Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The War is Real sermon notes.

Acts 19-20 (19:11-20)
The War is Real
September 27, 2015

Things are continuing to get “interesting” in our country and in our world. One of the great religious leaders in the world has been in the US, the pope, and in my estimation, he failed. He talked more about global warming that the value of life and the need to protect it or the stance of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage. I am constantly reminded when I think of what we read in the paper, on the internet, and what we see on TV, that the war is real. Gandalf said, “The enemy is strong beyond our reckoning, yet we have a hope at which he has not guessed.” When we think of war I first think of winners and losers. I think of soldiers and battles, wounds, death, and family. In our text Paul is on his third and final missionary journey. He too is a soldier. He too has many battles to fight, the war is real and it rages around him. Satan is trying to stop Paul, destroy the church, and prevent people from being saved. Living as a disciple of Jesus in not easy. The reason is that to be a disciple of Jesus means you are constantly engaged in spiritual war. There is an increasingly common misrepresentation coming from preachers, especially on TV (Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Jessie Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Myers, Paula White, and others), that the Christian life will be easy (life on vacation at the beach). The Bible says the Christian life looks more like this (picture of soldiers moving out). 
I Peter 5:8-10, James 1:2-4, Ephesians 6:10-18
READ TEXT Discuss the battles we see in these 2 chapters.

  1. The losing side of the war. v. 11-12, 13-16
    1. Satan and the demons are on the losing side of the war eternally but also now. Jm. 4:7-8
    2. 7 Sons of Sceva were on the losing side. v.13-17. No relationship with Jesus. Guaranteed to lose. Eternal losers are outside the umbrella of God’s grace. Their attitudes and actions reveal their rebellious hearts. Proc. 27:19
  1. The winning side of the war. v. 11-12, 17, 20
    1. God wins. Jesus is triumphant. The Holy Spirit is victorious. The gospel advances. Every time someone gets saved God wins and Satan loses. Every time a Christian grows in his faith God wins and Satan loses.
    2. God’s soldiers win. II Cor. 10:4-5, 11:16-12:10
  1. What do you need to do to win? v. 18-20 Take only what you need to fight, to win, into the battle with you. Remember the pic of the soldiers, they didn’t have beach chairs and volleyballs, they had their armor on, their weapons in hand. The disciples in Ephesus destroyed the things, the books of magic, because of the destructive nature of those things to their new lives and their new mission. What do you need to lose now? Is there anything in your life that you need to choose to destroy so that it doesn't destroy you?

1 Peter 5:8-10(ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sermon notes from Mike Stone

Mike Stone
Isaiah 64:1-12
Open Up the Heavens

We have learned how to do church without the presence and power of God.

I. The presence that produces revival. V. 1-3. Revival happens when God shows up. Isaiah prays for God to show up
 A. The request. "God isn't always where He is." He is omnipresent, but can show up in His manifest presence, His glory. His manifest presence can be felt by His creation. "God you are welcome here. Jesus come and take control." The honored guest is the center of attention.
 B. The removal. If God can come, He can also go away or be gone. Isaiah is asking for God to come back. He had removed Himself from the people. Josh. 6. Akin's sin caused great problems in the midst of the camp. God departed because of the sin. Ichabod, the glory of God has departed. Rev. 3:20 behold I stand at the door and knock. Jesus was out side of His church. Why did he leave?
 C. The results of His presence. V. 3. God you have moved in the past like I am asking you to move now. When God begins to move things change. You can't stay the same and come into His presence.  There is never any doubt when God shows up.
II. The problems that prevent revival. V. 4-
 A. Satisfaction prevents revival. Most live so far beneath Gods standard of holiness that when we see genuine Christianity lived out before us, we think it strange or radical. I Cor, 2:9 Paul is quoting v. 4. He is talking about living below Gods glorious standard. Our spiritual satisfaction keeps us from experiencing Gods power in and through us. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord."  Satisfaction sets the bar for how far God will move. It will reach over and cut off the gas.
 B. Sin prevents revival. V. 5 we have sinned against God. Habitual sin rather than occasional stumbling into a sin. Even our righteousness apart from the working of God is as filthy rags. (6).  2 Chronicles 7:14. Sin will turn off the power of revival.
 C. Self-sufficiency prevents revival. V. 7. God, you're not moving like I know you want to move in our church, and what scares me is not many seem to be concerned about it. Success is a great danger to our faith. Some use to serve God faithfully at church but have become so blessed that they can't serve any longer. They have enough to keep the roads hot doing things they can now afford to do. I can handle it, we can take care of it ourselves.
III. The prayer that precedes revival. Prayer isn't a result of revival. Revival is the result of prayer. V. 8-12
 A. It recognizes God's place. You can't sing it up, preach it up, cheer it up, revival is something that God must send.
 B. It requests His pardon. God hasn't moved! It is our fault. It is my fault. I deserve, you deserve, the world deserves the wrath of God. We deserve the wrath and judgment of God. Revival comes on the basis of mercy. We are at the right place when we are asking for mercy.
 C. It remembers His preeminence. V. 10-12. Isaiah is praying for revival because God deserves revival. God deserves more...for His names sake.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Mystery of the Shemitah Sermon Notes

