Category Archives: George W Black, Blogs

George loves to share inspirational devotions, short messages, posts from other social media, etc.

LET GOD MAKE THE “FINAL CUT”

Gideon's 300

LET GOD MAKE THE “FINAL CUT”

by George W. Black

“God said to Gideon: “There are still too many. Take them down to the stream and I’ll make a final cut. When I say, ‘This one goes with you,’ he’ll go. When I say, ‘This one doesn’t go,’ he won’t go.” So Gideon took the troops down to the stream.” Judges 7:4-5 MSG

If you are a leader in the body of Christ, you must let God pick your team. Whether you are serving as a pastor, or a ministry leader, don’t commit the sin of presumption.

If there is one “besetting sin” I have witnessed in the local church, it is rushing promotion out of need or desperation. In some cases, these unproven leaders or workers can cause more damage than good.

You may have too many people serving in vital positions. Don’t fill a position just because it is vacant. Wait on God. The wrong person is worse than no person.

Out of insecurities we often pick those that are most like us, and that we like, and that appear strong and gifted. But God will pick those whose hearts are right, and that are able and faithful.

Jesus spent all night in prayer before He selected the twelve.

Be sensitive to the “gut check.” Even if all the outward signs are right, the “gut check” is the Holy Spirit saying “no”, or “not now.” Don’t quench the Holy Spirit when He is directing you otherwise. He is trying to protect you, and preserve God’s kingdom work. Only God knows the heart of any person.

Let God make the “final cut.” After all, it’s His church, right?

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER EASTER?

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER EASTER?

Pastor George Black, 4-23-17

Opening Scripture: Acts 2:1-4 NKJV  “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Introduction: The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished more than just our redemption…it set in motion a new dispensation of Grace and the Church. Easter opened the door for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower the Church to finish the work that Jesus started.

 

  1. Easter changed everything because of the resurrection of Christ. He then appeared to his disciples for forty days discussing the Kingdom.

Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that Jesus spent forty days of intensive instruction with His disciples on the Kingdom of God. We could call this a spiritual boot-camp to prepare them for the incredible journey they were about to take. What an amazing time this must have been. And even though we have no direct record of what Jesus taught them during this time, we can assume that the disciples transmitted His teaching in their preaching and epistles, some of which is found in their New Testament writings. However, the most significant take-away we know of is the command by Christ to wait for the empowering of the Holy Spirit before attempting to build the Kingdom of God.

Acts 1:1-5 NKJV  “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, {2} until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, {3} to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. {4} And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; {5} “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

 

  1. Jesus taught the disciples of the coming of the Holy Spirit, that He was coming to help them after His departure.

Jesus was WITH the disciples, but the Holy Spirit was IN the disciples. This is the glorious transition that occurred following Easter. Jesus told the disciples He was returning to the Father, but that He would not leave them without His help. As a matter of fact, Paul the apostle said “without Him I can do nothing.” So how were these new apostles going to continuing building the Kingdom of God? Jesus promised them a “Helper.” He was referring to the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, who is also referred to as the “Spirit of Christ.” In other words, the Heavenly baton was passed to the Holy Spirit when Jesus returned to Heaven, and He came to finish IN the disciples what Christ had started WITH the disciples. Jesus Christ was now IN the disciples by the Spirit of God, not just with them. This is the very reason He taught them that they would do the same works He did, even greater works. Greater? How can you do greater miracles than opening blind eyes, raising the dead, or curing the disease of leprosy? Jesus meant greater in number. Why? Because He went to the Father and sent back the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers. Instead of just one person doing miracles and building the Kingdom, there would be many, because now Jesus can fill every believer by the Holy Spirit and do the same things through the believer that He did. These signs shall follow them that believe…

A. John 7:37-39 NKJV “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

B. John 14:26 NKJV “”But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

C. John 16:7-16 NKJV “”Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. {8} “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: {9} “of sin, because they do not believe in Me; {10} “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; {11} “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. {12} “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. {13} “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. {14} “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. {15} “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. {16} “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

D. Luke 3:16 NKJV “John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After we memorize John 3:16, we need to memorize Luke 3:16. Jesus has promised to save us in John 3:16, but He also promised to baptize us in the Holy Spirit in Luke 3:16.

 

  1. Jesus ascended to the Father 40 days after His resurrection, and sent back the promised Holy Spirit 10 days later on the Jewish Festival Day of Pentecost.

A. Pentecost means “fiftieth day”, and occurs 49 days after Easter Sunday, but 50 days including Easter Sunday.

B. Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again during the Jewish festival of Passover.

C. Passover began when the Death Angel visited Egypt and killed all the first-born sons. The only ones spared were those who had marked their doors with the blood of a lamb.

D. As a result of this last judgment on Egypt, Pharaoh let the Israelites go into the wilderness to worship God.

E. Forty-nine days after the Exodus, while in the wilderness, God gives them the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. This day later becomes the day of Pentecost. On the same day God gave the Israelites the Law of Moses, Jesus now sends them the Holy Spirit, the only One who can empower us to keep the Law.

F. Pentecost is also known as the Festival of Weeks, or Festival of Reaping, or Festival of First Fruits. In other words, it was the Festival commemorating the early harvest, in anticipation of the later harvest. This reminds us that the glory of the later house will be greater than the former.

During this festival it was customary to wave sheaves of grain from the early harvest before the Lord. This reminds us that because Jesus was raised from the dead as the first-fruits of those who died, but the rest of the harvest is on the way. There is a glorious resurrection awaiting every believer who has died in Christ.

 

Conclusion: What happened after Easter set in motion the most incredible journey of faith that has swept around the globe, with over 2 billion and 200 million people confessing to be Christian in our world today. But our job is not over. As long as there are lost people in world, nation, state, city, neighborhood, we must continue the work of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus died and rose again for our redemption, but He sent the Holy Spirit back to empower us to take this redemption to every man, woman, teenager, boy and girl. You are not alone. Jesus is no longer WITH us. But we actually have something even better. He is now IN us. Greater is He that is IN us than he that is in the world. Remember: I can do all things through Christ!

 

Invitation: You can receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit today.

SURRENDER HAS IT’S REWARDS

surrender

SURRENDER HAS IT’S REWARDS

By George W. Black

When we say “Jesus is Lord,” we may not always consider the far-ranging dynamics of His Lordship in our daily lives.  God spoke to my heart recently that “whatever you surrender to God comes under His covering, blessing, and protection; and whatever you do not surrender, does not.”

I have been meditating on that thought for days because of its profound implications. I felt it was a Word of wisdom to me personally, so I didn’t want to let it “fall to the ground” unexplored.

