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RHMA Conference 2018 – Day 2

Second Day of the conference – Wednesday will be posted later in the week since tomorrow will be a long travel day. Some of the things that hit home in my heart and ministry.

RHMA – Tuesday am – Page Patterson – Deuteronomy  6

You can’ teach what you don’t know.

Application – It is important culturally that we get back to the scriptural teaching of fathers teaching their children and grandchildren, the Laws, Statutes, and Judgements of God.  The law works as a schoolmaster to lead to Christ.  The statutes teach us that you must approach God on His terms, not your own.  The Judgements teach us that God is a judge and will deal with us when we do things our way.

 

RHMA – Tuesday am – Shawn McMullen – Things that matter most – reflections on 40 years of ministry

  • You are called to faithfulness, God is responsible for fruitfulness
  • Your primary focus of discipleship is your family.
  • You can’t offend a corpse (when you are dead to self, you don’t respond)
  • When you are praised – treat it like bubblegum. Chew it up, spit it out and don’t swallow it.
  • Take care of yourself physically – Robert Murray McCheyene started the ministry at 23. Health was bad by 25 and on his deathbed at 29 he said – “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride.  Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.”
  • On comparing yourself to others – In heaven, you won’t have the capacity to be proud, or the temptation to be jealous.

RHMA – Tuesday afternoon  – Karl Vaters – How to discover what your church does well

  • Small churches have to make hard choices
  • Front load the value of your ministry – know what you do well
  • The absence of conflict is not the same as the presence of God and presence of conflict does not mean the absence of God
  • Churches can handle change, they just don’t like surprises – give them time to process change.

 

RHMA – Tuesday pm – Les Lofquist – 2nd Corinthians 4

Not about us – we are slaves to Christ

In ministry,  you will always have a hard time.  You will always spend your time bearing stuff.  You have an enemy that hates you and what you do.  He has an army at his disposal and will do everything to hinder the work of Christ.  But God wants to use your trouble so that people can see Christ in the way you respond and handle the difficulties of life and ministry.  This is the way that Christ will be manifest in your life and ministry. 

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RHMA 2018 Conference Day 1

Well, I am going to give this another shot.  I know I have been away for over a year.  The past year has been one of the most exhausting, challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling years in 26 years of ministry in our church.  Needless to say – this website had to take a back seat to the numerous activities of the past year.  I hope to take some time and explain later, but I wanted to try and post for the next 3 days.

I am attending the RHMA Small Church Conference in Morton, Illinois.  This is the 25th year for the conference and I have attended about 3 or 4 in the past 10 years.  It is encouraging to see more conferences that are addressing the needs of the small church.  On the west coast, BigLittleChurch.com  has one in Camas, Washington on May 21st-23rd, 2018.  I encourage Pastors to attend whenever possible for the fellowship and encouragement.

I thought I would submit a post from each day of the conference with some thoughts God impressed upon me. I hope these might be an encouragement or a challenge to you as well.

RHMA – Monday Night – Takeaway

We need churches of all sizes.  Big churches will reach people that only big churches can reach.  Small churches reach people only small churches can reach.

I was reminded of this on Sunday.  We have a new family that started coming within the past year.  That family has now been influential in bringing 2 other families and is working on a third.  None of these people have been involved in any ministry a year ago and some did not even know Christ.  I realize these people would never be comfortable in a large church ministry.  In fact, they would never set foot in the door.  It is not who they are or how they are wired.  It is only a small church ministry that could impact them.  I am thankful that our church has been able to acknowledge who we are as a church and not try to be something we are not.

Links – RHMA Conferences – http://www.rhma.org/conferences/

Big Little Church Conference – http://www.biglittlechurch.com/

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I realize it has been almost a year since my last post. In October my dear friend Doug, went home to be with the Lord. It was a difficult year of ER visits, hospital rooms, and Cancer center visits. His passing turned my world upside down. I am now learning to live in an upside down world. Things are now different and I am in the process of finding new ways to handle my personal life. Doug was a big part of my emotional health. He kept me “tethered” and grounded. I miss his input into my world, but life here continues.

