The Risk of Ministry Burnout

The Risk of Ministry Burnout: How to Survive and Thrive by God’s Grace

was the topic of a recent webinar hosted by Grace Fellowship International.

Pastor Bob Galasso testified of how he and his wife, Joan, experienced burnout, but also went through a process of rest, discovery, renewal. This opened the door for a new season of encouraging others through Alive in Christ Ministries. Bob is the author of ‘Stones Of Remembrance’, and ‘A Leap of Faith’ (available on Amazon.com). He can be reached at delightedbyjoy@yahoo.com

Journey into Intimacy

By Bill Loveless

A new phase of my spiritual journey began when the COVID virus shut down this country in March, 2020, (we will never forget that event, will we!). By the time that occurred, I had already made four out-of-state trips since January and had seven more trips planned through August. 

I had just returned from Memphis, TN when COVID stopped all my travel plans. I was very disappointed because I had some great trips planned to a number of churches. Little did I know that I was about to discover what I believe for me personally is the “pearl of great value” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 13:46. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic for me to discover it. 

Since I now had time on my hands, I began spending more time with the Lord. One morning when I was being still before the Lord, He sent this thought rolling across my mind that I knew was from the Him. He said, “Bill, when you get to heaven, I don’t want to hear these words, ‘Oh, so this is what intimacy is all about.’” 

Those words impacted me like a baseball bat across my face. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much of a divine wake-up call this was! The Lord was revealing to me that there was another part of my spiritual journey that I had yet to discover. 

One morning, I was reading a book that quoted Psalm 27:8 which says: 

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.” Psalm 27:8 

Even though I had read this verse many times, this time I realized God was speaking to me personally. As I meditated on this verse, the Lord put these thoughts into my mind, “Bill, I want you to seek My face which means to seek Me for who I am, not for what I can do for you.” 

I must be honest with you. Before then I had never sought God for who He was. Don’t get me wrong. I would praise and thank Him for being God but it was always based on what He could do for me, for someone else or in some circumstance. I realized in that moment that God was calling me to know His heart. This revelation is what began my new journey to become a man after God’s own heart. 

While my journey is unique to me, I am convinced that God is constantly inviting each of us into a deeper personal relationship with Him. I pray that as I share my journey, it will encourage you to step onto the path of your own deeper journey with God. 

___________________________

This post is from Bill’s new book, After God’s Heart (pages 5,6) which is available in print, audio, or as a free PDF download at his ministry: www.christislifeministries.com/

Warning and Solution

by Dr. Lewis Gregory

THE WORD IS: “You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and for ever.  Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18

THE POINT IS: Warning signs are everywhere. We need to know what the danger is, where it is, and how to avoid it. The Apostle Peter wrote 2 letters to prepare Christians for living in troubled times. He concluded his second letter by summarizing the main points. Peter gave a caution and a cure. The caution, beware! The cure, keep on growing in the Lord! The caution: beware of deceitful workers, false prophets, and false teaching. Don’t follow the bad leadership of the wicked—those lawless people who live an unbridled life, contrary to the nature and character of God. Such people are more attuned to the word of earthly leaders than to the Word of God. Therefore, they adhere to the doctrines and traditions of men, often using Scripture as a proof text. But such practices are not in accordance with the character of God, much less in keeping with the whole counsel of the Word of God. This does not honor God nor benefit humanity, regardless of how morally upright or religiously precise it appears to be.  

THE APPLICATION IS: Thanks to God you’ve been duly warned, not only by the Apostle Peter, but also by the Apostle Paul, and even by the Lord Jesus Himself. The warning is clear: beware and keep on growing! It’s much like riding a bicycle. You must keep moving forward or you’ll fall down. The same thing is true in your Christian walk. Just as your physical muscles must be continually exercised by proper use, your spiritual senses must be exercised. Otherwise, you will become easily shaken, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (false teaching). 

The antidote to this kind of deception is spiritual perception. As you grow spiritually, your spiritual senses will be kept sharp and alert. Then you will be spiritually perceptive: able to discern between good and evil. Therefore, you must continue to grow spiritually by growing in the grace and knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual growth has two components: you must grow in the grace of the Lord and in the knowledge of the Lord. True spiritual growth is only possible by the grace of God, which means God must do the work! He will work in you and through you by enlightening you, enabling you, and empowering you in your daily life. But in order to grow in the Lord, you must also know the Lord. It is not enough to know about the Lord Jesus Christ, you must know Him—personally, intimately, and experientially in the practical details of everyday life. As you begin to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, then God will be glorified in your life!
 
