Tag: Catholic

October is Pastor Appreciation Month!

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October is a month for congregations to express their gratitude to their pastors and clergy leaders.

Since 1992 – when Clergy Appreciation Month was inaugurated by the non-profit group, Under His Wing Ministries, Inc. – October has brought joy to pastors and community members alike.

“It was a wonderful time, and I believe that not only was I strengthened and encouraged by all of this, but [church members] were blessed and encouraged by it, too,” a pastor from Texas testified in an online forum by Parsonage.org, a ministry of Focus on the Family. “There has been such an atmosphere of love and a very positive attitude in our congregation since then.”

“This past year has been tough on our church. We have struggled… This last month helped us get back on focus and on task.”

Over the years, the national holiday has grown more popular. The demand for gift cards has led Hallmark to print National Clergy Day cards since 2001.

“Your ministry has brought faith, strength, and healing to so many people. May God bless you for all you do in His name,” reads one Hallmark card.

There are more than one million full-time Christian ministry workers in the United States, including 350,000 senior pastors. Research shows that ministers are not immune to the pressures and stress of life today. Focus on the Family states that pastors and other clergy leaders “feel isolated, insecure, and only rarely affirmed.”

Christianity Today lists eight good will tasks that could lift a pastor’s day, including a suggestion to “Throw away the measuring stick.”

The Parsonage.org, meanwhile, has an online planning guide with suggestions on how to support clergy. The ministry states, “A simple card, an invitation to lunch, a promise to pray for them or an offer to babysit, wash a car or mow a lawn make wonderful statements.”

Whether it’s through a dinner invitation, a card, or a gift, the holiday strengthens pastors who carry burdens of an entire congregation. And don’t forget to include a sincere note with specific reasons you appreciate the minister’s spiritual leadership, dedication, time and commitment.

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Here are 10 suggestions to celebrate your pastor:

1. Write Lots of Letters

2. Customize a T-shirt

3. Create Original Art

4. Place Your Church in a Frame

5. Purchase Helpful Bible Commentaries

6. Make a Video Presentation

7. Give Public Thanks

8. Do an Office Makeover

9. Supply Favorite Things (candies, ties, etc.)

10. Celebrate 31 Days of Appreciation

 

Honor God by honoring His servants, with a thoughtful, personalized encouragement that fits your unique church and pastor.

Oct

From The End To The Beginning – Jesus Is Risen!

Today is the most important day in Christianity! Easter represents the day that Jesus rose from the grave with ALL power in His hands. According to Matthew 28, after being crucified and dead for 3 days Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He gave His life so that we may have life more abundantly not just here on Earth but also after we die.

From the beginning of his life to the end, Jesus Christ was the prime example of ‘beating the odds’. The odds were against him from the day He was born – He didn’t even have a bed; instead he was born in a barn and placed in a manager. He had enemies that had never even met him before and knew that His destiny was to die. How many people know that their destiny is to lay down their life for everyone else?

If someone were to place a bet on your life, what would the odds be? Would you be a success or a failure? It’s easy to think you have your act together now and that the odds are in your favor, but things have a way of falling apart. Look at King Nebuchadnezzar – he thought he was “all that” and even had other people worshipping a fake god but then he found out that there was a God who was much greater than him and changed his tune altogether.

We know that life can go wrong. As a matter of fact, we’re prone towards doing wrong but that doesn’t mean you should give up or stop trying to do what’s right. When we are out of God’s will the odds are never in our favor. Even when we get what we want, it may not turn out to be what we thought we wanted. So what do you do when you’re faced with insurmountable odds? Ask God to help you bear that cross. Even Jesus was humble enough to let Simon help Him carry the cross that He was forced to carry that ended up saving us from eternal damnation.

At the end of it all, Jesus defeated death. No other leader, god, president, prime minister or deity can say that. If He can defeat death, He can do anything for you. Jesus was persecuted, and I’m sure you have been too but NEVER count a believer out. Just like everyone thought Jesus was dead for good but he rose up to give us eternal life. God can turn things around for you. So go ahead Satan, hit me with your best shot. I know Jesus and if He can rise from the dead, than surely He can beat you!

Remember, Jesus Christ beat the odds for you. Are you beating the odds or getting beaten by the odds?

Risen

20 Things To Give Up For Lent. What Are You Giving Up?

Lent is in full swing. How’s it going for you? I admit, it’s been tough on my end because it always hard to break a habit, especially when it’s a bad one. My resolution for Lent was to watch less television so that I could spend more time in devotion with the Lord. In the past week & a half things haven’t gone quite the way I planned. Turning off the television hasn’t been the problem.  But reading the Bible AFTER I turn off the television is the problem.  You see, I like to get on the computer, make a quick phone call or even grab a midnight snack before delving into the Word late at night.  So how do I still accomplish my goals with Lent without completely failing? Stay tuned…..later in the week I’ll talk about what changes I’ve made.