These are the notes I used Sunday morning in my message on the Mystery of the Shemitah. Most of the information came from studying what Warren Wiersbe and Jonathan Cahn. As I tried to say Sunday, nothing has to happen in the next week or the next month or the next year. God is sovereign, and He can do what He wants to do. What I am saying is that God is just as faithful as He is sovereign. Looking at what He has done in the past, in the past with the Jewish people and in the USA, I wouldn't be surprised if something major happened in the next 30 days with the US economy or something greater that goes along with and in addition to a significant upheaval with the US and world economy. Even as one's mind can run rabbit trails about all that might happen, I cannot help but think of the old hymn that says, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, ALL OTHER GROUND is sinking sand."

The Mystery of the Shemitah
Leviticus 25:1-22, Deuteronomy 15:1-11
September 6, 2015

There is a great deal of concern about the days we are in and the days we are facing. Does the Bible have anything to say about it? As you would assume, I believe the Bible has a lot to say about the day we are living in and the days to come. We addressed part of it in the series Coming Attractions. I want to address one more aspect of it today. It finds its roots in the Law of Moses. In the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It is called the Shemitah. READ TEXT The word "shemitah" is a Hebrew word so you will not see it in your English Bible.

  1. What is the Shemitah?
    1. Shemitah means remission or release, but it can also mean shaking and destruction. The very day when this remission or release was to take place was at sunset on Elul 29 (falls in the month of September in our calendar).
    2. The year of the Shemitah was to be a blessing to the people of God. Just as the Lord gave instruction that every 7th day, Sabbath, was to be a day of rest, every 7th year, Shemitah, was to be a year of rest, and at the end of every 49 years there was to an additional year of rest called the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25). 
    3. Personal debts were to be released or canceled every 7 years. Indentured servants were to be released.
    4. At the beginning of the 7th year during the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests taught the people the Law from Deuteronomy, specifically reminding them of the Shemitah. It was kind of like a Jewish bible conference. God’s blessing would remain if we obey, but God’s judgment will come if we disobey (Deut. 15:5). Rom. 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” 2 Cor. 5:7 says, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” The Jews had to have great faith because they would have to trust the Lord for 3 years of provision: the 6th, 7th, and into year 1 of the next cycle. The sad news is that the OT doesn’t say that the Jews ever practiced the Shemitah once they entered the Promised Land.
    5. 3 motives to obey the Lord concerning the Shemitah. (W. Wiersbe)
      1. Appreciation for God’s blessings (Deut. 25:4, 6, 10, 14).
      2. Appreciation for God’s delivering the people from slavery in Egypt.
      3. Simple obedience to God’s Word.