Various stories in the Bible that affirm the joy of divine surrender began to emerge in my thoughts, such as Jesus in the Garden before the passion of the Cross. He asked His Father if there was another way to accomplish salvation, His humanity bearing heavily on the moment as real as ours. Then He transitions His prayer to complete surrender with one word, “NEVERTHELESS.”

Surrender is always an act of worship, a giving of oneself fully and completely to another. Jesus set the example for us. He could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Him, but He chose the Father’s plan over His personal desire.  Just has John the Baptist had decreased so Christ could increase, so too now we find Jesus choosing to decrease so that the Father’s plan could continue.

“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

But let us not forget the example of faith that Jesus Christ set for us, and that we can continually look to for strength and courage, to say no to self, and yes to the Father’s plan. Jesus saw beyond the moment of temptation through the eyes of  faith. He looked to the reward.

“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Surrender has it’s own rewards. For instance, when I surrender my life to follow Christ, I may not always do it perfectly, but it means that I am now looking to Him for His wisdom, guidance, etc. My faith and surrender place a demand on God that He responds to by perfectly covering me, blessing me, and protecting me.

In particular, when I surrender my body to Christ as a living sacrifice, this means that it is now His body, and that I want to follow His plan for it. This means using it for His purposes, taking care of it according to the clear teaching of Scripture, exercising it, feeding it good things, resting it, and fasting  it as He directs.

The next time you say Jesus is Lord of your body, ask yourself, is He really? Have I really surrendered to His plan for health and a long life?

Whatever we surrender to God comes under his covering, blessing, and protection. I want to be an obedient disciple that brings glory to God. I also want the health and long life necessary to do it well, so I have to come to the place I say, “nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.”

Sometimes fasting is the hardest thing I do. When I can’t even skip a meal, that tells me who is really in charge…my flesh. But God’s grace is sufficient. It’s not about beating myself up about it, its about recognizing my need for surrender. When I surrender, grace flows to the low place. Grace is God’s ability to do His will. If I am willing to receive His grace, I can always do His will. Thank you Jesus!!!

What about surrendering our finance to Him as an act of worship? I find so many people driven by fear in this area, and fear is of the flesh. We must be good stewards by recognizing that it all belongs to Him in the first place. What a joy and privilege it is to surrender our finance to Him and ask for His wisdom and guidance on how to handle it.  When you make God your financial partner, He becomes responsible for you. But we can’t say Jesus is Lord of finance, and not do the things He tells us to do.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord,Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46

I remember a life-lesson on surrendering my finance early in my ministry. Cathy and I had driven several hundred miles to preach for a rural church in Louisiana, both Sunday morning and evening. We had some great services and everyone was blessed. However, Cathy and I were in trouble financially. Our house mortgage was overdue, and we were already getting the notices and phone calls. I felt helpless as the provider of my family. I was sure God was going to use this weekend trip to bless us with a good love offering.

I was wrong. When the deacon of the church handed me a folded check at the end of the evening, I could hardly wait a few minutes to open it and see what the church had given us. I was desperate.

When I opened the check, it was for $100.00. Needless to say, my heart just sank. We needed over $900.00 just to pull even with our bills, and would still not have anything for food or utilities.

Suddenly God spoke to me and said “sow it.” I heard Him as clear as day, but my flesh did not want to say “nevertheless.” So I argued with Him. I said, “God you know our situation. We spent more money than that check on gas and other expenses just making this trip. If I sow this money, we will have nothing to go home with, and I don’t know how I could ever tell Cathy I had given it away.”

It’s kinda funny when we think we can argue with God. But we do. He asked me one question in response that put me in my place. He asked, “will that offering meet your need?” Slowly I admitted, “no Lord, it won’t meet my need.” Then He said again, “sow it.”

BAM! Faith came up in my heart and I suddenly realized what He was trying to get me to do. He was giving me seed to break the curse of lack off my life. Now I had the choice of either eating my seed or sowing my seed. I surrendered and finally said, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

There was a man in the service that night who had just gotten saved in prison, and was a new release. Right after God told me to sow that money, he came over and began to talk to me and share his vision of starting a prison ministry to go back in with Bible Studies and discipleship training. I asked him if $100.00 would help him get started, and he about shouted he was so excited. He said that $100.00 was exactly what he was praying for to get started. I reached into my pocket and pulled out that folded check, signed it over to him, and put it in his hand.

God heard his prayers and used me to meet the need. That $100.00 wouldn’t meet my needs, but it met his needs. What an amazing God we serve.

I felt the smile of God as I left that place, but then I had to tell Cathy on the way home. As we pulled onto the highway, I told her how much the offering was, and what God had instructed me to do with it. Cathy is a woman of great faith. I had underestimated her. She said “good; God will take care of us some other way.”

Within a week we received a special love offering in the mail from someone who did not know the situation we were facing. It was a check for $1,000.00 that completely covered our past-due mortgage and some other things. The note said that God had laid this donation on this persons heart, and it happened about the same time we had sown our offering. I cried.

Whatever we surrender to God will have His covering, blessing, and protection.

Surrender in every area of life has its own rewards. Why does God ask us to surrender to Him? Because He is a good, good Father who knows what is best for us.

“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORGIVING THOSE WHO HAVE WOUNDED US

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It is truly difficult to forgive people you have loved deeply when they have wounded deeply, and never apologized.

Sometimes I think I have let things go by praying prayers of forgiveness. Then like a speeding car out of a side street I get blindsided in my mind again.

This morning the Lord whispered to my heart that I had prayed the words of forgiveness, but had not cancelled the debt.

I am still mad at them. They still owe me. This is not forgiveness.

So back to the Cross I go again, repenting of my hard heart and self-righteousness, remembering all of my own sins.

I am so grateful for Amazing Grace. This time, with God’s help, I will cancel the debt, release the anger, and set them free.

Until then, I am not free.

Mark 11:25-26 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

WE MUST HAVE A NEW AWAKENING

deadpool
WE MUST HAVE A NEW AWAKENING
“Deadpool” opened with a $135 million dollar record crushing “R” rated movie weekend, on Valentines weekend no less.
 
Christians should always “know before you go” by reading movie reviews and parental guides that tell you the inside story of what you are about to open your spirit up to.
 
Ps 101:3 “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.”
 
www.MovieGuide.org is one such source I turn to for the inside scoop. It calls Deadpool “abhorrent.”
 
Besides sex, nudity, violence and gore, movie goers got treated to about 84 F-words and its derivatives, 3 obscene hand gestures, 21 sexual references, 34 scatological terms, 19 anatomical terms, 8 mild obscenities, 2 religious profanities, and 9 religious exclamations.
 
Does the success of this movie reflect the loss of morals in our society, or do movies of this nature condition us to tolerate and even accept todays anti-morals, anti-God, secular revolution? In both cases we are presented with a “state of our union” that must surely be what the Bible refers to as “perilous times.”
 
