Monthly Archives: October 2018

What About Halloween?

THE PASTOR’s PEN October 21, 2018
ThePastorsPen
Dear Church Family and Friends,

This Wednesday is the fated Halloween. Some have already began to ask, “Are we having church this Wednesday night?” Well, that will be up to you the people. I personally hate to give this day over entirely to the celebration of goblins, witches and monsters. I would like to think we as God’s faithful children would want to gather and worship Him in thanksgiving for his deliverance from the “prince of darkness” and for our salvation. But, I know the mischief that often takes place on this night and that many of you want to watch out for your homes, farms, and places of business to prevent vandalism and pranks. So you will have to decided abut having service this Wednesday on whether you will come or not.

But that raises another debated question, “What about Halloween?” Should Christians recognize and celebrate this day devoted to witches and the creatures of darkness? I mean some denomination don’t allow their kids to even celebrate Christmas and then we celebrate O Hallo’s Eve. Make one stop and say, “Hum?” It can be puzzling.

Here is a little history of Halloween. The Celtic festival of Samhain is probably the source of the present-day Halloween celebration. The Celts new year began on November first.

A festival that began the previous evening honored Samhain, the Celtic lord of death. The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay. It naturally became associated with human death. The Celts believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their earthly homes for this evening. On the evening of the festival, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, ordered the people to put out their fires. The Druids built a huge new year’s bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops, and human beings as sacrifices.

Then each family relit its fire from the new year’s fire. During the celebration, people sometimes wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. They told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that had been sacrificed.

All Saints Day: Many of the customs of the Celts survived even after the people became Christians. During the 800’s, the church established All Saints’ Day on November first. They made the old pagan customs part of this Christian holy day.

The Catholic Church later began to honor the dead on November second. This day became known as All Soul’s Day. The Catholics believed that you could pray the dead out of purgatory.

Additional Celebrations:

The Jack-o-Lantern originated with an Irishman named Jack who loved to play pranks on the Devil. Legend is that he was made to wander the world carrying a lantern to show him the way, going to neither heaven nor hell. Hollowed out pumpkins with candles lighted inside were supposed to scare evil spirits away.

The Irish initiated “Trick-or-treating” when farmers would go from house to house to collect food for the village.

Costumes went from children dressing up like martyrs in celebration of All Saints Day to the modern day costumes of witches, etc… (SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britanica and others.)
Kids seem to like Halloween and Easter. Maybe their sweet teeth or tooth if the sugar has decayed them all, has something to do with it. In 2006 and for many years, Oct. 29 and Apr. 15 (the days before Halloween and Easter Sunday) were the top 2 days for candy sales. (from Gary Foster)

All this talk of haunts and goblins reminds me of a story I heard once about two men trying to get home in a hurry. Late one dark night, two men were walking home after a party. They were tired and desperate to get home, so they decided to take a shortcut through a cemetery.

They got to about the middle of the graveyard, and they were startled and stopped moving. There was a terrifying noise, “TAP-TAP-TAP” coming from the shadows.

Trembling with fear, they spotted an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones.

“Hey Mister,” one of them said after catching his breath. “You SCARED us half to death. We thought you were a GHOST! What are you doing working here so late at night?”
“Those fools!” the old man grumbled. “They spelt my name wrong!”
The men made it out of the cemetery and home in record time.

Well, back to the serious. Here is what Dr. James Dobson has to say about Halloween. “Halloween is a rather different story. Whereas it can be argued that Christmas is a Christian holiday with Christian origins that has suffered the effects of growing secularism, Halloween can be traced to distinctly pagan sources. It is reasonable, then, that many believers would find some aspects of its celebration disturbing. I agree with them in that regard. The traditional emphasis upon the occult, witches, devils, death, and evil sends messages to our kids that godly parents can only regard with alarm. There is clearly no place in the Christian community for this “darker side” of Halloween.

Even here, however, there is a place for some harmless fun. Kids love to dress up and pretend. If the Halloween experience is focused on fantasy rather than the occult, I see no harm in it. Make costumes for your children that represent fun characters, such as Mickey Mouse or an elderly grandmother, and then let them go door-to-door asking for treats. This side of Halloween can be thoroughly enjoyable for the little ones.

