Dr. Carlton C. McLeod, Senior Pastor, Calvary Revival Church Chesapeake
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV) - Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (25) Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (26) So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. (27) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Coming out of four weeks of rest, reflection, reading, prayer, and family time, I can say without a doubt that my biggest personal conviction and rebuke from the Lord is in this area: Personal Discipline. (Sigh)
As glad as I am that the Lord "discplines those He loves" (Heb 12:6), it ain't fun. I basicallly found out that the limiter on accomplishing what He has asked me to do is mostly a time management issue for me. I know what to do...but it's the doing.....
Sooooo...after repenting and begging the Lord not to take away the grace I've been given in ministry because of my lack of diligence, I've recommitted to:
- Rise earlier and pray more.
- Spend significant time reading and writing and educating my children.
- Spend less time with novelties, media, golf, and my old nemesis...TV. (Double sigh. Even the wholesome/educational dvds we watch can be massive time wasters if not kept in moderation!)
- Spend more time in personal evangelism.
- Continue and improve upon my family worship leadership.
- Get in shape and eat better.
- Pray more about #6. LOL.
I hear you Lord....loud and clear. Life is short. Thank you for the refocus and thank you for not giving up on me.
Hey, any of you have any personal discipline stories or encouragement? Anybody want to take up this challenge with me to be more productive for the Kingdom?
There is an interesting phenomena in many church circles. I hear it all the time. A preacher goes to someone's church, and with great passion delivers the sermon. Then I hear comments like:
- He preached the house down!
- He wrecked the church!
- People were hanging on chandeliers!
Etc. I admit to have aspired to to the same at times. In fact, for many people, if a preacher doesn't do all the above, "he didn't preach." LOL!
But I have a confession. I can't remember any of those sermons. None. Oh I might remember the title. I might remember being encouraged and enthusiastic. I might remember yelling "preach!" But with difficulty, I admit that they rarely moved me.
Now don't get upset. I love good old fashioned preaching at times. LOL. But what I mean is I may have been moved emotionally for a moment and I may have been encouraged, but that's it. When I think about the sermons that caused me to repent, caused me to understand doctrine and truth better, told me how to be a better husband, adjusted me to educate and disciple my children differently, pushed me to pray, evangelize (not just say amen and do nothing), made me get out of debt, convicted me of personal sin, inspired me to worship, and on and on, none of those sermons were "church wrecking" sermons. Men of God simply presented the clear text (many times using lots of Scripture), explained it, helped me see the problem it addressed, and God moved me.
The preaching/teaching was transformational, not just emotional. I was "taught to observe" what the Lord commanded. In fact, the sermons I have on my blackberry and listen to over and over are these type. They present God's truth for the primary purpose of His glory. They expose darkness. They are convicting AND loving and they produce movement.
So going forward, I want to be a better transformational teacher. The need for movement is dire in the Body of Christ. There is a lot of Amening going on, but our marriages don't show it. Our children don't show it. Our money doesn't show it. Our holiness and hatred of compromise doesn't show it. And the culture doesn't show it.
Preaching and teaching should do more than encourage; it should soundly movitate God's people to do His will, and convict those who won't. That's the kind of teacher I want to be.
Psalms 127:1 (ESV) - Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Every August, I realize (by God's grace) how tightly I hold on to ministry. I suppose in some ways that's good; a pastor must work hard, be passionate about his calling and those he serves, and be watchful for wolves...both spiritual and physical! LOL! But what I seem to re-realize every year is how much of ME is involved. While resting, praying, reading, and spending time with family, it dawns on me how much responsibility I take on for the growth, health, and success of the church. What a ridiculous place to be. You'd think I'd learn by now....LOLOL!
The truth is God is sovereign over His church. It grows and becomes healthy by His will. It extends in influence by His grace. It prospers based on His purpose. The only thing we humans can do is be faithful...
- Faithful to declare the whole counsel of God...
- Faithful to live holy lives as best we can...
- Faithful to share the Gospel....
- Faithful to pray, worship, and study...
- Faithful to disciple those in our care...
The rest is truly up to Christ. So as a pastor, I am determined to simply present the Holy Text. I am determined to back up my preaching with a quiet, holy life. I'm determined to walk in true contentment, grateful to Christ for whatever He chooses to do. And I'm determined to continue in the path He's set for me...exposing the works of darkness, declaring truth even when it hurts, and working to truly see biblical evangelism and discipleship done.
