Husbands, Encourage Your Wives Daily -Heb 13:3

  1. You have a powerful influence of moral excellence on the people around you –Pr 31:10 Virtuous (powerful influence of moral excellence)
  2. I hold you in high esteem, you are the most important person in my life –Pr 31:10 worth (held in high esteem)
  3. I trust you, you’re the most competent person I know –Pr 31:11 her husband trusts her
  4. You bring so much good into my days –Pr 31:12 you do me good all my days
  5. I appreciate how hard you work –Pr 31:13 work hard with hands
  6. I noticed how far out of your way you have to go to take care of all of us. –Pr 31:14 goes far to provide
  7. Thanks for getting up to care of us –Pr 31:15 rises early to provide for family and others
  8. I wish you didn’t have to make mony, but I’m impressed with how you do it. –Pr 31:16 earns private profits
  9. You are the strongest most steadfast woman I know –Pr 31:17 strength
  10. It makes me feel good when you perceive all is good, we’re going to be fine. –Pr 31:18 perceives all is good
  11. You strengthen me when I know hard times don’t destroy your confidence –Pr 31:18 lamp does not go out in darkness
  12. I love how you extend your hands to give to others –Pr 31:19 hold out her hands to give
  13. Your confidence is beautiful –Pr 31:21 confident
  14. I appreciate how fearless you are –Pr 31:21 not fear
  15. You look really nice today –Pr 31:22 well clothed
  16. I want to be the kind of man you respect and admire –Pr 31:23 respected husband
  17. You are so good at making ______________. –Pr 31:24 sells what she makes
  18. I just wanted to honor you by _______________. –Pr 31:25 strength and honor
  19. I love it when we rejoice together. –Pr 31:25 rejoicing
  20. I think you’re really wise and I appreciate your input. –Pr 31:26 wise
  21. I think you’re a really kind person. –Pr 31:26 kind
  22. Thank you for making our household run so smoothly. –Pr 31:27 watches over household
  23. I appreciate how hard you’re working –Pr 31:26 not idle
  24. You are leaving an incredible legacy. –Pr 31:28 children appreciate
  25. I believe in you and I’m excited about _________ (This part of our future) –Pr 31:28 husband affirms
  26. You are at the head of your class, there’s no one as gifted as you are. –Pr 31:29 excel in them all
  27. Your fear of the Lord is your most valuable quality. –Pr 31:30 fears the Lord
  28. You should praised for ____________. –Pr 31:30 to be praised
  29. I wish everyone knew how good you are at _____________. –Pr 31:31 show off your works
  30. Your gentle and quiet spirit is so beautiful –1 Pe 3:4
  31. Your love for the Lord inspires me to love Him more. -1 Pe 3:1

(see also Genesis 3, Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, 1 Peter 3)

David Strengthened Himself In The Lord

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As a pastor I spend most of my time in one of two areas.  I serve people suffering weakness, like hospitalizations or financial needs, and I spend time responding to conflicts like  broken marriages and church disagreements.  I was recently encouraged by Dr. Zack Eswine (The Imperfect Pastor) when he shared the story of how David responded to these things in 1 Samuel 30.

In previous chapters David had been fleeing King Saul who was trying to kill him and then he was rejected by the Philistine leaders in 1 Samuel 29 who didn’t approve of him.  In the beginning of chapter 30 David and his men were raided and all their wives and children were taken.  David’s men were so upset they wept till they had no more strength to weep, and then they talked of stoning David.  And the Bible says, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.”  As we continue reading, some of David’s men were so overcome with grief they were too weak to go recapture their wives and children, so 200 of them stayed behind.  Upon reclaiming all the wives and children and plundering the Amalekites, the 400 who went resented the 200 who stayed back and refused to share the plunder with them.

And David, having strengthened himself in the Lord, was able to “manage well with all dignity” (1Ti3:4) and give grace to them all.  Those too weak to contribute were blessed alongside those who worked hard for it.  And those in conflict, who were filled with resentment, were blessed alongside those who had been overcome by love for their families.  May we strengthen ourselves in the Lord and bless those who are weak and those who are angry.

