Category Archives: Stay in Your Lane

The Church • Devotion #6: Watching for Souls

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17

Looking back over my past, I am so thankful for the different pastors that God brought into my life that took Hebrews 13:17 to heart. They understood that they had a God-given responsibility to “watch for my soul,” and they took the charge very seriously. Every one of them was different in personality yet they all had two very important traits – they loved me and they wanted me to know and love the Lord. 

One of those pastors, my youth pastor, had an incredible impact on me for which I am eternally grateful. He invested in me more than was required of him (He took me on his family vacation – that is just crazy!). He lived out the messages he preached. He loved the Lord, he loved people, he was as genuine as they come. He modeled to me what it meant to love and to serve. I can look back and see God using this man’s faithfulness to work in my life and play a huge role in my having a desire to serve the Lord with my life. I specifically remember it was on a mission’s trip to Canada with him where I surrendered my life to the Lord to be whatever He wanted me to be. Fast forward some twenty years and that pastor is still faithfully, lovingly, pastoring people.  

Who has God used in your life to encourage you along the way as you follow Him? Are you willing to let someone help and encourage you in your walk with the Lord? God did not design us to navigate this crazy life on our own.

I encourage you to reach out. There is a pastor who would love to encourage you along the way as you follow Christ. Find a pastor that loves the Lord, is faithful to the Word of God, is willing to love and serve people, and lives out the messages he preaches. Understand he is not perfect and will make mistakes. Let him help you as you follow the Lord. You will be an incredible encouragement to him, as he will be to you. 

As I write this, I have been reflecting over the last 15 years of ministry that the Lord has given to me – stories of people that I have tried to encourage to follow the Lord but they sadly rejected Him and went their own way, as well as people who were willing to let me encourage them to follow the Lord and are still faithfully following Him today. It brings great joy to look back at those who faithfully follow and a terrible sadness to remember those who rejected. Come alongside a pastor, let them encourage you, and as you faithfully follow the Lord you will also be an incredible encouragement to him.

Church • Devotion #5: Who’s in Charge?!

Our youngest, Carter, has autism. Every year as a student, we attended an IEP to discuss his progress and establish goals for the school year. When he was 13 years old, the conversation started with the typical questions: age, date, address, teachers’ names, and the name of our president. Carter responded with a resounding, “Barack Obama.” As we celebrated his correct response, he continued, “But my dad says.” Having no idea what he was going to say next, we quickly interrupted him and segued into a different topic. Later, Greg and I would discuss the importance of voicing our opinions out of his earshot.

From the time we are born, we experience different types of leadership – a parent, a teacher, and a supervisor. Also, if you have a saving relationship with Christ, you are under the leadership of Jesus. At some time or another, most if not all of us, have asked the question, “Who put him (her) in charge?” We have all questioned the decisions mandates of our leaders at some point. I will never forget when God had me read Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” No conditions were given. It is just a straight-up command. What? I hope I am not alone when I admit that sometimes I question even His leadership.

Whenever you are struggling with understanding and following God, there are stories in the Bible that will remind you that you are in good company. Read the book of Habakkuk. It is a quick three chapters. Habakkuk was God’s chosen prophet to Judah. During that time, Habakkuk was grieved by the spiritual decay surrounding him in spite of his prayers and his commissioned message to the people. When he sees the invasion of Judah by Babylon, the most wicked nation of the day, and God’s people being carried into captivity, he is confused and begins a question. Habakkuk 1:3 says, “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?”

Have you wondered the same thing, “Has God taken His eye off the ball?” Have you ever believed the lie that evil is winning? Have you ever questioned who He “allows” to win elections, who He elevates at your workplace, who He gives a teaching certificate, or who He gives children? Then the big question, “Is God really in control or has He turned a blind eye?” God answers Habakkuk and He answers you. Habakkuk 1:5 says, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”

Habakkuk needed to be reminded that God is fully in control, God’s thoughts and His ways do not often make sense, and He can use anyone or anything to bring about His purposes. Believer, we are in need of the same reminders.

Psalm 11:4 says, “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.” No matter who is in charge on Earth, they answer to the God of Heaven.

Isaiah 55:8 adds, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” God’s eternal decisions often are a mystery.

Paul adds in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

God can use anyone. Do you remember Judas?

So once we wrap our mind around the truth that God does not just allow people to take positions but actually places them in authority (Romans 13:1), how are we expected to respond? I would consider myself to be a rule follower. I am obedient in my actions (mostly). My husband and I obey the laws of the land, comply with the expectations of our supervisors, and treat our parents with respect (mostly). However, Carter’s response that day revealed our rebellious hearts. We were teaching him disrespect with our careless words. Believer, we must remember that all authority, good and bad, comes from God (Romans 13:1) and they are sent for our good (Romans 13:4). To rebel publicly or privately is the equivalent to rebelling against God. We are called to live a godly life and according to 1 Timothy 2:1, this includes praying for our leaders. Believer, our leaders do not need our critical, condemning words but our humble request that God would provide them with wisdom, leading, and protection.

