The Letter to Thyatira

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Today’s letter was written to the Church at Thyatira. It seems that this church had similar issues to Pergamum. They were doing great things for Christ, but they tolerated pagan/evil beliefs to enter the church. The difference between the two is that Thyatira seems to allow a leader within the church to teach people these evil beliefs while in Pergamum it was the “regular attender”. Jesus calls this person Jezebel (which is a reference an Israelite queen that influenced Israel to worship other gods, and persecuted the prophets of God) and says of her, “she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray…” (Revelation 2:20, NASB).

This is certainly a message to those of us in leadership in the Church, to be careful what we teach. Whatever we say or do must come from the Bible and be Christ-centered. The instant that this isn’t true is when we become like Jezebel and lead people astray. God isn’t happy about that. He wants His people to follow Him and not some made up god or some made up truth. Church leadership has stress over this because they have to make sure they have a message that speaks to everyone, and cannot be misunderstood.

But what if I’m not a leader? This message still applies to you. Where ever I am, and I have a Bible sitting next to me (or I’m reading it), people always seem to ask questions about it. I’m sure many of you have had a similar experience. We even hear people that talk about Christians, but their understanding of who we are is completely wrong; so you stand up for us and answer their questions. Or maybe you don’t respond, but wish someone would correct them. In these moments, we all have the opportunity to be a leader and bring people to Christ. No we may not see a conversion right there, but at least someone may start to understand. That’s why we have to study and understand the Bible. That way we can use it everyday to help others along.

My prayer for you today is that God opens your eyes to something new in Scripture. I also hope that you pray for your church leadership: pastors, worship leaders, lay leaders, other elders, deacons, committee groups, etc. They all need that prayer for encouragement. We must all be vigilant to be sure that we don’t lead people astray, and be unlike the church in Thyatira.

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Let It All Fall Apart

Unraveling

As a young worship leader, one of the hardest things for me to see is my music ministry fall apart. We have been going through a time where things weren’t working out for the best, and I actually had to let someone go today. It’s frustrating because you have a vision, but God seems to take it in another direction. Something you either didn’t intend or it seems worse. The important thing is that we submit to the work God is doing, especially if that work is ministry.

Jesus tells us in John’s gospel, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” (John 15:1-2 NLT). God works within our lives and ministries in order to make them better. He is never satisfied with what we can produce and wants it to be better.

It may seem like everything is falling apart. There are many times I’ve said to my wife “My praise team is falling apart!” But the truth is that things aren’t falling apart. God is simply removing the things that don’t work, so that the things that do can be improved. Our lives are meant to bear fruit for Him. That could be simply living a life for Him, or as difficult as seeking out people to bring to Him. Either way, God has given us our lives and work. We should strive to do them better in His name. So when things look like they are going wrong, I say that God is working to make things right again. So let it all fall apart. When it comes back together, it will be better than ever.

Giving Your Best

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I have recently been faced with a problem. This problem has been going on for quite sometime. Am I really giving my best to God?

When I first began in worship ministry, there was absolutely no way I was giving my best.I could blame it on many things, but when you come down to it, I wasn’t doing the best job I could. I was let go from my church and spent a year away from it before God gave me an opportunity to lead again. I gladly took the position with the vow to myself “I will always be do my best and getting better!” I have been doing pretty well. But this week, my ministry hits a turning point. The outcome could change the way that the worship ministry at my church operates. It hurts to think about and I truly wish that I could skip it. But I’ve reached a point that I have to be an administrator and thumb down some rules.

Despite the hardship though, this is actually a good thing. Paul writes, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, on who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NLT). Without God’s approval, we cannot receive God’s blessing. I personally have seen this countless times. If I act before God, or don’t even consult Him at all, my plans seem to fail and end horrible. That’s even in the Bible: “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT). This is even more important in the life of ministry. Since we are doing God’s work, if we don’t wait we are acting like builders of a building without consulting their foreman.