In the meantime, read below –

Many Christians have “given something up” for Lent, but it usually has very little of impact on their life and walk with Christ. The reason is that we usually give stuff up for all the wrong reasons. With that said, I want to offer up 20 things you might consider giving up this Lent. And these are things to give up not just for Lent, but for the rest of your life.

  • Guilt – I am loved by Jesus and he has forgiven my sins. Today is a new day and the past is behind.
  • Fear – God is on my side. In him I am more than a conqueror. (see Romans 8)
  • The need to please everyone – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please.
  • Envy – I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
  • Impatience – God’s timing is the perfect timing.
  • Sense of entitlement – The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace.
  • Bitterness and Resentment – The only person I am hurting by holding on to these is myself.
  • Blame – I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions.
  • Gossip and Negativity – I will put the best construction on everything when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic bringing other people down.
  • Comparison – I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me.
  • Fear of failure – You don’t succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fail forward.
  • A spirit of poverty – Believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack
  • Feelings of unworthiness – You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your creator. (see Psalm 139)
  • Doubt – Believe God  has a plan for you that is beyond anything you could imagine. The future is brighter than you could ever realize.
  • Self-pity – God comforts us in our sorrow so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
  • Retirement – As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. That does not come to an end until the day we die.
  • Excuses – A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do.
  • Lack of counsel – Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.
  • Pride – Blessed are the humble.
  • Worry – God is in control and worrying will not help.

God has so much more in store for you. But so many of these things above are holding you back from walking in the full destiny he has laid out for you. Today is a new day.

So there you have it. What else might you add to the list? Please share in the comments below.

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Right and Wrong Reasons for Giving up Something for Lent

Lent has been going for about a week now & I thought I’d check in to see how everyone is doing with their “sacrifices”. As you know it is a tradition during the season of Lent for many people to “give something up.” You may very likely practice this tradition yourself. Some examples of the things people give up include chocolate, alcohol, smoking, television, and Facebook. There are lots of different reasons people have for giving something up for Lent. As with many practices there are some good reasons to do it and then there are some not-so-good of reasons to do it. Here are some of the not-so-good reasons:

1. Because it’s tradition

There are many good traditions in the church. Most every tradition is begun for a good reason. But there often comes a time when we lose the connection with the purpose of the tradition and we continue the tradition for the sake of the tradition. If you are not sure what the purpose of the tradition is, then it may be time to stop the tradition or at the least go back and re-examine the origins.

2. It helps me relate to the suffering of Jesus

Many believe that making a sacrifice will help them better relate to the sufferings of Jesus. But if you think this through, does giving up Facebook for Lent even begin to come close to helping you relate to the suffering Jesus went through? We are totally missing the point. Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice. His suffering was brutal. The idea of giving up 1st world luxuries to help us relate to the suffering he endured is laughable at best and mockery at worst.

3. To help me feel better about myself

For some giving up something for Lent is a way to kick a bad habit. Lent serves as a catalyst for living a healthier and more balanced life. It might serve to help you eat better or make better use of your time. All that is commendable and God wants us to be good stewards of our lives. But this still falls short of the fuller Lenten experience.

 

So what is the point then? Why would I give something up for Lent?

The whole idea behind giving something up is called FASTING. Fasting is a spiritual discipline much like prayer, Bible reading, and worship. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “when you fast …” He didn’t say, “if you fast …” There was an expectation his followers would fast. But it is an often overlooked discipline in the church. And because we don’t often teach about it, there is great misunderstanding about it.

So here are some reasons why we do fast or “give something up for Lent”:

1. More of God

While the idea of fasting involves taking something away, it is ultimately about more of God. Fasting in its purest form involves foregoing food for a certain period of time. This will lead to a hunger in our stomach which has an ultimate purpose of connecting us with our hunger for God. The time you might have spent preparing a meal and eating the meal can now be spent feasting on God’s Word. In other words, spend the time you would have spent eating by reading the Bible and praying. Jesus says, “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We realize our food and everything else we have comes from God. If God did not provide it, we would not have it (see John 6:68–69). We eliminate that which we think we need for that which we truly need.

2. Removing barriers

Another important aspect of fasting is cutting out that which is hindering our relationship with God. There is nothing more important in this world than our relationship with him. Yet, we allow so many other things to get in the way. In last Sunday’s message we heard Jesus say, “if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off” (Matthew 5:29–30). The principle applies here is that we eliminate that which separates us from God. There are many things in life we think we cannot do without, but Jesus says only one thing is needful (Matthew 10:41–42).

3. Re-centering

Finally, fasting has a way of centering us and reminding us what is most important. We have a lot of competing priorities in life. We don’t fast for God’s sake. It is a discipline given to us for our benefit. Fasting points us to what is most important. It helps us to keep the first things the first things. This is why we see the early church enter a time of fasting prior to making a big decisions (see Acts 13:2–3; 14:23). Fasting helps us better discern God’s priorities for life and ministry.

So how about you? What are some of the reasons you fast or “give something up” during Lent? Make sure to share in the comments below.

God’s blessings,

Pastor Phil

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*Article original published on Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.