Be encouraged; God’s grace is for you.

Summer Vacation or Family Holiday?

Most of my favorite summer memories involve family vacations.  Camping at Silver Lake, swimming at the sand dunes, John and Diane Windle’s puppets at family camp, bike rides for donuts, the smell of suntan lotion, and M&M Peanuts.  When I was a boy, our family would share a half gallon of cookies and cream ice cream on the boat dock.  Dad would let us finish it all because there was no freezer to keep it!  Anybody for seconds?!

During a high school missions choir trip to England my sister Denise Lane and I made the nicest friends named the Hunter family.  They would come visit us in the US while on “holiday.”  Mr. Hunter was so tall he made my dad look like Barney Rubble, so we called the two of them Fred and Barney.  Watching them race in go carts was hilarious!  But we learned from the Hunters that what we call vacation, the British call “holiday.”

Recently I heard Pastor Stuart Briscoe talking about the need to take a break from time to time.  He challenged us to be intentional about how we spend this time away from our normal routine.  He shared the word “vacation” can mean to vacate or be vacant, to shut off and try to forget.  Maybe we try to live in a fantasy world only to crash back into reality.  “Holiday” on the other hand comes from our Christian heritage, taking time off to remember holy days.

In the Old Testament we see patterns of rest in the requirements of the Jewish Law.  God asked His people to observe seven breaks.  There were daily Selah breaks, a weekly Sabbath, a monthly New Moon day, three yearly week long Festivals, four other Feast days, the seven year Sabbaticals, and the 50th year of Jubilee.

But what grabbed my attention as Pastor Briscoe talked about these “Holy Days” in Scripture was what God asked them to do during these times.  They were to take a break from routine to be intentional about three things: Spiritual Transformation, Family Team Building, and Relaxation.  Or more simply put, a rest to pursue intimacy with God and intimacy with family.  The week-long festivals involved a pilgrimage.  And the Festival of Shelters was basically a camping trip to remember how they lived when God brought them through the wilderness.  A reminder that this earth was not their home, they were simply passing through, and God would provide everything they needed.

I hope you have at least a week of vacation or holy days this year (I think Scripture would recommend three!).  I hope you can leave your home and remember where God has brought you from.  I hope you can travel and be with your spouse and children and parents and siblings.  And I hope you can have time to rest and experience the love and peace and joy that overflows from our relationship with Jesus through His Holy Spirit within us.

Happy Summer Vacations! Or should we say, Happy Family Holidays!

Creating a Culture of Ministry Health

Dear Church Board and Chairperson,

Management Consultant Peter Drucker called church leadership “the most difficult and taxing role he knew.”1  LifeWay Research Vice President Scott McConnell said of pastors, “This is a brutal job, churches ought to be concerned.”2  100% of pastors surveyed by the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development had a close associate or seminary friend who had left the ministry due to church conflict, stress related burnout, or a moral failure.3 

Until your church is large enough to hire an executive pastor, you as a board are the human resources department.  It is a huge responsibility to steward your employees, and stewarding the pastoral position has unique challenges.

If you want to create a culture of ministry health and growth, you need to intentionally identify and address the risks that could sabotage your goal. Below are 10 questions that reflect the challenges that you and your pastor face, as researched by Dr. Charles A. Wickman in Pastors at Risk (note chapter references in parentheses).

