Can A Christian Celebrate Halloween?

When I was growing up, we always celebrated Halloween. It was a great time to get dressed up, run around with friends in the neighborhood, and get free candy. Even as a teen in a Baptist church, we would go to the local haunted houses as a youth activity and have Halloween parties.

But as I became a youth worker and was involved in many differing opinions about such things, I found out that many Christians have a problem with Halloween… after all, it is a ‘Satanic’ holiday.

Doing some research I found out that it does indeed have many demonic connections. So should Christians celebrate Halloween? I did a little internet search on what others think and, boy, are Christians all over the map. Most agree on the origins of Halloween, but many differ on our involvement and allowing children to participate.

Halloween originally was a Celtic festivity observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods. In Britain and France, it was the beginning of the Celtic year and they believed that the lord of death sent evil spirits to attack humans. So they escaped them by disguises, many looking like evil spirits themselves. It was thought the evil spirits played nasty tricks on humans.

In about the 4th century, Christians competed with this holiday by celebrating the lives of faithful saints the day before Halloween – often called ‘All Saints Day.’  Today, Halloween is often celebrated innocently. However, Satanists call Halloween one of two high and holy days. There is no question that those who practice witchcraft honor Halloween.

So the original question, should Christians celebrate Halloween?

First, I think Christians should know and teach the truth about Halloween, Satan, and evil in the world. There is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan. Christ has power over the darkness, but many people are trapped by Satan’s power.

Second, to counter the evil influence that Halloween can have, we should join together and celebrate the power Christ has over evil. If Satan’s desire was to have a special day to honor him and his kingdom, we can redeem that day and honor Christ and His kingdom. Rather than ‘hide’ in the face of evil, we should create a positive and godly alternative – providing an environment that has the fun of Halloween, but the redeeming qualities that it lacks.

Use Halloween as a ‘teachable moment’ to celebrate God’s protection, provision, and purpose for our lives. I would not go as far as to say to ‘celebrate Halloween’ but I think October 31 is a day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

7 Good Reasons To Tithe

Throughout the Bible we are taught to give. There are three kinds of giving in the Bible: tithes, offerings and alms. Alms are for the poor, offerings are for specific needs (missions, building programs) and the tithe is giving ten percent of our salary to the church. The tithe is the foundation of giving. We give it first, then we give offerings and alms.

Tithing reflects a grateful heart that wants to give back to God a portion of what He has given us. In reality, it is already His. Tithing is our opportunity to show God that He is first in our lives. Tithing is an opportunity to tangibly show God He is the “owner” of our finances by giving back to Him the first of what He gives us.

Some question if the tithe is still for today. Though it was part of the Jewish law, it was practiced by godly people before and after the law. Evidently, Jesus tithed. It seems logical that we should not give less now than was required under the Jewish law.

Where should the tithe go? God always had a designated recipient for the tithe. At times it was the priest, other times it was the Tabernacle or the Temple. Today, it would seem the best place to give your tithe is your local church. The local church is God’s expression of Himself to the world.

I discovered 7 good reasons to tithe.

1.     Tithe to safeguard your treasure. You are investing where it is totally secure. “Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them.” (Matthew 6:19)

2.     Tithe because you desire God’s blessings. God blesses the nine-tenths of your salary. He promises to pour out a blessing there would not be room enough to receive. This is not always in financial returns, but in ways that only you realize.

3.     Tithe because your church needs it. The church does great work and needs your support. “Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house.” (Malachi 3:8)

4.     Tithe because lost souls need the gospel. People will be reached and saved as God’s people bring the tithe into the storehouse (the church).

5.     Tithe because tithing brings you joy. The knowledge of doing God’s will brings peace of mind and joy to your heart. “God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7)

6.     Tithe because of what God has done for you. He gave His only Son, He saved your soul and He blesses you with possessions. He said, “Prove me” (Malachi 3:10) and He has proved faithful.

7.     Tithe because you love God. You recognize Him as the Eternal One who created the universe and is the only One who knows what is best for you.

Have you discovered other good reasons to tithe? Share them.

I have written other articles about giving you might want to read: If God owns it, what am I doing with it?, Top 10 Reasons to Give to Missions, Orville & Ruth Merillat – Their Story

Walk vs. Talk – Balance in Evangelism

When we had Life Action Ministries at our church, they used a saying – Your walk talks & your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.