THE PRAYER: “Oh Lord, there is so much false information and everyone has an opinion. I feel like I am being pulled in many directions. But You, Lord Jesus, are the Truth. Your warning is clear: beware of falsehood. Cause me to grow in grace and the knowledge of You, so that I can know the difference between truth and error. Then, I will be able to remain steadfast in the truth.”

Courtesy of https://www.sourceministries.net/

The Greatest Thanksgiving

by Dr. Lewis Gregory

America the Beautiful, we have much for which to be thankful. Truly “God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!” Therefore, let your thanksgiving include all we are and have as a nation, by virtue of God’s abundant mercy and grace. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:8-9).

But the greatest thanksgiving this Thanksgiving Day should be “For the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:14–15). The greatest occasion to give thanks is for the grace that God has bestowed upon us all through Jesus Christ. God’s grace is freely available to all mankind because of Christ’s death upon the cross. Grace is the activity of God on our behalf, as mediated by Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God! Grace is a reality to be experienced with thanksgiving! God’s grace is so far beyond the grasp of our finite minds that it truly defies description. While most people may be at a loss for words when it comes to grace, there is one thing that everybody can say, “Thank You, God!” So, this Thanksgiving, as well as every day, remember to thank God for the indescribably amazing grace that is now yours in Christ…

Read the full article here:
https://mailchi.mp/1fe7ef39b706/tgim-this-is-living-642158?e=8f7f3f3f4c

The Life of a Jesus Follower

“Does Christianity ever seem like a burden to you? Why is something that came so naturally to Jesus so difficult for us? We have complicated and over-programmed the simple way that Jesus showed us to love God and others.

Jesus’ life on earth revolved around three relationships. First, He walked in an intimate love relationship with the Father. Second, He lived His life in fellowship with His disciples—doing life with others was the outflow of His relationship with the Father. And third, He lived His life engaging and cultivating relationships with people who didn’t know God at all.

These relationships define the essence of the life of a Jesus follower. And when we follow Jesus’ model of relationship, we will sink into the freedom He offers. We will stop working so hard, bound by the exhausting and burdensome rules of religion. Instead, we will allow His life to take over our own.”

The Life of a Jesus Follower Bible Study book by pastor Vance Pitman includes printed content for eight small group sessions, personal study between meetings, applicable Scripture, “How to Use This Study,” tips for leading a group, and a leader guide. Published as a book and church resource package by Lifeway.com

Listen to the interview of this author on Ed Stetzer’s radio program as reported here.

What Constitutes a “Good Pastor”?

by Jim Fowler

What constitutes a “good preacher/pastor?” When Jesus was called a “good teacher,” He explained that “no one is good apart from God” (Lk. 18:18). A good pastor-teacher is one who knows God, not just theology about God, but has a genuine personal and intimate knowing- relationship with God through the indwelling presence and union with the Spirit of Christ, and allows his life and ministry to be empowered by the dynamic of the Holy Spirit.

The objective of a pastor/ preacher is to preach the living Jesus he personally knows. “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord” (ll Cor. 4:5). “We preach Christ crucified” (I Cor. 1:23]. If the preacher’s message does not assist the congregation to understand how the risen and living Lord Jesus relates to their daily lives, then it is not Christian preaching. The purpose of preaching is not merely the recitation of historical details of scripture, nor is it theological explanations of factual data. I recall hearing a sermon that did not mention the name of Jesus even once until the obligatory closing prayer ended, “in Jesus name.”

Preachers, pastors, ministers must be humble enough to recognize that they are just human beings like everyone else. They are not celebrities to be revered. Though expected to be models of spiritual maturity, and sometimes occupying an elevated pulpit that looks down on the “laity,” the preacher must be honest and transparent. Admission of personal faults, failures and weaknesses, allows the people to identify with their shepherd. Warned not to “lord it over” the flock (1 Pet. 5:3), pastors must avoid “pastoral authority” and attempts to dictate, intimidate or manipulate. The objective is simply to share JESUS in one’s proclamation and life.

