Archive for November, 2012


Hurt and Pain

Hurt and pain are magnified during the holidays. Loved ones who no longer gather around the Thanksgiving turkey; friends and family who have been crossed off our Christmas card list because of hurts they have caused. Gifts we can no longer afford because of economic setbacks. A home lost, a spouse or child gone, a family fractured by conflict all serve to remind us of pains and hurts that lurk in the darkest corner of our heart.

Having counseled many different people, I can attest to the sadness and depression prevalent during the holidays.  I know several people who dread the holidays. They seem to fall into a depressed dark hole around mid-November and slowly emerge in January.

Americans: self-absorbed with our feelings

Our spoiled American society is self-absorbed with its own feelings. Many people take pride in seeing themselves as victims and demand special tolerance, favors, and gifts. Americans too often give into their hurts and setbacks and expect someone to baby them or rescue them. We have our hands out far too often.

When we allow our heart and mind to be overwhelmed with our painful experiences, rejections, or emotional hurts, overwhelmed to the point of obsessive concern or depression, we cast aside any healing and deny the growth which can and should occur.

We find comfort in our emotional state, accepting it as a bandage, afraid to peel it back and apply healing ointment to the wound. Many cling to their emotions because they provide special “handicap” privileges, and they use their pain to justify what they believe, say or do. The pain is accepted and protected, but it is a demonic delusion that only perpetuates immaturity and denies the transformational power of Christ’s freedom and forgiveness.

Pain is designed to teach, transform and mature us, not box us into the darkness. Hebrews 2:10 says Christ learned by the things He suffered. His pain was His teacher. This is why He began his ministry by reading Isaiah 61:1, 2:

[God]…has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Jesus Christ came to free us from our pain and hurt, and to transform our lives to become the “planting of the Lord.”

…to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

The Transforming Power of Christ

Our painful experiences highlight the contrasts between this earthly life and the glorious life for which God is preparing us. However, the truth is, God wants us to experience this glorious life NOW, as we overcome the pain and suffering through faith in the power of Christ.

The power that Jesus provides for those trapped in pain is miraculous:

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. (James 1:2-4, Phillips translation)

Jesus Christ reigns over every situation, even the ones of our own creation. He is the transforming power, but we must let go of the pain and through faith allow Him to be in control. We have to believe in the quality of endurance He will build in our lives!

A mind focused on pain will speak pain

The sad reality is that a mind that focuses on pain will most often speak pain, and, if left unchecked, will drive others away. Sharing a painful experience with a trusted friend is empowering and emotionally bonding, but continually sharing it with anyone who will listen deludes us into thinking that it is good for us when it is actually a kind of psychosis. Preoccupation with personal pain denies the presence of the power of Jesus Christ in your life. It produces no peace or love or joy. It is a faith killer.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches, “For as [one] thinks in his heart, so is he. Jesus shed further light when He said, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18). When we possess and obsess the pain and hurt, it will defile our heart and it will destroy our relationships.

It is easy to get caught up in life’s painful experiences, especially when you have more than your fair share. Paul (while himself suffering imprisonment) wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Consider Job, who suffered more pain and loss than any man on earth. Job did not receive healing and restoration until he prayed for his friends.

Job 42:10 And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The best way to put aside pain is to care for the needs of someone else. The best way for your inner healing to take place, is to realize Jesus Christ experienced your pain so that you can experience His freedom. Rather than wallow in pity and despair at the suffering before Him, Jesus set His face like a flint to Calvary, and endured the pain for the joy that was set before Him.

Jesus promises us that His joy, the joy that got Him through the crucifixion, is OUR JOY!

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Holidays often bring pain and hurts to the forefront of our thoughts. When someone asks, feel free to express some of the painful events in your life as long as you are doing so in expression of the freedom you have experienced in Jesus Christ. And do not forget to show interest and concern for their experiences, and offer them the encouragement and freedom that only Jesus Christ can give.

Love, to be real, must cost – it must hurt – it must empty us of self. Mother Teresa

Pain is Temporary! I Dare You to take a little PAIN! At the end of pain is SUCCESS!

Listen to this challenge from Eric Thomas!

Pain is Temporary. I Dare You to take a Little Pain from Jim Tompkins on Vimeo.

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Pretty Woman or Pretty Slut? What are we encouraging our daughters to become?

