or emotional distress. Those with this gift manifest concern and kindness to people who are often overlooked.
  8. Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8)–The ability to apply the principles of the Word of God in a practical way to specific situations and to recommend the best course of action at the best time. The exercise of this gift skillfully distills insight and discernment into excellent advice.
  9. Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8)–The ability to discover, analyze, and systematize truth for the benefit of others. With this gift, one speaks with understanding and penetration. Some also associate supernatural perception with this gift.
  10. Faith (1 Cor. 12:9)–The ability to have a vision for what God wants to be done and to confidently believe that it will be accomplished in spite of circumstances and appearances to the contrary. The gift of faith transforms vision into reality.
  11. Healing (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30)–The ability to serve as a human instrument through whom God supernaturally cures illnesses and restores health. The possessor of this gift is not the source of power, but a vessel who can only heal those diseases the Lord chooses to heal. Inner healing, or healing of memories is sometimes associated as another manifestation of this gift.
  12. Miracles (1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 29)–The ability to serve as an instrument through whom God accomplishes acts that manifest supernatural power. Miracles bear witness to the presence of God and the truth of His proclaimed Word, and appear to occur most frequently in association with missionary activity.
  13. Distinguishing of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10)–The ability to clearly discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (cf. 1 John 4:6). With this gift, one can distinguish reality versus counterfeits, the divine versus the demonic, true versus false teaching, and in some cases, spiritual versus carnal motives.
  14. Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 30; 14:1-40)–The ability to receive and impart a spiritual message in a language the recipient never learned. For other members of the body to be edified, this message must be interpreted either by the recipient (1 Cor. 14:13) or by another person with the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:26-28).
  15. Interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, 30; 14:5, 13, 26-28)–The ability to translate into the vernacular a message publicly uttered in a tongue. This gift may be combined with the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 14:13), or it can operate separately (1 Cor. 14:26-28).
  16. Apostleship (1 Cor. 12:28,29; Eph. 4:11)–In the New Testament, the apostles were not limited to the Twelve, but included Paul, Barnabas, Andronicus, Junias, and others as well (Acts 14:14; Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:5,7; 1 Thess. 2:6). As a spiritual gift, this is the ability to begin and/or to oversee new churches and Christian ministries with a spontaneously recognized authority.
  17. Helps (1 Cor. 12:28)–The ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body. This is the only usage of this word in the New Testament, and it appears to be distinct from the gift of service. Some suggest that while the gift of service is more group-oriented, the gift of helps is more person-oriented.
  18. Administration (1 Cor. 12:28)–This word, like helps, appears only one time in the New Testament, and it is used outside of Scripture of a helmsman who steers a ship to its destination. This suggests that the spiritual gift of administration is the ability to steer a church or Christian organization toward the fulfillment of its goals by managing its affairs and implementing necessary plans. A person may have the gift of leadership without the gift of administration.
  19. Evangelism (Eph. 4:11)–The ability to be an unusually effective instrument in leading unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ. Some with this gift are most effective in personal evangelism, while others may be used by God in group evangelism or cross-cultural evangelism.
  20. Shepherd or pastor (Eph. 4:11)–Peter was commissioned by Christ to shepherd His sheep (John 21:16), and Peter exhorted the elders in the churches of Asia Minor to do the same (1 Pet. 5:2; cf. Acts 20:28). A person with this spiritual gift has the ability to personally lead, nourish, protect, and care for the needs of a flock of believers. Not all people with the office of pastor (elder, overseer) have or need the gift of pastoring or shepherding, and many with this gift do not have or need the office.
  21. Peter Wagner in Your Spiritual Gifts suggests others:
  22. celibacy (the ability to enjoy being single and maintain sexual self-control; 1 Cor. 7:7-9);
  23. voluntary poverty (the ability to renounce material comfort and adopt a life-style of relative poverty; 1 Cor. 13:3);
  24. martyrdom (the ability to display an attitude of joy while suffering or even dying for the faith; 1 Cor. 13:3);
  25. hospitality (the ability to welcome and provide for those in need of food and lodging; Rom. 12:13; 1 Pet. 4:9);
  26. missionary (the ability to minister effectively in a second culture);
  27. intercession (the ability to pray for a long period of time on a regular basis for the ministries and needs of others); and
  28. exorcism (the ability to discern and cast out demons with authority)
  29. music
  30. craftsmanship
  31. ideas, inventions, profitable endeavors to benefit others