I'm determined to be faithful regardless of the cost. How about you?
In baseball, "a rundown, informally known as a pickle, is a situation that occurs when the baserunner is stranded between two bases and is in jeopardy of being tagged out. When the base runner attempts to advance to the next base, he is cut off by the defensive player who has a live ball and attempts to return to his previous base before being tagged out. As he is doing this, the defenseman throws the ball past the base runner to the previous base, forcing him to reverse directions again. This is repeated until the runner is put out or reaches a base safely." --Wikipedia
Friends, I submit this is where the church finds herself...caught between decades of following the world and the need to return to Scripture knowing the world (and many in our congregations) won't like it. Caught between taking a shortcut to winning souls and seeing the vast numbers of false converts as a result. Caught between our embracing of the world and its methods and the gnawing feeling that something isn't quite right. Caught between the expectation of preaching pleasant words and seeing our lessening influence in the culture. Caught between the big churches we've built on debt (and the subsequent need to keep the people happy so they keep giving) and the prophetic message that is needed in this hour. Caught between years of minimizing the need for truth and doctrine and the realization that turning back will be hard for that very reason. Often, the saints are so used to breakthrough, blessing, now-seasons, and their "purpose" that "truth" seems strange, dull, and even mean-spirited and judgmental. As a result, the battle that rages for truth isn't going well. As an example, when people can look at Scripture and see in its pages an approval FOR homosexual "marriage", we're in trouble.
We should have never tried to steal a base, and instead taken the tough path.
What's the solution? In my humble opinion...
1. A rejection of carnality and a return to Scripture.
2. A willingness to risk our ministries' "success" by declaring the whole counsel of God.
3. A realization that the key to revival is repentance. In other words, trusting in the Holy Spirit for results, not our human wisdom or strategies.
4. A reformation in church ministry, family and discipling children, evangelism, stewardship, and every other area of life.
5. A regaining of a holy fear of the Lord based on the truth of the judgment to come. So many will face it without Christ.
In other words, we have to realize we are not salesmen. We are not motivational speakers. We are not leadership gurus. We are not here to make the world like us. We are followers of Jesus Christ. He alone draws men. We actually get in His way when we disobey Him.
Therefore we must place His desires above the desires of men. We must dive for first base (a biblical foundation) and pray He gives us grace from being "tagged out". We must go back. We must reform...or take every area of ministry and service back to its biblically intended purpose. That is what reformation is. That's the starting place...and the only we can beat the pickle.
The problem is that "going back" is almost anathema to most leadership driven, "progressive," "culturally sensitive" church leaders. (I love you brothers...but it's true.) We keep trying to "out world" the world. I know I did for years...to my shame. They move and we move. Who's leading who here?
Oh Lord, please forgive us. Forgive us for thinking we know better than you. Forgive us for being ear-scratchers. Forgive us for allowing the "love narrative" to be dictated by the world. Forgive us for our lack of faith and our tolerance of sin in the name of grace. Forgive us for our carnality and unwillingness to be a holy people. Forgive us for sending our children to pagans for their education, allowing sin in our homes, consuming sin in our entertainment, our lack of modesty, and our lack of true love..the love it takes to declare your Word.
Lord, we are in a pickle. We'll only be able to "return" to base by Your Grace. Help us. Please.
...by my wife! After 20 years of marriage, she still knocks me totally out with her beauty and love for me and our children! Yay God!
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Pro 31:10-31 ESV)
Well, now I've had a day or so to think through my recent post, here is where I am right now:
- There is no doubt in my mind that our enemy uses a lot of the money from mass industry against the mission of Christ.
- There is also no doubt that many of the tools of industry help many of us teach, minister, and spread the Gospel.
So now that I've written out of both sides of my mouth (LOL), here is what I personally plan to do:
- Keep reading and learning about the companies that both help and hinder the cause of my Master.
- Based on #1, minimize my usage and participation (and my church's) with companies that support ungodly causes.
- Cease dealing with said companies when at all possible, especially when it comes to luxuries and when lots of other choices are available.
