Monthly Archives: April 2017

Ever Face Discouragement?

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Discouragement is a huge problem within the church and Christian family today. Have you ever experienced it? I know I sure have. In fact, there are certain areas of ministry and church life that can be very discouraging at times. Thom Rainer did a survey of some of the most discouraging elements of ministry and church life. Admittedly, there is overlap in some of these responses, but those who responded often made their own distinctions. A representative quote follows each category.

  1. Conflicts/complaining/murmuring. “I find myself physically exhausted at the end of the week just from dealing with naysayers. My problem is exacerbated by naysayers using vague comments to others and social media as their outlets.”
  2. Lack of fruit and spiritual maturity in church members. “I invested two years of my life in him. But his life today is as carnal as it was two years ago.”
  3. Apathy. “The low level of commitment of so many of our members really discourages me. Sometimes I wonder if my ministry is making any kind of difference.”
  4. Church members who leave the church for seemingly silly or no reasons. “It breaks my heart to lose a church member just because we made a slight change in the times of worship services.”
  5. Expectations by members/lack of time. “It seems like I am expected to be omnipresent. I just can’t keep up with all the expectations of me.”
  6. Performing tasks where the pastor/staff does not have competencies. “I know nothing about maintenance or construction nor do I know what everyone else has in their mind to do. I am not contractor nor do I know where everyone puts everything. But both functions consume my time.”
  7. Meetings/committees. People don’t attend but complain when something doesn’t happen the way they thought it should or something does happen and they think it shouldn’t.
  8. Family concerns. “Lack of quality time with family causes many in the church pain.”
  9. Staff issues. “Having staff can lead to conflict, favorites and not having staff can be problematic as well. It is hard to win this struggle.”
  10. Lack of volunteers. “So many church members seek their own preferences, but are unwilling to serve others.”
  11. Not knowing when someone needs me. “The saying well I know you are so busy as if I neglect peoples needs for my own busyness.” I am not too busy. I do stay busy because I don’t like to be idle, but let me know when and where there is a need and I just may surprise you by busying myself where you feel there is a need.

Some of the other sources of discouragement that did not make the list but had multiple votes are: loneliness; communication problems; members who hold tenaciously to tradition; divorce/family problems among church members; low pay; and counseling.

With discouragement so prevalent among church leaders, staff and members, How do you keep discouragement from getting the best of you? Well let me share a few things…

5 Ways to Stop Discouragement from Getting the Best of You

Discouragement and disappointment are normal emotions we all experience even as Christians, but it’s important to know how to make sure those debilitating emotions don’t get the best of us.

First, let’s look at four reasons why we get discouraged and disappointed.

Job felt discouraged with his wife and friends. They didn’t get it. In the midst of his suffering and questioning God, they tried to be helpful, but they ended up heaping more shame and blame on Job for his afflictions. We, too, can feel let down by our friends and family. They don’t understand what we’re going through or don’t offer to help as we wish they would. Our disappointment can turn to discouragement.

Elijah became discouraged with life’s circumstances. Despite our persistent and fervent prayers, things don’t turn out the way we’d hoped they would. Elijah hoped that after all the miracles the Israelites saw performed on Mount Carmel, Ahab and Jezebel would repent and put God first, but they did not. King Ahab and Jezebel were as stubborn and hard hearted as always, and Elijah felt discouraged, exhausted, and told himself that his entire ministry was a waste (1 Kings 19).

Jeremiah felt angry and discouraged with God when he believed God was against him, and because of that perspective, he temporarily lost hope in God (Lamentations 3). The disciples too felt discouraged after Jesus was crucified, before he rose from the dead. They said, “We were hoping that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). They couldn’t see the bigger picture and felt disappointed that Jesus did not fight for his kingdom.

Peter felt discouraged with himself when he realized that he wasn’t as courageous as he thought he was. Jesus had warned him that he would deny him, but Peter’s pride kept him from seeing himself clearly (Matthew 26:31 and 74, 75). We too can feel discouraged and even depressed when we fail to live up to our own or someone else’s  expectations.

Discouragement happens, even to the strongest and best of people. Below are five (5) steps you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallow you up.