Only 22 years ago young women the world over fell in love with the “Pretty Woman.” A pretty prostitute is rescued by Prince Charming. Richard Gere played the Wall Street tycoon who was redeemed from his company devouring, life destroying ways by helping to “convert” Julia Roberts into the “Pretty Woman.” Sex was the veiled backdrop to the theme of ‘pretty’ redemption.

Fast forward to 2012. Redemption is a theme we see only rarely on current movie and television screens. Sex is no longer in the background. Sex is front and center. Not married sex, but slutty, down and dirty sex. A prime example is one of the top twenty five shows in its second season and already picked up for syndication by TBS (which means it will be around for a long time): 2 Broke Girls. (This is only a prime example of what our children are being bombarded with across all media)

2 Broke Girls

Wikipedia: Set in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the series chronicles the lives of two waitresses in their mid twenties—Max (Kat Dennings), who comes from a poor working-class family, and Caroline (Beth Behrs), who was born rich but is now disgraced and penniless due to her father, Martin Channing, getting caught operating a Bernard Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme—working together at a Brooklyn restaurant. The two become friends and build toward their dream of one day opening a cupcake shop.

Television and movies are culture changers. They target younger audiences, and rather than try to reflect the conscience of the day, they push the conscience to the edge of changing morals. Pretty Woman glamorized immorality and glossed it over with a ‘redemption’ theme. Redemption is out the window now, and immorality is being accepted, glamorized and emphasized.

About “2 Broke Girls” – The show has received mixed to positive reviews from critics, earning a score of 66/100 from review aggregator Metacritic, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. The show has been criticized for its racially charged humor and sexual jokes. Despite this, the show has been generally well received by the public, and is one of the most watched shows of 2011-2012.

For example, in the November 18th episode, Caroline, the fallen rich girl, is going out with “Candy Andy.” She wonders why he doesn’t put the “moves” on her. Caroline is wondering if he is gay, but hoping they will “hook up” on their second date. She asks Max how the poor date, what should she expect on the second date. Her ‘broke’ friend indicates sex of a sodomite kind. Laugh, laugh. Max assures Caroline that Andy is not gay. Caroline chooses to go to a very “slutty” bar, hoping Andy will take the hint. However, Andy holds back, even though everyone around them is “Dirty Dancing.” Max (the poorer girl friend) comes to the rescue, and confronts Andy about his lack of aggressive sexual pursuit. He explains that he can’t because he sees Caroline as THECaroline Channing, rich princess.” He sees her as a dignified princess, not as a sex object. (What does this say about how we are to see women?)

Max reports back to Caroline and tells her to start acting slutty. Once Andy sees how Caroline really is, he can give way to his passions and they can have sex, even the sodomite kind, ‘laugh laugh.’ Instead of Richard Gere pulling up as a white knight in his expensive limousine, Poor slutty Max comes to the rescue with encouragement for Caroline to demean herself. And so she does. And the young audience gets the message that slutty is good, sex is good, immorality is great and fun and funny!

Gone is redemption.

Andy did not want redemption. Caroline did not want redemption. They are seen as only wanting sex and lots of it. And they must do what they can to get it. Laugh Laugh. And we wonder why 25% of our teenage daughters have sexually transmitted diseases!

Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon is an Old Testament Book about Solomon and one of his wives, his favorite according to the book.

There is plenty of sex here, but it is portrayed with dignity and beauty. It reflects two hearts very much in love with each other, not in lust. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with sex and sexual desires. However, God designed them to be the fleshly glue that keeps two hearts racing together in a marriage relationship. Sex is an essential component in a fulfilling marriage relationship. Listen in on this passage from Song of Solomon 5:

The Woman:

(1) I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;
I have drunk my wine with my milk.
(2) I sleep, but my heart is awake;
It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying,

She is asleep, and is awakened by the voice of her beloved. She doesn’t know if she is dreaming or not!

Solomon:

“Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.”

He is wet from the rain and needs to come in and dry off. He calls to her, his “sister, his dove, his love, his perfect one” There is no demeaning tone or sexual lust in his voice. This is no midnight ‘booty call.’ His heart is filled with love for his perfect one!

But she is half awake, and hesitates to come to the door. She is already in bed, she has washed her feet.

(3) I have taken off my robe;
How can I put it on again?
I have washed my feet;
How can I defile them?
(4) My beloved put his hand
By the latch of the door,
And my heart yearned for him.