Charles Spurgeon once said “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” I think sometimes we forget how important it is to keep faithfully plugging away in the place that God has called us. Too many times we are always focusing on the “next big thing or program”. We all know those pastors that every time you ask them about their church, they explain the latest “program” they are promoting. You don’t hear many Pastors talk about the mundane but necessary aspects of ministry.

The Bible talks about the idea of “line upon line, and precept upon precept.” I think sometimes we as Pastors forget about the idea of simply plugging away and being faithful to the task we are called to do. Jeremiah is a great example of a servant who continued in spite of his lack of external success. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against success and growth. I just wonder sometimes if the tools that we use to measure success are not Biblically based. “It is required, that we be faithful”

THOT: Are you focused on faithfulness as a measure of successful ministry? Have you become “numbers” or “program” focused? God desires our faithfulness. Stay faithful this year!

Perseverance-1

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“I know where the fish are !”

I love to fish, but don’t get to do it as often as I like. One of my favorite spots is a small farm pond located about 5 miles from my home. I have fished it enough over the years, that I know where most of the fish are located. I know the right lures to use and usually come home having caught something, but many days, even with my knowledge and experience, I can be wrong.  I am currently teaching through a series on the Miracles of Christ. While studying the miracle of the fish in Luke 5:1-11, I was exposed to a concept I had previously missed. The commentator brought out the fact that Jesus knew where the fish were. He knew their exact location (omniscient) or He knew their various locations and called them into the net (omnipotence). He was never wrong!

That thought got me to thinking about my ministry in this rural area. For the most part, I minister in an obscure location. Neighbors are measured by miles, not feet. Farms are located in quarter sections of 160 acres, not city blocks or subdivisions. One of the hazards of rural ministry is that you start to wonder if you are forgotten in the kingdom. This week I will be attending a worldwide leadership seminar and the focus will be on the great things happening in the kingdom of God. The problem is that most of these things will be large and involve hundreds and even thousands of people. It is easy to start to fall into the trap of comparisons and that is never wise.

This passage reminded me of the fact that God knew where the fish where. He was aware of every fish and its location. He either put them together or called them into the one place. Either way, God knew. In a rural ministry, this should be a tremendous encouragement. What you are going through, where you are, matters to God . These things are of importance to God. He has placed us in these places to effectively minister and nothing we are experiencing is taking Him by surprise. If He knows the location of fish and tracks the birds, then the things that happen in our world is also vitally important to Him.

THOT – Have you fallen into the trap of comparing yourself with others? Have you forgotten that God is aware of your situation and has not forgotten you? If He knows where the fish are, then I can guarantee that He knows what you are going through in ministry as well.

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I’m Back

I know it has been awhile since I last posted.  I was doing pretty well keeping up with the website, but my Father went home to be with the Lord in April of this year.  The last  4 months I have been focused on helping my mother make the adjustment.  My plan is start back again with the updates in September.  Until then, keep plugging away – God is doing some great things in rural ministry and I think the future is bright.

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Making a Difference

I cannot help but applaud the actions of a young wrestler at the Iowa State Wrestling Championship 2011. Joel Northrup a young man from Marion Iowa  refused to wrestle a girl and showed up at  the mat and gave up the match by default to her.  He showed a tremendous amount of poise, character, and graciousness.  He did not make a spectacle of himself but quietly honored his personal convictions.  It turns out that he was home schooled and his father is a Pastor.   I cannot help but imagine the impact this one teenager will have in his community.  I think it is a great reminder that the world is watching what we do, even if we are a minority in a very large world.

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Upcoming Small Church Conference

RHMA is an organization that I have followed for a number of years. They have a genuine burden for small church ministries. Each year they hold a conference for small churches. I have been wanting to attend one of the conferences for the last 4 years and looks like this year I will finally get to attend. The topic is a very relevant one for our world at the time – “Winds of Change in Rural America”. As a disclaimer, I get nothing for mentioning this and am attending purely as an attendee. I will let you know what I learn. If you want more information, here is the link. Winds of Change Conference
It is April 4-6 in Illinois with Mark Dever as the featured speaker.

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