Show Notes: Seven Questions With Pastor Mark Spence – Part 2

Summary: In this episode, I continue my interview with Pastor Mark Spence. Mark is the Pastor of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church in Aurora, Colorado, where he has been serving since July of 2016. Before that, he was the Campus Pastor at Cross Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Over the years he as served in many areas of ministry, including missions, discipleship and education.

He grew up in Colleyville, Texas and is married to Janet. He has two great kids, Parker and Jonathan. He is a graduate of Texas A&M UniversitySouthwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary – where he earned a Doctor of Ministry (in being awesome). In spring of 2018, he will begin teaching as an adjunct professor at Gateway Seminary’s Rocky Mountain Campus.

Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church
http://www.mabc.us/

Today’s show is brought to you by:

Some Highlights and Links From Today’s Show:

How He Schedules His Work Week:

Mark uses an Excel Spreadsheet along with Google Calendar to map out his week, using reminders for important items.

Example: He has a reminder on Thursdays to create the information for their church’s weekly Youversion Event for their worship services.

Mondays:
Mornings – Social media, some content creation,
Afternoons – Sermon Prep/Study
Tuesdays:
Mornings – Staff Meeting
Afternoons – Conversations, emails, & phone calls. Finalizes Sermon points
Wednesdays:
Mornings – (If there are Wednesday Night Activities) Prepares for “verse by verse” Bible study
Afternoons – (On Staff Rotation) Leads Nursing Home Service
Thursdays:
Mornings – Meets with Accountability Partner (See Below)
Afternoons – Open for conversations, finishing tasks and projects. Completes a manuscript for Sunday’s Sermon.
Fridays: (Day off)
Mornings – Volunteers at his kids’ school
Afternoons – “Honey Do’s,” Finishes Sermon.
Saturdays: Flexible – Depends on Sports or Church Events
Sundays:
Mornings – Sunday School And Worship Service
Afternoons/Evenings – Leadership Meeting (Once a month), Deacon’s Meeting and Personnel Committee Meeting (Every other month), Mentor Group (Weekly)

Mark’s accountability partner is his Executive Pastor, who he has known for years, before he was on staff at his current church.

The 6 Accountability Questions They Ask Each Other:

1. Did you keep your eyes pure, this past week?
2. Did you spend quality time with your family?
3. When spending time with your family, did you exasperate your children or dishonor your wife?
4. Did you honor your church this week? Are your church relationships well?
5. How are you doing physically – Are you exercising and eating right?
6. Did you have your Quiet Times with God this week? How many times?

“We don’t play games with each other (relationally). Ungodly people play games with each other. Ungodly people are insecure.”

“People are allowed to complain – but come to me with it.”

“We talk with people, not about people.”

Resources Mark Mentioned:

Gateway Seminary’s Rocky Mountain Campus
https://www.gs.edu/about/locations/rocky-mountain-campus/

Aurora Pastor’s Fellowship
Luncheon hosted quarterly at Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church
RSVP to Mark Spence: mspence@mabc.us

Mark’s Book: “Live A Genuine Life” For Kindle or in Paperback

Live A Genuine Life

A Few Final Thoughts From Mark:

“We need to change our measure of success in ministry.”

“We never hear Paul writing to Timothy and asking him, ‘How big is your church and how big is the budget? You never hear Paul in his letters to Corinth, Ephesus or Philippi and asking them, ‘Do you have 7% more than last year and is your budget good?'”

“What you see in Scripture is that it is advocating for Pastors to be faithful.”

“Our measurment for success should be to ask ourselves, ‘Was I faithful in the pulpit? Was the worship done faithfully – did it honor the Lord? Am I being faithful to the calling of a Pastor? Am I being faithful to my wife?'”

“We need to change our measurement of success to faithfulness, rather than to external factors. Jesus said that He would build His church. It’s in His hands. As long as we’re being faithful and obedient to Him, we’re good.”

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/ 
& “Rasputin1963

Show Notes: Seven Questions With Pastor Mark Spence

Summary: In this episode, I interview Pastor Mark Spence. Mark is the Pastor of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church in Aurora, Colorado, where he has been serving since July of 2016. Before that, he was the Campus Pastor at Cross Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Over the years he as served in many areas of ministry, including missions, discipleship and education.