Still, her heart longs for him, and she awakes from her dream-like state realizing that it really was his hand upon her door. She jumps from her bed and runs to the door. There is his oil of myrrh on the door handle, and her hands now drip with oil.

(5) I arose to open for my beloved,
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
My fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the lock.
(6) I opened for my beloved,
But my beloved had turned away and was gone.
My heart leaped up when he spoke.
I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Sadly, she realized that he had gone. She had delayed too long. She ran after him, calling for him, but he was not to be found. Instead of finder her lover, she was accosted by the men pretending to watch over the city. These men represent the men of the world, corrupted by wrong standards, men apart from God.

(7) The watchmen who went about the city found me.
They struck me, they wounded me;
The keepers of the walls
Took my veil away from me.

The men of the world, instead of offering protection, beat and injured the woman. They sexually demeaned and abused her. This is what is meant by taking the veil away. Their actions brought shame upon her life. She is a picture of what this world wants to do (and is doing) to the daughters of God. This world wants to turn them into sexual objects, demeaned, objectified and sluttified. Exactly as 2 Broke Girls pictures them (albeit in the form of ‘comedy.’)

This woman represents a redeemed woman. Her feet have been washed, she is perfect in the sight of God and her lover. She is esteemed, respected and regarded with dignity and honor. This is the way Christ said we are to treat our wives, our daughters-with dignity and honor. We are not to see them as slutty sex objects, demeaned and de-humanized.

Jesus Christ is calling out to us to join Him, to experience his redeeming love. He wants us to escape the corruption that is in this world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4)

If we hesitate to open the door, we will miss Him, and we will fall prey to the media moguls who frame our thinking with the corruption of lust and demeaning desires. We will be abused and walk in shame as we cast off the dignity and protection of our Savior!

Sick of Love

(8) I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
i
f ye find my beloved,
that ye tell him,
that I am sick of love.

She commands her sisters not to tell her beloved about her injuries or shame, but rather that she is “sick of love.” Scripture indicates this is one of the signs of the end times. “Because iniquity abounds the love of many will wax cold.” (Matt 24:12).

What this means for our children and grandchildren is a society with greater acceptance of immorality and even perverted behavior, and more and more broken marriages as our concept of “love” becomes sicker and sicker. We will continue to see pornography increase because society will be ‘sick of love.’ 

I am genuinely concerned about what my grand daughters will face in Middle and High School. What can we do to combat the corrupted “watchmen” who are exposing our children to immorality and demeaning behavior?

What is the solution? We need the cleansing oil of our redeeming Savior! We need to wake out of our slumber and run to the door to let our Savior back into our homes and lives. We need to have His cleansing oil wash the filth from our hearts and minds. We need a return to the morality of Scriptures, a morality that stresses our creation in the “image of God,” the dignity of men and women whom God is mindful of, even in pursuit of!

We need to embrace dignity and honor in our lives and relationships. We need to reject the lust and immorality that is so prevalent on television and in the movies! God’s warned us to protect our daughters from the corruption of lust and immorality. If we fail to do s, the land will become depraved and wicked!

Leviticus 19:29 “Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity.

Wake Up!

Are you sick of love? Is your heart struggling with lust and immorality? Are you a Christian who has been asleep and not diligent in your quest to follow Jesus? Time to wake up and sound the alarm! Time to say no to the abusers and those that would force shame on our society, our daughters and granddaughters! We need to embrace the true lover of our souls, Jesus Christ!

If we truly love Jesus Christ, we will make the necessary sacrifices to keep Him as Lord over our life and loves. In Him is perfect love! In Him is genuine love. Lust and immorality are degrading substitutes!

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Read “Sex and Shekinah Glory”

The Need for Utterance

Paul asked people to pray that he might have “utterance.” It is a foreign word to most of us in the 21st century, but perhaps we need to re-introduce its use in training men to preach the Word of God. Here are some uses in the New Testament:

Act_2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
1Co_1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
2Co_8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
Eph_6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Col_4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

In the strictest sense, utterance is “logos” or word. Jesus is the logos. The Word of God is the logos. But when men try to convey the Word of God in preaching, teaching or witnessing, it is “utterance.” Why? Clearly something else is needed if we are to have power when we speak the Word of God. Here is how I visualize the meaning of “utterance” as Paul used it.

