Sometimes I get tired of cliches. These little nuggets of “truth” that people often follow as eternal wisdom. It is hard to avoid them and we see them inside and outside of the Church. Perhaps we will go to a store and see an entire section of keepsakes with these little inspirational phrases embroidered, embossed, or even carved. These phrases are meant to give us a little inspiration to help us get through the day. We have seen picture frames that contain poems, quotes, and even single words that help us to cope. You know what I am talking about.
If you go to very many retail stores your vision is assaulted with little reminders of human suffering and the attempt to alleviate the impact. The problem is sometimes these cliches are untrue. They make us feel better but their universal message falls flat when really put to the test. I see it all the time. People will believe these cliches with all their heart until times are tough or conflict is at its peak…and in this moment it is almost as if they pause their beliefs.
One cliche is the one that says that we choose our own destiny. This is empowering and great to think about, however, what does this say about people who believe this but they also claim they have no choice concerning their addictions or damaging lifestyle?
What about this Christian one…..”God will never give you more that you can handle…” (I have commented on this before). My retort to this is simple. If we rely on God’s power then it is not about ho much WE can handle.
Oh…I love this one..”Believe in your dreams.” This sounds great but would we have wanted to say this to Hitler or Stalin? I think Erwin McManus said it best in his book “Chasing Daylight”. He says, “when you are passionate about God, you can trust your passions.” This defintely looks at this concept differently.
“Follow your heart” is also a popular quote that seems to have a lot of value in our culture. It is stitched on pillows, framed on walls, and have been ingrained into many. The Bible tells us that our heart is deceitful and when we think about it often we allow our emotions to irrationally control us. This has led to numerous damaged relationships.
My point? I think God wants us to challenge things like this. Just because it sounds good and gets us through the moment doesn’t mean it is nourishing for the soul. God doesn’t want us just to “survive through this moment”. He wants to fill us with His spirit and give us tools for eternity. Scripture is not meant for short term inspiration….but for transformation of life.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/12/07/pillows-and-printings/
You played the game too when you were a kid. It was a terrifying game with fatal consequences. If you lost focus even for a split second then you were doomed. It is hard to imagine that we played games with such a high risk factor.
The game is simply explained. Walk and maintain your balance on a narrow beam, or appropriately placed landscaping without falling to your doom into the (gulp) alligators below. Some kids replace alligators with lava for increased difficulty.
In all honesty we adults know that the consequences were mere figments of our imagination. We certainly acted as if they were real….doing everything possible to not fall. It definitely required focus.
There are things we encounter daily that are distractions to us. Even the word “distraction” doesn’t really do them justice. These are things that, if we were to lose focus, we could fall. The long term consequences could be a negatively redirected life.
When we think about our faith life it is obvious that we cannot afford to lose focus. Our desire to know God more, and serve those around us is vital. The fact is, though, there are sometimes when we try to show off, get distracted or give up altogether. Many times we even discount the reality of our faith. This makes us fall. The good news (aptly named) is that grace puts us back on track. God’s grace gives us chances that we don’t deserve using resources we have no business taping into. For some reason, that still can’t be explain, He desires for us to access this gift.
Today, don’t lose heart….lean on grace and regain focus.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/12/01/avoiding-alligators/
Henry Ford was a genius in his time. He had the ability to maximize efficiency through the use of the assembly line in the production of consumer vehicles. He was able to employ a lot of people and the number of cars that came out of the factory was staggering…unheard of in that day.
His idea was simple. If each person was trained to do one thing that contributed to the whole, then each person could perfect their seemingly mundane skill. If you would have been an autoworker in the early 1900′s you may have had times in which your skill would have seemed meaningless to you. Perhaps you would only install headlights or tighten a bolt, but if you were sick one day, the work would not get done, and production would slow down. Each worker was extremely valuable.
So, let’s say that a particular factory produced 100,000 cars in a year. This would have been impressive in the early days, but what if none of these cars had actually left the factory? The skills of the workers would have been wasted, and the workspace would have been cluttered. The company would need to build bigger warehouses to store all of the cars being produced and eventually the corporation would dissolve due to the fact that the product never left the building.
My point? The Church must do more than just sit in the pews and soak up information. God has given every believer special abilities and the mere act of worship is meant to not only praise God but to infuse passion for His work into His creation.
Religious assemblies should translate into efficient assembly lines.
Get out of the factory and bring the gospel to the world.This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/11/22/assembly-lines/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I am a terrible patient.
