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May 25, 2003

Church "Planting"

2 Samuel 7:10-11
Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more;... 11 ...Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.

In response to the rest from fighting his enemies, David told Nathan the prophet of his intentions to build a temple for the Lord. Nathan affirmed David's desires; "Go do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you." (v. 3) But the Lord had another plan and He revealed it to Nathan. God's plan was two-fold; to "plant" Israel and to establish David's kingdom.

I'm sensing that this may be one of those passages that become a promise; and illustration that give some insight to what God may be doing in this season. I'm feeling like this churc we've "planted" is being planted by the Lord. That we are being established in our identity and ministry assignment, never to waiver or wander. And that the oppression that has impacted the lives of the people in our body is about to be overcome and conquored.

Personally, the Lord is making for my family a house. It's an interesting play on words. It's like He's ready to anchor us in this community with a house, a home. But just as important, there will be a legacy of this ministry, a heritage of our New Horizons church family (and even with my family, my children) that is a tribute to the Lord.

Father let Your word be established here today. That this church would be planted by You. That my "home" and house would be established. And that we would recieve "The Helper" so that we can participate in the works of the Kingdom and the ministry of Jesus (John 14:12).

June 23, 2003

Inside & Outside

Acts 17:17
Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

So much of my life centers around God's assignment for my life. Pastoring is not a 9-5 job. Neither is pastoring a description of my job as much as a description of who I am. But there is a side of me that can get a little frustrated when the church isn't growing numerically, or finds iteself in a bit of an ordinary place because it feels like I'm not doing something right. So the question remains - how do I be what God has made me to be and how can it impact the assignment He has given me to do? That's whay this scripture describing Paul's activitivies in Athens is encouraging.

Paul gave himself to the task of communicating the truth of the scripture to those who believed. This is like my own preparation for the opprtunities I have to teach our congregation on Sundays and in small groups. Yet Paul also gave himself to the "marketplace" - initiating conversations and relationships with those he encountered in the course of his day. The context for teaching believers as a pastor is an automatic one (although not one I take for granted). But to get interacting with people outside the church and in the community requires some intentionality and availability.

It's so easy to hide in my office to take care of the responsibilities of leading our church. But are those things really "leading?" Or are some of the tasks things that should be secondary to initiating and maintaining relationships both in and outside of New Horizons? I think the answer to that question for me is an obvious "yes." There is an automatic context for that withing the church family (although I still could priortize relationships with our church family a lot more). The question is am I making myself available in the "marketplace" and being intentional about it? Encouragingly, the answer seems to be "yes." Coaching Justin's baseball team and the relationships that have developped over these 2 years have been awesome. Our family's friendships with the other "Ya Ya" families (Jayme's girlfriends that she met through my son's school) are really rewarding. Although we haven't "harvested" anything from these relationships yet, Jayme and I feel that these are major relational priorities for us. And they are personally filling as well.

So I want to do more. Stuff with the DCP staff. Be more intentional with my neighbors (especialy the new couple that moved in around the corner). I want to make sure I'm doing my job, both in the synogogue and in the marketplace. And in doing, really be who I have been made to be. So I'm turning the computer off now...there looks like there's some neighbors down at the pool. After all, I'm still on vacation.

July 22, 2003

No Broken Bones

a personal Word for this season

Psalm 27:1, 13-14
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 34:4, 17-20
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken
.

I called a friend today. A man who had many years of very successful ministry under his belt. A very high profile within his circle. A man who today is experiencing some of the greatest fruitfulness a pastor could pray for. A man who also planted a church - a church that died.

I wonder why I keep feeling frustrated - why not only are my expectations not met, but everything I try as a leader seems to fail. I just had to talk to somebody who knew what I am feeling. So I called Dan. As he was telling me about he and his wife's 4-year ordeal I felt like he was reading my mind. The weight of "failure." The emotional depression. The personal attacks to thier health. That he didn't even feel like the same person he had been, full of passion and the Holy Spirit's power. Most of all, the crisis of his own theology. I knew he had been where I am. And I recieved from him exactly what I needed.

I was hoping for some advice, a magic trick that could change everything, or at least a prophetic word that could keep me propped up for a while. Instead, there was a passing comment that combined a couple of scriptures together that ended with Dan saying, "Jeff, you need a deliverance." Not a deliverance from here to somewhere else, or a freedom from some kind of bondage to sin, but a deliverance in my own soul (in my wife's soul) from the opression that keeps us from truly being who God has made us to be.

It seems we've been crying out forever, asking for His intervention. All the while fear continues to press in. Yet I'm holding to the promise of deliverance from it. There are so many things that are lurking deep in our soul in this dark time. Fear has found many little places to settle in. In fact Jayme still worries about tripping and falling and breaking her arm. It was so traumatic when it happened at the start of the church in 2000, the idea that an accident like that could happen again and incapacitate her still haunts her. these fear are trying to permanantly become past of our psyche.

Yet, the Word of God says there is nothing to be afraid of. I am to not lose heart for I will experience the fulfilment of God's promise. There is the call to patience and perserverance in this season. He not only hears us, but He has drawn near to us in our broken condition. He will deliver. He even protects our bones! So I guess I'll have to keep waiting...and waiting...and waiting...and He will deliver.

August 20, 2003

Craftsmanship

1 Corinthians 12:28-31
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

I've been challenged in my assumptions of what a pastor is - what a pastor does, is responsible for, etc. Althought I haven't quite sorted it all out to my complete satisfaction, today I am reminded if this important fact: God decides who is and who isn't. He appoints these. My greatest asset personal as a leader is the fact that I have been chosen by God to serve His church in this function.