Sadly, Christians may have helped contribute to the success of this movie. What does this say about the state of Christianity in America when a “Christ-follower” can willingly pay for a bath in profanity, etc, and still feel okay about it? Even enjoy it?
 
Jesus never said “only believe.” He said “repent and believe.”
 
Mark 1:15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
 
True repentance always means a change of direction and lifestyle. Making Jesus Lord means following Him, not the world.
 
I am praying for another Great Awakening in our nation that will rescue this generation. God is able. It’s not too late.
 
Join me daily for 10@10 – ten minutes of daily prayer at, or around 10 AM in your time zone, to pray for national, regional, local, and personal revival and awakening in our generation.
 
2 Chron 7:14 “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
 
https://www.movieguide.org/reviews/deadpool.html

HOPE FOR AMERICA

2016-POTUS-Collagere

I am resisting the urge to wade into all the Iowa tumult as I am so often amazed, and disgusted, by the division politics breeds between Christians who say they believe in the teachings and values of the same Bible I hold dear.

But then some of these same Christians are probably amazed and disgusted with my politics as well. Welcome to the USA.

Having lived through 12 Presidents, and many more state and local elections, I no longer drink the Kool aide of anyone’s campaign promises.

I evaluate what the candidates are saying in light of where they have come from, because history is often a great predictor of the future.

I have been a keen observer of politics since John F. Kennedy. When I was younger I campaigned for several politicians, both state and national. Even as a child, my father, who was active politically, had me go from house to house handing out campaign pins for who he hoped would be the next Governor of Louisiana. The candidate lost, but it had a life-long influence on me. It made me care about elections. Every election is important.

If only I could be king for a day. Actually that is a pretty scary thought. No thanks. I prefer to stay in my lane.

There were other political involvements along the way, but most notably, after campaigning vigorously for a presidential candidate in 1976, Cathy and I had the honor of being invited to the Presidential Inauguration of 1977. We stood in the cold and snow in Washington DC and witnessed the amazing transfer of power that is our Democratic Republic. No blood was shed as in other countries. It was a “bucket-list” experience for me.

Our nation has now passed that peaceful baton through 44 Presidential administrations, and our noble American ideals as a “city upon a hill” continue to survive.

I can’t say I believe they still thrive, but they do still survive.

As a pastor, father, and grandfather, I have a huge love and concern for my country and for the future we are handing the next generations. The domino affect ripples down through time. I think every true Christ-follower should be very concerned about where we go from here as a nation.

But instead of politics, I offer this perspective:

Despite all the campaign rhetoric, by all the candidates, the most critical solution to our nation’s woes remains absent – repentance for our national sins to turn away the judgments of a Holy God.

Does the political *ethos of a candidate matter. You bet! There is always the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we need to educate ourselves to know the difference. We may not be electing a “Pastor In Chief”, but it does matter if the Commander In Chief has a spiritual and moral base. What starts at the head flows down to the body. The Bible tells us “righteousness exalts a nation”, and unrighteousness does not.

* “Ethos” – the distinguishing character, ethic, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.

I lead a racially and culturally diverse church. We don’t bring politics into the pulpit, because Jesus Christ is our unity. I insist on this.

But you better believe I preach the Gospel and a Christian world view. I never try to tell our church who to vote for, or even who I will vote for. They don’t even know my party affiliation, or non-affiliation. I tell them to “vote for Jesus”…the candidate that best embodies the morals, values and ideals of our Judeo-Christian heritage, regardless of party.

Needless to say, someone saying they are a Christian is often much like their campaign promises. Campaign conversions are many. But what does their history say?

Our nation is in trouble. Nearly everyone agrees on this point, regardless of their political persuasion. The empirical evidence is indisputable on nearly every scale we want to measure…moral, financial, debt, military, international, etc.

The evidence that a nation is under a curse is confusion. Whenever the nation of Israel turned away from God, it always went into confusion. This is the curse of disobedience found in Dt. 28. Read the whole chapter for yourself. God offered the Israelites blessing or cursing. He said you choose.

Remember the 40 years in the wilderness wanderings? Confusion. Like Israel, is America now going in circles with no answers? We know this is going on in our nation, and we are all angry about it.

But the angst and outrage people feel over our dilemma must be channeled constructively. Campaign rhetoric and emotional political solutions alone cannot save our nation.

Besides, such things are often not honest. The problem is we want to believe them, and the candidates know that.

We must remember this:

No one is wise enough, strong enough, or smart enough to make America great again without God’s blessing.

So what is the answer? The answer is learning from the Biblical history of Israel, who more than once found themselves in the same predicament we are in today. When they had a godly leader that led them to pray, and repent, and turn to God, they were spared. When they did not, well, you can read about their captivity and bondage yourself.

I believe there is still time for the United States to turn around. There may even be signs of the pendulum reversing on the horizon. But the answer to our national problems is a spiritual one, not just a political one.

I don’t know if we have anyone left running for the office of President that has the moral certitude and courage to lead us in this way. Some of our best choices may have already dropped out.

But even if we do, I don’t know if modern America will elect them.

What is America’s hope? The right candidate? Of course. God uses people. But we must also have God grant repentance to our nation. Without HIM we can do nothing. But with HIM, all things are possible.

The only real hope for America is for God to “heal our land.”

“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.“ II Chronicles 7:13-14 NKJV

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THE ROLE OF THE MODERN PASTOR

Modern Pastor

THE ROLE OF THE MODERN PASTOR

Pastor George W. Black

Confession: I am a victorious believer, redeemed by the Lord, washed from my sins in the blood of Jesus my Savior, saved by grace through faith, filled with the powerful Holy Spirit, poised for God’s eternal purposes, and boldly sharing the joy of God’s love, with my world.

I am a faith walking, Word talking, over-comer in this life. I am a Victor, not a victim. I can do, all things through Christ. Today, my mind is open and alert, and my heart is good soil, for the seed of God’s Word.  I will be a diligent disciple, to apply its’ truths, for from this day forward, by the miracle of spiritual growth, I will never, ever, be the same again.

 

Introduction: The role of the modern pastor has become a complex one, filled with both corporate and church responsibilities that were never a part of this role in the early church. Because of the brokenness of families and individuals, and the high pressure of running a corporation as a part of leading a church family, many pastors today feel overwhelmed. Over 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month, and they are not being replaced at the same rate.

Add to this burden the fact that so many people today have deep wounds and hurts from the past. They come to our church already wounded…we did not wound them…we are not the ones that hurt them…but in order to make them useful partners in the ministry we have to touch their wounds to try and heal them. Very few will let you do this. They would rather blame you for their wound than receive your healing discipline and correction.