Lately, I have experienced a cough that has lasted around a month, and each day it becomes more annoying. A few weeks ago i broke down and went to a local immediate care facility and was given antibiotics. They did nothing for me. I then decided to live with my ailment and essentially ignore the symptoms that I was having. It was okay at first, but the more I coughed and wheezed, the more people made comments about my condition. “You need to go back to the doctor”, some would say. Others would try to diagnose me based on their personal experience.
I have to say that I got tired of hearing people tell me that something was wrong. I would roll my eyes, and ignore their advice. I developed a wall of pride that prevented me from seeing the real issue.
How many times do we do this? We slowly (not necessarily on purpose) eliminate intimate times with God, and our priorities become skewed. The lack of regular resourcing from God’s spirit begins to erode us to the point of burnout and exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong….even when we are in God’s will exhaustion can still come, but it is a different response. This exhaustion can lead to bitterness and what I displayed; pride.
When we are in this situation we can become somewhat irritated when someone points out our visible change. Our eyes have lost their sparkle and our desire for “His will……on earth as it is is heaven” has disolved.
God wants us to be well. He wants to spend regular time with us and pour His spirit out upon our lives. Not to magically give us wealth or influence, but a resourcing that will not only get us through the hard times, but will also help our testimony be meaningful to others.
In humility, we need to approach the Great Physician. We may be afraid of the potential diagnoses, but the future will be filled with unlimited potential if we obey.
The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that we are alone in the fight to become well. We know better than that….
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/11/03/becoming-well/
Most pastors, at some point in their careers, seek jobs that simply pay the bills. Perhaps they have not found a church yet, or perhaps the church they are in is a volunteer situation. Either way…it is a common occurrence and these pastors know that this is what they must do at least for a season.
Years ago, I was hired to work in a hardware store. This is not my area of knowledge, so some of the products and their uses confused me. It was obvious that I was not going to be employee of the month any time soon. Tools, lumber, doors, windows, shutters, and locks were not things that really interested me. I was pretty good at making a sale though…I knew enough to talk about what I was selling to get them to the cash register.
On one occasion, there was an older woman who came into the store in the midst of a bad mood. She said words that made my eyebrows raise and she needed a particular product…and she needed it NOW. I told her I would be right with her and I searched for her product. With each key I stuck on the keyboard, this woman became more enraged. She was obviously in a hurry and told me that the previous hardware store did not treat her well. You guessed it….the product she was looking for was on back order. Fast forward through the raised voice and stomping out.
My supervisor knew that I was a pastor by trade. After each tense moment in our job (which simply came with the territory in retail) he would say the same phrase. “Landon, this isn’t your church work….this is the real world…get used to it.” The first time I heard him say this, I nodded my head and moved on, but after a few times, I realized that he was more inaccurate than I once thought.
The real world? This is the real world?
I realized that what I did all day was meet customers who I never saw again, and sold them a product that I knew little about. Sometimes they would be happy with my recommendation, sometimes they would not be, and other times they came in angry to begin with (such as the lady above).
My supervisor thought that I was out of my element and he was absolutely right. I was actually used to the real world….not the fake one I was standing in.
In the “real world” he was describing; how many times did he sit down with a freshly divorced lady and comfort her as she talks about the deeper issue. How many times, selling doors, will I talk to a young teen who will admit she has been cutting herself to get attention. The adulterer? The alcoholic? The couple that needs counseling? The man who has it all together and is contemplating suicide? I usually just met with customers for about 5 minutes and never got to know them, or sit with them in their home after the loss of their grandparent as they weep uncontrollably.
When you say the phrase “real world” what do you mean? Often we never actually get to see this side.
The fact is God wants us to be in the real world, and bind the wounds of those who are deeply hurting. Wake up from the theatrical production you may be in, and develop deep relationships.This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/10/19/the-real-world/
I have a few favorite restaurants in Indianapolis. Sometimes, which one I go to depends on what type of mood I am in or what sounds good in the moment. Several weeks ago, I went for a quick bite to eat at an Indian place that I have been to many times before…I was in the same location, and the decorations were also the same as before, but this time there was something different. I couldn’t really verbalize why it I thought things were changed, but I could tell because I had been there many times before. I recognized the difference in service and the slight change in product offered.
I have exerienced this same feeling when going to different types of businesses. The facility looks the same, but the quality of customer service and variety of products available is noticeably different. All of these experience had one thing in common…they were under new management.