Obviously this is not something to use as a sledgehammer when facing conflict or challenge. It is though a solid foundation upon which the confidence to fulfill my role rests. So then there seems to be this whole spiritual toolbox from which we are able to choose from. Like most guys, I am infatuated with power tools - drillls, saws, air hammers, etc. - what ever tool can to it the quickest and most powerfully. These are the other "gifts" that I desire. But it isn't always about fast and big. At some point quality, craftsmanship, becomes the issue. This is the more excellent way.

I watch the care and attention to detail that is the real "tool" of artisans and craftsmens, whether they be potters, furnituremakers, homebuilders. It's not only the eventual product that is important. It's thier love of the materials they use, thier love of the process, that is thier motivation. Pastoring is hard sometimes because the process can be hard. The materials you are given to work with (in yourself as well as those you shepherd) may not have been your first choice. But the skill, the excellence is shown in the way it is handled and what is produced more that the raw material you begin with.

I want the best gifts, to have the best tools and best materials. But that doesn't guarantee what is produced is excellence. Excellence is produced when love, for the product and the process, is the motivation.

"...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Lord, don't let me fail in what you've appointd me to do.

August 25, 2003

Staying Right Here

1 Corinthians 16:9 (The Message)
For the present, I'm staying right here in Ephesus. A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here. (There is also mushrooming opposition.)

Jayme and I keep talking about the opportunity here in Irvine. It seems that just now,after 3 1/2 years, that the opportunities to impact people's lives are clear and opening. But there is also the sense of opposition. It is so tiresome to keep repeating myself about the challege of leading a church here. To be honest, it's the only thing on my mind 24/7. How do we breakthrough? What (or who, primarily myself) needs to change? The opposition doesn't seem to be coming from people as much as it is spiritual. But we keep hearing "perseverance." We keep believing in the Word that brought us here. And for the present, Lord, we're staying right here.

January 20, 2010

Who are you to me?

Genesis 20:13 (NKJV)
"...I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Observation:
Despite God's promise and protection, Abraham was still fearful..."they will kill me because of my wife..." This was the second time he told Sarai to refer to him as her brother. How could he ever have a son if he kept giving his wife away as a buy-off to avoid potential conflict?

Application:
I've never liked being introduced to people as "pastor." I've thught that the ttle carried too much baggage. Maybe I've really been fearful of the responsibility it carried. I cannot let the people I am responsible for be exposed just because I'm want to avoid conflict. I will "step up" (as Tabitha says) and be the man.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to walk humbly and confidently in the assignment you've given to me.

January 27, 2010

Sticks and Stones

Genesis 31:3 (NKJV)
Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”

Observation:
Ch. 31 has an interesting progression leading up to v 3: In verse 1, Jacob heard about what was being said about him. This must have made him aware of things he hadn't previously been privy to. This contributed to v 2, his observation that Laban was not as favorable towards him as before. Then, God spoke...

Application:
More than what God said to Jacob, I'm interested in the process that led up to it. What happens when the Lord is going to change your assignment? First is the ability to discern the reason for the change in your perception. What are the feelings of those around you? What relationships that had previously been satisfying aren't any longer? Next step is that God has to give some specific instructions on what to do next. Finally, those God has entrusted to your care must confirm it: v 16 - "whatever God has said to you, do it."


Prayer:
Lord, help me to be a man who doesn't make irrational changes or respond out of offense. Help me to develop the right perception and an intuition that prepares me to hear what You want to speak to me.

February 4, 2011

Hand-Me-Downs

Exodus 29:29 (NKJV)
And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated in them.

OBSERVATION
God dedicated the Aaronic line to be ministers before him. All of Aaron's descendants will now be priests. In fact, Aaron and his sons were dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 29:20). But Aaron's "uniform," the symbol of his position and responsibility, was to be passed down to his sons who come after him.

APPLICATION
This week in Men's Fraternity we defined authentic Godly manhood as "rejecting passivity, taking responsibility, leading courageously, and expect the greater reward." In the mentioned passage I see that the legacy that God was entrusting to Aaron required authentic manhood. It requires that he "hands down" to his sons something more than just his name.

Aaron and his sons (and the generations that followed) were dedicated for service to God. But there came a time when Aaron passed on his assignment to his sons. Aaron job wasn't only to minister before God as a priest, but to train his sons in what being a priest means, what it requires. For one day, they would wear the uniform and with it the responsibility for God's people and the generation that would follow them. There would come a day that Aaron's sons would be recognized by the community ("anointed") and charged with the full responsibility ("consecrated"). This means that the time of training and the time when they lived for themselves was over, and now gave themselves to a lifetime of service. And also took on the added responsibility of preparing the generation that would follow them.

I wonder what my son will feel when he puts on the uniform of "manhood." Will he know what it looks like? Will he know how to put it on? Will he understand what comes with the job? He was dedicated to God's service as an infant, but when the time comes to be anointed and consecrated into the ministry that God has for him, will he be ready? Will he know what to do. Doing my job with him is every bit as important as doing my job for others. When that day comes and he puts on the uniform; cap & gown (graduation) / tuxedo (wedding) / burp rag (fatherhood) - I want him to stand proud knowing he's ready and willing to embrace the ministry God has for him.

PRAYER
Father, I wear the uniform you've given to me with pride. Let me care for it in such a way that what is passed down to my son is not a mess of filthy rags, torn and worn out because I didn't care for it. Let me take pride in the manhood/ministry you've anointed and consecrated me to, so that I pass down to my lineage something of worth that is cherished and taken pride in...so that it can be passed down again.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Calling category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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