He grew up in Colleyville, Texas and is married to Janet. He has two great kids, Parker and Jonathan. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary – where he earned a Doctor of Ministry (in being awesome). In spring of 2018, he will begin teaching as an adjunct professor at Gateway Seminary’s Rocky Mountain Campus.

Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church
http://www.mabc.us/

Today’s show is brought to you by:

Some Highlights and Links From Today’s Show:

Mark served with, and was greatly encouraged and influenced by the ministry of Pastor Tommy Teague, who passed away in 2011.

When Mark was discouraged in ministry early on and felt like quitting, he reached out to Pastor Tommy – who encouraged him and helped him navigate the challenges he faced at the time. Mark credits this experience with keeping him in ministry to this day.

Tip to young ministers: Don’t hesitate to reach out to older, more experienced Pastors for encouragement and support.

“We have to, as Pastors, remember that we are all on the same team, and that we are not competing with each other for church members.”

What he would do differently:

He would not go into things “under-prepared” because he was relying on his own knowledge, education, intelligence, and personality to get him through it.

“Getting by” is not enough, we need to elevate the idea of hard work in order to excel and do all things for God’s glory.”

“We need to tie these three things together: Knowledge of the subject, Personality and Preparation in order to really do our best.”

Resources Mark Is Currently Using:

Book:

From Weakness To Strength” by Scott Sauls

Websites:

Google – as a “concordance” and for sermon illustrations
http://www.Google.com

“Desiring God” – for additional study/exegesis on passages of Scripture
https://www.desiringgod.org/

Social Media & Graphics Resources:

Hootsuite for scheduling church social media posts
https://hootsuite.com/

Graceway Media for high quality, HD graphics and images
https://www.gracewaymedia.com/

PicMonkey for Easy Photo Editing
https://www.picmonkey.com/

The PicMonkey Blog for Free Stock Photo sources
https://www.picmonkey.com/blog/

On Keeping His Family Relationships Strong:

Mark volunteers in his kids’ classrooms and their sports.

Volunteering in the school provides insight into what’s going on in the classroom – with the teachers and the other kids in the class.

Volunteering in the classroom also provides an opportunity to be “salt and light” in the school.

His church provides a monthly “date night” with three hours of cheap childcare ($5 bucks! And free for visitors) that he utilizes to make sure that he is at least taking his wife out on a date monthly.

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/ 
& “Rasputin1963

 

Ministry Backpack Podcast Episode 28 Show Notes:

Summary:  In today’s podcast, I talk about a “Backpack Essential” for Ministry: “Supernatural Movement.”

Today’s show is brought to you by:

Resources and Links Mentioned In This Episode:

2 Corinthians 6:6-7 
6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth,[a] by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, (CSB)

The essential that I want to talk about today is: Supernatural Movement (v.6, 7b)

Paul says that “We have proven ourselves”:

In the Holy Spirit; By the Holy Spirit (Or, our holiness of spirit) (v.6)
In the power of God; By the power of God (v.7b)

This is one of those essentials that is truly unique to Christian leaders – It isn’t necessary for leading a business or scout troop or for coaching a ball team. But it is vitally important if you are serving in ministry as a Christian leader.
Here is a sobering truth: Jesus said in John 15:5

John 15:5  
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (ESV)

John 15:5 
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. (CSB)

The problem is, I believe that many of us in ministry think that there’s actually quite a lot that we can do without Him!

Do you know that you can do many things in ministry without God, and it looks right and good on the outside, but is actually quite powerless?

  • You can plan worship services.
  • You can lead worship services.
  • You can preach.
  • You can plan a year’s worth of ministry.
  • You can fill in the blanks of the latest outreach trend and build it into your calendar.
  • You can run programs and host Bible studies.

But without God’s supernatural power – guiding, leading and prompting you – it will be empty.

Let me ask you this: If you can do it without Him, is it really ministry for Him and in His Name?

Honestly, the idea that we could do ministry without God should scare us silly. This is different from just “faking it” in ministry. When you’re faking it, you know it. When you’re trying to do ministry without God, however, you can slip into it without even thinking about it.

For authority as a Christian leader, there has to be more going on in your leadership than just how organized you are and how decisively you speak and act. There needs to be evidence of God’s power and Spirit on display in you and around you.

