66 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE – Day 1 (July 3, 2017)

As we start our 66 Day Prayer Challenge, let’s remember the verse that Pastor Shawn introduced on Sunday:

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

It’s a simple prayer formula – If we call out to God in prayer, He promises to answer. Not only that, He promises to reveal “great and mighty things”.

Make no mistake, God is not promising some “new revelation” (because we already have His Word), but He is promising to give us insight and understanding into His revealed Word, His purposes and His plan – which we have not yet seen, discovered or fully understand.

He is ready – but we have to pray!

Four chapters earlier, Jeremiah wrote these words:

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”  (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

God stands ready to meet us, to speak to us, to show us “great and mighty things”, but we have to initiate the conversation of prayer. As Pastor Shawn said, “Our biggest problem really isn’t unanswered prayers but unoffered prayers”.

Read it again:

When you call on me – When you come and pray to me – God says, “I’LL LISTEN!”

When you come looking for me  – God says, “YOU’LL FIND ME!”

When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else – God says, “I’LL MAKE SURE YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED!”

Wow! What amazing and incredible promises. God is ready to meet us, speak to us, connect with us and change us.

But it all starts with our commitment to pray.

ONE OTHER THING: DO NOT START THIS PRAYER CHALLENGE WITHOUT A PRAYER JOURNAL (ANY KIND OF NOTEPAD OR NOTEBOOK WITH DO, NOTHING FANCY). BE SURE TO WRITE EACH DAY’S DATE, WRITE OUT YOUR DAILY REQUESTS AND DAILY INSIGHTS – AND WATCH HOW GOD WILL WORK OVER THE NEXT 66 DAYS!

The Weight Of This Calling

 

The Weight Of This Calling

Being a pastor is a difficult life because it’s a demanding life. But the rewards are enormous — the rewards of being on the front line of seeing the gospel worked out in people’s lives. I remain convinced that if you are called to it, being a pastor is the best life there is. But make no mistake, it is extremely hard – especially over the long haul. (Eugene Peterson)

One of my favorite country artists is Miranda Lambert and her magnum opus is her 2016 release “The Weight Of These Wings” – 24 songs that define her life and relationships – and the accompanying “weight” she carries in her heart.

Those of us in the ministry – most especially those in the “lead” pastor position – carry a weight in our hearts as well – the weight of this calling we have from God. Unless you are in this position, you cannot really know how heavy this weight can feel at times.

But Paul the Apostle knew firsthand the weight of this calling and he wrote about it.

And there are many other problems I face. One of these is the care I have for all the churches. I worry about each group of believers every day. I feel weak every time another person is weak, I feel deeply upset every time another person is led into sin. (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)

There are three ways pastors feel the weight of this calling in their hearts and lives, which I call the “3 C’s”.

  1. The Weight Of Concern

Any pastor worth his salt is continually moved by compassion for his flock. There are times when my heart breaks for the people I serve. I literally “ache” for them when I know the pain and struggles they are going through. Seeing the pain of my people is a weight that I live with continually. Part of it is the weight of knowing that they are often hurting themselves and part of it is knowing there is oftentimes nothing more than I can do but pray. This is at the heart of what Paul wrote in the passage cited above. He said, “I worry about each group of believers every day”. This is the essence of a pastor’s heart and a big part of the weight of this calling we have from God. Yes, this is God’s church, but pastor carry the weight and the burden of the welfare of the church and it’s people on their shoulders. We take it VERY personally when we see people struggle and especially when we see people leave. Pastors take the success or failure of the church and it’s ministries VERY personally and feel a huge responsibility in this regard. This is a weight we live with every day.

  1. The Weight Of Confidentiality

Someone once said that pastors may be the most misunderstood people on the planet – and there is a lot of truth to that statement. Many of the misunderstandings arise not because of what pastors say but because of what they cannot say. Part of the weight we bear comes from knowing things that we can never share with other people. There are so many “back stories” that only we as pastors are aware of. When it comes to many “church issues” there is a lot that congregations don’t know. As the head of the church staff, pastors deal with personnel issues and problems on an ongoing basis. They are aware of issues and problems with staff members that no one else is ever aware of  (behavioral issues, relationship issues, marital issues, leadership issues, accountability issues, character issues) – and we must keep those issues confidential, as we should. Also, people come to the pastor with their pain, their problems and yes, their complaints – and we as pastors must keep those things to ourselves – working through them and praying through them in silence. One of the signs of immaturity (especially for those in ministry) is telling people things that should never be shared publicly. I will never forget the three word axiom my pastoral ministry professor, Dr. Charles Ashby of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary once said regarding staff members who talk too much and go around to people inside and outside of the church telling things they shouldn’t: “BEWARE OF BLABBERS” This immaturity often causes huge problems within the church. Example: Oftentimes people in the congregation only see what’s on the surface of a situation or only hear one side of an issue and make a judgement that isn’t based on the true facts – facts that only a pastor is privy too – and this misunderstanding often leads to unfair criticism. Paul Himself knew this very well. In fact, earlier in 2 Corinthians 11, Paul had to defend himself against the unfair criticism that was brought against him. People in our churches have no idea of what a pastor deals with on a daily basis and it is unfortunate that people often make decisions or level criticisms based on misinformation or partial information. This is part of the weight of our calling.

  1. The Weight Of Conflict

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he addressed an issue what was weighing heavily on his mind and heart – the issue of conflict in the church.

 My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create conflict among you or be divided into little groups. Instead, be restored completely. Think and act as if you all had the same mind. I have heard troubling reports from Chloe’s people that you, my siblings, are consumed by fighting and petty disagreements. (1 Corinthians 1:10-11)

One of the heaviest weights that a pastor carries is the weight of conflict because this issue has the potential not only to hurt people, but to ultimately hurt the church and the cause of Christ in the world. One of the enemy’s greatest tactics is to sow seeds of anger, hurt, and suspicion within the church. And this results in the church becoming divided and ineffective.