 

  1. Know Where I Am

It only takes one word from God to change my circumstance. That word may come from an unlikely source. Keep myself free to hear God speak. Even Moses was at work when he heard from God and it took a special bush burning to get his attention.

Seek out my next gifts, steps, and opportunities. Knowledge has increased exponentially and allowed us to go where we never could before. Yesterday’s accomplishments are only steps to take us to tomorrow. Let’s not get stuck in yesterday. The 4 minute mile was ruled out for years as impossible for humans and even medically harmful UNTIL someone did it and then there were multiple people within a short time. (Roger Bannister picture)

 

  1. Know Where I Am Going

High mobilization of spiritual gifts was the key to the rapid multiplication of the church in the New Testament (cf. Rom. 1:11, Eph. 4:12, 2 Tim. 2:2).

Rejoice Vision Statement:

Recover the lost by sharing the joy of God’s love & salvation through Jesus Christ (the gospel) with everyone;

Empower them to become fully devoted Christ-followers (disciples) who embrace God’s purpose for their life;

Deploy them into their ministries in the church, & their mission in the world, so they can glorify God everywhere.

Growth requires pain, even modern gyms carry the message of “no pain, no gain”. We have to embrace the idea of doing the work to see the results. Let’s work together.

Take the step because until you do, help will not be revealed.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kill countless ideas and splendid plans:  that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it.  Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin it now.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832

Contact Robert Bice at RobertBice@outlook.com

 

START THINKING CREATIVELY

START THINKING CREATIVELY

From “The Word For You Today”, July 25, 2015

“Diotrephes…refuses to accept my suggestions.” 3 John 1:9 AMP

Not everybody is willing to think creatively, and some folks resent those people who do. The apostle John said: “I have written briefly to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to take the lead among them and put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority and refuses to accept my suggestions or listen to me.” 3 John 1:9 AMP

Every organization has at least one of these people; just make sure it’s not you.

Author Phil Cooke says: “One of the most damaging sacred cows in organizations is basing employees status on seniority rather than talent Yes, loyalty is important, but some of the most loyal employees I’ve ever bet are loyal because of selfishness.  They project loyalty to keep their jobs, retain their benefits, or hold on to their authority.

Real loyalty is about innovation, original thinking, and helping the company get to the next level…every person has worth and is important.

But a great leader always knows the people who bring the most value to the organization. Those are the people to be developed, trained, and cultivated.

When you create an atmosphere of original thinking, you’ll have more loyalty then you’ll know what to do with.

Most companies are so ignorant of how to develop an environment of innovation that if you di it, you’ll have people coming from every direction to work with you.”

The apostle Paul practiced and taught this principle: “We urge you…to recognize those who labor among you…and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” 1 Thess 5:12-13

To be a creative thinker, you must value creative thinking.

DEATH BY MINISTRY

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Death by Ministry

 

Years ago, I spent several hours per week doing research (and meeting with other pastors) about pastoral health and vitality for my denomination.

I chose to spend some time doing that for selfish reasons. I was and am still learning how to take better care of myself in ministry (as evidenced by the scary picture above) – while completely acknowledging that sometimes, it’s not supposed to feel right. We all know that work…well…is supposed to be laborious. And those in ministry know that ministry in itself is difficult. There’s no way to get around it, but…

What I learned was pretty shocking and heartbreaking, but one of the conclusions I came to was that as ministry leaders, pastors, and other pursuers of God’s work, it helps to understand some of the challenges ahead and to be proactive rather than reactive.