  1. How did it work in the Old Testament? (FYI- The Hebrew word for safety is Yeshua.)
    1. God sent 9 harbingers or warnings to the Jews via the prophets.
    2. In 586 BC during the days of the prophet Jeremiah, the land and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian armies of King Nebuchadnezzar. Why?
    3. The Jews had failed to keep the Shemitah, God’s 7 year cycle of blessing and release, for 490 years. That is 70 cycles of 7 years. God’s judgment was that the land rest for 70 years; 1 year for every Shemitah the Jews failed to keep. God condemned the Jews to captivity in Babylon for 70 years (Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, Ester). 
    4. God wanted the Shemitah to be a time of blessing from Him and a demonstration of the people in faith as they kept the Shemitah, but the people chose to disobey God. But even in this we can see the patience of God as He, over and over again, reached out to the people through prophets and circumstances so that they would return to Him, but they didn’t.

  1. Is it working right now? The nation of Israel was established by God, first in Abraham, and then literally in Egypt. The only other nation to be brought into existence and dedicated to the Lord is America. 
    1. Is the 7 year cycle visible in the history and economy of the US? Yes, it is. The 5 largest economic collapses in the stock market in the last 40 years demonstrate the 7 year cycle: 1973, 1980, 1987, 2001, 2008. Even in 1994 the bond market collapese; it’s called the Great Bond Massacre of 1994 when 600 billion dollars was lost in the US and trillions lost around the world.
    2. Is there a chance that these events have any ties to the God’s 7 year Shemitah cycle? 100% of these events took place, according to the Hebrew calendar, in the year of the Shemitah.
    3. The greatest collapses in US are also tied to and occur within the Shemitah. 3) 1937-38 was the Shemitah, 2) 2007-08 was the year of the Shemitah, and )1 1930-31 the Great Depression. These were long term crashes that lasted months and years.
    4. Rise and fall of nations.
      1. Jews.
      2. Babylon and the Medo-Persian Empire.
      3. 1917, the year of the Shemitah. WW I. Four nations are destroyed, and 1 nation rises: Russian Empire falls, Germany, Austrio-Hungarian Emprire falls, the Ottoman Empire falls, America rises to overtake Great Britain as the greatest financial nation.
      4. 4 shemitah cycles later. 1945 WW II, the year of the Shemitah. It began in 1938, also the year of the Shemitah. America rises as the greatest military power in the world. The war was over, the victory march takes place in Berlin on Sept. 7, 1945 (Elul 29). FYI, the Twin towers was dreamed of in 1945, begun in 1966, finished in 1973, and destroyed in 2001. All take place in the year of the Shemitah.
      5. 4 Shemitah cycles later, 1973, abortion is legalized. BTW it’s 2015, the year of the Shemitah and we just legalized same sex marriage.
    5. Year of Jubilee. Takes place every 50th year. 
      1. 1917-1918, Sept. to Sept. Shemitah. 1918-1919, possible Jubilee. Belfore Declaration. The Jews are invited by Great Britain to return to the promised land. They had not lived there since 70AD.
      2. 1965-66, Sept to Sept, Shemitah. 1966-67, possible Jubilee. 6 Days War. Jews reclaim Jerusalem.
      3. 2014-15, Sept to Sept, Shemitah. 50 year have passed. Elul 29, 2015 is the end of the Shemitah. September 13, 2015.
        1. Sept 17, 2001, closing bell of the stock market. The largest one day crash in history to that point. Elul 29.
        2. September 29, 2008, closing bell of the stock market. The largest one day crash in history. Elul 29.

The 2 greatest crashes in stock market history both happen on the same day of the Hebrew calendar, the calendar established by God: Elul 29. It happens according to the cycle of the Shemitah. It happens on the once every seven years Elul 29, the day of release and remission. They happen exactly 7 years apart down to the day, the hour, the minute, at the premise moment of the closing bell of the stock market on Wall Street. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future. Are you ready to meet Him?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Article for our Weekly Email at HBC

Weekly Update

In one month six people from Highland will board a plane headed to serve the Lord Jesus and represent Highland in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I want to ask you to do two things. First, will commit to pray for the Honduras Team (Jeff and Lisa Sepesi, Joe Morgan, Terry Kimrey, Shane Carter, and me from Highland, and Mike Griggs from Hickory Grove Baptist in Green Cove Springs, FL) for the next 6 weeks. Our trip dates are October 3-10. We need your prayer support as the days quickly approach time of ministry. You can pray that God grants safety in travel, that everyone stays safe and healthy while we serve, that we an effective door for ministry is open for us, pray for those whom we will be ministering to, and pray for the leaders whom we will have an opportunity to train. 