  1. How do we become unified with our pastor to clarify, communicate, and contend for God’s vision for our church? (Ch#4) “The primary stressor experienced by pastors, leading the most often to forced resignation, is vision conflict.” -Wickman/Spencer4
  2. How do we help our pastor by setting appropriate and manageable expectations of our pastor and clearly communicating them to him and our church? (Ch#7) “In a survey asking how exited pastors experienced stress in their ministry, role conflict was a top ranked producer of stress second only to conflict over how ministry was to be done in the church.” –Wickman5
  3. How are we helping our pastor train volunteers and delegate (administrate) responsibilities? (Ch#6)George Barna has discovered that while 69% of the pastors of effective churches have preaching/teaching as their primary gift emphasis, administration and leadership are found in only 15% of these pastors.” – John Hawco6
  4. How are we facilitating healthy communication in our church? (Ch#9) “Most church conflict results from poor communication.” -Rick Warren7
  5. How do we help our pastor manage the grief and loss he experiences regularly and create a culture of joy? (Ch#11) “Ministry is fraught with grief because of difficulty in relationships between sheep and shepherd, people and pastor.” -John A. MacArthur8
  6. How do we help our pastor manage stress related burnout and encourage him to have enough rest? (Ch#1-2) “75% of pastors experience a significant crisis that they faced due to stress in the ministry” -Fuller Institute9
  7. How do we help our pastor say no and handle the criticism that comes with it? (Ch#8) “All of the top at risk pastors said it was difficult for them to say no.” -Wickman10
  8. How do we help our pastor manage discouragement and encourage him to invest in self care? (Ch#3) “70% of pastors constantly fight depression.” -Fuller Institute11
  9. How do we support our pastor to pursue a healthy relationship with his wife? (Ch#10) “77% of pastors felt they did not have a good marriage.” -FASICLD 12
  10. How do we help our pastor manage isolation and encourage him to meet with pastors of other churches and denominations? (Ch#5) “Only a fellow minister can point out the width and depth of the rut in which a colleague may be running.” – Winton H. Beaven13

Thank you for investing in the health of your church by addressing the 10 Risks every church and its pastor face.  If you would like further resources or there’s any way we can support and strengthen your ministry, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Serving Jesus together,

jason@pirministries.org

1 Grudem, Elliot. “Pour It Out,” Leadership Journal, Winter 2016.

2 Green, Lisa Cannon. “The One Percent;” Christianity Today, September 1, 2015.

3,8,9,11,12 Krejcir, Dr. Richard J. “Statistics On Pastors,” http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562, 2007.

4,5,10, Wickman, Dr. Charles A. Pastors at Risk, 2014.

6 Hawco, John. “The Senior Pastor/Executive Pastor Team: A Contemporary Paradigm For The Larger Church Staff,” Dissertation, https://www.xpastor.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/hawco_john.pdf, 2005.

7 Warren, Rick. “Develop These 7 Skills When You Want People to Listen,” http://pastors.com/develop-these-7-skills-when-you-want-people-to-listen/, October 2, 2015.

8 MacArthur, John A. “Restoring the Grieving Pastor’s Joy,” https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/47-48/restoring-the-grieving-pastors-joy-part-1, September 24, 1995.

13 Beaven, Winton H. “Ministerial Burnout-Cause and Prevention,” https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1986/03/ministerial-burnout-cause-and-prevention, March 1986.

Pastor, Are You At Risk?

In 2012 my 10 year plan was completely derailed as I found myself exiting a pastoral position I loved.  In the wake of this painful transition I was introduced to the Pastor In Residence ministry to pastor’s and their wives.  Their at risk survey would have been a huge benefit to me on the front end had I known about it.

If you or those around you are feeling that something isn’t right about your present pastoral situation, please take this free survey created through years of research by Dr. Charles A. Wickman regarding the risks pastors face.

At-Risk Pastor Survey

May God richly bless you and your family.  Thank you for serving His church.

 

My Favorite Katastrophe

turner_and_hooch jugular

 

In Tom Hanks’ 1989 film Turner and Hooch, Scott Turner, an obsessive compulsive neat freak detective becomes the guardian of Hooch, a dirty, slobbering, furniture chewing, gas passing, house destroying French Mastiff.  The first time we see Hooch in the movie, he tackles Turner and takes hold of him in the jugular (pictured above).  This dog is a pain in the neck!  Bringing Hooch home is a catastrophe.  He barks and howls all night.  He chews off the headrest in Scott’s car.  He breaks through a door, empties the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator, rips apart the couch, destroys the speakers, slobbers all over Scott’s clean clothes, tears down the blinds and leaves a mess all over the house!