Suggested Scripture to pray are Ephesians 1:17-18 and Colossians 1:9.

Let us pray!

Church • Devotion #4: Example

Albert Schweitzer said, “The three most important ways to lead people are: by example, by example, and by example.” As we talk about church leadership, we know that setting the example is paramount. Jesus even said this after He washed the disciples’ feet. In John 13:14, Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus, the ultimate leader, lived a life worth copying.

Paul wanted to be a role model. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” I used to think he was saying that he wanted people to imitate him in the areas where he was doing things right and imitating Christ. Yet, he did not want people to imitate when he was missing the mark. However, there are other passages where he confidently says, “Follow my lead. Do as I say, and as I do.”

“I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” 1 Corinthians 4:16

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:7

“It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.” 2 Thessalonians 3:9

We need to live lives worth imitating. We are called to “be holy.” God expects us to live a life of thankfulness due to the gift of salvation. Be real. 

“A good example is far better than a good precept.”

Dwight L. Moody

Church • Devotion #3: Martin Luther

I hope everyone who reads this and everyone everywhere can say confidently that their church organization does not have dictatorial or dominating leadership. The Bible provides rules and guidelines for pastors and informs us that they will face stricter judgment from God. Sadly, church organizations have not always held an honorable position in this regard. 

In the early 1500’s, Martin Luther rocked the religious world by challenging the Roman Catholic Church on doctrine and theology. Luther argued that eternal life is the free gift of God and cannot be earned with good behavior. He challenged the authority of the Pope by teaching the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge. Luther translated the Bible from Latin to the German vernacular making it more accessible to the common man. His work influenced Tyndale’s translation to English, the Gutenberg Bible, which is amongst the first mass-produced books.

The Bible paints a picture of the role of church leaders and it has been missed by many. The shepherd and sheep is the analogy the Bible uses many times. Shepherds (pastors) are supposed to let sheep do their own thing – eat, play, sleep. Pastors do not insert themselves into the lives of others unless their sheep are threatened to require them to become aggressive and defend their sheep. When a sheep wanders off they pursue it and lovingly bring it back. 

Church leaders have the important job of teaching the Word of God. A good leader should welcome feedback, constructive criticism, and varying opinions. If you feel a church leader is prideful, hypocritical, or manipulative you should, for the sake of the entire church, lovingly confront them. Pastors have their biblical mandates and everyone else has the mandate to challenge each other to live in godliness (Hebrews 3:12-13), confront one another when necessary (Matthew 18:15-17; Luke 17:3), carry one another’s burdens, and pick each other up when we fall (Galatians 6:1-2).

We are all tasked with supporting and improving each other. We should all strive to make each other better examples of Christ to the world. 

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Church • Devotion #2: Motives Make the Man (or Woman)

Ever hear the saying, “Motives make the man?” That is the impulse behind your actions that ultimately determine if it was honorable or not. Even in our legal system, the intent of a person to harm someone brings about more severe punishment. However, even when something good happens, the motive behind it should be honorable.  

When I was working with students in a school setting, I had someone take another student’s backpack with all their books and devices. When I had eventually tracked it down, I had camera footage of the student taking her bag. He left the building and put the bag in the trunk of his car. So, I called the student into my office and when he arrived, I noticed he had an identical backpack. I went from believing that he stole the backpack to realizing that he may have taken the wrong back-pack. I showed him the footage of him putting the backpack into his trunk. We went out to his car trunk, and there the other backpack was sitting with all the books and devices. So the question was, “Did he steal the backpack?” I did not think so. It was unfortunate, but I did not believe his motive or intent was to steal the backpack.

Romans 12:17 reads, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Further, 2 Corinthians 8:21 states, “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” These verses are a perfect challenge in today’s world, and apparently, they were pretty important words when the Bible was written. Remember, the “motives make the man or woman.” We have been instructed by God to do what is honorable from every perspective. This can be hard. I have worked with a lot of families that really only want obedience from their children, but I would challenge parents that you want obedience with the right motives. We as parents want children to do the right things for the right reasons.God wants the same from His children. He does not just want us to follow the rules, but He wants us to love Him in a way that we want to follow the rules. Our motives are important to accomplishing this goal. In 1 Peter 2:12, we read, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Doing the right things with the right motives will allow the world to see God through our actions. We need to remember, the world is looking for us to do the right thing for the right reasons!

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