Utterance is what the Holy Spirit does in taking the Word and our Love of Christ churning in our “Gut” and bringing it past our heart and through our throat and over the vocal chords until we are communicating the “utterance” of the Holy Spirit to hearts He has prepared.
Utterance is not always intelligent, not always beautiful, not always smooth and eloquent. In fact utterance is often the opposite. But what utterance is – is powerful; powerful enough to transform cold, hard hearts into molten rivers of heated love for Jesus Christ!Don’t ever think the message can be stopped or diminished by your inadequacies or perceived lack of ‘intelligence.’ Nothing can block the power of the Holy Spirit when He is united with a willing heart in love with the Word of God and having UTTERANCE!
We need men and women with UTTERANCE when it comes to preaching and proclaiming the Word of God! Without UTTERANCE the Word is weak and watered down. It is powerless to transform sinful man into righteous saints. 

Preacher, Teacher…PRAY FOR UTTERANCE!


True Thanksgiving

In 1983 I took a trip to Turkey sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC. It was a government sponsored trip to seek investment opportunities in Turkey. My last night I spent in Izmir having dinner with my interpreter and a business owner interested in doing business in America. They ordered for me and out came this huge Black Sea Bass (whole) sitting upright on a potato concoction. I ate the fish, but that night I got deathly sick, so sick I missed my early morning flight to Istanbul.

That fish gave me nightmares for several months, because it meant that I had to rent a car and drive 600 kilometers through at least three military check points, in unfamiliar towns and then into Istanbul late at night trying to find a place to stay. It was an exciting and terrifying experience to say the least. That is why I don’t like eating whole fish to this day.

Jonah Eats Fish at Thanksgiving

The book of Jonah relates a story that you are all familiar with, of a man who tried to run away from God’s will, and ended up being swallowed by a giant fish. Now if I had problems eating fish after my experience, I can just see Jonah being afraid to get on a ship or even go near the ocean or a lake. Every time he would hear a splash I can just see him running for cover.

But when I read what he wrote in chapter 2, I know that isn’t the case. In fact from the Psalm he wrote, I know that every Thanksgiving, Jonah would eat the biggest fish he could get.

Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV)

1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

How did Jonah come to experience True Thanksgiving in the belly of the Great Fish?

1. Remember God (even when your life stinks)

Jonah:

The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever;

Jonah sunk to the bottom of the sea. He saw where the mountains started. He was being choked by seaweed, he was losing consciousness.

He remembered God and cried out.

He thought he could run away from God, but Jonah realized that God was there, even when he was rescued by the fish.

Prodigal Son

He was lying down in pig slop, which if you ever smell will cause you to quit eating bacon for a long while.

Even there he realized he needed his Father. Even in that stench he remembered the love his father had even for servants.

2. Realize God is your only hope of steadfast love.

Remember the song “Looking for Love in all the wrong places?” It is so true for most people. Adam and Eve had all the love they could want, and it wasn’t good enough.

King David had all the women, all the wealth, all the power he could ever want, and it wasn’t good enough. He got into a mess of trouble because he committed adultery with another man’s wife, and then had him killed to cover it up.

We see this today…people making stupid decisions for the hope of love. People’s lives ruined because of choices, choices they think will bring them love, excitement, acceptance.

Jonah made a decision to run away from God rather than witness to some terrible enemies. He put himself and his selfish desires before God. He hoped he could get away from God.

What are you hoping in? Are you running away from God? Are you avoiding Him and hoping He goes away? Are you facing difficulties in your life today because of poor choices in the past?

Let me assure you, even though you are trapped in a stinky mess, being tossed to and fro, facing hardship after hardship, there is a Creator God who made you, knew every one of your poor choices, knew every one of your sins, and yet He desires to take you in his arms and cover you with His steadfast love.

Jonah discovered that God still loved him when he was at the bottom of the sea, breating his last breath. He discovered God’s love when he was in the belly of the great fish. Seaweed and fish guts were all over him. I can’t imagine the stink. Yet God’s steadfast love was there.

What is the secret to discovering God’s steadfast love even though you are covered in rotten seaweed and stinky fish guts? Jonah discovered it, but Paul reveals how we get there, covered in guts and stench:

Romans 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

NOT EXPERIENCING GOD’S LOVE?

So if you are wondering why you are not experiencing God’s steadfast love in the midst of your trials and hardships, understand what is preventing you from experiencing God’s steadfast love:

A.You have a problem honoring God.

