“Show Us the Father” – a Father’s Day Devotional

fathers day pic

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.'” New Living Translation

Philip asked the question for the ages…Humanity cries out for an understanding of and relationship with the God of heaven. And we long to see a glimpse of His character in our earthly father. But for too many that hope is a distant reality.

When…
71% of all high school drop-outs come from fatherless homes
71% of all pregnant teenagers,,,
85% of all children with behavior disorders…
90% of all homeless and runaway children…all come from fatherless homes
63% of youth suicides…
85% of all youth who end up in prison…

And according to the US Census Bureau, an estimated 24.7 million children (33%) are growing up in homes without their father..
When you break those numbers down demographically, it’s even more chilling…
58% of Black children, 31% of Hispanic children, and 21% of white children are growing up without their father’s presence in the home!
And finally, according to 72% of the US population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. Source: National Center for Fathering

It’s not drugs, not gangs, not violence, not police brutality, not a lack of education or jobs…it’s the same cry that Philip prayed, “Lord, shew us the Father”…

The root cause of societal ills and the challenges facing our homes, communities, and nations, is a dim revelation of the Father. Philip’s prayer is as urgent today as it was back then, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

We thank God for earthly father’s, who, by the grace of God, have not been perfect, but have been present and lived up to the best example they could before their children. Let’s use this season to renew the prayer of Philip and pray for a revelation of the character and unconditional love of the Father both before us and in each of us.

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4. The Multitude, the Master, & the Method

A Devotional for those engaged in community-based ministry… “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:1…

Source: 4. The Multitude, the Master, & the Method

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4. The Multitude, the Master, & the Method

A Devotional for those engaged in community-based ministry…

“And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14 NKJV)

 Bible Graphics Studio            No one taught the way Jesus taught. Jesus had a holistic ministry that met the physical, psychic, emotional, and spiritual needs of people. He didn’t just preach. He identified, in a very intimate way, with our tribulations. He ministered to the very core and heart of our being. He helped us, while preserving our dignity. He corrected us, without being destructively critical. He restrained us, without leaving us feeling bound. He rebuked us, without leaving us hopeless. He rendered our own vain attempts at salvation useless, without stripping us of our ultimate value and worth to Him. Jesus exemplified a balanced ministry of acceptance and encouragement, reinforced by both word and deed.

There are three things that stand out in this verse which form the basis and serve as a model for anyone engaged in the ministry of reconciliation. And every believer who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives is a minister of reconciliation. Ministry is not limited to pastoring a church, or preaching, or teaching, or involvement in a leadership capacity of a spiritual nature. Ministry is what each believer is called to do. It is not a corporate assignment but an internal call that constrains us to action. God has gifted His body to exercise their talents for the upbuilding of His kingdom. And the Master has not left us without a method to reach the multitude.

This verse provides the foundation on which to build an effective, life-changing, ministry in whatever capacity we happen to serve. Notice carefully the three actions Jesus executed as He “went out.” The first thing the text says is that “He saw a great multitude…” As we engage in ministry for the Master, what do we see? Jesus saw people and not problems. He saw opportunities to glorify God and not an opportunity to enrich Himself. He witnessed a chance for exhortation and not exploitation. He saw a convenient opportunity to meet others’ needs rather than an inconvenient obstacle preventing Him from meeting His own needs. Again, when we engage in ministry, what do we see? Jesus saw a multitude hurting, helpless, and in need of a touch of healing and a word of hope.

The second thing the text says is that not only did He see the multitude but that He was “moved with compassion” by what He saw. As believers, are we moved by the needs of the multitude? Does our heart go out to the hurting, the helpless, and the hopeless? Are we moved with compassion for those thirsting for hope and healing and a better way? Experiencing a heart for the hurting and a genuine love for people is essential to effective ministry for the Master. And the “multitude” has a way of sensing authentic, genuine ministry when it sees it. They may not be able to define it or articulate it, but they know it when they see it. They saw it in the life and ministry of Jesus. The question today is, “Do they see it in you?” To what extent are we willing to sacrifice and inconvenience ourselves for the salvation of others? Jesus didn’t just minister on a cerebral, intellectual, or rational level, He engaged His whole being in ministry. He ministered on an emotional level as well. He “felt” our pain. He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” and was “moved with compassion.” True ministry for the Master involves wholehearted service, with nothing held back. This is the method Jesus has laid out by His own example. Effective ministry for the Master involves seeing the multitude and being moved with compassion towards them.