Let me add, again, that I’ve given you my personal opinion. I realize that the topic is controversial among committed Christians, and I’m sensitive to the reasons for their misgivings. My final word to parents on the subject would be ’Stay true to your own convictions.’” (SOURCE: Focus on the Family Website. http://www.family.org/docstudy/solid/a0003846.html)
BibleQuestNow here is the Bible Quest for the week.

147. Which was the Mount of Blessing?
A. Gerizim; B. Nebo; C. Zion; D. Olives; E. Vernon

148. “Whoever believes that Jesus is ___________ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves Him who is begotten of Him.”

149. What is the only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible?

150. True or False…The final battle between good and evil will take place on Mt. Carmel.

A Bonus Funny:
What is the major difference between Jesus and Jonah?
Jesus had dinner with a sinner; and the fish had a sinner for dinner!

Until next week, Love and prayers,
Pastor Rick Signature
Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email: hcbcoffice@bellsouth.com
Email: rev_rick_7@hotmail.com
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

Advertisements

Comments Off on What About Halloween?

Filed under Uncategorized

Pastoral Ponderings / Pray For Your Pastor!

THE PASTOR’s PEN October 21, 2018 

Dear Church Family and Friends,

Ever ponder or think about what it is like to be your pastor? Ever wondered what he and his family go through each and every week? I am sure you have probably heard the old say, “if every church member was just like me, What kind of church would my church be?” Have you ever thought of it this way. If every member of my church interacted with our pastor just like me, what kind of pastor would our pastor be? You see if you have ever pondered the life of your pastor, I would assure you it is probably not as easy as you think to be a pastor.

The truth is, there are a lot of things pastors feel pressured to be and do. As pastors, we sometimes do dumb things. And yes even pastors have demons we are constantly fighting. On top of this, we visit in the community, visit folks who are sick, volunteer in the community to extend the ministry of the church, care for shut ins, make hospital visits for the church and the community, visit the funeral homes, a lot. And prepare approximately three sermons each week and speak or teach within the community when given opportunity, again to expand the ministry of the church and reach people for Christ. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, we are expected to attend every church function of every Sunday School Class, Discipleship Training Class, Other church groups and ministries. Don’t get me wrong, We love these things, but I hope you get the picture, it can become overwhelming at times.

October is “Pastor Appreciation Month” each year. I can tell you, I am blessed! I am privileged to pastor Henards Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. It is not always easy, but you as a congregation have blessed me in ways no other group of people have or could. Your love and support of me, my family and this church are vital; and GREATLY APPRECIATED!

When pastors deal with discouragement and frustrations, it is often the thoughts of the good times with the loving supporting members of their congregation that see them through. You say, “you mean pastors fight demons, get discouraged and need prayers more than criticism?” the answer is a great big YES!

You see, pastors are unified in a commitment to share the gospel, but they also share another trait—most work demanding schedules. A recent survey found 8 out of 10 pastors say they’re on call 24 hours a day and more than half report they frequently find their role as a pastor overwhelming. It is often hard to give oneself, as a pastor, the permission to be human. Pastors themselves and people often place unrealistic expectation on pastors.

At times, pastors are expected to be experts on everything. Congregants often expect their pastors to be theological sages—leaders who can speak wisdom into every life situation or area of concern brought up by a church member or guest.

But while pastors are certainly called to exhibit knowledge and wisdom, Scripture never asks them to be experts in all things.

In the kingdom of God, there’s only One who’s an expert on everything. It’s to the glory of God that person isn’t the pastor (Proverbs 25:2).

In today’s world flooded with social media, pastors are expected to build great followings and platforms. There are pastors who are not computer geeks and have no real interest in becoming one. However some pastors pressure themselves as well as some congregants pressure the pastor to be viral on social media.

And even pastors who are not pressuring themselves by the number of followers they boast, pressure themselves and are pressured in other ways.

Pastors who aren’t digital natives also run the risk of platform allure—equating their worth to statistics such as weekly church attendance, the square footage of their facility, or even the amount of baptisms they’ve conducted or the number of churches they’ve planted.

While keeping an eye on metrics is important for measuring ministry goals, it’s also an easy way to drift into idolatry and a misguided identity.

Then as pastors we often feel obligated to do everything with excellence. Scripture passages like 1 Corinthians 10:31 call for Christians to do all things to the glory of God. However, this doesn’t mean pastors must do all things well.