That’s a tongue-twister, but it expresses the tension between what a Christian says and how a Christian lives. I think many Christian leaders emphasize one above the other.

Some teach that if we live a godly life, our example will be sufficient to point people to Jesus. But even if we could walk a consistent, faithful, Christian life but never speak about Jesus and His gospel, people will think they can get to Heaven by just living a good life, like us.

Others teach that the message is all that is important. If you spread the gospel, it is powerful enough. We are simply the messenger. But if our Christian walk (conduct) is not very godly, people won’t respect us enough to hear what we say about Jesus.

We need balance. We need to have both godly conduct and gospel speaking. To neglect either is to harm the spread of the message of Jesus.

I’m afraid there have been people who have not listened to me tell them about Jesus because of how I lived in front of them. And yet others have watched me live Christ in front of them, but I never told them about Him. Both are inadequate.

In Mark 6:7-13, Jesus sent out His first evangelistic teams into the surrounding communities with His message. Jesus had called 12 men to be with Him and that He might send them out to preach (Mark 3:14). They had watched Him for several months. But the time had now arrived for the apostles to begin a ministry on their own. This is the pattern of discipleship – We are called to Him, equipped by Him, and then sent out as His representatives.

Jesus included directions about conduct and content. He wanted them to have a balance between how they behaved and what they said.

As to their conduct:

He sent them in pairs. This gave them protection, encouragement & companionship & multiplied His efforts.

He instructed them to travel light. They were to leave at once, without extensive preparation, trusting in God’s care rather than in their own resources.

He instructed them to appreciate hospitality without abusing it. They were to go to the first home and stay there, even if another opened up that was more comfortable or socially prominent. The spread of the message has the priority over personal likes & dislikes.

He instructed them to leave if not received or believed. If the message of Jesus was rejected, don’t take it personal. The disciples were not responsible when others rejected the message. But they did have the responsibility to share it clearly and faithfully.

As to the content of their message, they were to follow the pattern that He had already established. They preached what their Master preached:

Preach Repentance. The people needed to change their minds. The message can only be life changing if the people allowed it to change their lives. The change, for sinful humans, can begin only with repentance.

Preach Power. They were given the power to heal the sick & demon possessed. When the gospel was preached, there was an accompanying power that left other powers weak. Their confidence was not in themselves, but in Jesus who commanded them to go.

We cannot copy these instructions literally and mechanically today. But the following principles are valid for all time:

  1. The forgiven are to proclaim forgiveness.
  2. Focus on God’s spiritual power, not on worldly goods.
  3. Go further and do more than your supplies allow.
  4. Worry less, trust more.
  5. Keep your lifestyle simple and efficient.
  6. When the mission is over, the only achievements worth talking about will be stories of faith.

What struggles do Christians have to balance walk & talk?

Read some of my other similar articles: 3 Things I Learned about Evangelism from a Time-Share Sales Pitch, If Not Now, When?, The Gospel in Your Hand

Orville and Ruth Merillat – Their Story

I have had the privilege of knowing Orville and Ruth Merillat since moving to Adrian. My wife, Judy, was one of the receptionists at Merillat Industries and saw them daily. They are the most gracious people I have ever met. Orville has been in Heaven for nearly 15 years, but Ruth continues to model Christian character. She spoke at a recent ‘Pastor Appreciation’ luncheon, so I thought I would share their story. I hope it encourages you.

The story of Orville and Ruth Merillat is a genuine adventure. It is the story of a boy who ran away from home to find excitement in the wild West. It is the story of a young sailor who came ashore with General Douglas MacArthur in The Philippines. It is the story of a talented carpenter who saw his dream grow into the largest, most successful company in his industry. It is, above ail, the story of a man and woman who decided to take God at His word, to invest their hopes and their resources in Him, and to trust Him for the results.

Today, the small business Orville and Ruth Merillat founded in 1946 is owned by Masco Industries. However, in 1990 Merillat Industries was the largest cabinet-making company in America – more than 50 percent beyond their nearest competitor in sales.  Their unique designs, patented components, and vertical integration made Merillat the undisputed king of cabinets.

The story of Orville and Ruth Merillat is a story of a series of personal commitments and the impact they have had over many years. It is the story of the sense of responsibility which made Orville Merillat, first, a good carpenter, and then a caring employer. And it is the story of faithful stewardship and Christian giving based on the literal application of Scripture.