But not only does effective, life-changing ministry involve the ability to see and feel the needs of the multitude, it also involves the sense of touch. It involves the ability to reach out, to touch, to heal in His name. Real ministry rallies all of the senses to action. We must see them, feel them, and touch them. The text says that “He healed their sick.” The Greek term “healed” is therapeuō from which we get the transliterated English equivalent “therapy.” Jesus is the Great Physician and a Balm in Gilead and He knows how to minister to our every need. He has a therapeutic touch, a healing hand. What do people experience when we come in contact with them? How do they feel? Do they go away feeling better or bitter? Battered or believing? Assaulted or accepted? Victorious or vandalized? Consecrated or manipulated? Effective ministry manifests itself in transformed lives. It produces an eager multitude yearning for more of the life-giving power which flows from the hands of the Master.

Are we committed to seeing the people the way Jesus sees them? Are we willing to open up with a heart of compassion towards them? Are we willing to reach out, in His name, and through sacrificial service facilitate healing and restoration in their lives? May our prayer today be to follow the Master’s methods as we minister to the multitude in His name.

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“Blessed & Broken” – Key # 3 to Developing a Community-based Ministry

“And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past…” (Matthew 14:15 KJV)

 Jesuswalkingwithdisciples The verse under consideration introduces us to the third key for developing a community-based ministry. The first key (Matthew 14:13) suggests that roles should be clarified. Jesus recognized His need to move away from the crowd to find time alone to grieve the loss of His forerunner, John.  His example encourages us to find time to rest and replenish our own soul. The second key (Matthew 14:14) reminds us  that needs must be identified. When Jesus recognized their need He overlooked His own and extended compassion to the multitude. The third key, which is found in the verse under consideration, provides a subtle reminder  that decisions must be unified.

How many times have ministries and organizations alike struggled to stay focused because they skipped the first two steps of developing a healthy community-based ministry and didn’t take the time to clarify their roles and develop a plan of action? It’s not the kind of “warm and fuzzy” work most believers sign up for. Some want to skip what we call “the operational-stuff” and dive right in to the “real” work of ministry. Some of us who engage in community-based ministry fail to realize that the same principles needed to run a successful business are also needed to run a successful ministry and that these strategic, operational steps are modeled in Scripture. And a key part of the process is to learn how teams deliberate, decide, and execute.

Sports fans do not sit in the stands hours at a time to watch their favorite team huddle. Eventually the team must make a decision, come out of the huddle, and execute the play. How many believers have failed to move on His Word or unction of His Spirit for fear of consequences, retaliation, repercussions, unclear roles, or divided interests?

The verse under consideration says “And when it was evening, His disciples came to him….” The verse didn’t identify a specific disciple, it says “his disciples came to him” which suggests an expression of unity in their collective decision. The implication is that they previously discussed “next steps” among themselves and came to Jesus with a group decision. Let’s not overlook this important point. Before Jesus multiplied the loaves, the disciples engaged in strategic planning! They were all on one accord. While the decision itself (which we will learn later) may have been short-sighted and lacking in compassion, we can give them credit for their attempt to exercise some form of deliberative decision-making. And before God will extend and multiply resources in our respective ministries, we must be focused on the mission while preserving a level of respect for the opinions and contributions of others.