This is expressed in two ways: Without and Within

Power “Without” – On Display Around Us 

  • God’s Spirit is at work around us.
  • God’s Spirit is blessing what we are doing,
  • “God sized” things are happening that we could not make happen on our own.

Power “Within” – On Display From Inside Us

  • God’s Power working in us
  • God has changed us,
  • God is obviously with us,
  • We have “the Glow,”
  • Spiritual Gifting

Quick word about Spiritual gifts – Be careful about “Spiritual Gift Inventories” or Questionnaires. Spiritual gifts are not personality types.

  • God supernaturally gifts/equips us to do what He calls us to do in ministry.
    (If you aren’t saved, you aren’t spiritually gifted.)
  • There are so many times in Scripture when God calls someone to do something, and they are not qualified for the job in terms of their skills and abilities. – Until they are, because God calls them to do it.
  • We get this backwards, so often. We look at the skills, experience and personality of a person when considering whether they are called to lead in ministry, but often in Scripture, God calls the least likely persons to do extraordinary things – because God wants to do something supernatural. He wants to make it clear who is really doing the heavy lifting.
  • Think about Moses. God tells him to do something, and Moses begins to describe all of the earthly, natural reasons that he can’t do it. He stutters and stuff. Can’t speak, and on and on. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t want Moses to do this because Moses is so great – He wants Moses to do this because God Himself is great, and wants to display His power and salvation to people.
  • It’s the same for you and me. As Christian Leaders, we need to use tools, have good strategies, develop our skills, work hard and approach our ministries with excellence – but all of that needs to flow out of God’s power and Spirit overflowing throughout our ministries.

This applies whether you are the Pastor, a church staff member, a small group leader or volunteer ministry leader. The “rank” or level of leadership you are in doesn’t disqualify you from needing this essential in your ministry!

I want to encourage you to take a moment, or take an hour – and re-calibrate your ministry for this year. Are you tired? Are you drained? Are you wondering if you should even be in ministry after all?

Ask the God who called you into ministry to fill you with His Spirit and His Power, today. Determine to not add anything to the calendar, to not prepare for that message or teaching for Sunday, or anything else – until you know that God is in it and prompting it and you.

Our ministry doesn’t just need movement – it needs Supernatural movement.

We need to have God’s Holy Spirit and God’s power working in and around us. It sparks a fire in the people we are leading. It creates momentum, demonstrates that we’re leading something bigger than our own dreams and plans – and is an essential for ministry.

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/ 
& “Rasputin1963

Previous episodes in this series:

#004 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: A Higher Standard

#008 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Resilience

#011 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Purity

#014 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Understanding

#018 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Patience

#021 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Kindness

#024 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Sincere Love

————

 Johnny Leckie is a Christ Follower, Husband to Leona, and Father to MatthewMelissa & Michael. He is also a Church Planting Pastor, Musician, Artist, & Blogger. He’s a big fan of Coffee & Bacon and is currently planting a Church in Aurora, Colorado called Compass Church.  He is the founder of MinistryBackpack.com.

MBP 027: Season One Mix Tape

Posted by Johnny Leckie | Podcasts

Summary: This is a special “End of the Year Mix Tape” of Clips from the “7 Questions” episodes in Season One of The Ministry Backpack Podcast.

Thank you to all of the great pastors who were guests on the podcast this season. You are all brilliant and faithful leaders and your churches are blessed to have you!

Season One  “7 Questions” Full Episodes and Show Notes:

#002 – 7 Questions With Pastor Tony McCollum (Part 1)

#003 – 7 Questions With Pastor Tony McCollum (Part 2)

#005 – 7 Questions With Pastor Michael Feese (Part 1)

#006 – 7 Questions With Pastor Michael Feese (Part 2)

#007 – 7 Questions With Pastor Scott Hamilton

#009 – 7 Questions With Pastor Adam Young (Part 1)

#010 – 7 Questions With Pastor Adam Young (Part 2)

#012 – 7 Questions With Pastor Tyler Hettich (Part 1)

#013 – 7 Questions With Pastor Tyler Hettich (Part 2)

#015 – 7 Questions With Pastor Bill Leckie (Part 1)

#016 – 7 Questions With Pastor Bill Leckie (Part 2)

#017 – 7 Questions With Pastor Pat Webb

#019 – 7 Questions With Pastor Robert Pooley (Part 1)