The story of Orville and Ruth Merillat is the story of a life built on trust. First, it is the story of how he came to trust in his family and in himself. Second, it is the story of how he came to trust in God. And finally, it is the story of how he expressed that trust through his Christian faith. The source of the Merillats’ faithfulness can be better understood when you realize that their life verse is Malachi 3:10, which says:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

This verse was chosen before he began cabinet-making. When asked about this verse, Mr. Merillat simply said, “When God tells us to bring our gifts into the storehouse, He is not just referring to dollars What the Bible says is that if we trust God and honor Him with our tithe, He will pour out a blessing upon us. How much simpler can He make it.” When asked about people today who find themselves deep in debt, their dreams still unfulfilled, who have concluded that it would be impossible for them to tithe, he responds: “Every journey starts with a first step. No one else can solve your problem for you; you’ve got to solve it for yourself. But what does the Bible say? Does it say wait until you’re out of debt before giving to the Lord? No, it says bring your tithes into the storehouse. But it also says that if you fail to do that you are robbing God. If you’re in debt $10,000 and you’re only making $10,000 or $12,000 a year, I would say this….trust Him! That’s what He says: ‘test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

With the promise of Malachi 3:10, that God will pour out a blessing upon those who bring the tithes into the storehouse, these loving people have put God to the test, even as He challenged them to do, and they have found Him as good as His Word.

Their impact can be seen in The Christian Family Centre – a gymnasium, swimming pool, water park, racquetball courts, a complete fitness center, picnic grounds, cafe & banquet facilities, and a 700-seat auditorium which hosts a wide range of top-notch performers and family events – all in a wholesome, Christian environment. Also, Lenawee Christian Schools – a modern Christian school complex, which today serves approximately 500 students in grades preschool through twelve. Other facilities they have funded include the sports center at Adrian College, Sienna Heights University, Bixby Hospital, Asbury College in Kentucky, Huntington College in Indiana, and Michindoh Conference Center in Hillsdale.

And lastly, Faith Baptist Church of Adrian, Michigan was a recipient of $150,000 toward rebuilding our church facility following our church fire in 1996. Orville and Ruth Merillat are examples of of what God can do for people who trust Him.

6 Ideas to Cope with Grief and Loss

I think most people struggle with the death of a loved one and don’t know how to maneuver through the emotions and decisions that follow. I know I did. The book ‘Understanding Your Grief’ shares 6 important ideas that help.

If you are hoping for a map for your journey through grief, none exists. Your wilderness is an undiscovered wilderness and you its first explorer. But virtually all mourners who have journeyed before you have found that their paths are similar. There are more commonalities than there are differences. Here are a six things that will help you in the journey.

1.  Accept the Reality of the Death.

You can know something in your head but not in your heart. This is what often happens when someone you love dies. It is important to gently confront the reality that someone you care about will never physically come back into your life again. Whether the death was sudden or anticipated, acknowledging the full reality of the loss may occur over weeks and months. You may expect him or her to come through the door, to call on the telephone, or even to touch you. But you will eventually have to come to the reality of death.

2. Let Yourself Feel the Pain of the Loss.

To embrace the pain of our loss is something we naturally don’t want to do. It is easier to avoid, repress or deny the pain of grief than it is to confront it, yet it is in confronting our pain that we learn to reconcile ourselves to it. As you encounter your pain, you will also need to nurture yourself physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially, and spiritually. Eat well, rest often, and exercise regularly. Find others with whom you can share your painful thoughts and feelings; friends who listen without judging are your most important helpers as you work on this mourning need.

3. Remember the Person Who Died.

Do you have any kind of relationship with people after they die? Of course. You have a relationship of memory. Precious memories, dreams reflecting the significance of the relationship and objects that link you to the person who died (such as photos, souvenirs, clothing, etc.) are examples of some of the things that give testimony to a different form of a continued relationship. The following are a few example of things you can do to keep memories alive: Talk out or write out favorite memories. Give yourself permission to keep some special keepsakes. Display photos of the person who died. Visit places of special significance that stimulate memories of times shared together. Review photo albums at special times such as holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.