Recently, I posted Part I of this post entitled, Why Is Being a Pastor So Unhealthy. The reasons are complex, and I’ll acknowledge that when one looks for “doom and gloom,” you’ll find some discouraging things. I can focus an entry purely on the joys and blessings of pastoral ministry and feel confident I can write a compelling piece. But these statistics (and stories that many of us are aware of) and our personal stories are hard to ignore.

Here’s a summary of what I learned and shared:

There are varying reports from different sources, but I believe most will agree that the ministerial profession (life as pastors) is now considered one of the most dangerous or unhealthiest professions. It’s usually rated last or second to last. Read this from a local Northwest minister, Mark, on a comment on an earlier post:

“At the first church I served, we had an insurance agent who was a member of the congregation. When I went to see him about some auto insurance needs, he said ‘Hey, wanna see something that will scare the crap out of you?’…He pulled out a form that had various professions rated for their risk of giving life insurance policies to…Anyway, to make a lengthening story shorter, he showed me that clergy members were in the same category as Deep Sea Welders and Loggers as the second highest risk group to give life insurance policies to. We were behind crab fishermen but ahead of munitions workers.

It was a little disturbing to know that statistically I was gonna die due to my profession before someone who builds explosives. This was back in 1994; the statistics may be better (or worse) now.”

If you don’t believe the above comment, read some of these statistics:

Forty-eight percent of them think their work is hazardous to their family’s well being. Another 45.5% will experience burnout or depression that will make them leave their jobs. And 70% say their self-esteem is lower now than when they started their position. They have the 2nd highest divorce rate among professions. Who are they? They are pastors. Here are some more overwhelming statistics from this article.

  • 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with spouse and that ministry has a negative effect on their family.
  • 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner once a month.
  • 33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
  • 75% report they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
  • 58% of pastors indicate that their spouse needs to work either part time or full time to supplement the family income.
  • 56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends.
  • Pastors who work fewer than 50 hrs per week are 35% more likely to be terminated.
  • 40% of pastors considered leaving the pastorate in the past three months.

Feeling dizzy? Take a breath. Here are some more statistics:

  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons. [compiled by Darrin Patrick]

While I love being a pastor and even more, being called to be a pastor, I want folks to know how incredibly difficult it is at times to handle the complexities and stress of being a minister.

Finally, at the age of 39, I feel more at peace at how to create boundaries, love my church, better care for my wife and children, support my fellow staff, handle criticism, etc. but there are times, I feel clueless and overwhelmed. I’ve been having occasional visitors from a blog started by and for pastors’ wives [couldn’t find one for pastors’ husbands]. Some of their comments have been difficult to read because they hit so close to home. I will not post a link to their blog here, but here are two comments:

“Oh, and the financial part is tough. We live on poverty level. I don’t know how we are going to pay all the bills sometimes, much less buy groceries. The Lord always comes through, though, and on a really tough week, someone in the church will anonymously give us a gift. We have no in between at our church. It’s either people trying to help us out (it’s all there what we make each week – in black and white), or it’s people that have this attitude – ‘Pastors are supposed to suffer and sacrifice. It’s part of the job.’ Has anyone else noticed that mentality? I don’t know where it comes from, and it is one of my biggest pet peeves. Pastors aren’t supposed to drive nice cars, have nice houses, or buy new clothes. And we are always supposed to be worried about making ends meet – I wonder if it is just half of my church that thinks that way.”

Here’s the second comment:

“Today my son approached my husband and randomly said, ‘I guess you’re going back to church now.’ And he wasn’t going anywhere! During seminary, he would walk around the house saying, ‘Bye bye, Daddy. Bye bye, daddy!’ So sad, but very true. It’s definitely a calling, isn’t it? I told my husband the other day: ‘In my classes that I took to prepare me to be a minister’s wife, they told me over and over again, ‘it is the loneliest job in the world,’ but I never realized it until we were in the role…’”

While I feel solid support from my staff, my elder board, and the church as a whole, I know that many of my peers do not feel this way.

Simply, pastors are often underpaid, underappreciated, and at times, undermined.