Human frailty actually demands that pastors be lousy at certain pursuits—even good ones—in order to better invest in what’s most excellent at the current time.

The lie Satan told in the Garden of Eden—“you can be like God”—is the same one that propagates the need for perfection. Christ would rather pastors humbly admit they’re not God, and thus, can’t do all things well at the same time.

Wisely embracing limitations allows pastors to determine where they want to strive for excellence and where they’re content to be lousy for the sake of God’s glory.

These expectations are real and as pastors we struggle with them all the time and many more. Maybe it would be good for you and yes, even your pastor himself to take a look at the expectations you hold and ask yourself truly, are they reasonable.

Then there are the demons we as pastors fight. To stay in the ministry any length of time, a pastor needs to learn to fight some predictable demons.

For instance, Monday mornings for pastors and spiritual leaders are unique. They bring with them an adrenaline crash that feels like you got hit by a train (emotionally) during the night. Sunday’s expenditure of energy—physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally—lands on Monday morning with reflections that are both good and bad, positive and negative.

It is sort of like the super model who thinks she is ugly and never pretty enough and always pointing out the things about herself and her body she does not like. These hard hitting thoughts that battle in our minds as pastors seem to effect all of us, event he ones who are doing really well in ministry pastoring big churches doing “great things.” We fight things like…

Inspection—We try to look at our daily work and see fruit. It’s never as visible up close as it is looking back over many years.

Introspection—This is deeper than “inspection” in that it begins to question the validity of our work and ministry. We start to entertain questions like: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Does anything I’m doing make any difference?” “Is there any growth from my preaching and preparation?” Introspection becomes… (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Deception—If I entertain the doubts for very long, they become accusations and lies. They begin to feel substantive. The doubts begin to set, like drying concrete—they metastasize into hardened, heart-shaping conclusions like, “I am failing. I am not effective. I should quit now. I should try something else.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Expectation—This is the parent of ministry disappointment. Expectation is “what I thought God would do” or “what I thought I deserved” or “how I pictured everything unfolding.” Expectations unrealized give birth to disappointment and despair.

Isolation—All of these previous experiences mount up internally to assault the soul, and the typical response is isolation. This is where I go when all the other demons begin to get the best of me.

This is often the one big mistake we make as pastors. As I look back over my 43 years in ministry, I realize I repeatedly made this one really dumb mistake in the relationship area.
I hid out.

I don’t mean that I intentionally hid from people. But I isolated myself too much.

For example, it is easy to hid out in the office seldom coming out. It is easy to isolate ones self by staying in the office until right before service starts.
As pastors, we are busy, but we want to and need to feel a connection with our people.

Condemnation—Once isolated, Satan is relentless in accusations—again, all unfolding in a silent, internal conversation in first person. “I’m a failure.” Bear in mind, highly successful, highly fruitful, long-faithful pastors experience these internal accusations on a regular basis—which should unveil to us the deceptive spiritual warfare that’s really going on here.

Comparison—There’s always someone seemingly doing better than I am—someone who appears to be more (fill in the blank…). We lose sight of the blessings of our lives and begin to perceive another’s blessings as better or bigger—always a lie, always discouraging. There’s no winning a comparison game.

Cynicism—Comparison fuels cynicism. We are all susceptible to developing cynical or scornful hearts toward others, ourselves, and toward life or ministry in general. Past hurts, disappointments, betrayals or bitterness can devolve into scorn and anger toward anything or anyone that reminds me of “what bothers me.” In my opinion, a cynical heart is among the deadliest poisons to true and lasting Christian joy.

It’s a daily battle!

This may all sound sappy, but I prefer to live with joy than bitterness. I want to crush these demons every day and to live in the light of hope and faith. These “demons” are real, but Jesus is greater!

And try as I may to overcome all this, sometimes I fail! And so do all pastors. That is why we desperately need your prayers. Pastors may appear as though they are so strong they do not need prayer. But I can assure you, any pastor genuinely called to the ministry knows he needs prayer; earnest, passionate and effective prayer. “Pray for me” should be the number one personal request from a pastor of the church he serves. The best way to show your appreciation to your pastor is to encourage him and his family and let them know when and how you are praying for them. How do you pray for your pastor? Well here are just a few ideas.