4. Develop a New Self-Identity.

Your personal identity, or self-perception, is the result of the ongoing process of establishing a sense of who you are. Part of your self-identity comes from the relationships you have with other people. When someone with whom you have a relationship dies, your self-identity, or the way you see yourself, naturally changes. A death often requires you to take on new roles that had been filled by the person who died. After all, someone still has to take out the garbage, buy the groceries, and balance the checkbook. You confront your changed identity every time you do something that used to be done by the person who died. This can be very hard work and, at times, can leave you feeling very drained of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy. To be dependent on others as you struggle with a changed identity does not make you weak, bad, or inferior. Your self-identity has been assaulted. Be compassionate with yourself. Accept the support of others.

5. Search for Meaning.

When someone you love dies, you naturally question the meaning and purpose of life. You probably will question your philosophy of life and explore religious and spiritual values as you work on this need. You may feel that when this person died, part of you died with him or her. And now you are faced with finding some meaning in going on with your life even though you may often feel so empty. It is at this time that God wants to communicate to you His love. Turn to Him.

6. Let Others Help You— Now and Always.

The quality and quantity of understanding support you get during your work of mourning will have a major influence on your capacity to heal. You cannot— nor should you try to— do this alone. Drawing on the experiences and encouragement of friends, fellow grievers, or professional counselors is not a weakness but a healthy human need. And because mourning is a process that takes place over time, this support must be available months and even years after the death of someone in your life.

Have you discovered any help to struggle through the loss of a loved one?

Birthday #55 today.

Today is not a world-wide or national event, but a personal milestone – my birthday. Today I turn 55.  I don’t consider 55 old (not now, anyway) and I can now get a senior discount at Chick-fil-A and Arby’s. There are some advantages to getting old.  For those of you who aren’t this far in life, it’s not too bad.  So, let me see if I can help some of you better prepare for ‘old age.’

1. Cultivate family relationships. 

I have a wonderful family.  My brothers and sisters (and their family), all my in-laws, and my own children & spouses really make life good.  My marriage to Judy has become more precious to me now that it’s just us.  I’m looking forward to spending the next 1/3 of my life with her.  Don’t short change your family because when you’re on the last couple laps of life they are who you want in your car.

2. Save all you can. 

Our greed convinces us that we never have enough.  But I assure you, if you live long enough you will reach the place where you will wonder if you’re money is going to run out before you do.  Don’t fear the future, prepare for it.  Do with less now so you can have enough later.  The squirrels in my backyard are going crazy gathering nuts for winter.  When you’re in your prime money-making age, save for your retirement.  Too many are thinking of retirement too late.

3. Take care of yourself. 

As Sally Fields used to say, “You only have one body.”  And for the Christian, that body is what the Holy Spirit uses to get around in this world. So, eat right, exercise, and get your rest.  I’ve seen too many senior citizens with bad health and cannot enjoy their elder years because deteriorating health.  One day my body is going to wear out.  Just like my car, it’s not made to last forever.  But a little preventive maintenance & upkeep and it will last me a long time.

4. Stay close to Jesus.  

Nobody knows you better and loves you more than Jesus.  Talk with Him every day.  Listen to Him every day.  Get with others in the His family as often as you can.  Tell others about Him who don’t understand His love.  Live for Him! Because when life is over it’s just going to be you and Him taking that last walk out the back door.

I have no idea what the next few years will hold.  So much has happened in my life over the last few years.  I am so blessed with my family, my church and my friends.

Do you have any suggestions for me as I get older?

The Day Jesus Couldn’t Do A Miracle

Even though Jesus had miraculous and marvelous powers, there is recorded a time when Jesus was unable to do His miracles…. in His hometown of Nazareth. The story is found in Mark 6:1-6.

I discovered two reasons He could do no mighty works.

1. Familiarity.

Jesus was invited to speak at his hometown synagogue. This was not the first time He had taught in Nazareth. In Luke 4:14-30 the response was less than positive – in fact, the people tried to kill Him. The people of Nazareth are about to receive a second chance to believe.

As often happened when Jesus spoke, many who heard him were amazed (1:22; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18). They were amazed at His wisdom and miracles.

But when He began to speak, He was interrupted. They could not deny the wisdom of his words, nor the wonder of his works. So they attacked Him personally.

They knew 3 things about Him…

  1. Jesus was a carpenter, not a teacher. To them, He was just a common laborer.
  2. He was the son of Mary. Jewish men were never identified with their mother. So this may have been a derogatory remark about, what they thought, was an illegitimate birth.
  3. He had four brothers and at least two sisters. Though James & Jude would believe in Jesus after His resurrection, none believed in Him at this time.