For example on Thanksgiving Day we had family over for dinner and one of my grandsons, Elijah, had an accident with his bike. He had accidently slipped off the pedal and his leg was lodged between the bike frame and the pedal. To remove his leg from this situation was an ordeal, because every time we tried to remove his leg, he screamed like bloody murder. We didn’t cause the problem. But it was our job to fix the problem, which involved a little pain. The leg was sprayed with cooking oil, the rear tire was removed so we could disengage the chain which was holding the brake and the pedal. Eventually his leg slid out from the painful situation and his tears dried up and all was well. As a matter of fact, he was riding the bike later that day. We were not his enemy, but he had to suffer through the removal process to gain his freedom.

These are the kinds of challenges a modern pastor has to face…people broken by bad parenting or no parenting, abusive relationships, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and the list goes on and on. Jesus can heal us, but He doesn’t wave a magic wand and everything is better. No, He asks us to submit to our spiritual leaders and do what they say…to imitate those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. Not all wounds can be healed overnight. Some take long term therapy. But if we will receive the medicine, the cure can be obtained.

We are living at a turning point in the history of the church as we know it. It’s time to take another look at what the Bible says this important office should be.

Opening Scripture:

Ephesians 4:11-12 NKJV “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

 

1. The role of the pastor is an ascension gift ministry known as the 5-Fold Ministry Gifts. Jesus operated in all five of these ministry gifts, but His plan was to replace Himself with many others who would occupy these offices as a united team representing Him.

Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV “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. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

 

 

  1. The role of the modern pastor is not the same in every situation. In a smaller church, the pastor is often expected to fill all five offices because of a lack of leaders and budget. In a larger church the opportunity to specialize involves more people.

While each of the 5-fold ministry gifts are separate gifts with a different functions, here is how the modern pastor is often asked to fulfil them.

Apostle – the founding pastor who has the ability to start a church, lay the foundation, train leaders, and make the church viable for the long term. Primary preacher the first years of the church. Later an occasional preacher to keep the church on point.

Prophet – the visionary pastor who points to the future, calling the church to purity and holiness, dispenses correction and discipline. Occasional preacher as needed.

Evangelist – the outreach pastor who gathers the lost, teaching the local church to do the same. Occasional preacher to keep the church motivated.

Pastor/Shepherd – the feeding pastor that cares for the sheep and makes disciples. Baby dedications, hospital visitation, weddings, funerals, most of the Sunday preaching.

Teacher – the training pastor who maintains the Christian education process and elevates the Bible teaching culture of the church.

 

  1. Timothy was appointed by the apostle Paul as the presiding or lead pastor (bishop) of the church at Ephesus. Paul’s instruction to Timothy helps us understand the responsibilities of the role of the pastor.

2 Timothy 2:1-5 NKJV “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

There were seven churches founded by the Apostle Paul in Asia Minor which is today modern Turkey. Asia Minor referred to the Roman province of Asia, not the entire continent. These seven major churches of Early Christianity, are mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. In Revelation, on the Greek island of PatmosJesus Christ instructs his servant John of Patmos, through an angelic intermediary, to: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

Map of Turkey

Map, Turkey

Map of Ephesus

Map, Ephesus

 

 

2  Timothy 2:1-5 gives us 4 parts of a modern pastors calling.

A. Gravity of a pastors calling –

NKJV “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”

MESSAGE “I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule”

B. Focus of a pastors calling –

NKJV “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

MESSAGE “so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.”

Acts 6:2-4 NLT “So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

Acts 6:7 NLT “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”

C. Challenge of a pastors calling –

NKJV “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

MESSAGE “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages.”

D. Secret of a pastors calling –

NKJV “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry”

MESSAGE “But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.”

 

  1. The role of the modern shepherd/pastor is to follow the example of the original Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life to protect the flock (the church). Jesus said He was the gate to the sheep, and that only the shepherd of the sheep can use the gate to gain access to the flock. This is the protective role of the pastor.

John 10:11-14 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant,so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”

 

  1. God wants every one of us to recognize our need of being a part of a “flock” (local church), and having a divinely called shepherd/pastor that leads us. If we can accept the role of our pastor as God’s shepherd, then we can go in through the gate and be a part of the flock.

Acts 2:47b NKJV “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

 

  1. How can a congregation help their pastor be successful? I will answer this in detail next week in Part Two, but here is something to wet your appetite.

Facebook Post from Nov 14: If you have a great pastor, don’t be a mediocre supporter. Be an Aaron/Hur that lifts their hands and helps them win the battle. Don’t be a begrudging follower. Get vocal and get loud. The pastors need to hear from you, but so do others.

A real pastor is like a fireman or a policeman in that they put their lives on the line every day for you and your church. They spend their lives to make yours better. The Bible says they should be esteemed highly for their works sake. Do you esteem your pastor highly? There are always critics, but what about the silent majority that are grateful for the gift God has given them, but maybe just forgot to let them and others know how you really feel?

Post below how you have encouraged your pastor(s) lately, or how you plan to do so tomorrow, and the week ahead. I promise it doesn’t take much to make a big difference.

This is not about me. I am a pastor, but I am also called to care for pastors. This is about the 1,500 pastors that leave the ministry every month because they did not feel the support of those they were called to serve. In my heart I feel there are way too many underappreciated pastors that are doing a really good job in a very difficult world, but may be discouraged and even thinking about starting over somewhere else. Don’t let your church be guilty of letting your pastor believe the lies of the enemy.

Pastors are not indestructible superheros…just redeemed people who surrendered to the call to serve God’s people. Help them blossom by starting a culture of honor in your church. Don’t wait another day. Start tomorrow.

God bless you.

15 JOYFUL GIVING PRINCIPLES

joyfulgiving

15 JOYFUL GIVING PRINCIPLES ( and one bonus principle)

by George W. Black

Giving Principle #1 – Give God your First Fruits, not your leftovers. This is giving out of our abundance, not out of what is left over after we have satisfied everyone else. God has promised that He will reward our commitment to Kingdom priority.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Prov 3:9-10 NLT  “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. {10} Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.”

 

Giving Principle #2 – Give your tithes to the local church first as an “altar” on which to give all other offerings. Until this is done, offerings are not offerings, but rather misdirected tithes. Our obedience in this matter offers us the promise of open windows of God’s blessing from above.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Mal 3:10 NKJV  “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

 

Giving Principle #3 – Give regularly to avoid getting behind and letting tithe and offering amounts grow beyond your faith to give. God has promised to prosper us as we include Him as our financial partner.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

1 Cor 16:2 NKJV  “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

 

Giving Principle #4 – Give obediently as an evidence of your faith, and of your submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Trusting God with our money is a practical expression of trusting God with our lives. Young Christians may not have matured sufficiently in their faith to trust God with a full Biblical tithe of ten percent. But every believer should give faithfully what they feel they can, and watch God quickly enlarge faith to where there is great joy and confidence in giving what God asks, and even more.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

James 2:17-18 NLT  “So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all–it is dead and useless. {18} Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.””