There is one other thing you can help us with. We are in need of $2500.00 to take care of some of the ministry projects we will be doing while in Honduras. We have $2500.00 to cover the cost of the construction project we will be working on, but we need an additional $2500.00 to do food ministry with the local church also. We have seen the Holy Spirit work in powerful ways through a bag of food. The physical food may only last for a week or so, but the spiritual benefits of the gospel being shared in conjunction with the food is eternal. Would you consider helping us raise this money so we, as your representatives, can serve a small community in the mountains surrounding Tegucigalpa, Honduras? I want to thank you in advance for your generosity in giving. Thank you for being a vital part in this ministry.

Our fall Wednesday night schedule began on Wednesday night with a hotdog supper to kick off AWANA. It was great to see all the kids and volunteers excited about the beginning of a new AWANA year. The next 9 months will have an eternal impact on the kids and leaders as they study and memorize the eternal Word of God. I love AWANA! Our student ministry did a fantastic job working and leading Kid’s Challenge this summer. I want to say Thank You to Matt, the youth ministry team, and the students who worked to make this summer an amazing experience for our kids. I am very proud of you and thankful for you. I know that the students are ready to get back to their own Wednesday night schedule, and my prayer is that the Holy Spirit uses this time in your lives to draw you close to King Jesus. We will continue studying the Gospel of John during Power Hour this fall. We are working through John 13 right now. Come and join us. There will also be a class, led by Dave Bolton, beginning on September 16 from 6-8pm working through the Henry Blackaby study “Experiencing God.” I highly recommend that every Christian do this study. If you have never been through it, here’s your chance. Sign up ASAP and get your book paid for so you will be ready on the 16th.

I want to remind you that we have plenty of the invite cards available for you to give away. I pray you will take 5-10 home with you on Sunday and spend next week intentionally and strategically giving them away, inviting people to Jesus and to be your guest at Highland. The Holy Spirit longs and loves to use people just like you to bring others to Jesus. Let Him use you now. As my friend David Burton often says, “It’s only good news if they hear it in time.”

Serving Him,

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Have you read Romans 12 lately? I did, today during my quiet time I read those 21 verses. It was encouraging to my spirit. It offered correction to the thoughts and intent of my heart. In one sense it was like a kick in the teeth. Let me walk you through just a little bit of this chapter.

First of all you start with, logically, at the beginning with the first two verses. Have you thought of them lately? The reader, me first!, is reminded that my body, all of it, physically, emotionally, and spiritually are to be presented to God as an offering of sacrifice to Him. This is not a common idea in our world, but if you consider the original audience, they would immediately picture the sacrifices made in the Temple, animal after animal having it's throat cut so that the blood would flow, leading to death, so that the one offering the sacrifice could be made right, temporarily, with God. Or the reader might think of the pagan idol worship they participated in, before coming to salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and the sacrifices they had made to false gods. Paul tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, and it's reasonable for God to expect us to do just that, living as a sacrifice to the Lord Jesus daily.

And then you get into that whole idea of not being conformed to the world, but allowing our whole selves to be transformed: mind, body, soul, and spirit. Who needs that stuff?! Right? That's none of your business how I choose to live my life, or at least that's what I've been told. And yet the Apostle Paul tells us that if we choose to present our bodies this way, and if we choose to submit our worldly desires and passions for the passion of the cross of Jesus, that we will offer proof to those who don't believe that what God says is true really is true. Our lives can be a proof that God's will is good, and acceptable, and perfect.