Serve each other with love. The whole law is made complete in this one command: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  If you go on hurting each other, if you criticize and attack each other tearing each other apart, be careful, or you will completely destroy each other. (Galatians 5:14-15)

In a physical sense, when one part of the body attacks another part of the body, we call that DISEASE. It is unhealthy for the body to attack itself. That’s why Paul in Galatians tells the church basically to “stop it”. Stop “hurting each other”. Stop “criticizing each other”. Stop “attaching each other”. Stop “tearing each other apart”. Why? Because if conflict is allowed to run rampant, the entire church will be irreparably harmed – as is the cause of Christ. That’s why he says, “you will completely destroy each other”. And that weight, more than anything else, causes a pastor to weep. Every pastor I know (myself included) loves the church where they serve. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be there. And it literally breaks our heart when we see our church hurting, wounded or torn apart. Everyone in the church can feel the weight of conflict, but pastors feel it most intensely and take it most personally.

Let me end with a story from a wise, old pastor J. W. Sims. In discussing the “weight” and the “burden” of ministry, he writes:

“I presently have a Shetland Sheep Dog that my wife and I dearly love. He is only ten years old but has a disease that caused him to lose his muscle strength in his legs. This means that he can no longer go outside without being carried.  It is frustrating and painful to us at times, but we must carry him. If we do not carry him his life will have to end and we love him too much to allow that to happen. This is much like those of us who have been given a calling to ministry. We must carry that weight for in carrying the weight of that calling, we continue to bring life and give life and allow the ministry to continue.  How desperate we are for burden bearers today. How we long for those who will, in spite of all the weight, in spite of all the pain, all the burden and all the difficulty, will continue to carry the weight of the ministry so that there will be life.”

So how does a pastor live with “the weight of this calling”? We live with it only because of the help given to us by Jesus. One of the most encouraging passages in all of the Bible is found in Matthew 11:28-30. Here Jesus tells us that is He is ready and He is able to help us carry the weight of our calling. I am so glad He gives me the strength I need every day – and He will give it to you as well.

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

2017 VBS Kicks Off This Monday, June 19th!

 

This summer we invite you to be SUBMERGED!
 
LifePointe wants to take your kids on an adventure like no other, deep within the mysterious sea. As kids submerge themselves in God’s Word, they will discover that Jesus didn’t just see what’s on the outside of people. He looked deep down on the inside. So grab your goggles, step into your flippers, and dive in to find truth below the surface that Jesus sees. Jesus knows. Jesus saves. Jesus loves.
 
Submerged will run Monday, June 19, 2017 – Thursday, June 22, 2017 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm each evening. Our VBS will include high energy worship, exciting Bible lessons, cool crafts, wild ‘n crazy games and awesome “under the sea” treats to eat.
 
For more information or to preregister, please call or text our KidzPointe Director, Melora Cranford at: 817-944-5881 or email her at: cranford5@yahoo.com

Weekly Rewind – Sunday, May 7, 2017

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Awakening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is Part 3 in the message series “AWAKENING” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this message titled, “Awakening To Love”, Using the story of the prodigal son, Pastor Chuck talks about how much our heavenly Father loves us and how his love for us is shown in four distinct ways. This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

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Weekly Rewind – Sunday, April 30, 2017

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Awakening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is Part 2 in the message series “AWAKENING” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this message titled, “Awakening To Help”, Pastor Chuck talks about the fact that we were created by God for relationships and we really do need each other. He reveals the three reasons we live disconnected lives, the four reasons why we need the help of others everyday and the three benefits that come with letting others help us.

This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, April 30, 2017.

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Weekly Rewind – Sunday, April 23, 2017

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Awakening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is Part 1 in the message series “AWAKENING” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this message titled, “Awakening To Longing”, Pastor Chuck talks the emptiness we feel in our lives and how we looks to pleasure, possessions and people – but they can never bring ultimate satisfaction because they are temporary in nature. Using the stories of Solomon and the Prodigal Son, he discusses the fact that each of us has a “God-shaped” hole which only God can fill – and that is where we will find our ultimate satisfaction and meaning in life. This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

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Weekly Rewind – Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series I AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is the 10th and final part of the message series “I AM” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this Easter message titled, “I AM The Resurrection And The Life”, Pastor Chuck talks about how the resurrection of Jesus changes everything in our lives both now and for eternity. Using the story of Lazarus, he shows how the resurrection gives us hope, healing and help.  This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, April 16, 2017.

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Weekly Rewind – Sunday, April 9, 2017

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series I AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is Part 9 of the message series “I AM” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this message titled, “I AM The Good Shepherd”, Pastor Chuck talks about how Jesus is our good shepherd, our great friend and our loving Father. He also explains what it means to be a Christian and how everyone can come to know the Lord personally. This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, April 9, 2017.

 

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Weekly Rewind – Sunday, April 2, 2017

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series I AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is Part 8 of the message series “I AM” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this message titled, “I AM The Alpha & Omega”, Pastor Chuck talks about how Jesus is the Alpha & Omega for our eternity, for our salvation and for our lives. He “connects the dots” of various Biblical passages to help us see Jesus and His incredible plan for our lives. This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

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Weekly Rewind – Sunday, March 26, 2017

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series I AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is Part 7 of the message series “I AM” by Pastor Chuck Bernal. In this message titled, “I AM The Light Of The World”, Pastor Chuck talks about the reality of living in a dark world (that is getting darker) and how God’s light can dispel the darkness. He further explains how the coming of Christ forever shined God’s light in the world and how we as Christians are called to be God’s light.

This message was delivered at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

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