#020 – 7 Questions With Pastor Robert Pooley (Part 2)

#022 – 7 Questions With Pastor Brad Rud (Part 1)

#023 – 7 Questions With Pastor Brad Rud (Part 2)

#025 – 7 Questions With “The Secret International Pastor of Mystery” (Part 1)

#026 – 7 Questions With “The Secret International Pastor of Mystery” (Part 2)

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/ 
& “Rasputin1963

Photo by Felipe P. Lima Rizo on Unsplash

Show Notes: Seven Questions With “The Secret International Pastor of Mystery” (Part 2)

Summary: In this episode, I continue my interview with my good friend, who is currently serving in a country that is not too excited about him sharing the Gospel there. He has been in ministry for many years, is a church planter, and is doing this interview anonymously.

Some Highlights and Links From Today’s Show:

Currently In His “Ministry Backpack:”

How He Keeps His Family Relationships Strong:

(Currently, all of his kids are out of the nest, and are off to college.)

Now:

When His Kids Were Younger:

  • He involved himself in things that his kids were interested in, even when he wasn’t that interested those things himself.
  • When we do what God calls us to do, He provides for our kids. It’s almost like God cares about them more than we do… 😉

How He Structures His Work Week:

  • He has another business, but his main focus is starting churches. He spends a lot of time in coffee shops, having conversations.
  • His goal is to share a full Gospel presentation 5 times a week.
  • “The churches that are actually sharing their faith – it’s something that the Spirit of God does in you, that just energizes your church.”
  • “Imagine if your whole church was sharing their faith five times a week. And they come back together, and they want to grumble? I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
  • “If I share my faith 5 times a week, someone is going to come to faith in Christ.”

Book – “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken

On Discipleship:

“I just want to draw us back to the idea of discipleship being ‘life on life.'”

“I wish I would have had somebody who had walked with me early on, and had not just given me all the answers, but asked me more questions.”

“Invest in a few guys until they can invest in a few more guys, then find some more guys and do it again.”

Today’s show is brought to you by:

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/

[This post contains an affiliate link from our friends at Accountable2You]

Show Notes: Seven Questions With “The Secret International Pastor of Mystery” (Part 1)

Summary: In this episode, I interview my good friend, who is currently serving in a country that is not too excited about him sharing the Gospel there. He has been in ministry for many years, and is a church planter and businessman. For security purposes, he is doing this interview anonymously.  Throughout the interview, I call him “James,” “Ralph,” Fred,” and whatever name pops in my head at the moment…

Some Highlights and Links From Today’s Show:

A Few Things He Would Do Differently:

  • He would focus more on “multiplication” in his ministry (Working on the things he is gifted in, and delegating/training others to work on the things he’s not in order to multiply the effectiveness and scope of his ministry).
  • He would focus on discipleship that is more “life on life,” than “programmatic.”
  • With guidance, he would help people begin serving in areas in which they feel called, even before they are fully trained.
  • Without it becoming catastrophic, or setting them up to crash, he would allow people to fail more, helping them to learn and grow as a part of the “training” process.
  • He would focus far more on people than programs. “It is about the numbers, but it’s more about the people ‘in’ those numbers…”
  • He would have dreamed bigger, “God dreams,” regarding what people could go on to do.

Experiencing God – “What is God doing and how can I join Him?”

  • He would ask, “God, what do You want to do here? What do You want to do in me, to expand my capacity and dreams that I haven’t even thought of?” Ephesians 3:21-22

How He’s Doing Ministry Now:

  • He trains and disciples in the pattern set in 2 Timothy 2:2 (a “four generational” mindset).
  • He communicates the expectation to new believers that they are to share their faith. Matthew 28:19
  • The process flows like this: New Believer –>Baptized –>Begins sharing their faith. It’s one of the first things they are trained to do.
  • “Here’s how I shared my faith with you, now you go and do the same in your culture and context.”
  • Believers baptize other believers, without haivng to wait for a “Pastor” to do it.
  • He hangs out in coffee shops, and has conversations with people. He tells people that he’s a follower of Christ within the first or second times he meets someone.
  • When meeting someone new, he uses a “Red/Yellow/Green Light” approach in sharing the Gospel:

Red Light – (Person is combative) The Spirit isn’t working in that moment, so he waits for another time.

