Confession – This morning my flesh is a deterrent to the work I have been called to do. I am having to prayerfully remember the covenant with God as it relates to pastoring. There may be many “I’s” in this confession because it is my challenge today. Friday, I caught a member in a direct and bold lie that has had a negative impact on the church. Since my arrival, this member’s words and actions have ‘held the church hostage’, and for many years before. I’ve heard every issue and reason why something has or has not occurred. They have been boastfully prideful in the work they claim to do, yet has not manifested. Before arriving at the post, this member was the one I was encouraged to reach out to because of the influence. Today, it feels as if the influence is cancerous. For many, you question why a pastor would continue to entertain the trials and tribulations from one member. As you may know, in rural ministry and small church, one member can have a major and lasting impact: positive and negative. Just as one nail in a tire can interrupt a journey or a single red light can ground an airplane or one signature can start a war. The community has learned to live with the “way” the member is because they’re family. Just as you have learned to live with “that” family member in your tribe. “That’s just the way they are.” However you wouldn’t let anyone one else (an outsider) say something to them because they’re yours and you have learned to tolerate them. Today, I am troubled at how to respond to “one that has a problem for every solution”. It must be dealt with. As God answered Solomon with wisdom, I pray the same. When the trials and turmoil of leadership become the fork of your pastoral road, I pray for God’s divine wisdom to become the guiding star to follow. This morning I sit in silence waiting for the Spirit to speak. I stand in the pulpit to preach the good news, not to correct or reprimand. Today, I pray for God’s guidance, grace and gifts to preach the Word. Often I ponder when we say “hide me behind the cross”. Where we not called to stand boldly and point to the cross? This day, I do ask that ‘I’ be hidden behind the cross so my flesh has no voice in the pastoral position. May God’s voice be heard in all that is spoken today and may our flesh be arrested in the preaching hour. May the words of our (my) mouth and the meditation of our (my) heart be acceptable in thy sight. Praying for each of you and that today our covenant of service is consecrated with the God we serve. Today I pray you are able to preach with the Authority and Power of God and that souls are saved, lives are changed, bondages are broken and those under your charge are strengthened in their Christian and communal life.
Reflections – There is weight that entered my spirit last week and it is the catalyst for prayer. As I went to visit a member in rehab I met her nurse caregiver. She was as caring and concerned for her patients as you would want. My member raved about how she was attentive and on point in every aspect of her job. It was refreshing to see someone in service give such a level of compassion and concern. My spirit kept hearing a silent cry for help. Just in conversation I asked where she attended service and a litany of other questions. Within 20 minutes this young lady was balling with tears and pain you would never expect. She found herself pouring out pain: this single mother that has a parent and child in the penal system. Financially strapped between two jobs. 2 young children. And all the other trappings of life, fair and unfair, imposed and self-inflicted. Her current situation would take the wind out of most of us. She has been masking and hiding her pain in the care for other and self-medicating through service to others. As you can imagine the sleepless nights and stressful days. I really started wondering after my own holiday self-diagnosis how many of us clergy, pastors are walking around doing the same. There is no doubt in the power of prayer and we are quite aware of the Holy Ghost as our comforter. And we have understood physician heal thyself. However God has empowered and gifted others to serve as our intercessory help for our own stresses. These writings are shared so we are reminded we are not alone in our own journey of trials and tribulations. Find and ear, find a hand, find a shoulder, find a friend to be open and honest with that will listen and help. If you’re continually cooking and feeding others, when do you sit and eat a nutritious meal. The caregivers must be cared for.
We come this morning standing in the need of prayer. Not only for ourselves but also for those who find themselves unable to call on you. We stand in intersession for those who have lost their voice. We stand in intersession for those who do not know they have a voice. We stand in intersession for those whose voice has been silenced. We stand in intersession for those whose voice is not being heard. Not that we have achieved anything isolated in our own accomplishments. We only speak because you have given us the breath of life to stand for those who do not. As a community, hear our prayers for them. God grant mercy, grace, protection and discovered purpose for those who are in search of a way. Let it be your will and your way they discover. And as their voice begins to sound let it first be of thanksgiving and of praise for who you are.
Reflections: The last few days speaking with a few friends, the question was what are you preaching Sunday as we are entering the new year. What strikes me is not the sermon titles or text. It is the disclaimer that was the common thread. “This year I need to church to get ___ so I’m preaching…”. Each of us has the desire to set the year’s direction for our perspective community through a sermon. I wonder how fair is it to us or to the congregation to expect so much change after turning the page on the calendar. We know in our personal lives how many changes and challenges we look to do after the first of the year and before the month is over, we have seemed to slide back or slacked off. There is no doubt that we are to offer new God-ordained direction. And we should recognize in their own lives they have called for personal change. So today I have to remember to offer a single step in a new direction. What are you asking of God’s congregants today? Today I just want them to praise with their mouth and speak to God. Next week we may ask them to praise with their hands and mouth! LOL
Bless you in your service today to God. Preach with power. Preach with a prophetic word. Preach with the undeniable promise of God.
Today’s scripture: Isaiah 62:1-10
“There’s a Need for Noise!”
So today, let’s make a joyful noise!