It’s no secret that pastors have a difficult job. As those whom God has appointed to care for his people, pastors are called to share in the lives of those whom they serve – both in the highs and the lows. It is a difficult calling which often involves carrying the griefs, burdens, and pains of church members. Add to that the difficulties of preparing weekly messages, making difficult leadership decisions, and enduring painful accusations from church members, and it’s no wonder that so many pastors feel overwhelmed and discouraged.
Fortunately, shepherds also have the privilege of resting in the prayers of their flock. I cannot tell you how much encouragement and reassurance it brings to pastors when we know we are being prayed for. We know that the prayers of the righteous have great power (James 5:16), and we can feel our spiritual strength being renewed each day as prayers go before us on our behalf. If Jesus asked for prayer (Matthew 26:36ff), if the Apostles regularly asked for prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Hebrews 13:18), you can be sure your pastors need prayer as well.
However, I think many Christians struggle to know what to pray for their pastors. While it is good to specific prayers during particular circumstances, what are ongoing prayers you can pray for your pastor no matter the season or circumstance? Below are Five C’s you can pray for your pastors and their ministry. I have been praying these for our senior and youth pastors now for some time, and I have seen God be faithful to these prayers. As you pray these C’s for your own pastors, pray also that God would grow you in each of these areas as well. Continue Reading
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3-4
Our firstborn Felix has recently begun to take more interest in reading children’s Bibles with us. I am very grateful that my wife Neva has been the one diligently trying again and again to introduce the stories from these Bibles to him. As Felix hears these stories for the first time, his joy and wonder has grown my own faith, showing me more of what it looks like to humble myself like a child.
A few nights ago, Felix and I were reading some simple stories from the gospels. This particular children’s Bible is mostly pictures, with only a few short paragraphs to summarize the story. We soon found ourselves in the parables of Jesus, and as I read stories about birds, flowers, and seeds, I could see his eyes lighting up with both delight and confusion. I imagine he must have been thinking in his own little toddler way, “What do birdies and flowers have to do with this Jesus Dad keeps talking about?”
We soon found ourselves reading about when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-20). In our recent studies of the New City Catechism, we have been singing about how Jesus is both human and divine. I wanted to try and use this moment with him to impress upon him how amazing it is that Jesus, being God, would stoop down and wash the dirty, stinky feet of his friends. Continue Reading
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14, Luke 11:2-4) is one of the most significant texts in the Bible for understanding the Christian life. It has been understood as the foundational text on prayer for God’s people for over 2000 years. We know from the Didache, an early first-century Christian document, that Christians were instructed to pray the Lord’s Prayer regularly. Nearly every major Christian tradition has emphasized the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer, alongside the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the sacraments.
My Reformed and Presbyterian tradition has so emphasized the Lord’s Prayer that the final sections of both our Shorter and Larger catechisms consist of very meaningful expositions of this text. This prayer is similarly emphasized in Luther’s catechisms, the Book of Common Prayer, and so on.
Given how significant this prayer has been for God’s people for nearly two millennia, we would do well to examine our own lives to determine how much we have been shaped (if at all) by this prayer that our Lord taught us to pray.
Can you earnestly say that you have taken the teaching of this prayer seriously? Has it shaped you? Does it regularly inform the substance and content of your prayers?
Can you earnestly say that you have taken the teaching of this prayer seriously? Has it shaped you? Does it regularly inform the substance and content of your prayers? Continue Reading
A few weeks ago, my wife Neva surprised me with what we thought could be a great opportunity. Neva is from Southern California, and she now has some friends who work in Hollywood. She told me that one of her friends, who is now a producer, was putting out a request for any White individuals who might be interested in having a conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi about his newest book, How to Be an Antiracist.
Neva knew that I had read his previous book, Stamped from the Beginning, and that I had just started reading How to Be an Antiracist. She wanted to know if I might be interested in having a conversation with Dr. Kendi. Of course I was! Neva gave my contact information to her friend and we set up a phone call for the next day.
I interviewed with the producer for roughly 20 minutes. She asked me about my own history in coming to terms with racism in our culture. I was also asked to elaborate on what drew me to Dr. Kendi’s work and how it has impacted me. When she learned that I was an “evangelical” pastor, we discussed some of the challenges of being a community leader in an environment where not everyone approaches issues of race and racism in the same way.
When the call was over, I was still under the impression that this was an interview for a conversation with Dr. Kendi alone. I assumed it would be the kind of Zoom conversation that might be broadcast over social media with several other individuals asking him questions. Later that night, I received an email with the following opening sentence:
We’d love it if you would join us for our How to Be An Antiracist conversation with Oprah and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi on Friday! Continue Reading