 

Giving Principle #5 – Give joyfully in anticipation of God’s blessing and future harvest. We start the miracle of harvest-time when we plant the seed God has given us for sowing.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Luke 6:38 NKJV  “”Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

 

Giving Principle #6 – Give reverently, remembering that the tithe is holy, meaning that it is set apart for God’s service only, and we must never consume it upon ourselves. When we give God what is His, then He blesses what we have left. Ninety percent with His blessing always goes farther than one hundred percent without His blessing.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Lev 27:30 NKJV  “‘And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the LORD.”

  

Giving Principle #7 – Give graciously out of a personal responsibility for those who lead the church and attend to the concerns of the flock. A “welfare” mentality always says “let someone else take care of it”, but a Kingdom mentality always says “I want to do my part.”

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

1 Tim 5:17-18 NKJV  “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. {18} For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

1 Cor 9:14 NKJV  “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”

 

Giving Principle #8 – Give tithes and offerings as an expression of your covenant relationship with God. It is God’s desire that every born-again believer be joined or “added” to a local church for the purpose of spiritual growth, and participation in the great commission through our shared abilities and finance. This is TEAM MINISTRY. If we have entered into membership with this local expression of the body of Christ, then it should always be our desire to participate in the Biblical plan of stewardship.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Mat 6:21 NLT  “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”

 

Giving Principle #9 – Give proportionately, as a percentage of what God blesses you with. The word “tithe” literally means a “tenth”, and is the Biblically prescribed manner in which God’s children should honor the Lord out of their material blessings. When we pledge a percentage of our income, the work of God is not forgotten even when we are away. And it means God gets a raise every time we get a raise. When we make God our partner in this way, He is able to trust us with even more.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Lev 27:30-32 NLT  “”A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy. {31} If you want to redeem the Lord’s tenth of the fruit or grain, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. {32} The LORD also owns every tenth animal counted off from your herds and flocks. They are set apart to him as holy.”

 

Giving Principle # 10 – God gives us sowing seed and seed for bread that we eat. When harvest time comes it is important to know the difference. “Sowing seed” is not for eating. Often we may receive a blessing, a raise, a promotion, a return on income taxes or an investment, etc., and fail to see that this is God way of giving us seed for sowing into the Kingdom, and not just for ourselves. We may have prayed for God to help us give more to His work, and then not recognize the opportunities He gives us. He never asks us to give to diminish us, but only so that He may give us a harvest.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

 2 Cor 9:10 NKJV  “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,”

 

Giving Principle # 11 – Give from a budgeted evaluation of your resources that balances spending in other areas so as to remain faithful to God in tithes and offerings. We must take care that debt not limit our ability to be faithful to God. If we cannot pay our tithes and give offerings, we have not budgeted properly and should begin a process to accomplish this.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

1 Cor 16:2 NLT  “On every Lord’s Day, each of you should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have earned and save it for this offering. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.”

 

Giving Principle # 12 – Give in faith for enlargement and increase. God has promised that the more generous we become toward Him, the more generous He can become toward us. Are you ready for a promotion in your finance? Are you willing to be faithful with God’s part when it comes?

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

2 Cor 9:6 NKJV  “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

 

Giving Principle #13 –  Give to break the curse of selfishness and poverty, opening the floodgates of God’s covenant faithfulness. When we put God first in our finance, we are making Him our financial partner. This frees us from trusting money to be our source, and makes God our source for all blessings.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Mal 3:8-12 NLT  “”Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. {9} You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you! {11} Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. {12} “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD Almighty.”

 

Giving Principle #14 – Give to encourage the spirit of total-life-prosperity, and to break the power of fear and greed. Fear and greed are the enemies of Biblical prosperity.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Mat 6:21 NLT  “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”

3 John 1:2 NKJV  “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

 

Giving Principle #15 – When trying to decide if we should tithe on our gross or net income, we have to be honest and ask ourselves if we want a gross or net blessing. If we earned the money, the first tenth is still holy to the Lord, whether we see it or not.

Our hearts are growing in giving, more than before. Let’s trust Him today with tithes and offerings from all our increase and we will see what God can and will do to bless us.

Lev 27:30 NLT  “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy.”

 

BONUS EASTER GIVING PRINCIPLE – Easter Sunday is a special day to rejoice, as we bring a thanksgiving offering to God. The joy of the empty tomb reminds us that God so loved that He gave (Jn 3:16), and so should we. Give God your best today as a sign of your love and appreciation for all that forgiveness and salvation mean.

2 Chr 29:31 NLT  “Then Hezekiah declared, “The dedication ceremony has come to an end. Now bring your sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings to the Temple of the LORD.” So the people brought their sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and those whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings, too.”

God bless, GWB

LEADING WELL, TIPS #1 & #2

leading-well

LEADING WELL, TIPS #1 & #2

by George W. Black

Introduction: Help! I’m a pastor!!!

I have prayed that prayer many times.

Before we start the tips, let me give you a little background.

Cathy and I answered the call to the ministry in 1974. That was 41 years ago. We started out in youth ministry for five years, and God blessed us with a wonderful season of serving our church and senior pastor. It was great being a part of a pastoral team. But then…we launched out into pioneering our first church in 1980, and life became very different.

Since that time we have served in a total of eight churches, some large and some small, and have also helped plant other churches and ministries along the way. Because I am “hard-headed” I am sure I made more mistakes than most, but I learned from them, and eventually found God’s wisdom and solutions to most of them.

In recent years God has been leading me into an apostolic ministry, and I finally gave myself permission to say yes to what I have known a long time. It was fifteen years ago that Bishop Timothy Ifedioranma first placed a demand on my apostolic call, telling me at an ICBM conference in Tulsa OK on the campus of ORU, that God told him to submit his ministry and his six churches to me.

Wow. Really? I reluctantly agreed but never embraced the call until about five years ago. Now I am leading an apostolic organization known as the Rejoice International Network. It is humbling to lead members of my church, but it is even more humbling to lead other pastors and ministers who lead their members. I do it out of obedience and not ambition.

At age 63 I am no longer at my physical prime, but I am at my spiritual prime. And with good health, having seen this in others, I know I can remain at a hight level of spiritual productivity for two more decades, maybe even longer. Billy Graham did not retire until his 90’s.

I am a father to three wonderful grown daughters who continue to love and serve the Lord, and six amazing grandchildren. But along the way I have also become a spiritual father.