  1. Be honest. It does you no good to pretend you don’t feel what you feel. You can’t take action against a negative feeling until you first admit you have it. A strong Christian is not someone who never experiences negative feelings. It’s someone who has learned what to do with them when he or she has them and how to process them biblically.
  2. Take care of your body.If your body isn’t working, your mind, emotions and will are also weakened. I love how God tended to Elijah’s body first—before addressing anything else and provided ravens to feed him. Sometimes the circumstances of life drain us dry, and we need to press pause, stop doing, and simply rest and refresh.
  3. Pay attention to your thought life. Maturing as believers means we learn to think truthfully (Philippians 4:8) and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

All of us attempt to make sense of the things that happen in our lives. We try to figure out why they happen and what it all means. It’s crucial that we pay attention to what stories we are telling ourselves about ourselves, about others, about God or a particular situation, and whether or not those stories are actually true. For example, if you look at what Elijah was telling himself after he became discouraged, much of it was not true, yet because he thought it, it added to his misery (read 1 Kings 19).

Jeremiah was also telling himself things about God that were not true but because his mind believed his version of reality instead of God’s, he lost his hope. Read through Lamentations 3. Notice in verse 21 Jeremiah begins to have a change of mind and heart. He says, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.” When his thoughts changed his negative emotions also lifted even though his circumstances stayed the same.

  1. Train yourself to “see” life out of two lenses at the same time

When the apostle Paul counsels us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), he is telling us that our mind needs to be trained to think differently than we have in the past. Part of this training is to learn to see both the temporal (life is hard) and the eternal (God has a purpose here) at the same time.

Paul speaks honestly of his temporal pain when he says he is hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. Yet he did not become crushed, despairing, abandoned, or destroyed. Why not? Because he learned to firmly fix the eternal perspective on his spiritual eyes. He says, “Therefore we do not lose heart.… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:8–18).

Paul never minimized the pain of the temporal, yet discouragement didn’t win because he knew that God’s purposes were at work. (See Philippians 1:12–14 for another example).

  1. Press close into God

The truth is life is hard, people do disappoint and hurt us, and we don’t always understand God or his ways. The prophet Nahum talks about a day of trouble and reminds us “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, he knows those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7). If we’re not in close trusting relationship with God, life’s troubles can become unbearable. The psalmist cried out, “I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see God in the land of the living” (Psalm 27).

One final tip. The best way to chase out a negative feeling is with another feeling. The Bible teaches us “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Gratitude is a powerful anecdote for discouragement. We may not be able to give God thanks for the difficult situation that we find ourselves in, but we can learn to look for things we can be thankful for in the midst of it.

Please pray for your pastor and staff, as well as one another. We are all under attack consistently. We not only need your prayers; we need your clear and consistent encouragement.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

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A Biblical Guide To Intercessory Prayer

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Greetings in the Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I honestly was going to write on another topic this week after Easter. But, after our Wednesday night teaching on intercessory prayer I was asked if I would shar the complete notes I was using to teach from. I was not able to cover all the notes and these are just the notes, not everything I said, but here goes.

The Scripture was 1 Timothy 2:1-8.

1 Timothy 2:1-8 (KJV) 1  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Paul urged us to pray. In this passage, Paul urged Christians to do the following.

  1. Make intercession our first priority (v. 1).

“First of all,” speaks of the importance and preeminence of intercession rather than the order of service

  1. Intercede, using all phases of prayer (v. 1).
    1. Supplication-to entreat God to do something based on needs
    2. Prayers-to ask God for something based on God’s character
    3. Intercessions-to plead for something based on someone else’s need
    4. Thanksgiving-to thank God for blessings or expected answers
  2. Intercede for all people (vv, 1, 2, 4).
    1. All persons (v. 1)
    2. All in authority (v. 2)
    3. All the unsaved (v. 4)
  3. Intercede with an all-embracing purpose (vv, 2, 4).
    1. That all persons might be saved (v. 4)
    2. That we may live in peace (v. 2)
    3. That we may live in godliness (v. 2)
    4. That we may live in honesty (v. 2)
  4. Intercede in all places (v. 8).
  5. Intercede in all purity (v. 8).
    1. Holy hands
    2. Harmonious relationships-without wrath or dissension
    3. Hope-without doubting

Practical Application from Bible Examples:

  1. The pattern of intercessory prayer is to pray on the basis of God’s character.
    1. God’s goodness: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25).
    2. God’s mercy: “Remember, 0 lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old” (Ps. 25:6).
    3. God’s name: “That all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the lord God, even thou only” (2 Kings 19:19).
    4. God’s promises: “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self” (Ex. 32:13).
  2. The position of the intercessor is to stand before God in the place of the persons prayed for.
    1. Moses: “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book” (Ex. 32:32).
    2. Paul: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:2-3).
    3. Jesus: “0 my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

3.The perseverance of the intercessor prevails.