The greatest hindrance in my work of assisting ministries with fundraising is NOT a lack of available resources but a lack of unity. Oftentimes it is easier to secure resources than consensus. The source of this disunity manifests itself in numerous ways; sometimes it is with leadership who hide behind the cloak of “spiritual authority” to suppress freedom of expression; sometimes it is manifested through team members who have their own hidden agenda or allow personality conflicts to cloud their judgment. But regardless of the myriad number of reasons, one of our overarching goals in the work of community-based ministry is to utilize this important key and maintain unity in the body of Christ – and this can be accomplished through the power and grace of Christ. The strategic model, as outlined in the feeding of the 5,000, suggests to us that it is God who makes Himself responsible for multiplying the resources, and it is our role and responsibility to honor and love one another as we seek to expand the “kingdom in community.”

One of the last prayers of Christ was not for resources, but for unity in our relationships. He said, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21 KJV) There is far too much division in the body of Christ. Perhaps that is the reason why we have not experienced the “multiplication of the loaves” in our lives and in our collective experience. The Psalmist exclaimed, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity?” (Psalm 133:2 KJV). The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 teaches us how our roles should be clarified, needs identified, and decisions unified!

God, grant us clarity of purpose, direction in service, and grace to extend the matchless love you shared through Calvary, to one another, in Jesus’ name.

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Christians Need to Be More Conservative, Not Less

Source: Christians Need to Be More Conservative, Not Less

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Economics and the criminal justice syste

Economics and the criminal justice system – the price of poverty

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http://ow.ly/Oxx7O “Blessed & Broken”

http://ow.ly/Oxx7O “Blessed & Broken” – Key # 3 to Developing a Community-based Ministry

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“Blessed & Broken” – Key # 3 to Developing a Community-based Ministry

“And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past…” (Matthew 14:15 KJV)

 Jesuswalkingwithdisciples The verse under consideration introduces us to the third key for developing a community-based ministry. The first key (Matthew 14:13) suggests that roles should be clarified. Jesus recognized His need to move away from the crowd to find time alone to grieve the loss of His forerunner, John.  His example encourages us to find time to rest and replenish our own soul. The second key (Matthew 14:14) reminds us  that needs must be identified. When Jesus recognized their need He overlooked His own and extended compassion to the multitude. The third key, which is found in the verse under consideration, provides a subtle reminder  that decisions must be unified.

How many times have ministries and organizations alike struggled to stay focused because they skipped the first two steps of developing a healthy community-based ministry and didn’t take the time to clarify their roles and develop a plan of action? It’s not the kind of “warm and fuzzy” work most believers sign up for. Some want to skip what we call “the operational-stuff” and dive right in to the “real” work of ministry. Some of us who engage in community-based ministry fail to realize that the same principles needed to run a successful business are also needed to run a successful ministry and that these strategic, operational steps are modeled in Scripture. And a key part of the process is to learn how teams deliberate, decide, and execute.

Sports fans do not sit in the stands hours at a time to watch their favorite team huddle. Eventually the team must make a decision, come out of the huddle, and execute the play. How many believers have failed to move on His Word or unction of His Spirit for fear of consequences, retaliation, repercussions, unclear roles, or divided interests?

The verse under consideration says “And when it was evening, His disciples came to him….” The verse didn’t identify a specific disciple, it says “his disciples came to him” which suggests an expression of unity in their collective decision. The implication is that they previously discussed “next steps” among themselves and came to Jesus with a group decision. Let’s not overlook this important point. Before Jesus multiplied the loaves, the disciples engaged in strategic planning! They were all on one accord. While the decision itself (which we will learn later) may have been short-sighted and lacking in compassion, we can give them credit for their attempt to exercise some form of deliberative decision-making. And before God will extend and multiply resources in our respective ministries, we must be focused on the mission while preserving a level of respect for the opinions and contributions of others.

The greatest hindrance in my work of assisting ministries with fundraising is NOT a lack of available resources but a lack of unity. Oftentimes it is easier to secure resources than consensus. The source of this disunity manifests itself in numerous ways; sometimes it is with leadership who hide behind the cloak of “spiritual authority” to suppress freedom of expression; sometimes it is manifested through team members who have their own hidden agenda or allow personality conflicts to cloud their judgment. But regardless of the myriad number of reasons, one of our overarching goals in the work of community-based ministry is to utilize this important key and maintain unity in the body of Christ – and this can be accomplished through the power and grace of Christ. The strategic model, as outlined in the feeding of the 5,000, suggests to us that it is God who makes Himself responsible for multiplying the resources, and it is our role and responsibility to honor and love one another as we seek to expand the “kingdom in community.”