Jesus had no respect among the people He grew up with. They just couldn’t believe somebody from their hometown could be who Jesus claimed to be.

There may be a reason for the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt.’ When you get close to others, you see their inconsistencies, foibles, and contradictions. But not so with Jesus. The better people know Him, the more they experience a growing respect.

Though there is no danger of a familiarity with Christ which obscures His divinity and authority, there is a danger of familiarity dulling us to the deep spiritual demands of our faith. We can become desensitized to the personal demands of God. We can take Him for granted and become accustomed to what He has done. He will do no mighty works among those who take Him for granted.

2.     Faith

Ultimately it was not respect but faith that Jesus sought in His hometown. Unbelief has consequences that are tragic and eternal.

That Jesus could not do any miracles in Nazareth does not mean a restriction on His power. Rather, Jesus could have done greater miracles in Nazareth, but He chose not to because of the people’s unbelief. The fact that the Bible says Jesus performed a few healings in Nazareth means He could. But He didn’t do many because of their lack of faith.

Faith is not always necessary for Jesus to do something. But most of the time Jesus works in response or in cooperation with faith. It was not impossible for Jesus to do miracles in Nazareth, but He wanted the person’s faith to be part of the process: “According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Matt. 9:29). Jesus does not throw miracles at random. But He becomes deeply involved in relationships and the miracle is performed within the context of the relationships, both corporate and individual. Jesus refused to force Himself on those who did not want Him.

Though the words and miracles ‘amazed’ the people Nazareth, it was their unbelief that ‘amazed’ Jesus. He had lived with them for 30 years and they still did not believe Him. The only other occurrence of Jesus’ amazement is with the reference to the Roman centurion and his faith (Matt. 8:10).

I don’t know what Jesus will do in our congregation. I don’t know what He will do in your own life or mine. But I know what will happen if we do not turn to Jesus with expectation that He can do great things: absolutely nothing. Right now I firmly believe that Jesus is looking at a lot of Christians and a lot of churches with amazement at the lack of faith. Jesus is powerful, but He will not work in a place that is lacking faith.

One summer, a drought threatened the crop in a small town. On a Sunday, the pastor told his congregation, “There isn’t anything that will save us except to believe in the power of Jesus and pray for rain. Go home, pray, believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for sending rain.” The people did as they were told and returned to church the following Sunday. But as soon as the pastor saw them, he was furious. “We can’t worship today. You do not yet believe,” he said. “But,” they protested, “we prayed, and we do believe.” “Believe?” he responded. “Then where are your umbrellas?”

Clean Blood – Ebola, the Gospel, and Jesus

With the outbreak of Ebola and the fear that many have, I thought this fictional illustration would have a deeper connection and impact on every Christian. Thanks, Mark Trotter, for reminding me of this great story. And thanks, Jesus, for giving Your blood for me…

The day is over and you’re driving home. You turn on your radio. You hear a little blurb about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly from a strange virus that has never been seen before. It’s not influenza, but three or four people are dead. They’re sending some doctors to India to investigate.

You don’t think much about it, but while you’re coming home from church on Sunday you hear another news spot on the radio. Only now, it’s not three villagers—it’s 30,000 in the back hills of this particular area of India. You see it on TV that night, and they’re reporting that experts are heading there from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.

By Monday morning when you get up, it’s the lead story. Because now it’s not just India—it’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, and before you know it, you’re hearing this story everywhere. They’re simply referring to it now as the “Mystery Virus.” The President has held a press conference and expressed that he and all Americans are praying and hoping that all will go well in that part of the world. But everyone is wondering, “How are we going to contain it?”

That’s when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe—he is closing their borders. There will be no flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where the virus has been. That night, you’re watching the news before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman from France exclaims, “There’s a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the Mystery Flu.” It has come to Europe. Panic strikes. As best they can tell, once you get it, you have it for a week and you don’t know it. Then you have four days of unbelievably brutal symptoms—then you die.

Britain closes its borders, but it’s too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton are reporting numerous cases. On Tuesday morning, the President of the United States makes the following announcement: “Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled.” He says, “If your loved ones are overseas, I’m sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this disease.”