  1. Epaphras: Paul said to the Colossian Christians, “Epaphras … always prays fervently for you, asking God to make you stand firm, as mature and fully convinced Christians, in complete obedience to God’s will” (Col. 4:12, GNB)
  2. Parable of the persistent friend (Luke 11 :5-10): “Ask … seek … knock” (v. 9).
  3. Abraham pleaded with God to spare lot, and he did so (Gen. 18:22 to 19:12).

4.The partner and pattern in intercession is the Lord Himself.

  1. Jesus: “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). See also John 17.
  2. Holy Spirit: “likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered …. because he maketh intercessions for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).

5.The promise of intercession is sure.

  1. Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
  2. James 5:16: “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

As followers and Disciples of Jesus Christ, prayer should be a major part of our lives. As Paul instructed Young Timothy, Intercession should be a priority in our prayer life. Hopefully this nit of Biblical instruction will help enhance your prayer life as a follower of Christ’s.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

Church Phone: 423-272-7676

Church Email: hcbcoffice@bellsouth.com

Rick Dinkins phone: 423-754-0750

Email: rev_rick_7@hotmail.com

Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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O The JOY and The POWER of the Resurrection!

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

A Sunday School teacher was attempting to teach her young students the true meaning of Easter. “Why do we celebrate Easter?” she asked. When the children replied ’because of the Easter bunny,’ Easter eggs, candy, spring, etc., she said, “No, those are Easter traditions and symbols, but what is the REASON why we celebrate Easter? What happened at the very first Easter?” A little girl raised her hand and said, “Easter celebrates Jesus coming out of the tomb.” “Yes!” said the teacher, excited and relieved that finally the correct answer had surfaced. Encouraged, she prompted, “Jesus arose from the tomb, and what does He do for us?” The youngster replied, “He looks to see if he can see his shadow, and if He can, he goes back in for another six weeks.” Oh my! How we need to clearly teach the truth of this joyous and power-filled day.

I heard about a parent at a Church school recently, coming up to the Religious Education teacher and asking whether she really needed to tell the children the Good Friday story. She said “It’s such a sad story. Don’t they have enough sadness in their lives already?” And she was right. This is not the sort of story you would tell to rally the troops. This is not an Anzac Day story of courage and valor. It’s a story of weakness and shame. But THANKFULLY, Good Friday is not the end of the story. As Paul Harvey was famous for his line, “And now for the rest of the story.”

If Good Friday was the end, Christians would be no better off than the rest of the religious communities at large. All but one religious sects have the same story in summation. They report a religious leader. He did many good things and taught the people about a better way of life. For some reason or another the religious leaders die or is killed, end of story. But the JOY for Christians is not just in the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus, but the real joy is in the fact that after Jesus was killed, HE AROSE from the dead and HE LIVES. We celebrate that this Sunday and every Sunday because every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. Philip Henry used to call the Lord’s day the queen of days, the pearl of the week, and observed it accordingly. His common salutation of his family or friends, on the Lord’s day in the morning, was that of the primitive Christians–“The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed;” making it his chief business on that day to celebrate the memory of Christ’s resurrection; and he would say sometimes, “Every Lord’s day is a true Christian’s Easter day.”

Sadly, many do not believe or have stopped believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. A study by Scripts Howard News Service revealed, “Only 36% of American adults believe that, after you die, your physical body will someday be resurrected. 54% do not believe so and 10% are undecided.” A study released by the Rasmussen Reports polling firm on Good Friday found that 64% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

While Americans who believe in the resurrection remain in the majority, that number is down significantly when compared to a Rasmussen Poll that asked the same question, released on April 7th, 2012 Rasmussen released a poll finding that 77% of Americans believed the resurrection of Christ to be historical fact.