Then the crazy man, Paul, says that based on what he has just given, as inspired by God the Holy Spirit Himself, we should find our place in the body of Christ, what is that all about anyway?, and gloriously serve our Savior and God. We must find our place and serve, as Paul writes in verse 4, because we don't all have the same abilities (function), gifts, experiences, and passions. Think about it for a minute, God made you and the God saved you, just like you are, because you can be plugged into His body on earth and help it to function like He made a body to function. If you have been gifted to serve, serve. If you have been gifted to teach, teach, if you have been gifted to encourage, encourage, if you have been gifted to give, give, lead, lead, mercy, then be merciful; you get the idea. God didn't make us all the same, so don't try to be like me, but be all of you that God has gloriously made, saved, redeemed, and transformed. It's God in you that makes you the most amazing person you will ever be or become.

Verse 9 speaks for itself. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."

I could go on, but why spoil it. Read it for yourself and see. There's more there than meets the eye!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You have to watch this!

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Take the time to watch this video from TBN with Jonathan Cahn and others about the signs of the times and what seems to be coming together as we approach the fall. I believe something big is going to happen in September-October. I would love to hear your thoughts after you watch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From Dr. Mark and Beth Harris, Sanctity of Human Life

Dear Friends,

Conservatives across North Carolina worked seemingly nonstop in 2014 to stop, or at least slow down, the destructive direction that this President and liberals such as Sen. Harry Reid had taken us. I remember personally standing outside Kay Hagan's office along with a strong group here in Charlotte, urging her to support the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act legislation that would end abortions past twenty weeks. Then, after prayers, sacrifice of time, energy, and resources, we celebrated that finally this critical legislation for the life of an unborn child would have its day in Congress. Please take the time to read this piece my wife, Beth, has written in response to the disappointment many of us have felt...

Representative Renee Elmers’ success in killing the Pain-Capable Abortion Child Protection Act intersected with my chance to see American Sniper late last week. These disparate events left me sickened at how the cart of money and political expediency starts pulling the horse in Washington, leaving real people to suffer. Contrast candidate Elmers’ 2010 statement on the unborn from Congresswoman Elmers’ remarks last week:

From Elmers’ 2010 campaign website: “I have gained the wisdom of knowing that every life is a precious gift from God and it is not for us to judge its worth, deny its beginning or determine its end.”

From Elmers’ remarks to the press on the collapse of the Pain-Capable Abortion Child Protection Act: “It’s unfortunate the way it played out…I think we’re all just going through some growing pains.”

Why the change from words like “wisdom” “precious gift” and “not for us to judge” to “unfortunate growing pains?” Because those who don’t understand the grace of God or the strength of women falsely assume that women would not rise to the challenge of Motherhood even under the most difficult circumstances. Furthermore, they don’t understand that most women I know would be thrilled to depart from the ranks of China and North Korea, two of the handful of nations that still allow abortions after twenty weeks.

As events in Washington unfolded, I thought of a family who happen to live in Elmers’ district. I vividly remember meeting Darrin, Tracy, and their two sons because the oldest, a special needs teenager named Cory, touched me so. In Darrin’s office, Cory kept pointing to the Bible on Darrin’s desk and emphatically repeating “Daddy’s Bible…” Simply, profoundly, Cory indicated that Daddy and his Bible anchored that room and also their lives. Tracy told me that Cory loves to sing, attends school, and has an uncanny knack for identifying people who needed a hug at church. Only later did I learn the rest of Cory’s story, which with Tracy’s permission I’m sharing with you today.

In high school Tracy entered a relationship that over time became abusive and included both consensual and non-consensual sex. She recalled that the first time her boyfriend forced himself on her she screamed, but either was not heard or ignored by the parent who was in his home that day.  Like many women, she soon accepted this “new normal” and could not break away from the relationship.

When she was 19, Tracy became pregnant after a non-consensual encounter with her boyfriend at the state university they attended. She confirmed the pregnancy at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center, and as she met with her counselor that day Tracy at last confided in someone about the abuse. Her counselor gave Tracy her home phone number and kept in touch as the situation played out.