God also tells us in the book of Proverbs, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4 NASB). This rings pretty true with me. My management style has never really been one of force. It’s more, I’m just around to make sure nothing bad happens. But that’s not what God is saying here. In order for our deeds to do well in the world, we must be diligent about our work. We cannot say, “whatever happens, happens”. Instead we must be intentional about everything we do, because, as Paul says, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB).

Therefore, we must give our best to God. It’s what He wants from us. Whether you are in leadership or not, you must give God your best. It’s true that our best might not be as good as someone else’s (at least the way we see it), but I assure you that God loves to see your best. So give it to Him. If you haven’t been doing the best job, like me, than it is time for a change. Let’s make a change. God wants and deserves our best. So what’s holding us back? Let’s give it to Him, and be glad that we did.

When You Turn from God

King Saul from The Bible miniseries
King Saul from The Bible miniseries

I continued to read 1 Samuel today and came to another point that I felt followed my last post pretty well.

What happens when we turn away from or disobey God?

The answer seems pretty simple, “bad stuff”. However it’s more than that. In my reading, the newly appointed King Saul leads his people through many glorious battles. God then commands that he go and destroy all of the Amalekites. And boy He meant all, “… put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (1 Samuel 15:3 NASB) Yet when the time came Saul spared King Agag and kept the best of all the animals. God then feels remorse for making Saul king of His people. Samuel tells Saul “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.” (15:28 NASB)

Wow! Those must have been some hard words to hear. It’s the same as when your boss doesn’t like the way you are doing a project and gives it to one of you co-workers. Yet when we choose to disobey God, He reacts. Look back to the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. When they disobeyed God, He cast them from Eden, cursed the ground, made child-bearing more painful, etc. God is not a fan of sin, simply because it makes us “me-focused” and not “God-focused”. That’s the nature of sin my friends, to only be “me me me” and to shy away from God. Yet God created us to be in fellowship with Him.

Thank God He sent His son, Jesus Christ. Because of his sacrificial death everyone, including you, can rejoin God in fellowship. Yes we still sin, that’s a part of humanity. But God wants us to continue to fight the temptation to sin. That’s the mark of our Christian lifestyle, “Hi, my name is Preston, and I’m a sinner. Now through Jesus Christ, I am getting better!”

As leaders though, we become doubly accountable. Not only do we have to monitor our own walks with Christ, but we must be certain not to lead people astray. God has given us our influence, and we must guard it carefully.

I encourage you whether you are a leader or not, consult God before you make decisions, and listen to what He says. This is probably the biggest lesson that we can learn from Saul’s life. Once he was lowly, then he became King, then he turned from the Lord and everything was taken from him.

Qualifies the Called (The First Post!!!!)

leadership

Well friends! I’m not starting this journey on becoming “The Heart Man”.

I figured in order to prepare for this blog I would start reading the story of the man I take this blog’s name from, King David. So I started reading 1 Samuel, and wouldn’t you know it, I came across something to discuss before I even got to David.

You see at the start of the book Israel is without a king. It’s not because their previous king had died or anything, they just simply didn’t have one. Instead they were lead by God through His prophets. Eventually the people of Israel decided they needed a king, “… just like all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8:5 NLT) So after consulting God, Samuel anoints for them a king, a man named Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. At first Saul is astonished that God would choose him, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” (9:21 NLT)

God calls His leaders despite what we think our qualifications are. I once heard it put this way, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” When leaders are called, we often first say “No, not me!” Moses certainly did at the burning bush. So looking at my own call to be the leader that I am, I realize that I reacted similarly. But through the grace of God I have become more “qualified” in my leadership roles.

My encouragement to any readers out there is that if you feel called, pray and practice! When I became a worship leader, I definitely had no business singing, playing guitar or piano. But I have gotten better with work, and am now more confident in fulfilling my call. So I encourage you to keep going, it all gets betters (and the butterflies in your stomach go away a little more each time).