The difference between the two polls shows a 13 percentage point drop in the number of Americans who believe that Christ rose from the dead.

Additionally, this year’s poll found that 19+% of Americans reject the central tenet of the Christian faith and do not believe that Christ was resurrected.  That’s compared to only 7% who said they didn’t believe that Christ rose from the dead a year ago.  A staggering 12 percentage point jump.

But wait, it gets worse. A poll done this April on the 9th of 2017 by a firm in Great Brittan reveals  “A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.” They went on to say they found that just 17% of the general public believe the Word or the Biblical account of the Resurrection. And, 31% of Christians believe word-for-word the Bible version, rising to 57% among “active” Christians (those who go to a religious service at least once a month). You mean only 57% of professing Christians believe the Bible and what the Bible says about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? How then do they call themselves Christians?

Could this have something to do with why people do not attend worship services or Bible study? When 2 in 5 professing Christians say they never attend any form of religious service it is no wonder there is such confusion about this joyous and powerful event that is so crucial to our faith.

People believe all kinds of things today. In fact, there are a lot of smart people who believe stupid things! Many subscribe to a philosophy like this, “It doesn’t matter what you believe or if it’s true, as long as you believe it’s true.” On the surface this sounds like a very open and appealing perspective; it fits with our “do your own thing” values. However, this ideology completely misses the point about truth. It places the emphasis on the sincerity of our beliefs rather than the truthfulness of the object of our beliefs. It’s like saying, “If you believe the Holocaust never happened and that works for your understanding of history, then great!” The issue isn’t what you or I believe about the truth, the issue is what is actually true.

Often, people mistakenly think of faith in this same way. They think that the validity of faith is based upon sincerity. They fail to realize that faith must have an object and that an unreliable object produces an unreliable faith. Let me illustrate: Suppose you and I are standing on top of a tall skyscraper. In front of you, connecting the building you are standing on with the next building is a steel reinforced bridge. In front of me is a thin piece of balsa wood extending across from building to building. With great fear you say, “I don’t know if this bridge will support me if I walk across.” With overflowing confidence I state, “I absolutely believe this balsa wood will support me if I walk across.” We look at each other, we look across the expanse and we both begin to walk across. What happens? Of course, my weight is too much for the balsa wood so it breaks and I plunge for a long drop with a sudden end! You, however, as fearful as you might be, safely walk across to the next building. You see, the key was not the sincerity or strength of our faith but the reliability of the object we put your faith in. Many people are sincere in what they believe but if what they believe is not true then their faith is misplaced and ultimately unreliable. The real issue is the object of our faith; the truthfulness of the content of faith. Some people argue that truth is relative. But it is not!

Cartoonist Joe McKeever has drawn a group of tourists looking at the Garden tomb in Jerusalem. It’s an open tomb where the stone door has been rolled away. Their guide says, “The angel moved the stone to reveal an empty tomb and a risen Christ. Ever since, man has been trying to roll that stone back!”

So significant is this event that the whole of the Christian faith would fall if the resurrection of Jesus Christ were not true. William Lane Craig suggests that, “Without the belief in the resurrection, the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men. Even if they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved teacher, His crucifixion would have silenced any hope of his being the Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad shameful end of his career.” Therefore, it is crucial that the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are true and historically accurate.

Either Jesus rose from the dead or He didn’t. If He didn’t, then there must be some other plausible explanation for the resurrection account. What are the possibilities? Here are four options that skeptics and others have presented:

  1. Jesus didn’t really die. Rather than dying on the cross, Jesus only passed out. In the dampness of the tomb, Jesus was revived and then appeared to the disciples, who mistakenly thought He was raised from the dead. This theory breaks down on several facts. First of all, crucifixions killed people! The victim literally suffocated to death. In Jesus’ case, He was nailed to the cross, not merely tied down by ropes. A Roman executioner pierced His side with a sword, certifying His death. He was wrapped with about 75 pounds of ceremonial spices and linen wrappings. He was placed in a tomb with a huge stone rolled across the entrance. A Roman guard was tasked with standing watch outside the tomb. Then, on multiple occasions over a 40-day period, He appeared to the disciples as the Lord of Life. Before a collective audience, He ascended out of their sight and into heaven. These facts, recorded by multiple eyewitnesses, refute the claim that Jesus didn’t die.
  2. It wasn’t Jesus on the cross. A look-a-like took Jesus’ place. The “resurrection” appearances were made by a perfectly healthy Jesus, who had never experienced the crucifixion and therefore didn’t need to be raised from the dead. Again, this view has serious flaws. The foremost is that it would make Jesus a perpetrator of a lie. He would be some mastermind of a great religious deception. The apostles would also be liars. The Roman soldiers who experienced the miracle of the resurrection would be liars as well. This view disregards the evidence and accuracy of eyewitness testimony.
  3. The disciples stole the body, made up the story of the resurrection, and then preached it to others. This view would have us believe that the disciples formed a huge religious plot. They somehow physically manhandled the Roman guard and then kept their secret to their deaths—martyrs’ deaths. That’s right—the disciples were killed for their faith. It’s true that people have died for a lie, but it was a lie they believed was true. This theory asserts that the disciples propagated a lie and that they never denounced their lie, not even to save their own lives. Is it likely that not one person but many people, when faced with the option of freedom for telling the truth or torture and death for holding onto a lie, would continue to lie? The theory that the resurrection was a deceptive plot also breaks down when the case of the apostle Paul is considered. Paul claimed to have an encounter with the resurrected Christ that was completely separate from the experiences of the other apostles. Based on this encounter, the entire direction of his life changed. If the disciples stole the body, then the conversion of the apostle Paul must be explained away.
  4. The resurrection accounts were hallucinations. The apostles so wanted Jesus to be raised from the dead that they convinced themselves it had actually happened. This view does not fit the evidence: the empty tomb, the testimony of the Roman guard, and the fact that multiple people had the same “hallucination” on different occasions. In particular, the theory is hard-pressed to explain 500 people claiming to see the resurrected Jesus Christ. Again, the changed life of the apostle Paul discredits this interpretation.

Is there a view of the resurrection that fits all the facts? The obvious answer is yes. It is the view recorded by eyewitness testimony—the view that Jesus Christ bodily rose from the dead, The Biblical Account and Record! This view is the very heart of the gospel.

J. Vernon McGee points out, “Martha believed in a resurrection. But listen, it makes less demand upon faith to believe that in a future day we shall receive glorified bodies than it does to rest now on the assurance that they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. It is easier to believe that the Lord is coming and the dead will be raised than it is to believe that tomorrow I can live for God. It is so easy to comfort people who are mourning and say, ‘Well, you’ll see your loved ones someday.’ That doesn’t take much faith. It takes a lot of faith to say, ‘I have just lost my loved one, but I am comforted with the assurance that God is with me and He does all things well.’ You see, although Martha knew from the Old Testament that there would be a resurrection from the dead, she didn’t believe that Jesus could help her now.”

The real power of the resurrection was demonstrated not only 2,000 years ago, but is also demonstrated today in the lives of people who are following Jesus Christ. Those who refuse to give in to the power of darkness and are walking in the light of the resurrection, prove every day that God in the flesh was victorious over the grave.

When people see your life change. When people see that you are victorious over a sinful past. When people see you rise to a newness of life. When they see the old man die in you, and a new man start living, it proves to them that Jesus got up out of the grave. Because if you can get up out of the grave of sin, if you can rise to the newness of life. If you can change, there had to be a resurrection.

How Do I Know He Lives?

How do I know that Christ has risen?

What proof have I to give?

He touched my life one blessed day,

And I began to live.

How do I know he left the tomb

That morning long ago?

I met Him just this morning,

And my heart is still aglow.

How do I know the endless life

He gained for me that day?

His life within is proof enough

Of Immorality.

How do I know that Christ still lives,

Rich blessings to impart?

He walks with me along the way

And He lives within my heart.

A young father and his family were on their way to church last Easter Sunday. The father began to tell his children the Easter Story. “This is the day we celebrate Jesus coming back to life,” He explained.

Right away, his 3-year-old son piped up from the back seat, “Will He be in church today?”

I have Good News, no, GREAT NEWS! Yes He, Jesus, Our Risen Lord, Will Be In Church This Sunday!

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

Church Phone: 423-272-7676

Church Email: hcbcoffice@bellsouth.com

Rick Dinkins phone: 423-754-0750

Email: rev_rick_7@hotmail.com

Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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