As a younger pastor I always wanted to be a spiritual father. looked up to spiritual fathers and saw the incredible impact they had on mine and others lives. But even though I wanted to be a spiritual father, i really never was.

Jesus said we can’t add one cubit (inch) to our height by taking thought or wishing for it. There are just some things that take lots of years, gray hair, and enough scars we didn’t die from, to make us what we previously hoped we could become.

Of course no one wants to go through what you went through to get what you got. The truth is we never wish for the journey it takes to reach our destination. Like Jacob, we never envision the conflict with a brother that can strike terror into the deepest recesses of our heart, and lead us to such dark moments that we wrestle with God’s angel all night out of a desperation driven by despair, until we finally surrender to God’s sovereignty, and forever walk with limp and a cane from that time on.

But it is these crisis moments where our nature is changed, and God changes our name. Jacob the supplanter was changed to Israel, a prince who has power with God and has prevailed.

It is a gift from God that we don’t see the future clearly.

God has given me the gift to believe in other ministers, and to help them find the path, and answers, that God’s grace helped me to find. I find this to be as natural as breathing. It is who I am now.

This article is the first of several that I hope will be a blessing to those who are pastors, ministers, and leaders in the body of Christ, and are looking for God’s path and the wisdom to walk it.  Paul said “everywhere and in all things I am instructed…”

Humility makes the wisdom of others accessible.

Experience is not always the best teacher. Sometimes it is only necessary when we can’t learn any other way.

Wisdom teaches us that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel…we can learn from those who have already made the mistakes and learned from them. To this end I share these “LEADING WELL” tips and humbly hope they are a blessing to you.

Walking with a “limp” and leaning on Christ,

George W. Black, September 2015

 

LEADING WELL TIP #1 – YOU CAN’T PASTOR EVERYONE!

Jesus didn’t keep everyone that wanted to follow Him, and neither can you.

John 6:66-67 NKJV “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

When God sends your church new people, it is a gift that must not be neglected. Everyone needs to be contacted and welcomed, the goal being to connect them to their place in the body. A lead pastor can have others help with this, but in the beginning the lead (senior) pastor must be intimately involved in this process.

It is in this process that every pastor’s metal is tested.

It is amazing how easy it is to tell people what they want to hear.

When our churches are small, and the empty seats are many, a pastor can feel compelled to try to become Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, able to stretch and bend himself to fit the expectations of everyone.

Good luck with that. There have been a few times I let people stretch me to the point I didn’t recognize myself. It was one of those times when I was sitting across from my wife at a breakfast table on one of the rare mornings I wasn’t gone at 5:00 AM. In her serious but loving voice she volunteered this thought, “I don’t know who you are anymore.”

The one person in this world that mattered to me the most had never said anything resembling this comment, ever. So I listened. I let it soak in because no one else loved me the way she did. And I already knew what she was saying was true, because I had been living in denial.

She didn’t have to yell, or argue with me about it. I got it the first time, because I already knew I had lost my soul somewhere along the way trying to serve God in my own strength, and I was looking for a way back to who I used to be.

It took time, but I reversed course, and eventually found the terra firma for my life that I had previously forsaken.

Lesson learned.

Everyone brings their own baggage to your church. If you aren’t grounded in who you are in Christ, and what God has called you to do, and who God has called you to be, you can get confused by the demands of their baggage,

…and their garbage.

This is not to say we shouldn’t be sensitive to people’s concerns. Quite the contrary, a discerning pastor wants to help people find their way into the fellowship of the church so they can be blessed and bless others.

However, to use a musical metaphor, not everyone likes “country music”, and no matter how hard you try to be “country”, if you are a “rock & roll” kind of pastor, you must understand the “country music” folk will not stay. Especially if there is a high-flying “country” kind of pastor down the street.

I hope you realize this really has nothing to do with musical tastes. This is about personality, gifting, education, and a dozen other aspects of your calling and anointing that you really cannot change.

No one can pastor everyone. There is only a certain percentage of people that you are called to pastor.  The rest belong to the other pastors in your city. The Bible says God places us in the body as it pleases Him.

1 Cor 12:18 NKJV “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”

Pastors can beat themselves up over not keeping everyone that visits their church. Whats worse, they can stop being true to themselves in an attempt to keep them. (Shakespeare)

This doesn’t mean that we can’t become a better version of ourselves, because we should always be growing and developing in Christ.

But we cannot become hostages to the whims and demands of people who don’t love us, who are not loyal to us, who are not called to us, and will still leave us after we have given them everything they have asked for.

Dr. Larry Lea once told me, “Those who are called to you cannot leave, and those who are not cannot stay.”

BAM! True words that I have recalled many times when I am being tempted to become Mr. Fantastic for someone who is really pulling on me.

One person wanted to know if I preached against drinking (alcohol), because they didn’t feel you could be a Christian otherwise.

Another person wanted to make sure that we didn’t allow “women preachers.”

Still another didn’t want me in the church foyer greeting people before church…they felt I should remain in prayer, private and out of service, until it was time for me to preach. The mystical pastors I guess.

Occasionally people want to know about our doctrine, are we a “grace” church, a “faith” church, a “charismatic” church, etc.

Still others have been leaders in other churches, and their mock humility is a tell-tale sign that you will have to use them or lose them.

Tell them the truth. Don’t go “politician” with a lot of double-speak. Tell them the truth in love, and with conviction, and your chances of winning their respect are much great than if you try to tell them what you think they want to hear.

Don’t take a “poll” to see which way the wind is blowing. Share who you are, and what your vision and convictions are. Even if they don’t agree with you, at least they will respect you.

And chances are when you share WHY you believe what you believe, they will learn and grow and become open to a different perspective than what they had before.

And if not, oh well.

Our church offers a membership course before anyone becomes a confirmed member. It’s only 4 classes. I tell new people our church is like a “bus.” The new members course is to let you know where the bus is going. If you don’t like where our bus is going, now’s the time to get off.

Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”

Pastors are called to care for broken people. You didn’t break them. They were broken when they came to you. But if you are not careful, you can be made to feel that you failed them when they leave you.

Don’t put yourself under that  pressure. It is not mentally healthy. They are God’s sheep. If they leave you, bless them and move on. God will take care of them. The next one may become your “Timothy”, and one of those makes up for a lot of the others.

Realize that not everyone that visits your church is called to your church. They are looking for their family. Help them find it, whether its yours or someone elses. I know, this is counter-intuitive to our hoarding tendencies. But it’s all about the Kingdom, not your church. This will also save you a lot of unnecessary pain.

Be diligent, make the most of every opportunity, love and serve people to the best of your ability, but don’t put on Saul’s armor to keep them. When you do, you become a false you, and you are no longer loyal to the people who loved and believed in the real you.