Let me first say, pray for your pastor like Paul encouraged the church at Colossae. I would encourage you to pray based on Colossians 1:9-12.

Pray that your pastor would…
1. Filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
2. Filled with all spiritual wisdom.
3. Filled with spiritual understanding.
4. Walk worthy of the Lord.
5. Strengthened with God’s power.

If you will pray for your pastor in this way, you might just find you have a new and better pastor. And I know he will appreciate the help and encouragement. Believe me, he needs it.

Now here is the Bible Quest for the week.
143. “You have plowed wickedness,” says Hosea, “ye have reaped ….
A. virtue; B. evil; C. iniquity; D. equity

144. “My name is Legion; for we are many,” referred to …
A. the disciples; B. the unclean spirits and the man who harbored them;
C. the lepers in the leper colony; D. the crowd to whom Jesus spoke by the sea

145. His servant succeeded in keeping the old King David warm by…
A. covering him with cloth; B. bringing a fair virgin to lie with him;
C. exciting him with news of Adonijah; D. crowding his room with people

146. In his second letter, Peter explains that the prophecies of scripture are a matter of private interpretation …
A. never; B. always; C. rarely; D. often

Until next week, Love and prayers,

 

Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email: hcbcoffice@bellsouth.com
Email: rev_rick_7@hotmail.com
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

Comments Off on Pastoral Ponderings / Pray For Your Pastor!

Filed under Uncategorized

Opening The Heart of a Closed Down Spouce! (10/14/2018)

Dear Church Family and Friends,
As a pastor and counselor, I work often with marriages in distress I’ve discovered most Couples hurt each other their life emotionally and sadly sometimes physically. It is hard to understand how this happens. But as is often said, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Most often it is men who hurt the wife, but that is not always the case. To understand how this can happen one needs to first understand one of the ways men and women are usually different. Most men are predominantly thinking beings—they receive and process experiences in life in a predominately rational and logical way. If someone says something that offends a man, he will accept or dismiss it based on whether it is true.

Most women are different. Women are usually more in tune with their emotions. They are often more relationally aware. When life happens to them their dominant reaction is often to respond emotionally first. When someone hurts a woman’s feelings, for example, even though the information they receive may be false, it takes them longer to work through the feelings associated with the emotional injury.

(Of course, both of these two paragraphs are general statements, but they ring true for most men and women.) I would contend though—every woman’s heart is injured to a certain extent. (And, fairly, probably every man’s.) Sometimes this injury occurs gradually over time. Sometimes it comes suddenly through serious breaches in the marital trust.

The heart, speaking in terms of the seat of our emotions, was created much like other parts of the body. When a finger is broken the body is designed to instantly start to heal and protect itself from further injury. When a person takes a swing at you your natural reaction is to put your hands up in defense.
The same is true of the heart. When a person’s heart is injured, it goes into a self-protective mode to keep it from further injury. Over time, after years of injury, the heart becomes almost calloused, refusing to allow anyone to injure the heart again. A woman who has had years of emotional injury doesn’t have much heart left to give to anyone, but especially to the one who has done the injury. She has closed off her heart to keep from being hurt anymore.
Most men enjoy trying to “fix” problems, but men cannot fix their wife’s emotions. Emotions are not repaired as easily as one could fix a leaking faucet or program a computer. So, what is a man to do if he feels his wife’s heart is injured? How do you heal a broken heart?

Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. He can come in, erase all the pain and make the heart brand new. Most of the time, however, at least in my experience, He lets us wrestle with life’s heartache while we learn to better love one another.

The following steps are designed for a man to help heal his wife’s heart.

Here are nine suggestions for winning back the heart of your spouse: (The focus is on the wife since she is the most often hurt and begins to close off. Although, Men close off as well and these steps work there as well.)

1. Seek God
Whatever draws you closer to God is a good thing—and will make you a better person, regardless of what happens with your marriage. When you are attempting to rekindle your partner’s love, use this time to develop and strengthen your relationship with God. It starts, as all relationships with God begin, through a recognition of who Christ is and your belief in Him. Start there and grow.

