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Faithful Friendship And A Life Marked By Jesus And Redemption – A Songwriter’s Spirit, A Pastor’s Heart

This is from a review of Everything As It Should Be, a new album by singer/songwriter Andy Gullahorn.
Fellow song-writer Andrew Osenga muses about Gullahorn’s capacity to keep producing album after album of personal and poignant vignettes that resonate with real life.
To keep doing so requires life lived well with others.
It resonates closely with what a pastor does.
From Osenga about Gullahorn’s songs:

Well, you have to live them. That’s how. You have to actually love people. And be the kind of person they turn to when life falls apart. You have to know how to listen more than you speak, and then not try to fix them when you do.
You have to know people for years. You have to forgive them when they let you down. You have to let them forgive you, too (which is, of course, the hardest thing. Until you’ve done it).
You have to walk closely for a long, long time with your spouse, your kids, your friends. With people in your congregation and your neighborhood and your bowling alley and some other church’s basement with old carpet and hard plastic chairs.
You have to ask hard questions without judgment. And ask them again when you’ve been shut down the first dozen times. You have to hold your friends when they’re crying and not look away when it’s uncomfortable.
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But beneath all of that wonderfulness there is faithful friendship and a life marked by Jesus and redemption.

Read the review of Everything As It Should Be at the Rabbit Room, where you’ll find more information about the album.


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Zack Eswine on The Busy Pastor (via Jared C. Wilson)

If you can find time, this podcast featuring Zack Eswine on The Busy Pastor would be worth listening to.
It can be found at For The Church.


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Fighting Pastoral Covetousness (via Darryl Dash)

Darryl Dash offers some counsel by which pastors can not only avoid covetousness, but nurture satisfaction and joy.

We can fight pastoral covetousness in two ways.
Positively: cultivate contentment. Find satisfaction in your work and your place. Pray for joy. Base your identity not on how well your ministry is going, but who you are in Jesus.
After all, one day you’ll long for what you have now. Besides, I hear those who have larger ministries who long for a church like yours. Don’t miss the blessings that are yours that would be absent if your ministry was larger.
Second: love fellow pastors and churches. Pick one you’re tempted to envy, and pray for them. Ask God to give you joy when other ministries succeed. Ask God to free you from coveting their success. See their success as kingdom success, and remind yourself that we all work for the same master.
“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot” (Ecclesiastes 5:18). What God has given is enough. We can enjoy it and praise God for what he’s given others.

Read the whole post here.


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Running Good Meetings (via Michael Kruger)

A helpful post by Michael Kruger about what may seem a mundane subject: chairing effective meetings.
Pitched to meeting leaders, everyone who attends meetings (and hopefully they’re being led by someone) would benefit from knowing what effective meetings are working towards and how effective leadership can increase their productivity while minimising the amount of time needing to be spent participating in them.
From Kruger:

What’s the most important skill you need to be successful in ministry? Knowing how to run a good meeting.
Ok, that’s not really true. Many other things matter more (a lot more!). But, running a good meeting still matters. And more than you think.
Even those who’ve only been in ministry a short time know that meetings dominate your weekly schedule. Sometimes, it seems that half your week is spent in some sort of meeting. During meals. Over coffee. In a conference room. With the elders. With ministry leaders. With support staff.
And here’s the other reality we all know. Meetings vary widely in their effectiveness. Some meetings produce real progress and fruit. Those can be exhilarating, even fun. And other are a tedious and frustrating waste of time. Those can be exhausting and even debilitating.
So, how can we make our meetings better? Here I offer just a few quick thoughts for meeting leaders.

Read Kruger’s suggestions here at his blog, canon fodder.


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When The Church Sings The Church Learns (via Michael Kelly)

Michael Kelly writes about why the church should pay careful attention to the lyrics of the songs that it sings.
One of those reasons is that the words we sing become truths that remain in our minds.

Songs help us learn. They always have. They helped us learn the ABCs, the days of the week and the months of the year, and the colors of the rainbow. Beyond that, though, consider for a moment how many song lyrics you know.
Now if you want to go a step further, compare the amount of song lyrics you can recite with the number of Bible verses you can quote. See what I mean? Songs teach us, even if we don’t know they are teaching us. This is why , throughout the history of Christianity, one of the greatest tools for teaching theology has been music. After all, one of the earliest Christian hymns is the great Christological passage of Philippians 2.
If it’s true, then, that we are learning from our songs whether we mean to or not, then we ought to pay very close attention to what we are singing as a means of guarding our hearts and minds.

Read the other two of his reflections here.


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What A Local Church Really Needs (via Premier Christianity)

Churches can have all sorts of assumptions about what the people who visit or regularly attend them want, and then tailor themselves to meet that felt need. And then share the Gospel. Sort of a Jesus ‘bait and switch.’
This post doesn’t take issue with excellence, but makes a heartfelt observation about what is important.
From Kimberli Lira at Premier Christianity.

When I walk into church I am not paying attention to the décor. I don’t want to smell freshly brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable.
Since my husband died, my days are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore so everything is on my plate. When I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need.
This is not a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. But, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the centre. It is also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation.
There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavour. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need Jesus.
My social media feeds are full of churches boasting about the trendy new initiatives they have begun. Their coffee bars and lighting don’t appeal to me.
I want to see how Jesus has changed a person’s life. I want to see the power of prayer. I want to see how the Word of God can be applied to life. I want to see how Jesus can help the hurting. I want to see how Jesus can heal the sick. I want to see how a broken heart is restored. I want to see how mourners are comforted. I want to see how lives are restored.

Read the whole post here.


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Love God, Love People, Preach The Word And Make Disciples (via Karl Vaters)

Karl Vaters observes that there are plenty of extras that commend themselves as necessary for congregations to grow in the ministry and mission.
Rather than focus on these, he commends local churches focus instead on the basics – without which no amount of extras will help.

Don’t spend your time on cool new ideas until you’ve got the essentials locked down.

  • Preach the Word with passion and truth
  • Love each other
  • Welcome guests with genuine friendliness
  • Forgive when you’re slighted
  • Support the weak and vulnerable
  • Make disciples

Don’t spend your time on cool new ideas until you’ve got the essentials locked down.
A cool new church logo is nice. But it’s not nearly as impressive or important as a church that’s doing the essentials well.
After all, we don’t go to a restaurant to be impressed by a server’s memory skills. We go for good food and good service.
People who come to our churches are the same. They’re not looking for fancy graphics or oratorical flair.

  • They want to know God loves them
  • They want a chance to make a difference
  • They want someone who will be there when they’re hurting
  • They want to know the scriptures better
  • They want to experience forgiveness and hope

And they want the same for their friends and family.

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