God bless, GWB

What did God say to you in this Pastoral Tip? Write it down. Pray over it. Ask God for wisdom to activate it in your life.

 

LEADING WELL TIP #2 – YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING!

You aren’t anointed to do it all, be it all, lead it all, etc, so you must not hold yourself captive to unrealistic expectations. 

Ephesians 4:16 NLT “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

As a younger pastor I felt tremendous pressure to perform at a very high level, and most importantly, to not fail. This fit my workaholic tendencies, but I could never find the superman cape to go with it. LOL.

Whenever I was challenged about this, I usually would throw down the “spirit of excellence” card.

Epic fail!

Excellence is important. Obedience is more important, because it is better than sacrifice (“sacrifice” being giving God what I want to give Him, rather than what He has asked for).

I am the son of a workaholic dad, and a spiritual son of a dear man of God that was raised old school (no such thing as a 40 hour week). I learned early in my ministry to work half-days…I just had to decide which 12 hours of the day that would be.

Unfortunately I find this to be the case with many pastors. Their work consumes them, and they lose their joy.

I was and am blessed with a very understanding wife that wanted a husband that ran after Jesus more than a house full of things (quote from War Room), but I didn’t find the balance until much later, and my family suffered from an overworked, overstressed, underpaid, and sometimes absentee husband/dad.

I preached discipleship, but didn’t always make the connection  with training others and delegation. Fact is, others can often do it better if we will take the time to train them in our vision, which is time we don’t feel we have, so we keep repeating the cycle of self-abuse.

I finally heard God telling me to stop doing everything by myself. At first it was VERY hard to ask others to help. Pride, reluctance to inconvenience others, etc. But once I realized I was not only stealing their blessing, but that I was also stunting HIS ministry (Law of the Lid – John Maxwell), I began exercising a little more boldness.

Big payoff!

Ephesians 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.”

Every member is called to be a minister at some level. The word “minister” often meant “servant” or “deacon”, and not necessarily a platform ministry. As a leader, it is our job to dig the ministry gifts out of our people, harness them to the will of God, and deploy them into active service.

In the traditional church, the pastor/minister is paid to do the work of the ministry. However, the Biblical pattern is for the five fold ministry to train the church to do the work of the ministry. I am talking EVERY PART OF IT, not just the Sunday morning stuff.

It’s not just about preaching or leading. It is about taking of the education, training, and vocational ability of our members and helping them connect the dots as to how THEY can be in the ministry too. Websites, building maintenance, lawn care, clerical duties…this is all the little gears that makes the big gears possible.

Until we begin calling people into their assignments, we can never expect to see a mature church.

Apostle Fred Bennett once told me that Jesus had to call His disciples, and so do we. Until we call people into their anointing, we are teaching them to remain passive.

I once had an elder tell me, “Pastor, as long as your willing to do it, we’re willing to let you.”

For a long time I was willing to do it. Then God told me I was violating the Sabbath principle.

Mark 2:27 NKJV “And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath Principle is a vital truth for all Christ-followers, not just pastors. God is our Creator, and His Word gives us His wisdom on every area of life.  One of the first things He taught His people was the importance of hard work, AND the importance of having regular  intervals of rest.

I will share more on this under another LEADING WELL TIP  in the future, but the obvious take-away for now is we have to engage the body if we are to have necessary down-time.

Every pastor, minister, etc, MUST have a day every week where they disconnect from the work of the ministry, where they don’t take phone calls, texts or messages; where they don’t check email (or social media), and are basically unavailable, except in a real emergency.

A ministers Sabbath is obviously not Sunday.

You need to tell your people what your Sabbath day is, and train them to respect it. Have other leaders on a rotation to cover. Mentally let go of the burden and responsibility of your ministry.

My faithful wife corrects me the second I began to bring church work up on my day off, or on my vacation. You will need help setting boundaries.

The benefits of the Sabbath Principle are numerous, but one in particular is that you will never burn out. You will find your joy restored. You will look and feel better. And you will love your church more.

And most importantly, your spouse will thank you!

We have to connect people to their ministry in the church and their mission in the world by placing a demand on them, because we love them and want them to grow up in Christ, and because many hands make light work. God has called them to us as our partners.

We then have to accept what they are willing to offer.

Sometimes you will be really blessed by what they offer, and sometimes you will be frustrated beyond words. Chasing unruly, irresponsible, and undisciplined sheep is one of the most demeaning tasks I do. But this is a necessary part of pastoral care.

Today I have a functioning leadership team that can do almost everything without me. I can be gone for weeks at a time on missions trips, or ministering in other churches, and I am virtually never missed, and I don’t nave to bring in a guest speaker to cover the pulpit unless I want to. Besides Cathy and me, we have six others who are very capable of preaching a Sunday morning message. This takes a mature ego, but it  is growing the church in important ways, and will lengthen my years of effective ministry.

It will do the same for you.

God bless, GWB

What did God say to you in this Pastoral Tip? Write it down. Pray over it. Ask God for wisdom to activate it in your life.

 

 

 

FUNDAMENTALS FOR PROMOTION

Leadership-Fundamentals-Post

FUNDAMENTALS FOR PROMOTION IN GOD’S KINGDOM

By George W. Black

(Psa 75:6,7 KJV) “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”

 

  1. PROMOTION IS GOD’S WILL FOR EVERY CHRIST-FOLLOWER

It is desirable that God’s children seek promotion in God’s kingdom for the sake of helping to serve and lead others. Promotion does comes from the Lord, but God’s under-shepherds are always watching for those who will answer the call to greater spiritual responsibility. At Rejoice there are ample opportunities for promotion in the areas of Christian service and ministry for those who will qualify themselves. This is done in a variety of ways.

  1. Church membership – The Lord added daily those who were being saved.
  2. Service attendance – Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.
  3. Financial stewardship – Where your treasure is, there is where your heart is.
  4. Prayer meetings – My House shall be called a house of prayer.
  5. Word level – Study to show yourself approved.
  6. Volunteerism – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
  7. Faithfulness in delegated responsibilities – It is required of stewards to be faithful.
  8. Gifting and anointing – A persons gift makes room for them.
  9. Love & Loyalty – A covenant keeper.
  10. Sacrifice – Going the second mile.

 

  1. FOLLOW-SHIP BEFORE LEADERSHIP

Follow-ship is a part of Disciple-ship, which is a part of Leader-ship Training. A “ship” is a conveyor, a means and method to reach our goal in Christ.

It has been said that if we are too big too follow, we are too little to lead.