Like many young men in the same circumstance, Tracy’s boyfriend urged her to get an abortion.  She just couldn’t do it. When she finally summoned the courage to go home for the weekend and tell her parents she was pregnant, they began planning a quick wedding. Upon learning what she had done, her boyfriend sent word that he would “deal” with her.
At last she revealed the abuse to her parents. Tracy’s relationship ended amid denials of paternity and her mother’s guilt over not recognizing signs that Tracy had been physically abused.

Tracy withdrew from school as she began to develop high blood pressure. She was put on bed rest due to preeclampsia and toxemia. As her health worsened, Tracy was hospitalized and given steroid injections to boost the baby’s lung development. Finally, with failing kidneys and fluid filling her lungs, Tracy was put into a medically induced coma in the hopes of buying time for the baby.  Ultimately her baby boy was taken via C-Section at 26 weeks.

Despite the fact that Cory could only come out of his special incubator and into her arms for fifteen minutes per week, Tracy planted herself in the NIC-U. She wanted to feed and change Cory, reaching into the isolette to touch him often.  As Tracy puts it, “I became a mom, and nothing else mattered.” His premature birth left Cory with a host of health issues including seizures, asthma, scarring of his lungs and the need for a feeding tube.

But with God’s grace, there’s more to the story. When Cory was 15 months old, Tracy’s mother encouraged her to teach Vacation Bible School at church as a first step to reengaging her gifts and abilities. In a divine appointment, only Tracy showed up for an organizational meeting. Darrin, the church’s new youth minister and host of the meeting, had a chance to talk with Tracy and found that they connected. 28 years old, Darrin had surrendered his desire for a mate to the Lord in prayer just one night earlier. Tracy and Darrin married that fall with Tracy’s counselor from the Crisis Pregnancy Center in attendance.

On March 8, Cory will turn 19. Asked about regrets, Tracy hesitated.  Asking any mother to imagine a scenario in which one of her children does not exist is unthinkable. At last she said that if she had a wish, it would be for Cory not to suffer with so many health problems. She added “But he’s happy. Cory doesn’t see that he’s different. He has been a blessing to so many people. “

Tracy represents the kind of gray-area nightmare scenario politicians fear. She claimed the sexual encounter resulting in pregnancy was rape, although it was not reported as such and occurred in the context of a relationship. She was unwed, still in school and ultimately her health was jeopardized by her pregnancy.  Yet, like so many women, Tracy found that the circumstances of her child’s conception did not in the least affect her ability to love her child or recognize the blessing her child can bring the world.

Elmers remarked last week that she had concerns about “ending the conversation” if the GOP was perceived as “harsh” or “judgmental.” But the crux of the matter is that the abortion question requires a judgment. That judgment is this: Can one living being determine the fate of another innocent being? In one worldview, the answer is yes. In another, the answer is no.  But how can any thinking person object to joining the majority of the civilized world in banning the killing of well-developed infants who feel the pain of their deaths? Darrin tried to get a straight answer to that question from Elmers’ office last week, only to get what he described as “a staffer obviously reading from a screen.”  There is no answer; only the hopes that pro-life voters will forget by 2016 that within the first month of the new session of a Republican-dominated Congress our own elected Republicans derailed a bill they voted for in 2013. As for me, I plan to redouble my GOP involvement and help promote genuine conservative candidates rather than give in to disillusionment. Why?  Because I understand that every policy decision affects real people…people who are better and stronger than politically driven people like Elmers can ever imagine. 

- Beth Harris

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Friend Pastor Greg Kell wrote this and I wanted to share.

