Posts filed under: Church/Ministry

Detestable Prayers

I came across a Bible verse the other day that really hit me hard in the gut.  Have you ever had that happen?  Ever had a Bible verse that you know that you have read over many times before, but all of the sudden… BAM! Right in the gut.  That was me.

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. (Proverbs 28:9 NLT)

When I read that, I was like, “Did I read that correctly?  Maybe it is a translation issue…”  So I checked out other trusted translations…

He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (NASB)

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (ESV)

Anyone who turns his ear away from hearing the law – even his prayer is detestable. (HCSB)

It did not take long to realize that there was no issue with translation.  The Word said what it meant. There is such a thing as detestable prayers.
It is hard to imagine that God’s stomach might turn at that some prayers that are offered, but that is exactly what that verse is saying. It is in those times – the ones where what you read cannot be right in your mind – that you begin to put it to the context test. How does this verse measure up with the rest of Scripture? When you do that and remove your thoughts from the equation, it is easy to see why this verse is here.
Proverbs 28:9 says that these detestable prayers are offered by those who have ignored God’s laws. These are those who have already heard from God but chosen to ignore what He has said. How many times do we hear/read God’s truth from His word and choose to ignore it? When we do that and then come to God expecting Him to answer our prayers as we wish, we play God for a fool.
I do not like it when people ask me for advice and refuse to do anything I advise. When that person comes again needing some advice, what do you think is going through my head? Could it be that God goes through the same thing when people come to Him to bail them out or help them but have refused to do ANYTHING that God has previously commanded?
I believe that God hears our prayers. It is not a question of ability. But do our prayers bring detest or delight?  The answer to that question is determined by what we have done with what God has already given us. It could be that before God answers our prayers, He needs to get us into position for the answer. That position comes from obedience to what God has commanded prior to the request.
There have been many false teachers that have come on the scene using verses like “But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7 NLT) to float the thought that one can make God do what they want. This makes no logical sense whatsoever to me. Who do we think that we are talking to when we pray? If we are praying to the God of the Bible, then maybe we should revisit Revelation 1:12-18to get a glimpse of exactly who we are praying to. He is the living God of the universe and answers to NO ONE!
If you look carefully at John 15:7, you will notice that there is a similarity with Proverbs 28:9. Both passages talk about the importance of obeying what God has already said in reference to what we would like those Him do in the future. If we want to see God do even greater things in our lives, we need to make sure that we are already doing what He has shared with us.
Are the prayers that you are praying today detestable or delightful to God? 

How important is VBS?

This week has been a wild one at our church. It has been VBS week. We have partnered with two other churches in our area to reach out and provide this great ministry to children in our community. We have seen some really good things happening. I thought that I would pose the question and give my answers to it.  The questions: “How important is VBS?”

For those that may not be familiar with the terminology, VBS stands for Vacation Bible School. This is typically a week-long event that includes singing, Bible studies, games, crafts, and more. I know that some churches have gotten away from the name “VBS.” That is okay. I don’t see the name “VBS” anywhere in the Bible, so you can call it whatever you like. I have been a part of churches that called it various things but the overall goal was the same.

I raise the question of how important is this type of ministry is from the direction of evaluation. I believe that it is important to constantly check and see if what we are doing is the most effective way to accomplish the goal. I know that there are those who think that because something was done 50 years ago then it needs to be chunked. I do not believe that to be true. It may need to be tweaked and updated some, but just because it was used by our grandparents does not mean that it should be thrown by the wayside.

Here are some valuable things that I have seen from VBS this year:

  • Teamwork. There is no way that VBS could happen with just one or two people involved. It takes the work of many people to come together to make this happen. In our situation, we live in a rural area of north Mississippi. We had three churches in our area come together and pool our resources to make this happen. It was a beautiful picture of cooperation in a time when (sadly) we see many congregations “competing with one another.”
  • Freshness. This might be my favorite point in this list. VBS is a chance to make the timeless message come to life in a brand new way. Our VBS has been telling the story of Joseph from Genesis. We have seen the children respond to seeing pyramids, palace guards, and the Nile River in a great way. It is not just reading it to them while they sit in seats. The message of the gospel must never change but the methods of sharing it have to as Ed Stetzer shares in an article. 
  • Recruiting. In church work, we are always looking to recruit new people to join the team. Most churches run on the work of volunteers. It is important for believers to find their gifting and jump in where God is leading them. When churches have people that refuse to be their part of the team, the mission suffers greatly. VBS has proven to be a great way to let people get their feet wet with serving. It gives a leader the opportunity to see where some people can serve even when you never thought they would do it.
  • Reality-Check. I have found that VBS can be a great reality check for churches. With so many things pulling our attention in various directions, it is easy to let some things slip from where they should be. It may not be intentional, but it happens. VBS can remind a church that the younger generations are important. If we do not pour into them when they are younger, then the possibility and opportunities to do it decrease with every passing year.

With all of that said, I believe that is clear of what my views are on VBS. I’m so thankful to the countless people who made VBS possible at our church for the first time in over a decade. May it bring a new day and new focus.

The SBC and a Giant Cow

Our family returned the other day from the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, MO. This was the first year that we took the whole family. We decided that it would be good for our boys to come along and experience the big annual meeting Of our denomination.

We noticed that there would be a camp-like event taking place during the time of the Pastor’s Conference and the Convention itself. We figured we would give it a try.

This event was hosted by Giant Cow Ministries.

I just wanted to say that our boys (ages 4, 6, and 8) had an amazing time at this event. They have not stopped talking about the games, music, and missionaries that they heard from.

I am so grateful to the people at Giant Cow Ministries and the SBC for having this wonderful and inspiring event for our children. I highly recommend these folks at Giant Cow Ministries.

2016 Southern Baptist Convention Day 2

 The Southern Baptist Convention finished up today in St. Louis. Honestly, the final session is going while I write out this post. There are some great things that took place today. Most of these things will be overshadowed by one event. 
There was a close race as to who would lead the Southern Baptist denomination going forward. This race was coming down to J.D. Greear and Steve Gaines. Today, when the messengers of the SBC gathered together for a record third vote, something amazing happened. J.D. Greear stood and announced that he was stepping down so that there would not be a divided denomination going forward. You can read more about this from Greear here.

I know that many younger adults were here at the Southern Baptist Convention looking to see what the future is and if there is a place for them in it. I honestly believe that J.D. Greear with his actions and the way he handled it just bought the SBC a few more years with Millenials. 

I know that many other things have taken place on this day. The reports from NAMB and IMB were simply amazing and so encouraging about what lies ahead in mission work. 

2016 Southern Baptist Convention Day 1

The Southern Baptist Convention started its annual meeting today in St. Louis. This was the forest of the 2-day event where the Southern Baptist denomination meets together and takes care of needed business. Below are some of the thoughts I had about it coming out of Day 1.

  • Tight race for SBC President.  Three men were nominated to lead our denomination for the next two years: David Crosby (Pastor of FBC New Orleans, LA), Steve Gaines (Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN), and J.D. Greear (Pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh- Durham, NC).  After two different votes, a 50% majority was not reached by a candidate. There will be a third vote Wednesday morning. I think this is showing the impact of this decision. What direction will the SBC go from here? Will it look much the same as it has? Will there be a new day where some different approaches are used to accomplish the Great Commission?
  • No symbol is more important than a soul. There was a resolution on the floor to be voted on by the SBC that strongly encouraged people to not participate in flying the Confederate Battle flag because of the symbol of hatred that it has been known for. I know that there are various opinions about this matter. I know that not all people who have this flag are racist or hate-filled. You cannot argue thought that when most people see that flag, their thoughts are not good… usually has something to do with white sheets and secret meetings. I think that what one messenger said sums up the reality of it all. He said something along the lines of “no amount of flags are more important than the soul of a person.” If that symbol creates an unnecessary barrier to a person sharing or hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, then it needs to go. (The resolution passed.)

These were some of the thoughts that I walked away today with. I hate that I missed the prayer service tonight, but the kiddos – who have been troopers this week – were in major need of some rest, so we turned in early.

Please pray for the Southern Baptist Convention as it winds up tomorrow. Pray that good decisions will be made. Pray that we might have a spirit of unity.