There is strain on their marriages and families. Two other incredibly real factors that add complexities to the ministerial calling are: 1) the cultural complexity and dynamic of the 21st century and 2) the nebulous but real nature of the spiritual realm and battle. The reality is that being a pastor is not just merely a job nor should it be one. Ministry is a calling. It’s both amazing and incredibly difficult. While it isn’t my desire to overdramatize the significance of ministry, I do believe that the Evil One seeks to impede and harm the work that is to take place through ministers and pastors.

As for the “cultural complexity of the 21st century,” I think this quote captures my sentiment:

“My viewpoint tends to be more organizational, so my take on being a pastor is that it is an impossible job. Here you are asked to be the lead preacher and teacher, available for counseling sessions, leading a staff of people that can span such responsibilities as missions and janitorial, serving as the public face for your organization in the community, networking with other leaders at Christian conferences and denominational gatherings. That’s a lot of hats!…Let’s finally consider the financial issues. I don’t believe pastors are paid very well, so that’s obviously a downer. And if you are paid well, and sometimes even if you aren’t, that has its own issues, for congregants can quite easily feel they own you, since they’re paying your way. What other organization is the person at top in such an awkward financial relationship with his or her co-workers and clients?” [h/t Lee H]

My point is very simple:

Please care, pray, and love your pastors (and church staff) in your churches.

Seriously, give them a nice pay raise, more time off, regular opportunities to get away for even a day retreat to pray, buy them some dinner certificates, honor their spouses, love their children, pray for them, and regularly share your appreciation and affirmation.

Now, I know that this can easily be intended to perpetuate the victim language or mentality, but it’s a two-way street. Churches must seek to honor and care for their pastors and staff and build healthy structures to ensure such care. Similarly, pastors and their families must make choices to be holistically healthy! We must rest, Sabbath, enjoy God, love the Scriptures not simply for the sake of sermon preparations, be in deep friendships and community, exercise, work on our jump shot, continue to be a reader and learner, love and honor our spouses, nurture our children, laugh and have fun, eat healthy and drink good refreshments [use your imagination here], examine and repent of any possible addictions, and [add your contribution here].

We need to lean on God, stop our self-sufficiency, and repent of the idolatry to please all those around us. Easier said than done, but it needs to begin somewhere. Why not now?

Some good news:

Despite the intense nature of pastoral ministry, it is also immensely fulfilling. Huh? It makes total sense to me. According to a recent survey, the top five professions are clergy, physical therapists, firefighters, education administrators, and painters/sculptors:

Clergy ranked by far the most satisfied and the most generally happy of 198 occupations. Eighty-seven percent of clergy said they were “very satisfied” with their work, compared with an average 47 percent for all workers. Sixty-seven percent reported being “very happy,” compared with an average 33 percent for all workers. Jackson Carroll, Williams professor emeritus of religion and society at Duke Divinity School, found similarly high satisfaction when he studied Protestant and Catholic clergy, despite relatively modest salaries and long hours.

“They look at their occupation as a calling,” Carroll said. “A pastor does get called on to enter into some of the deepest moments of a person’s life, celebrating a birth and sitting with people at times of illness or death. There’s a lot of fulfillment.” [read the entire article]

So while pastoral ministry is at times exhausting, draining, depressing, and overwhelming, it’s also meaningful and fulfilling.

May God grant you grace, courage, and strength.

God bless you pastors. God bless your spouses and your children. May you bless your flock and may you be blessed by them. And together, may you bless the Lord as you seek to bless His creation.

 

Eugene Cho is the co-founder (with his wife) and executive director of One Day’s Wages — “a movement of People, Stories, and Actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” He is also the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church and the founder and executive director of Q Cafe — a non-profit community cafe and music venue in Seattle. Follow Eugene on Twitter or his personal blog.

LIFE AFTER LIFE ANALOGY

LIFE AFTER LIFE ANALOGY

by Hungarian writer Útmutató a Léleknek:

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”

The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something, and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied, “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”