Whatever you believe about the great men who founded this nation, it is super evident in 95% of their writings that they lived their lives with a principle that is missing in our leaders today. Our founding Fathers honored God as Sovereign God over the affairs of men. They realized God has the final say so in our lives.

B.You have a problem allowing God into your life.

Not only do we not honor God’s sovereignty, but we fail to give thanks to him in every aspect of our lives. We thank him for the rain, we thank him for winning the lottery, we thank him for food. Do we thank him when we lose our job. Do we thank him when we lose a loved one? Do we thank him when our friends turn against us?

Paul says that when we fail to honor God and allow Him ownership of all that happens in our lives (by giving thanks) our hearts become darkened and our minds become futile (or wasted or stupid) in our thinking. We exchange the glory of God for something stupid like a woman, a car, a job, a house, anything we put before God and say this is mine!

On November 11, 1620, Governor William Bradford and the leaders on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact before setting foot on land. They wanted to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives and their need to obey Him. The Mayflower Compact was America’s first great constitutional document and is often called “The American Covenant.”

Life was hard in the New World. Out of 103 Pilgrims, 51 of these died in the first terrible winter. After the first harvest was completed, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer. By 1623, a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during their prayers. The custom prevailed in New England and eventually became a national holiday.

3. Return your life to God

Have you given God ownership of your life?

It is one thing to say God is sovereign, but it is quite another to allow Him to be sovereign over all of your life, family and possessions. Can you honestly say that God is in control of everything in your life? Is there anything in your life that you are trying to keep control of, apart from what God may want to do? If you found yourself in the belly of a fish, covered with fish guts and seaweed, would you worship God’s sovereignty over your life, or would you be screaming “Get me out of here!”

From (AW PINK, SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD)

  • „ The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by the expression of the Sovereignty of God?
  • „ We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3).
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over-throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best.
  • „ To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1Timothy 6:15).

How do you return your life to Sovereign God?

A. Confess and declare that GOD is SOVEREIGN OWNER OF YOUR LIFE.

  • When you declare that God is sovereign over your life, you affirm His right to govern your life, your world, your family just as He pleases, because you were made for His Glory.
  • You affirm that He is the potter and you are the clay: that He may mould you into whatever form He chooses.
  • You affirm that God is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His decisions to you are anyone else.

Jonah discovered he could not get away from the sovereignty of God. So Job made a decision to accept the Sovereignty of God over his life. When he did, when Jonah prayed with thanksgiving in his heart, Jonah experienced the most amazing miracle. He experienced the love of God in the most horrible of circumstances.

B. Sacrifice with Thanksgiving (todah)

Jonah 2:9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Discovered the power of tôdah Thanksgiving![1]

Psalm 42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

There are two pictures presented by “TODAH”

1. ADMIT

Tôdah has a deeper meaning than simply thanksgiving or gratitude:

At its core, todah is to admit.What a concept! The gist of thanks is to admit – but what are we admitting to? When we say tôdah, we are admitting that we are lacking and that someone else is giving to us. We are admitting that we could not do something alone. We are admitting that you helped us accomplish something. We are admitting, that we have been given “more than [our] rightful share” thanks to God![2]

This is why Joshua told Achan to confess to what he had done by admitting and confessing the Glory of God over his life.„

Joshua 7:19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise (todah) to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

The psalmist pictures the need to confession in proclaiming thanksgiving unto God:„

Psalm 26:6-7 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.

To give “todah” to God always involves a sacrifice or offering on your part. You give your life to God. You allow Him to own your life. Admit it to Him!

2 Chronicles 29:31 Then Hezekiah said, Now you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord; come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.

Jonah had to sacrifice his will, his pride, his prejudices against the Ninevites, and admit that he needed to follow God, he needed the provision of God and yes, he needed the sovereignty of God over his life!

2. WORSHIP LOUD!

“Todah” pictures thanksgiving to God so great that you start shouting and singing at the top of your voice!

Picture a huge Choir Singing thundering Songs of Praise, accompanied by a huge orchestra. Can you hear the SHOUTS of thanksgiving! When Nehemiah dedicated the wall he had all the leaders get on the wall and had a huge assembly of Levites playing instruments and singing praises to God.

Nehemiah 12:27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Nehemiah 12:31 Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks. One went to the south on the wall to the Dung Gate.

