Day Twenty-two with Mark: Mark 6:6-13

Today in our daily journey together through Mark, we see Jesus sending out the twelve to do ministry, as found in Mark 6:6-13:

The Mission of the Twelve
Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

When we look at this passage we see the twelve go out and do a similar ministry to that which Jesus had been doing. There is teaching.  There is authority.  There is traveling from village to village, sharing the news of the kingdom of God.  They travel to all villages, with this good news, bringing life, hope, freedom, wherever it is that they go.

11705277_1025230754176400_7895478622006202186_nBut there are a couple of things that stand out to me about this passage.  First, notice how Jesus sends them out.  Two by two.  No one is sent out alone.  As Christians, we are not meant to walk this path alone.  We are not meant to do ministry alone.  We are not meant to live out the good news of Jesus Christ by ourselves.

Faith is hard when you are in community with others.  It is nearly impossible by yourself.  There are going to be times when you want to give up.  When you are overwhelmed.  When you think that you can’t do it.  And you know what?  By yourself, you can’t.

That’s why Jesus sends them out two by two.  They needed each other for the ministry.  So do we.

Second, notice what message they proclaimed.  All should repent.  Not just some.  Not just “bad” people.  Not just “them.”  But all should repent.  Me.  You.  Everyone.  We should all turn away from our sins, and we should all turn to Jesus.  Repentance is not just something that those that don’t know Jesus do, it’s something that we all do.

We all, no matter where we are, need to turn away from things that are harmful, and we all, no matter where we are, need to turn to Jesus.

That’s repentance.  And that’s why all are called to it.

Because we all need it.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 6:14-29.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Heading Towards Burnout

I love preaching.  I really do.  I remember where I was when God first starting stirring up my soul to preach (Camp Wesley Pines) and I remember where I was when I accepted that call (Gulfshore Baptist Assembly).  There were times in ministry thus far when I wished God have released me, but He wouldn’t.  God has confirmed over and again to me His calling.

That said, 2014 was a tough year for me in many ways.  Now God did some great things in our church last year, we have had a several good years of stable, consistent growth, and we are seeing Asbury really begin to blossom and grow within our community and world.  Ministries are being established; individuals are growing, children, youth, and adults are being baptized, the Word is going forth.  God has been good.

But, last year was a tough year for me personally.  I had some issues from my past creep up.  Many of you may be familiar with my story of my biological mother being murdered when I was two years old and being raised by my grandparents.  My biological father (the man who murdered my mother) contacted me this past year.  This was the first time I’ve heard from him in my adult life.  I have spent so much of my ministry teaching and trying to model forgiveness and grace. I thought I had forgiven him.  But when he contacted me, that challenged so many things in my life, in my heart, in my soul.

I had to battle with a real hatred in my soul, that I wasn’t sure I could contain.  I’m better now than I was last year. But I’m still working on it.

So, that put me in a tough frame of mind going into the year.

And I always knew that the growth of Asbury would eventually outpace our resources and infrastructure.  Last year it happened.  I also, being a perfectionist, like to have my fingers in everything.  And as much as we’ve grown, as much as we do, I became totally overwhelmed by that.

I also struggled with how to communicate effectively with staff.  I so don’t want to be a dictator pastor, I welcome differences of opinions and conversation.  But, sometimes I would leave people on an island by not communicating well.  Then I would not be happy when things weren’t done as I would do them or when balls would get dropped.  But the bed of frustration I was sleeping in was a bed that I had made.

And in my arrogance and pride, I often feel like folks aren’t as dedicated to the church as I am.  I felt a sense or resentment beginning to build up in me with my staff and my church.

I also took on too many teaching and preaching tasks.  Towards the end of last year, I was teaching two 3-hour Disciple Bible studies on Sunday and Monday, a Tuesday morning small group, a Wednesday night Bible study, as well as preaching twice on Sunday’s.  As well as other community involvement, and being active in the district and state church.

Oh and I was the tech guy for the church as well. As well as doing the pastoral care and tending to the infrastructure of the church.

An unlit and burnt matches in a rowIn short, by the end of 2014, I was completely and totally exhausted.  My health was a mess.  I was withdrawing from my wife and children, I was coming home from church and just going to bed.  I found myself withdrawing from other friends as well.

I was also a terrible leader towards my church and my staff.  The best way I can describe it is the more exhausted I became, the more I focused on the small things I felt as though I had control over.  So, I became consumed with the small things.  And I became so focused on moving the chairs around the deck that I was unable to steer the ship

In short, I was heading towards burnout.  Heading fast.

And I didn’t want to see that happen.  So, I made a promise to myself to change in 2015.  I have no control over others.  But I do over myself.  So, I made the decision to change this year.

My wife reminds me all the time that I’m not the Holy Spirit.  It’s not my job to change or fix others.  That’s God’s. And see, here’s the thing.  Each of these issues, the issue is with me.  Not others.  Not my church.  Not my staff.  Not anyone.  Me.  The issues are mine and mine alone.  And I’ve got to work on fixing me.

What am I doing different this year?

The first thing I’m doing is I have come to realize, after many years of trying, that I just can’t do it all. I just can’t.  My first move is to start letting go of some things.  How?  Two ways  – first, I am empowering our staff and committees to do their jobs.  By not doing that, I overwhelmed me and didn’t allow them to serve in the way that God wants. Second, I am working more clarity of communication of expectations.  I’ve got to better let folks know what needs to be done.

Second, I realized I don’t need know all the small details.  I don’t have to know every last detail of every last thing going on in the church.  I don’t.  That bogged me down.   Someone should know, but not me

ThirdI am working seeing the big picture.  I like to talk about how one of the best ways to understand scripture is to not get bogged down in all the details.  We need to look at the big picture. That’s what happened to me. I’m not going to let that happen again.  I’m doing my best to keep my eye on the big picture.

Fourth – I am exercising and trying to eat better.  I know everyone says it.  I know.  But you know what I’ve found out this year?  It actually works.  I have more energy now than I did when I was drinking Death Ader energy drinks.

And lastI am working on staying positive.  When I get tired and stressed, I get very negative.  I never see the good.  Only what’s wrong.  That’s not helpful to me, to my family, to my church.  I’ve got to take care of myself and stay positive. That’s the only way I can lead.  How am I doing that?

This is most important.  I am not forgetting to tend to my soul.  I can’t shepherd others if I am letting my heart be tended to by the Good Shepherd.

Thus far, 22 days in 2015, I feel the best I’ve felt in years.  My desire to keep this going so I can be as faithful to God, and love my family, as much as I can be!

We are all Preachers

John the Baptist had one calling in his life.  He was called to prepare the way for Jesus.

He was out in the wilderness preaching, teaching, baptizing, and pointing.

He spent his life telling folks about the one that was to come after him.

He was sent to let folks know about Jesus.  We see that talked about in Mark’s Gospel today:

2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,”‘

That was his mission, and honestly, it’s our mission as well.

We have the same calling.

Now, we are not going be going out to the wilderness preaching (I don’t think).

But, we will be preaching.  We are all preachers.

Maybe with out lips. But with our lives.

Everyday, we preach the goodness and grace of Jesus Christ.

With way you say, how you live, how you love.

Today, you are like John the Baptist.  You are here, pointing to Jesus. With all you do, all you say, all you are.

You are an arrow, pointing to heaven.

Today, with all we do, all we say, all we are, may we point to Jesus.

Today, we are all preachers.