Jim Fowler, Focusing ion Jesus: Daily Christ-centered Thoughts (CIY Publishing). Copyrighted, 2019; used with permission. www.Christinyou.net

The Secret of Our Identity

During this season of unprecedented changes and stressors, Christian leaders need more than ever to model stability and security in Christ. Society, health risks and policies for public meetings may change, but the believer’s identity in Christ and his.her ultimate Source of living transcends these challenges. Dr. Ray Stedman’s daily devotions convey this biblical, grace perspective. Here is a contemplation on John 14:15-20:


Here Jesus tells us the secret of our identity as believers. The most fundamental fact of our life as Christians is there: Jesus says that He is not going to leave His disciples desolate or as orphans. These men are frightened. They know that He is going away. They remember the intimations He has given that it will be by violence, by being taken and beaten and ultimately crucified. And they are fearful–not only for Him but for themselves. But now He reassures them: “I’m not going to leave you orphans; I’m not going to abandon you. I will come to you.”

He is not talking here about His second coming. His reference to that is in verse 3 where He has said that He will come again and take them to Himself. At his second coming, John tells us, “Every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7). But here is a way of coming that the world will not see, but in which the disciples will not only see Him but live by Him: “Because I live, you will live also.” That is more than merely a reference to His resurrection and the promise of our resurrection some day. It is really a reference to His coming by the Spirit, the result of which will be “you in Me, and I in you.” And that is to be the secret of our lives, as His relationship with the Father was the secret of His life.

I find Christians all over this country who do not understand this truth about their new life in Christ. The truth from which they get their identity is this fact: Jesus is in them and lives in them. It is to this fact that they should return whenever there are pressures and problems and demands made upon them, because it is from this fact that the secret of life will flow to them.

The day of the Spirit began on the Day of Pentecost, when suddenly the Spirit of God was poured out upon these believers, and they became changed people. And that day is still with us. It began over two thousand years ago, and it hasn’t ended yet. In fact, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and bracketed its extremes–the events that would mark the beginning and the end of the day of the Spirit. It begins with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, as prophesied by the prophet Joel. Peter quotes that prophecy. He says, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16), this pouring out of the Spirit upon people. And it ends, he says, when, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20).

“Lord, what a privilege to live in this new day when the Spirit has been poured out and even makes His home in me! Teach me to reckon on this profound reality today.”

Life Application

What is the ultimate secret of our lives? How can we know this is the truth? How is our identity related to our reality?


A two year cycle is searchable at www.RayStedman.org / Daily Devotions. Excerpted with permission from The Power of His Presence, © [July / John 14:15-20] by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

The Cost of Spiritual Leadership

“Love suffers long and is kind…” (1 Cor. 13:4). “The price of leadership remains high and hard; it may be cheap and easy for the dictator, for the hireling, but never for the shepherd. The dictator dominates; the hireling flees; but the good shepherd loves his sheep and is loved by them. He lays down his life for the sheep. True spiritual leadership involves this principle: ‘Death working in me works life in you’ (2 Cor. 4:12, Cony.).”- Miles Stanford

“It is the quality of leaders that they can bear to be sat on, absorb shocks, act as a buffer, bear being much plagued. Moses put up with the complaints and the waywardness and revolt of the people. He pursued a steady course, enduring as seeing Him who is invisible [Heb. 11:23-28]. The wear and tear and the continual friction and trials which come to the servants of God are a great test of character.” -F.M.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:1-5).

“Bridge the gaps! A bridge means something—generally a life laid down. The very simplest bridge, a plank thrown across a stream, was once part of a tree standing erect, sapping life from the earth, and beautifying all the area around it. [“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” 1 John 3:16]. Now it is dead, but perhaps saves other lives; anyway it helps to make others useful, and is content to push others on, unnoticed, unthanked. ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not,’ [Jer. 45:5] just be a bridge. It is so simple. See that others are placed on the right track with God through the Lord Jesus. When they get there, they will not thank you, will never look back probably at the bridge; but the Great Architect will know and love and care.” -E.W.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5)

http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/day/2020/03/18/
Some Scriptures and references added

Finding Relationship in Christ

The audio podcast “Ed Stetzer Live “helps you live out the truth of the gospel in a rapidly changing world.” His January 4, 2020 broadcast featured an interview about personal and church renewal based on the Abiding Life. “As believers, we try hard to live the Christian life, doing good works, sharing the gospel and maintaining a moral code. But sometimes the list of do’s and don’ts can feel exhausting and overwhelming. In examining Jesus’ life in the gospels, Las Vegas Pastor Vance Pitman says he’s found some spiritual truths that have set him free from some of his burdens… and helped him rediscover the joy of the love relationship that Jesus provides.”

A recurring theme in the interview is our Lord’s invitation for grace-based salvation and discipleship: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

This Moody Radio episode as available on Apple Podcasts and online here:
Finding Relationship in Christ
https://www.moodyradio.org/programs/ed-stetzer-live/2020/01/finding-relationship-in-christ/