2. Practice patience
The first thing we need to do is to recognize restoring a broken heart will not happen overnight. Emotions heal very slowly. Steps should begin to restore an injured heart or to rebuild the marriage, but we should not expect too much too soon. Most often the hurt and closure did not happen over night and will not heal over night either. And even if the hurt came suddenly, like a fall and broken arm, it takes much longer to heal.

3.Love your spouse
This is by far their greatest need. Most men and women have their love need unmet. The standard for our love is perfection, since a man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. As imperfect men we will actually never love our wife enough. The wife knows, however, when the husband’s attention is somewhere else, as do men know when their wife’s attention is elsewhere. Many men sacrifice their marriage for their careers or other interests. A wife’s love need is new every day. A wife needs to know that she is second only to God in her husband’s affections. And, a man’s need for love, while expressed differently, is also new every day.

I have found for my love for my wife to grow I need Christ’s help. I pray for this often.

4. Romance, especially her
Every woman has a certain need for romance. Many wives had a fairy tale idea of marriage when they were growing up. They realize early in marriage this isn’t reality, but their need for occasional romance remains. Most men rarely know how to do this. A man should be genuine but should recognize and value the uniqueness of his wife and find ways to give her romance. And ladies, men desire you to look good and make a fuss over them like you did when you were dating.

Try planning something romantic together. It may not work out exactly as planned, but you will earn big points in the romance department for your efforts and it helps keep the flame alive.

5. Use Value words
When a man comes home and says, “This house is a mess,” being a mostly factual being, that’s probably all he meant. He looked around, made a physical observation, and stated a factual conclusion. The wife, however, probably did not receive the information that way. The wife most likely heard lots of negative information, such as, “You have done nothing all day,” or maybe even, “I don’t like you.” This sounds impossible to most guy’s rational minds, but with emotions receiving information anything could be heard, whether it was the intended response or not. Men, we need to learn how to be gentle with our wives and the words we use. And wives, don’t always nag or be critical or over generalize about your husband in his areas of weakness. Focus on those things you value most in him.

One question I ask men, “Would you let another man talk to your wife the way you talk to her?”

6. Communicate with the correct “Love Language”
Many women communicate best heart to heart—not head to head. A man should allow his wife to see his heart. He should be willing to be vulnerable with her. Men may need to ask their wives to help them learn how to say things to her. Men cannot talk to their wives as they would their guy friends. Women require understanding, compassion, openness and honesty in communication.

If you struggle in this area read Dr. Gary Smalley’s book, The Five Love Languages.

7. Give constant assurance
Trust is an important need for a woman and a man in relationships. The wife needs to know that her husband is going to be faithful and vice versa. We should not take offense, for example, when our spouse asks details about our schedule or the activities of our day. We desires to be a partners in each other’s lives and these details help provide trust and security in the relationship. A man should also tell his wife frequently he loves her and is committed to her. She needs this consistent assurance.

8. Learn to live by truth
Ultimately, life cannot be lived strictly by emotions. We need truth. Emotions are often unreliable. A woman who feels unloved may be very much loved by her family, but she fails to feel that truth because of years of emotional abuse. Men should gently but consistently speak truth in love, reminding his wife of her worth, her beauty and her place in his life. Wives, you can do the same with your husband. Over time, truth, when given with love, can help heal damaged emotions.

9. Keep doing it!
The heart is damaged over years and years of injury. Sadly, many men and women have deep and tragic heart wounds, but much of this injury will have been unintentionally delivered and small in terms of the magnitude of the incident. Years of emotional injury builds up in the heart until the heart becomes closed. The erasing of the pain will happen just as it was developed—a little bit at a time. You cannot try this for a week and then stop and expect things to be all healed and open. Protecting the heart must become a lifestyle.

Many times spouses tell me they don’t know how to be who their significant other needs them to be or wants them to be. I believe if we want to win back the heart of our spouse we may need to learn how. It’s never too late to begin!

Now here is the Bible Quest for the week.

139. What Ruler followed Joash as king of Israel?
140. How did Jezebel die and what happened to her?
141. What king threw Daniel in the lions den?
142. What royal heir got hanged by his hair in a tree?

 

 

Until next week, Love and prayers,

 

Church Phone: 423-272-7676
Church Email: hcbcoffice@bellsouth.com
Email: rev_rick_7@hotmail.com
Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

Comments Off on Opening The Heart of a Closed Down Spouce! (10/14/2018)

Filed under Uncategorized