Within four days our nation has been plunged into unbelievable fear. People are selling masks to cover your face. People are talking about what if it comes to this country, and many preachers on Tuesday are saying, “It’s the judgment of God.”

On Wednesday night you’re at a special prayer meeting being held at your church to pray for the crisis when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says, “Turn on a radio, turn on a radio!” While the church listens, the announcement is made, “Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the Mystery Virus.” Within hours it’s sweeping across the country. People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote—but nothing is working. Cases are being reported in California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Then, on Friday afternoon, there is breaking news. The code has been broken! A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It’s going to take the blood of somebody with a very rare blood type—who hasn’t been infected. Through all channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is being asked to do one simple thing: “Go to your local hospital and have your blood tested. That’s all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, orderly, and safely to the hospitals.”

When you and your family get to the hospital late on that Friday night, there’s a long line, and they’ve got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. The officials are saying, “Please wait here in the parking lot until we’ve received your test results. We will then dismiss you and you may return to your homes.” You anxiously stand waiting with your family and neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on, and thinking this must certainly be the end of the world. Suddenly, a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He’s yelling a name and waving an iPad. Your seven year old son then tugs on your jacket and says, “Daddy, that’s me.”

Before you know it, they’ve grabbed your boy. “Wait a minute, hold it!” And they say, “It’s okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. He doesn’t have the disease. We just want to confirm that he has the right type.” Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one another—some are even laughing. It’s the first time you’ve seen anybody laugh in a week. And just then, an old doctor walks up to you and says, “Thank you, sir. Your son’s blood type is perfect. It’s clean, it’s pure, and we can make the vaccine.” As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming… praying… laughing and crying.

But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, “May we see you for a moment? We didn’t realize that the donor would be a minor and we need you to sign a consent form.” You’re just about to sign when you notice that the line identifying the number of pints of blood to be taken is blank. “H-h-h-how many pints?” you ask. And that’s when the old doctor’s smile fades. He looks down and sheepishly mumbles, “We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren’t prepared for that. We’re going to need… um… we’re going to need it all.” You shake your head in disbelief, “But—but…” The doctor grabs your hands and looks into your eyes, pleading—”You don’t understand. We’re talking about the whole world here! Please sign. For the sake of the human race!” “But can’t you just give him a transfusion?” “If we had clean blood that was his type—we would. Can you sign? Would you sign?” In numb silence—you sign. They then say, “Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?”

Could you walk back? Could you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, “Daddy! Mommy! What’s going on?” Could you take his hands and say, “Son, your mommy and I love you, and we’d never, ever let anything happen to you that didn’t just have to be. Do you understand that?” And when that old doctor comes back in and says, “I’m sorry, we’ve—we’ve got to get started. People all over the world are dying.” Could you leave? Could you walk out of that room while he’s screaming, “Daddy! Mommy! Why? Why have you forsaken me?”

And then the next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, you look around to find that many are sleeping through it. Some don’t even attend because they go to the lake—while others come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care. Wouldn’t you want to jump up and say, “WAIT! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DON’T YOU CARE?”

Makes you wonder if that isn’t what God wants to say… “WAIT! MY SON DIED FOR YOU! DON’T YOU CARE?”

Author Anonymous

What your Pastor really wants for Pastor Appreciation Month

Have you ever received a nice, expensive gift, but you really would have rather had something simple. I have learned to ask my wife what she wants before I go out spend time and money on something she’s going to return anyway. Sometimes all she wants on her ‘special’ day is a quiet night at home.

Well, I had the opportunity to spend some time with pastors this week for a ‘Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Lunch’. October is Pastor Appreciation Month. It can be rather awkward for a pastor. What if no one in the congregation says anything? Do they not appreciate their pastor? Several pastors I talked with said their church never did anything publicly. Others said though it was noticed, but there are other things they would rather receive.

So, I decided to ask pastors to tell me what they really wanted from their congregation for ‘Pastor Appreciation’. The answers may surprise you. I have three categories: Personal, Ministry, and Simple.

Here’s what they said.