Jesus is our direct authority, but He ordained the first 12 apostles to lead the early church after His departure. These ordinations and assignments continue in each generation, and are the “ships” He uses to accomplish His purpose of building the Church and saving the lost. Eph 4:7-16

Christ is being formed in you as you follow Christ in your leaders. As you are mentored and developed, then your lives can become a pattern for others to follow.

Gal 4:19 NKJV  “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,”

1 Th 1:5-8 NKJV)  “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. {6} And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, {7} so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.”

1 Cor 4:16 NLT  “So I ask you to follow my example and do as I do.”

1 Cor 11:1 NLT  “And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.”

Phil 3:17 NKJV  “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

1 Th 1:6a NKJV  “And you became followers of us and of the Lord…”

Heb 6:12 KJV  “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

 

  1. MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS ARE VITAL TO PROMOTION

Mentoring is having a spiritual coach. Those desiring greater spiritual development and ministry involvment must understand the need for a mentoring relationship with pastors and leaders. Even if a person has been a Christian for many years, and may have already participated in leadership or ministry in other churches, there is still a need to have the spiritual DNA of the Rejoice Church imparted to an aspiring leader before a person will be capable of helping us further the vision and ministry of this church.

For a young Christian this is usually not a problem because they understand their need of training and discipleship. But for a more mature Christian this is often a humility test. God has not sent a person to this church to teach us, but rather to be taught by us. Until a person can submit to the leadership and vision of this church, and desire to grow in new ways, they will not be properly equipped to help us lead this church in the vision God has given us.

God does not lead His church with a mixed multitude. We have a clear understanding of our calling and purpose. Only after a person has understood and embraced the vision of the house can they begin to know how their gift can best serve the church.

(Gen 14:14 NKJV)  “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”

(Num 11:4 NKJV)  “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?”

(Mat 6:22 KJV)  “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

The pastors and other leaders offer mentoring constantly in group settings. Bonding and relationship building take place before, during, and after these meetings. Then one-on-one relationships flow from these connection points and grow. The pastors are always available for appointments when needed. But those interested in a mentoring relationship need to come where the pastors are and do what the pastors do if this is something a person desires. This is never forced…it is strictly optional. It is always up to you. This is not a season of you serving us, but rather of us serving you, teaching and imparting. And this happens little by little as a person takes advantage of the opportunities that are available.

For those that have already been leaders, it can be hard to be on the receiving end of things after you have been conditioned your whole life to serve others. But in a new church, this is how it needs to be. It is time for you to humble yourself and let God promote you in due time. Perhaps it is also a time of healing and redirection as well.

(1 Pet 5:6-8 NLT)  “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. {7} Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. {8} Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.”

 

  1. CORRECTION IS NOT REJECTION, IT IS RE-DIRECTION

Many people come to Rejoice that are broken, but don’t know it. We didn’t break them, but as leadership pressure is applied, the brokenness that was already in a persons life may begin to manifest. “Father wounds”, hurts, pains, disappointments, abandonment, authority issues, etc. are not unusual in todays fractured society. But our calling as a church is to make disciples, which means we must touch these wounds if they are ever to be healed. When we do, we manifest the pain in that wound, like a dentist or doctor. We can reject the dentist/doctor, or we can submit to the healing process through trust.

Unfortunately many potential leaders leave the process of discipleship because they don’t understand that God directed them to Rejoice so the Master Potter could make a new vessel. (Jer 18:2-6) They want to hang on to the old vessel when God is wanting to remake the vessel with a new design, new DNA, new vision, new way of doing things, etc.

(Personal story of Bojangles the Dachshund.)

When anyone joins Rejoice, it is a time of receiving. And as a person catches the vision God has given our house, it will become your vision and your house too. It’s kind of like the transplant of an organ from one body to another. The new body and new organ take time to grow together until they are compatible. The organ needs the new body to survive, but compatibility takes time. You have left a previous church (or no church)  and are now in a completely different one. This one is never going to change to be what you came from or were used to. But if you believe God has truly sent you here, then you have to accept that God already knows who we are and what we are, and that a new member needs what this church has to offer to be healthy and fully developed for your destiny.

It takes a while for you to pick up the spiritual DNA of a new church, especially a church that does not have the same roots or background. That is why the VIP class is such an important part of the process. The time will come when you will have learned the vision and direction we are going, and can then begin making a contribution that will help us build toward the vision God has already given us. Through faithfulness, humility and service, you will find your place on the TEAM. But in the beginning is a season of learning and growing in new ways. If you have found change to be a stretch for you, here is a suggestion: rather than worrying about how Rejoice can change to match your idea of what church should be, maybe the focus needs to be “Lord, what do you want me to learn and grow in at Rejoice since I know you have called me to be here.”

To enter into a mentoring relationship with a pastor or other leader, here are several helpful points:

  1. The lesser always seeks the greater. Don’t expect a pastor or other leaders to spend much time seeking you out. You must seek them out. If you want what they have, then you must understand the need to make your wishes known by your actions, not just your words. This is more than setting up one or two appointments. It means going where they go, doing what they do, coming early and staying late, putting yourself out to receive from their anointing. Impartation doesn’t come just from Sunday morning preaching. It comes from submitting your life to God’s ordained leader, praying together with your leader, working together with your leader, building relationships with your leader in the context of group activities. You will never have a one on one with someone in leadership until you have been willing to join yourself to their “band of followers.”

(1 Ki 19:19-21 NKJV)  “So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. {20} And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” {21} So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.”

2. Faithfulness. If you want a mentoring relationship with a leader, learn to be consistently faithful. No one will give you much time if you don’t demonstrate a high degree of respect for your leaders time. Faithfulness is to be an attribute of our character and nature if we growing into the image of Jesus Christ.

As in the old Timex watch commercial, faithfulness is the virtue that “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Faithfulness says of temptation, “other may, but I may not.” It rolls out of bed early on Sunday in plenty of time to finish important assignments. Faithfulness is punctual, never late. Faithfulness doesn’t make excuses for why it cannot, it makes excuses for why it can. Faithfulness is indefatigable. It says “if its to be, its up to me”, and then fearlessly charges ahead to the finish line. Faithfulness is firstly faithful to God, paying its tithes to honor God before taking a thought for itself. Faithfulness doesn’t have to be pursued, begged, coddled, coaxed, or pandered to. It scorns these baser attitudes as the character flaws of the unfaithful. No, faithfulness says “though none go with me, still I will follow.” Let the virtue of faithfulness be developed in your life, and God will see a reflection of Himself in you.

(1 Tim 3:10-11 NKJV)  “But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. {11} Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.”          

(Prov 20:6 NKJV)  “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”

3. In every area where you may be interested in helping your church grow and develop, please keep one vital principle in mind that we will not violate:

“Those who lead must first lead in prayer.”                            

(2 Chr 7:14 NKJV)  “”if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”