One of the last prayers of Christ was not for resources, but for unity in our relationships. He said, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21 KJV) There is far too much division in the body of Christ. Perhaps that is the reason why we have not experienced the “multiplication of the loaves” in our lives and in our collective experience. The Psalmist exclaimed, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity?” (Psalm 133:2 KJV). The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 teaches us how our roles should be clarified, needs identified, and decisions unified!

God, grant us clarity of purpose, direction in service, and grace to extend the matchless love you shared through Calvary, to one another, in Jesus’ name.

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Day 2 – Excerpt from upcoming book, “Blessed & Broken”

“And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14 NKJV)

 
Jesusteachingmultitude            No one taught the way Jesus taught. Jesus had a holistic ministry that met the physical, psychic, emotional, and spiritual needs of people. He didn’t just preach. He identified, in a very intimate way, with the trials and troubles of living in a sin-cursed world. He helped us while preserving our dignity. He healed us and challenged us to lighten the burden of others. He restrained us, without leaving us bound. He rebuked us, without leaving us hopeless. He rendered our own vain attempts at redemption useless, without stripping us of our ultimate value and worth to Him. He infused our existence with purpose and exemplified a balanced ministry, reinforced by both word and deed.

There are three things that stand out in this verse which form the basis model for anyone engaged in the ministry of reconciliation. And every believer who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives is a minister of reconciliation. Ministry is not limited to pastoral service, or preaching, or teaching, or involvement in a church leadership capacity. Ministry is what each believer is called to do. God has gifted His body to exercise their talents for the up-building of His kingdom. And the Master has not left us without a method to reach the multitude.

This verse provides the foundation on which to build an effective, life-changing, ministry in whatever capacity we are called to serve. Notice carefully the three actions Jesus executed as He “went out” in our text under consideration. The first thing the text says is that “He saw a great multitude…” This is in contrast to what the disciples saw. Jesus was engaged in holistic ministry. Jesus ministered to the spirit, soul, and body of his targeted audience. And as the sun began to set the disciples were planning an exit strategy (see verse 15). In verse 14, when Jesus looked out over the landscape, He saw people. When the disciples looked out, all they saw was a desert place. Jesus saw opportunities. The disciples saw obstacles. Jesus made a decision to stay based upon the needs of the multitude, the disciples made a decision to leave based upon the conditions, circumstances, and comfort-level of ministry. When we engage in ministry, what do we see? Healthy, effective, life-changing ministry begins with a vision of ministry that is willing to sacrifice our own personal comforts for the temporal and spiritual needs of others.

The second point worthy of note in the text is that not only did He see the multitude but that He was “moved with compassion” by what He saw. As believers, are we moved by the needs of the multitude? Does our heart go out to the hurting, the helpless, and the hopeless? Are we moved with compassion for those thirsting for the Living Water? Experiencing a heart for humanity and a genuine love for people is essential to effective ministry for the Master. And, generally speaking, the multitude has a way of sensing authentic, genuine ministry when it sees it. They may not always be able to define it or even articulate it, but they know it when they see it. They saw it in the life and ministry of Jesus. The question today is, “Do they see it in us?” To what extent are we willing to sacrifice and inconvenience ourselves for the healing and salvation of others? Jesus didn’t just minister on a cerebral, intellectual, or rational level, He engaged His whole being in ministry. He “felt” our pain. He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” and was “moved with compassion.” True ministry for the Master involves wholehearted service, with nothing held back. This is the method Jesus has laid out by His own example. Effective ministry for the Master involves seeing the multitude and being moved with compassion towards them.