A catastrophe is a downturn to destruction.  Every day we wrestle in our minds regarding our circumstances and quarrel with the relationships around us.  If animals with no sinful nature can drive us nuts, why are we surprised when people do?! Our minds battle with ongoing thoughts of catastrophe.  2 Timothy 2:14 says that “quarreling leads to the ruin (Katastrophe) of those who listen.”  So how do we overcome the ongoing catastrophe in our minds?

Romans 5:10 says that “while were enemies to God,” in the midst of our catastrophe, while he had every right to be angry with us, “God reconciled us to Himself.”  That is, He ceased being offended with us and received us into favor anew.  While I was in my catastrophe of anger towards God, He changed FIRST and called me His favorite?! And when we receive His reconciliation, He gives us the charge to extend reconciliation to others.  So how can we stop being angry at someone first, when we feel we have every right to be?

The turning point in Hooch’s story is when Scott tries to give him a bath.   Somewhere in the process Scott stops being angry at Hooch and starts treating him with care.  At first, Scott winds up in the tub as Hooch fights every step of the way.  However, Scott ultimately succeeds in cleaning Hooch in the backyard with a hose and car brush.  Scott ends up winning Hooch over with steak, an ear rub, and some playful wrestling.

James 3:13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life (anastrophe), by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”  This anastrophe is the opposite of catastrophe.  While catastrophe is the downturn to destruction, anastrophe is the upturn toward life. It’s the change of our thinking and behavior by the upturn of our inner beliefs.   It’s feeling hopeful, thankful, and joyful even when Hooch has destroyed our house!  In Romans 8 we are reminded that when our minds are led by our flesh we’re focused on catastrophes, but when our minds are led by the anastrophe of the Holy Spirit, we are filled with vigor and vitality.

In a recent “Mingling of Souls” Marriage Conference by Pastor Matt and Lauren Chandler, Matt shared how he and Lauren would have a major fight every couple months before they were married.  Matt became concerned and asked a mentor if he should consider breaking off the relationship?  This mentor responded, “Matt, you’re going to fight with someone for the rest of your life.  The question is, do you want that person to be Lauren?”

By the time he takes a bullet for Detective Turner, Hooch has become Scott’s favorite dog.  When Hooch dies Scott cries and mourns the loss of his best friend.  What previously had seemed to be a catastrophe had now become a favorite part of his life.

So keep your chin up friends.  We will run into a lot of catastrophes in this life.  In fact, you may be married to one at times.  And don’t forget you are a catastrophe yourself much of the time!  But with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can all live with this anastrophe and reconciliation the Bible talks about.  We can be the first to change.  We can have a continual upswing of hope and thankfulness and joy.  And we can stop being frustrated and angry FIRST and receive our catastrophes with favor.  So who is your favorite katastrophe?!

 

Equally Yoked

yoked

I played trombone under Dr. Bartlett, who directed our 80 member symphonic band. One day at practice he asked us to close our eyes and start the song together. The first time we tried there were 80 different sounds and a lot of laughter; it was a train wreck. However, we were all amazed to discover that through practice and listening, we were able to play together beautifully without being able to see our conductor. In the same way, many marriages in our culture become a train wreck. But it’s possible to have a beautiful, enjoyable, intimate marriage, even when life is hard and we can’t see our Heavenly conductor.

The Bible says that a husband and wife are yoked together in 2 Co. 6:14. A yoke is a harness used to connect two oxen to a plow, or two horses to a sleigh. It requires the two go the same direction, the same speed, with the same exertion, and always at the pace of the slower, weaker partner.

Ephesians 5 is a prescription for a healthy, equally yoked marriage. Verse 25 says a man is to give himself up for his wife, or sacrifice. Verse 22 says a woman is to stand under with confidence, or submit to her husband. The husband makes sacrifices or yields when he feels too busy or too tired. The wife submits, or yields, and stays confident when she feels frustrated or lonely. Sacrifice and submission are the keys to being equally yoked.

If a husband and wife are yielding to each other, it’s pretty hard to have a head-on collision. In marriage, you have to choose to go the same direction, at the same speed, pulling with the same exertion. If you don’t, your marriage yoke will be a pain in the neck.