For example, some companies that I (personally) can easily dump (like Starbucks) are totally off my list. I'm currently looking for a way to dump google for email. I'm also determined to use Christian companies (or at least those that support biblical values) whenever possible. But if Delta is the only way I can get to our orphanage in Cambodia or to our churches in Haiti, I'd fly it. If I go to Uganda to teach pastors and can put 10 needed books and commentaries on my Ipad (that I bought used), I'd use it.
So as far as tools (phones, tablets, cars, etc.), I plan to utilize products from better (biblically speaking) companies or buy second hand from believers when I can (as to not directly put money in a more offensive company) IF I feel that having the tool would enhance my ability to preach, teach, minister, and disciple my family. I also plan to look to do business with those that don't actively hurt the cause of Christ, including more small stores.
In our interconnected industrial society, this is hard. I don't think becoming Amish is the answer (LOL), but I don't think ignoring the issue is either. I'm still not totally feeling the greatest about even this strategy, but after reflection it's where I am right now.
For many people, this whole thing is probably silly. Yeah I know. But I have an active conscience, so pray for me! For everyone else, I'd love to hear what any of you came up with...let's learn and grow together!
Like many of the folks who'd glance at this humble blog, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed some delicious Chick-Fil-A food yesterday. This of course was in support of their founder's publically coming out FOR traditional family and biblical family values. Thankfully, many people all around the Nation did this too, and even today (according to my wife) our local Chick-Fil-A was packed. Well bless God!
But the whole thing caused an interesting question to arise in my mind, stirred by a tweet on Twitter from a pastor who apparently thought it was all much to do about nothing. He also questioned whether we as Christians were going to start scrutinizing companies we deal with for their values? (He of course asked the question sarcastically.)
But for me, the question hung there. You see, I spend my life trying to "love what He loves and hate what He hates" and love others biblically. The thought of fighting so hard in my pulpit, my personal life, and for my family only to voluntarily give my money (actually, God's money...a powerful tool) to people who use it to fight against God's Word is repugnant.
So I did a quick "Google" search and ran across this article (warning: from a secular site):
Yikes! I must be honest....I don't yet know what to make of this....I use most of these companies. I sat there at my computer (running Microsoft Windows) next to my Ipad...stunned.
Ok...now let me repeat: I don't know what to make of this just yet. I know the enemies of Christ have no problem calling for boycotts, picketting, etc. But us Christians? We usually preach a little bit and go back to business as usual. Plus, most of us are totally immersed here. Lord, what do you require here? Anything?
I'm sure this would be called a matter of "personal conscience" by most. And that is probably right. As Mike Huckabee said, " I buy the products not their politics."
But I don't know. I truly don't. I know this line of thinking can get interesting though...LOL. It seems like the devil has us coming and going. A weak, scared church afraid of the "hate" label; very little family discipelship in Christian homes; 85% of our children going to government schools; unbiblical evangelism that doesn't bring the knowledge of sin and call for repentance; and putting large sums of our money into organizations that support the darkness.
I'm probably way off here. Shucks...I hope I am! (A brutha loves his Ipad!) But what if there are Kingdom implications? I've drawn NO conclusions on this very difficult issue. But my wife and I are talking! (She refused to buy Cheerios today at the grocery store...LOL.) And I am thinking this through principally...and even the implications of the thought brings my spirit down. Am I that easy to trick?
In the search for principles, so far I'm come across:
- 2Ti 2:4 ESV No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
- 1Jn 2:15-16 ESV Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.
- Mar 4:18-19 ESV And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, (19) but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
- 1Co 10:23 ESV "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.
- Eph 5:11 ESV Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
- 1Co 10:25-26 ESV Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (26) For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."
Although I'm just beginning to look at my personal stewardship from this angle, I can say I ordered two books today from Christianbook.com (I normally used Amazon) and I'm researching another email service (currently use Google). (Why is it that all the tech world seems to be on the LGBT bandwagon?) I also asked my wife to pick up a Shepherd's Guide the next time she's at the grocery store.
Like I wrote in the title...Yikes. :)
(NOTE: For those coming to this blog not to discuss giving up your Iphone (LOL...Noooooo!) but upset that God's Word declares homosexuality a sin, read here first...then here and here. We still love you.)