The fact is when a business is under new management the implication is this change is for the better. For the sake of argument…let’s just say this is true . Whether this is true or not…there is definitely a difference in the quality of care that you receive.
When we surrender our hearts to Christ we are under new management. The fact that there is a new manager also tells the world that the quality of care and the “product” will be drastically different. God changes the way we operate. This change is not a result of legalistic rules and rituals, but a direct reflection of who is leading us.
God’s plans are much better than the ones we have created. When we put our lives in His hands, we find out there is a long-lasting joy and peace that can only be supplied by Him. God does not force His way upon us…but if we give ourselves to Him fully we are telling Him that all we have is His to use.
Today, pray that God will use you for HIs plan…..not the plan that we have created and told Him to bless.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/10/11/under-new-management/
It was an average morning. It was early and gray outside. This insured that our house was pretty dark when my son woke up. You see….my son pretty much goes to bed as a brief pause in between periods of play time. So, when Daddy and Mommy are in a deep sleep early in the morning, my playful son wakes us all up to start his day.
This particular morning was no different than any other….except for how dark it was in the living room (where we keep his toys). I got him out of bed and released him to go play. He abruptly stopped when his feet hit the hallway. His eyes were wide and he had a look of fear on his face.
“What’s wrong buddy?”, I asked…a bit confused. He was silent. “Come on, let’s go play with your cars.”
“Daddy”, he said. “I can’t go in there because of the monsters.”
I tried not to laugh because I remember those days. In my childhood, for some reason, monsters only existed when the lights are off.
What is it about the dark that suddenly populates our familiar spaces with monsters? It is almost as if they suddenly appear at the control of the lightswitch.
Perhaps there is something deep within us that fears what can’t be seen. This is why faith is a hard sell for some. Darkness, and invisibility make us uncomfortable because we can’t label, control, or plan for what is behind the imaginary curtain. In our minds, monsters are everwhere because we hate not fully knowing.
The Bible gives us the definition of faith. It is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what is unseen (Heb. 11:1). If this were true for us then this would mean we enter our personal darkness with confidence and knowledge that what we encounter will be docile in comparison to the power associated with the author and perfector of our faith.
What would happen if we actually behaved as if faith were real? It may just affect every aspect of our lives…..and dispel the monsters.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/10/08/monsters/
MONTGOMERY – A police department in Alabama has been working in recent months to train area pastors to work beside them in the police force, both as a way to reach out to the hurting and to fight back against crime in the city.
This past summer, the Montgomery Police Department launched Operation Good Shepherd in response to the city’s high homicide rate, as Montgomery fears being on the path to becoming one of the most violent cities per capita in America. According to WSFA, the outreach program was modeled after the Police and Clergy Working Together (PACT) program in Dayton, Ohio.
“[F]aith leaders attend weekly classes in which police teach them ways they can discourage crime and show them exactly what’s happening in their communities,” the outlet explained.
Pastors will accompany police at crime scenes, as well counsel and pray with those present, and will attend monthly meetings to discuss areas of concern in regard to criminal activity in the city. Police training includes gang awareness and how to spot illegal drug activity.
Nearly 40 area clergy have completed the training, which were all recognized during a recent ceremony at Montgomery City Hall. Police chief Kevin Murphy issued diplomas to the pastors as their names were called.
“They’re going to make a difference, and they’re going to help everyone in their time of need see that change can be made,” Corporal David Hicks told those gathered.
Corporal Theodore Williams, the project coordinator, concurred.“I am so glad to have this moment finally come,” he stated to reporters with theMontgomery Adviser at the event. “I am so glad that they are able to go out and help people in their time of need. … This is good for the city of Montgomery.”
According to The Atlantic, popular radio preacher Billy Holder also addressed the audience, explaining that the youth in Montgomery need examples of how to live with standards and morals. He shared a story about how he had watched a documentary where an older elephant was able to tame the young, unruly elephants through his example and care.
“Once the older elephant was introduced to the pack, the younger elephants had somebody to look up to,” Irvin told the crowd. “They had someone to guide them. And that’s what our youth needs: someone to guide them. Without that, how will they know about moral structure?”
Hicks recently appeared on Holder’s program to explain Operation Good Shepherd and its goals.
“What we want to do is combine the religious community and the Montgomery Police Department and we want to unite those as one,” he stated.
However, Montgomery police chaplain E. Baxter Morris stated that the opportunity can also be viewed as a means to evangelize the lost in the community.