ReLENT for Lent: What Are You Giving Up?

Lent is here! I am not Catholic but I do plan on observing Lent. According to the United Methodist Church, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter,” and is “a time of self-examination and reflection.” I like observing Lent because it means that I have to give up something that is taking my attention away from the Christian journey, away from Christ and my devotion to Him. If you are practicing Lent it’s important to give up the things in life that would be somewhat of a sacrifice to not have for a month and a half. It might be more important, however, to increase other activities that reflect upon and improve your faith and allow for spiritual growth.

Now this requires “discipline.”  Discipline through fasting, praying, and/or giving. You should reflect on Christ’s teachings to live them out more fully once this time period is over. It’s sometimes helpful to view Lent as a season of “soul-searching,” repentance (asking for forgiveness), reflection (meditation), and sacrifice. For a lot of people, they ask themselves the question: “What to give up for Lent?” When you give up something for Lent, you help develop your spiritual nature, grow closer to Christ, and realize all that He has given up for us. It’s not always about giving up something for Lent. Sometimes, it’s about doing something extra—something you wouldn’t normally do—in preparation for Easter.

We sacrifice, give things up for Lent, and take on new practices in exchange for the greatest sacrifice known to humanity. We get the opportunity to learn self-control and to improve our lives as Christians. As we give things up for Lent, we’re really finding things that are taking away from our love of Christ and giving them up so that we may improve our lives, the lives of those around us, and our relationship with the Lord.

Here are some common things that people give up for Lent –

  1. Caffeine
  2. Facebook/Social Media
  3. Sex
  4. TV
  5. Soda
  6. Alcohol
  7. Sugar/Sweets
  8. Shopping
  9. Email
  10. Meat
  11. Makeup
  12. Snooze button
  13. Cursing
  14. Smoking
  15. Chocolate

 

Here are some things that people give (meaning they do for others) during Lent –

  1. Write letters
  2. Volunteer
  3. Exercise
  4. Read the Bible more
  5. Meditate
  6. Study
  7. Attend church
  8. Give away some of your belongings to those less fortunate
  9. Practice being a better friend
  10. Spend more time with family

 

But don’t forget that kids can participate too! Click here to read more about RAK.

I’ve decided to sacrifice television for Lent. Not completely, but I’ll definitely be cutting down the amount of TV I watch, dedicating more of that time to quiet worship & reading the Bible. I’ll be posting periodically throughout the Lenten season, so stay tuned!

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Don’t Know How To Pray? Just A.C.T.S. Him

Many people aren’t sure how to pray. They think that there is a special way to talk to God otherwise their prayers won’t be answered but that just isn’t true. God hears all prayers, no matter how long, short, clumsy, disorganized, boring or weird they may be.  He’s even outlined how we should pray in the Bible –

Matthew 6:9-13

New International Version (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors

13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

That’s what the Bible says, but how does this teach you & me how to pray? Well, there is an easy way to remember. It’s called ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication:

Adoration means to worship. Every time we go before God we owe Him worship for who He is (Luke 4:8 – Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only”).

Confession is expressing sincere regret for the wrong you have done. Ask God to forgive you of your sins. When you confess, God will cleanse you from all wrongdoing (1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness).

Thanksgiving is giving thanks to God. Thank Him for His love, forgiveness, protection, provision, mercy & grace just to name a few things (I Cor. 1:4 – I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus).

Supplication is the time during the prayer where you ask for your needs and desires and for he needs of others, including friends, family, co-workers and our government leaders (because they need prayer too!), etc. You may want to ask for things like God’s guidance and wisdom. (Phil. 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God).

So you see, anyone can learn how to pray. Just A.C.T.S.!

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“There Are No Atheists In The Foxhole”

As a military man, my dad told me a long time ago that there is no such thing as an atheist when you’re on the battlefield. It has been declared that whenever someone is in distress regardless of their religious (dis)beliefs, they call on the name of God. Whether someone is in severe pain or has a family member on their deathbed, they often call out God’s name. Why is it that someone who has no association with religion whatsoever would even utter the name of Jesus or God? Well today is the day that proves JESUS is real. Real & alive!

Today is Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter, and I am proud to say that as a woman of God I am excited about what this day means for you & me. Resurrection Sunday is the MOST important day to all Christians.  Christians, Protestants, Lutherans, and even Catholics can all agree on the purpose of this day. Resurrection Sunday is the day that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, redeeming the entire human race. You see, the reason that I believe in Jesus Christ instead of any other religion is because Jesus is alive! What good does it do to worship a god who promotes vigilantism? Why believe in a god who is dead?  Why would I bow to a statue? Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and the Muslim faith are vastly different but I serve the only living God.

So, what does this mean to you? This means because of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and through his resurrection, we have the opportunity to receive the gift of salvation directly from the Lord.  Not from the Pope, not from a priest or a pastor but directly from God himself. Salvation guarantees us eternal life with God himself. This is so much better than getting an invitation to the White House! John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Happy Resurrection Sunday! CHRIST HAS RISEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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