Two great choirs were on opposite sides, with the rest of the people in the middle. It was like the battle of the choirs, each one trying to praise God louder than the other. It was the ultimate thanksgiving celebration!

Are you experiencing true Thanksgiving this year? I am not speaking of “blessings” or anything you can attribute to what you have done. Millions of families celebrate a thanksgiving based upon how fortunate they have been, or how much they have because of good luck and hard work.

I want you to experience True TODAH Thanksgiving.

Todah Thanksgiving happens no matter how messed up your life is!

Remember…Realize…Return…Admit and Worship.

Believers

If you have already been born again, take this time to examine your life, and remember God and His sovereignty. If you have gotten away from Him by putting other things first, Realize that He is the only source of genuine love. Return your life to Him, Admit your need for him and lay your life on the altar and say God do as you wish with my life. Then Worship Him Loud. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid your friends will hear. WORSHIP LOUD!

Lost in sin

Remember, life is a journey, and no matter where you are in your journey, God is there. Realize that He loves you even with all of your rebellion and ugliness and stench.

Run to your creator God, just like the Prodigal Son ran home.

Admit you need God, that you have made a mess of your life through your pride and sin and rebellion. Admit you need Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Worship God by believing that He has your life, that the blood of Jesus has cleansed you and made you right with God.

Allow your Worship to be with you whole life, with your whole voice, Constantly give thanks and praise to God out LOUD! Allow the light of Jesus Christ to break through the darkness over your heart.

John 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Do you love darkness rather than God’s light? Have you accepted the stink of your sinful, rebellious life? Wake up and take a good sniff! It is time for you to cry out with Jonah: Salvation is of the Lord.”


[1] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “tôdāh”


Advice to a New Pastor of a small town Church

1. Spend an hour a day doing nothing but considering what the Lord wants to do in your life right now. Anchor your thoughts with a section of Scripture or with a relevant Biblical concept or even a problem you are facing. Take the time to lift Him up and consider what He is doing or wants to do. Make it your time where you are centering your life and duties upon Him. Develop an inward core that centers itself upon God.

„ 2. Realize that your ministry to your family is more important than the ministry itself. Your ministry will grow from your ministry to your family.

„ 3. Learn to be content with the people and building God provides for you. Give thanks for them every day. Express thanks and appreciation publicly and constantly.

4. Realize you will always be an outsider to the community. Just accept it. But counter that with your insider status to the power of God. Manifest a supernatural life and they will desire to be an insider with God like you. When they know the power and reality of your faith in God, they will want that ‘insider’ faith as well.

„ 5. Look for someone to mentor/disciple. Make this a priority. Hopefully it is someone in the church, but be open to men outside the church.

„ 6. If there are leaders, let them know your expectations about discipling them.  Hopefully they will agree. If not, don’t push it the first year, but try to draw them in as you share discipleship successes with those whom you are able to disciple. If they still resist after a year, go through Titus and Timothy with them. If they still refuse, have the courageous conversation of asking them to resign.

7. Don’t be afraid to make a change in something your first year. You will discover that some are wanting you make a change.

Will Willimon reports in his post, “Non-synoptic church leadership in church” that he was given the following advice as a young pastor which he now shares with others,

“I am sure someone has told you that you shouldn’t change anything when you go to a new church for at least a year,” he said to me.  Indeed, someone had told me just that. “Well, forget it!  Don’t change anything in a new church unless you become convinced that it needs changing! Change anything you think that needs changing and anything you think you can change without the laity killing you.  Lots of churches are filled with laity who are languishing there, desperate for a pastor to go ahead and change something for the better.  Lots of times we pastors blame our cowardice, or our lack of vision, on the laity, saying that we want to change something, but we can’t because of the laity.  We ought to just go ahead and change something and then see what the consequences are.”

8. Learn everyone’s name (first and last name) including the kids. Make a personal photo directory or flash cards if you need to. Learn all the names of the leaders or “gate-keepers” in town. Invite the bank president or mayor out to lunch and find out who the community leaders are.

„9. Discover who the “gate keeper’s” of you community are. Get to know them, and look for ways to make the power of Christ known.