Personal (These may cost a little time or money)

  • Babysitting
  •  A gift certificate to their favorite restaurant for a “date night.” Include an offer to babysit or provide childcare if they have young kids.
  • A gift certificate for an overnight stay at a hotel in the region to give the pastor and spouse some down time.  Include a gift card for a meal or two as well.
  • A gift card connected to the special hobbies or favorite outings the pastor and his family enjoy.
  • A gift card for a special set of books or research tools the pastor has wanted or needed.
  • 6 month Sabbatical – for study, mission trip, or vision

Ministry as a Pastor (These will help your pastor feel appreciated throughout the year)

  • Partnership in serving the community, motivating others to live out their faith
  • Read their Bible first!
  • Everyone to come to Sunday School or Bible Study- whatever you want to call it- for a month.
  • More faithful worship attendance
  • A Praying People
  • Openness to growth, new ideas
  • Steady outreach, invitation & welcome to others

Simple Appreciation (anyone can do this)

  •  I would like just one single person to notice and acknowledge.
  • A sincere acknowledgement from those I’ve been blessed to serve, individually.
  • I think the one thing that every Pastor needs to be given, is a knowledge that his people really appreciate him. I’m pretty sure each of us, at some time, has been in a place where we just did not feel that most of the people really appreciated what we did.
  • A heartfelt letter communicating the specific things you appreciate and assuring them of your prayers.

Here are more unselfish wants of your pastor…

  • The congregation to find a unique mission through which to serve the community and express the love of God
  • Unity in the church
  • Obedience & Service
  • An abiding spirit of gratitude
  • To grow more and more in love with Jesus Christ and spread His truth & love

I hope this helps each church member realize that your pastor just needs to know that he’s appreciated. Most of the ideas I received are simply, unselfish acts anyone can do.

So, here’s what I want for ‘Pastor Appreciation Month.’ My primary ministry gift is teaching/encouragement. So if you want to do something to make this pastor feel appreciated, let me encourage you through my preaching and teaching. To study God’s Word through the week, prepare how I am going to present it to the congregation, then share it – is the most fulfilling thing I do. So my Sunday morning & Sunday evening messages are my gift to my congregation. Their attendance and surrender to God is their gift to me. I am blessed!

Read some of my similar articles: Texting & Other Ways to Annoy Your Pastor, Why I Twitter as a Pastor

Do you have any ideas for Pastor Appreciation Month?

If God owns it, what am I doing with it?

Stewardship is the Biblical principle of ownership. The Bible teaches that God owns everything and has simply allowed us to use it. Our house, car, finances, talents, family, even our life belongs to God. Because God owns it all He has a right to tell us what to do with it. It is not ours to decide how we will use it.

The Bible also teaches that though all we have belongs to Him, He gives us the responsibility of taking care of it the way He commanded. The Bible gives us clear commands and principles that we are to follow that guarantee success in taking care of God’s possessions.

The Bible also teaches that there will come a time of judgment concerning how well we took care of what God gave us. If we have done what He commanded, we will be rewarded with more. However, if we have done nothing and treated it as if it were our own with no regard to God’s desire, it will be taken away.

Please notice several Stewardship principles and their Biblical foundation…

  1. God owns everything. Matthew 25:14-30
  2. Believers will give an account of all that is committed into their hands. Matthew 25:1-46
  3. We shall be judged based on what God has committed to us. Psalm 8:6
  4. The principle by which we are judged is faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 4:2
  5. A Christian will lose the assets and abilities that he does not use for God. Luke 16:2
  6. You reap what you sow! Galatians 6:5-9; Ecclesiastes 11:1; Philippians 4:1-23
  7. You reap in the same proportion as you sow. Luke 6:38
  8. You reap in the same kind. Galatians 6:7
  9. Giving is proof of love. 2 Corinthians 8:8
  10. The principle of worship is involved in stewardship. Deuteronomy 26:10
  11. God has always had a place for His people to give. Malachi 3:10
  12. There is an inseparable relationship between stewardship and spirituality. Luke 16:11
  13. Stewardship is directly related to spiritual growth. 2 Corinthians 8:7
  14. Stewardship is a grace. 2 Corinthians 8:1-24
  15. Giving is a gift. Romans 12:8
  16. Stewardship is necessity to carrying out the great commission. Philippians 4:13-19
  17. Stewardship expresses our thanksgiving. 2 Corinthians 9:12
  18. Stewardship is a way that we can sacrifice acceptably. Philippians 4:18; Romans 12:8
  19. Stewardship begins with the giving of ourselves. 2 Corinthians 8:5

What have you discovered about giving & stewardship?