“There is an evangelistic advantage,” he stated. “That is, that once I float to your comfort zone, and we become one in our crisis, I determine what your spiritual needs may or may not be, and I may be able to share with you a word from Christ.”
“The faith community is the community that’s really the heart of any community,” Roosevelt Crawford of Bethlehem Temple Church told reporters. “And the churches need to be connected with the community.”This post was written by H Clark. For the original post go to:
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Currently, the church I pastor is seeing more and more new people each week in our worship service. On a personal note, I have been incredibly encouraged concerning the growth I am seeing and the excitement on a weekly basis. Some people have approached me after a short time of attending and have sought to become more involved in the church. This is also great!
As I have reflected on this in the last few days, I have felt the need to tell people what they should expect when joining my church. The following are the 7 things that you should expect when taking the step to become a leader or generally involved in this worship community….these things are universal and can be applied to any other church.
1. Someone will eventually hurt your feelings….Someone is going to say something to you, or step on your toes, or even blurt something out randomly that will offend you.
2. You will encounter hypocrites. Churches are full of them and many are leaving the church for this reason…..grocery stores, civic groups, concerts, political groups, bus stops, restaurants, parking lots, hospitals, call centers, parties, and family reunions are also full of hypocrites….good luck avoiding those too.
3. Someone in my church will annoy you. Fact: everyone has an annoying side.
4. My message will not make sense to you on occasion. That’s okay…perhaps God will use it in your life later.
5. The music may not connect with you this Sunday. That’s okay….perhaps God will use it in your life later.
6. There will be discouraging times in our church. You can bet on this…..we are a church full of people with problems and regular discouragements. It just makes sense that a group of people would reflect this….
7. Church will be boring at times. ….umm……..I got nothing. Sorry.
Overall, the church is not only a family but it is a redemptive and purpose-oriented community. Due to the fact that it is filled with people, not everything is going to be perfect. When we are interacting with people with wounds, hang ups, and brokenness we have to understand that grace is not just something for people on the outside but we are the prototype before distribution.
Redemptive communities require imperfection to participate.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post with comments, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/09/24/the-truth-about-my-church-and-others/
I think every pastor, from time to time, sits in his/ her office and wonder what they can do better to grow their church. It is frustrating at times to work hard and to visibly see people losing interest in what you are doing. Pastors…let’s be honest…we feel that growing our church (whatever that means) is solely our responsibility. We try to come up with creative ideas that will get more butts into seats, manufacture excitement, and give people a great show to talk about for the rest of the week. I am more and more convinced that we are missing the point entirely.
I pastor a fairly small church in Fishers, IN called Fishers Point Community Church. We are a slowly growing church plant that has a ton of children and is overall very family-oriented. I love that worship community. As the Lead Pastor of this church, the first paragraph at one point described me perfectly. I felt responsible for everyone’s happiness and the steady growth of the church. Granted, I am responsible for strategic leadership, but growth requires more than what I listed…
One day, I sat in my office and had such a burden for my church. I began to feel as if there was something missing from what we were doing. I looked at our mission statement and it looked good…I thought about our music and it was great quality…I even critically analyzed my own preaching. Everything seemed great! Why were people coming into our worship services so tired and checking their watches during worship? It occurred to me that our church had never really taken any risks and had not selflessly served the community. I thought we did…I mean we had a great worship service to come to that anyone was invited to participate in…We were not actually serving people for the purpose of simply serving.
When we started targeting people to serve in our community we began to see testimonies regularly and people seeing God moving in their lives! And…most importantly we serve making sure that we do not do so just to get people to come to our church. We make sure that we just simply serve.
The most recent example was a project that we did for a single mother of 2 boys. We painted her house…It was so simple, but through this project the people that participated were changed. This woman was so gracious to humbly let us serve her. She seemed so appreciative. The next morning, in our worship service, we saw spontaneous testimonies, and God took over to the point that I had to surrender my sermon to God’s control. I didn’t preach what I intended. What happened that day can’t fully be described.
We have seen our local church invigorated because children and adults are involved in sacrificially giving their time, money, and energy to make sure that Christ is seen through us. People not only need to hear the word they need to see it. My vision for this church is to mobilze an army of sacrifically serving individuals to reflect Christ’s love around the community.
I have found that churches and individuals will grow and become passionate about their faith when they take the gospel message they are hearing and translate it to the animation of their hands and hearts.
It is transforming our church…It’s what God wants.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/09/12/simply-serve/