But not only does effective, life-changing ministry involve the ability to see and feel the needs of the multitude, it also involves the sense of touch. It involves the willingness to roll up our sleeves and the ability to reach out, to touch, to heal in His name. Real ministry rallies all of the senses to action. We must see them, feel them, and touch them. The text says that “He healed their sick.” The Greek term “healed” is therapeuō from which we get the transliterated English equivalent, “therapy.” Jesus is the Great Physician and a Balm in Gilead and He knows how to minister to our every need. He has a therapeutic touch, a healing hand. What do people experience after we come in contact with them? How do they feel? Do they go away feeling better or bitter? Battered or believing? Assaulted or accepted? Victorious or vandalized? Consecrated or manipulated? Effective ministry manifests itself in transformed lives. It produces an eager multitude yearning for more of the life-giving power which flows from the Master’s Hands.

Are we committed to seeing people the way Jesus sees them? Are we willing to open up with a heart of compassion towards them? Are we willing to reach out and touch, in His name? Are we willing to persevere and through sacrificial service and the power of His Spirit facilitate healing and restoration in the lives of others? May our heart-felt prayer drive us to the altar to prepare ourselves to be used by Him to exercise faithful stewardship for holistic ministry today.

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No Hiding Place

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“When Jesus heard of it, he departed…and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him…” Matthew 14:13

   While Jesus sought out a solitary place, crowds of people, either through ignorance or sheer desperation, sought Him as well. When Jesus heard the news of John’s death, He made an effort to retire from the crowded throng, but when the multitudes heard He was departing, they invaded His solitary space with their own needs, seemingly oblivious to His.

While ministry and Christian service is a spiritual discipline and expected of all believers, taking time out for spiritual reflection and personal growth is an essential and integral part of ministry. And while His compassion moved Him to extend Himself to serve, immediately following the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, the Bible says in verses 22 and 23 that “straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship…while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:22,23 KJV) Jesus was eventually able to secure the solitary time for meditation and prayer which He had sought after learning of the death of John the Baptist. He first provided food for the needs of the multitude, then He provided nourishment for His disciples, and finally, He received strength and nourishment from His Heavenly Father in prayer.

The example Jesus left for us should serve as a striking example for us to balance work and rest, service and solitude. It should help us to understand the two sides of the intercessory work of our Savior – the work of Christ through us and the work of Christ in us.

This process is a part of the natural order found in creation. Our very heartbeat is nature’s way of reminding us of the balance between periods of rest and work. The revolutions of the earth, providing periods of sunlight and darkness, the transition of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, the metamorphic cycles found in living creation, all serve to remind us of the need to seek balance in both our physical and spiritual lives.

Conforming our existence to the natural rhythms of life is especially important for the believer. All too often I’ve struggled with the tendency to over-extend myself. I’ve met many others who struggle with this same issue. It places us out of rhythm when we don’t take time for growth and reflection. How often have we seen those engaged in the important work of ministry to “the least of these” burn out and lose the faith that they are encouraging others to embrace. Like Jesus, all of us long for a hiding place, a solitary place where we can find time to re-calibrate, reflect, and reconnect.

Just as Jesus sought space and time for solitude and reflection, so we as believers need to periodically seek out a hiding place, a sanctuary for the soul. Many who meditate on the account of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 can relate to the issues and challenges of life that seem to drive us to our dessert places. But how often have we ignored the call or deny ourselves the ability to replenish the soul? How often have we slipped into the warped thinking that seeks to justify our need to feel needed and resist again and again the soul’s cry for rest. Our excuse? No hiding place. We claim there is nowhere to go, no time to spend, to escape the demands and needs of life and ministry. No hiding place.

But rather than serve as a way to comfortably justify or deny the existence of a hiding place, the Master’s example helps us find it. Jesus does eventually send the multitude away. He is intentional about taking time for spiritual reflection. Although He came to engage in the most important work that has ever been done or ever will be accomplished on earth, He jealously guarded both space and time to spend recharging His humanity before the Father. May we do the same.

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