5 Things Your Pastor Wishes He Could Tell You
I don’t know why I wanted to write this today. But I did. I spent almost 7 years of my early adult life working for an oil company, first offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and then at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in the early years of the oil boom there. But for the past 27 years, pastoring a church is what I have committed my life to. 
I have probably had thousands of conversations with people (and so have you), but if you’re like me, there are some things you just never get around to saying out loud. It’s not that you don’t want to . . . it’s just that you don’t.
Yet saying them could help you and maybe even help scores of great people who are working so hard at your church. They might even make things . . . better.
Here are 5 things I think most pastors wish they could tell their congregations:
1. I’m trying to step off the pedestal people keep putting me on.
I’m not better than anyone else. Really,. I have never believed I’m better than anyone else. And I promise you if we got to hang out more, it wouldn't take long for you to see I don’t belong on a pedestal either.
I’m not in ministry because I've got this all figured out, or because it was an ambition of mine. honestly feel I was called into it. Believe it or not, I tried to resist the call. But people kept affirming what I couldn't stop sensing - that God was calling me to serve in the local church. So I obeyed.
It gives me a lot of comfort that the heroes in the scripture were flawed people. Peter barely got it right. Paul had his critics. Noah was a flawed leader. So was Moses. But reading their stories gives me hope for my story. And - you know what - it gives me hope for your story and for the church.
God doesn't use perfect people. His grace flows best through broken people. God belongs on the pedestal. So why don’t we keep him there and keep ourselves below it?
2. I also have doubts
I realize you might think my faith is rock solid. And in the end it actually is quite strong. But I have days when I’m not sure my prayers make it past the ceiling. I have days when I read the scriptures and it seems like just another book. And I have days where I wonder where God is in the middle of this. Just like you.
But I’ll tell you why I can’t let my faith go or shake it - because God’s faithfulness keeps overshadowing my doubts. God has been consistently patient, kind, gracious and giving toward me. And he has been toward you too. And the days where the prayers seem empty and the scriptures seem cold are inevitably followed by the days in which God’s presence is almost palpable and the scriptures read me.
So don’t let your doubts do you in. Persist through them. I have and I do, and all I keep finding is the faithfulness of Christ. You will too.
3. I don’t always know what to do
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t always know what to do. I know you know that. But there’s something in all of us that wants our leaders to know what’s next.
I've become committed to telling you when I don’t know, and I hope you can accept that. You also need to know I’m doing my best to surround myself with incredibly wise people. Together, we are far smarter and wiser than any of us is alone.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for a generation. No one understood why Jesus was so determined to go to the cross. And the birth of the early church in the first century probably made many peoples’ heads spin. But God was in all of it.
I’m sure as we pursue Christ the best we can, we’ll figure out where he is in the middle of all this.
4. I so appreciate it when you cut my family some slack.
It’s fine for you to put me under a microscope. I get that. I got called into this and I’m accountable. But this church is a place where my family is living and doing real life. It’s a place where my 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren are asking their own questions, and where my wife comes to worship and to serve on her good days and bad days.
When you treat them as people who are on their own faith journey and hold them up to no greater standards than you do any other family, you give my family an incredible gift.
We are pursuing Christ together, and when you give us grace, you actually make that journey richer. (Thank you Cornerstone for doing this so, so well.)
5. I’m more grateful for you than you realize.
I realize how demanding life is and how busy you are. I know you worked late on that project this past week . . . and still came to the event at the church. I realize you haven’t had 8 hours sleep in about three years and your kids are driving you crazy . . . and you took time to seek God today.
I realize your family argued on the car ride to church and still walked through the door anyway (Sunday mornings aren't always angels singing and church bells ringing at our home either). I realize the school trip cost more than you thought, and you’d really like to get to Disney this year, but you’re giving anyway. I know that you serve in a number of organizations in the community, but you still throw your weight behind this mission at the church we’re in together.
Thank you. Really. The church is the most blessed organization in the world. We have an eternal mission that will make far more sense when we stand before Christ than it does most days now. I think only then will we see how important what we’re doing now really is.
We rely on the good will and the hard work of dozens, even hundreds of people to be the church. And I want you to know how incredible grateful I am for you. I am.
Pastor Greg

Greg, thank you for sharing your heart, and the heart of most other guys I know who serve the Lord as shepherds of the sheep.