10. Schedule as many meals and coffees with people as possible. Go to their workplaces and pick them up and take them to a place that they normally go to lunch. (This is tough on a minimal salary)

11.„ Ask these kind of questions to ask when you meet with people (don’t try to evangelize them the first time you meet):

a. Where did you grow up? Where have you lived?

b. What is your job? Help me understand what you do and what kind of pressures you have. Is it a great job or just so-so? Why? How is your relationship with your boss? If the boss, what kind of struggles do you have with your employees?

c. What is your church background? Why did you come to our church? (of if they don’t come to church-what is your attitude toward church in general)

d. At some point tell them you would like to say a little prayer for them, but you wonder if there is anything else you could pray about? (In other words, you will know enough already to be able to pray for them). Do a quick prayer for them.

People will be surprised at how interesting and good it is to meet the pastor and you will not feel pressured to ‘convert’ them or get into church politics until you get to know people. The people are more important than the church. When you get to know people, you will understand where they are coming from. Try to understand their passion. Then followup your visit with prayer for turning their passions into a relationship with Jesus Christ. He will guide you in how to reach them or grow them.

12. Don’t make fun of their rural lifestyle, don’t use big words, don’t be condescending. Be genuinely interested in their lives, their problems and their needs. Be willing to go the extra mile in helping them out. The sooner they trust your intentions the sooner they will trust your ministry.

13. Normally pastoring is 1/3 preaching (study, prep, reading), 1/3 administration (meetings, email, phone calls, mail, chaos), and 1/3 pastoral care (meeting with people).  But for you it will be ½ pastoral care and the other two ¼ each. You will have to initiate and be intentional to meet with anyone. Very few will reach out to you.

14. Force your wife to meet folks by inviting people to dinner. Your kids may embarrass you, but the other couple or family will get to see you as you really are. They don’t want fake. They want real.

15. Get to know the history of the church and who used to go there and what happened.

16. Look at the church constitution and see what the purpose of the church is. Make sure your leadership accepts that purpose and wants to work toward its fulfillment. If not, either the purpose or the leadership needs to change. Design projects to involve the leadership in the fulfillment of the church purpose.

17. „A small church is not leadership driven. Small churches are “interwoven” meaning that the people have strong relationships based on blood or long friendships. They will tend to take the church very personally. They will see it as “their” church. You may want to make some changes or start certain programs, but while they may say “that’s a good idea, Pastor,” they will be looking to see what the church ‘patriarch’s’ are thinking. If you do not when the true leaders over, you will never get the support or participation you need.

The following letter was written by Mrs. Floyd K. Chapman, who lives in a small [pop. 1,064] Midwestern town. Her letter was written in response to an article about the suspicions some folks have of their pastors.

The folks in a small town don’t really care to hear what some author says. They only want to be convinced of your sincerity. Few of the common people read as much as we’d like to think. Many I know read only the following: the headlines, daily funnies, lost and found items; local items. Also they read some farm magazine, after a fashion–then they turn on TV. This is truth, whether we want to admit it or not.

On Sunday they go to church–they like to hear about Jesus, because he loved them enough to put up with their failings. They are not especially interested in economics, except as it affects them directly, or in politics, except in presidential years. But they respect freedom beyond words. They despise anything that makes them lose their self respect and much talk to the contrary they fear the creeping socialism that has made so many dependent upon the monthly government check that puts the bread in their mouths.

They know that they are not learned or smart and they fear people who are, unless they love them. Love is something one feels and if one loves he overlooks so much.

Can you take the big truth, the fact that too many of our ministers do not like people. They love subject matter, but are not sympathetic with the daily problems and weaknesses of the common man. This is not a weakness confined to our denomination.

Too many think they know it all–and do not give the other fellow credit for any knowledge. For instance, a pastor in our community a few years ago attempted to tell one of our more successful farmers of the superiority of horsepower. If it was or was not superior was not the point: the farmer was operating a large farm successfully and happily with his modern machinery. The minister should have been more tactful. If he knew nothing about farming he should have kept still or asked questions.

Sir, I am only a small-town woman, but I am sincere when I say there are a few qualifications a minister must have. Without them, regardless of denomination, he will be accused of everything under the sun–including communism.

1. He must have had a sincere Christian experience and must sincerely love the Lord and His work.

2. He must have had a certain amount of training in Bible, organization and method.

3. He must be willing to work–not too good to use his hands at times–and not too proud to ask help if he needs it.

4. He must really like people–more than books, more than organization, more than position.

5. He must walk ahead leading the people gently as a shepherd, and not try to drive them with a whip.