Yellow Light – (Curious, has questions) He uses his “book” the Bible, to show what He believes and how it connects and conflicts with their current beliefs.

Green Light – (Open, Interested, Wanting Direction) He dives directly into the Bible and shares the Gospel.

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/

Ministry Backpack Podcast Episode 24 Show Notes:

Summary: In today’s podcast I talk about an essential quality for Christian Leaders – Sincere Love

Resources and Links mentioned in this episode:

2 Corinthians 6:6
“by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,”- CSB

“Sincere Love”

“Love”Agape
“Sincere” – Unfeigned, Without Hypocrisy

The essential of “Kindness” bleeds into the essential of “Sincere Love.

“Here’s the thing about sincerity – if you’re faking it, you don’t have it.”

When You Display The Backpack Essential of “Sincere Love”:

* You have a genuine compassion for people

When Paul says that he cares about the people in the churches that he writes to, he genuinely means it, and they know that he means it.

You don’t see your church or group as a “faceless crowd.”

“You’re not just pretending to care about people. You’re not just saying things from the stage that makes you ‘sound’ more loving and caring – you really love them. You really care about them.”

* You have no hidden agenda based on personal ambition.

You don’t use people to reach your goals.

You avoid the danger of applying the “Law of the ‘Me, Too.”

31 Refutably Refutable Laws of Lame Leadership, Law #23:

“If other organizations are participating in an event or emphasis, table your own mission, goals and plans. Jump in with them in order to have a ‘presence.’ Call it an opportunity.”

* You are not a phony.

Romans 12:9
“Love must be without hypocrisy….” HCSB
“Love must be sincere…” NIV
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them….” NLT

“When you’re fake, people pick up on it right away. They begin to roll their eyes when you begin to talk about your love for them and the people you say you’re trying to reach, because they know that you’re full of baloney.”

“It’s very easy to “fake it” in ministry. Having “Sincere Love” in ministry involves investing your life in the people you lead.”

“What you actually do reveals the sincerity of what you say.”

Suggestions For Developing The Essential of “Sincere Love”:

1. Honest Prayer – Get alone with God and ask Him to give you genuine love for the people that you lead.

2. Gut Check – Examine your motives and goals in your ministry. Are you serving to build your own kingdom? Are you serving with envy or selfish ambition?

James 3:16
“For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.” HCSB

3. “No Glory” Motivation Exercise – Serve, Give or Help someone as God leads, then do not tell anyone about it – Not even as a sermon illustration.

4. Be Full of the Right Thing – “Whatever you are full of, you will overflow wtih.” So be overflowing with sincere love.

Seek to follow the example of Paul’s Sincere Love for the churches:

Philippians 1:7-9
7 Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart,[a] and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment,” CSB

v. 9 “…that your love may abound more and more…” ESV
v. 9 “…that your love will overflow more and more…” NLT

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/

Previous episodes in this series:

#004 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: A Higher Standard

#008 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Resilience

#011 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Purity

#014 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Understanding

#018 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Patience

#021 – A Backpack Essential For Christian Leaders: Kindness

When someone says something about “The War on Christmas,” it cracks me up for a variety of reasons. Particularly because there really isn’t one. But mostly because whatever we imagine that to be, it’s nothing compared to the “war” on Thanksgiving.  Which is actually more of an “Ignore” on Thanksgiving.

You remember Thanksgiving, don’t you? That American and Canadian holiday that is slowly disappearing as a unique holiday?

Maybe you know it best as “Turkey Day,” whatever that means. If it really is “Turkey Day,” I suppose in some ways, it might as well be Groundhog Day. Except we don’t eat the Groundhog. (But if the turkey sees his shadow, we will have six more weeks of Christmas…)

Yes, I’m talking about Thanksgiving, that poor little holiday that has sort of become an optional, “special feature” of Christmas. In and of itself, it is not flashy, sparkly, or commercially driven, which probably explains why it has also become more of a “Black Friday Eve,” than anything else. And “Black Friday,” a name once associated with the Stock Market Crash of 1869, has now become the “holiday” that ushers in the “middle” of the Christmas season.

But most snarkiness aside, I’m beginning to think that there really is no longer room or place in American culture, today, for a holiday like Thanksgiving.

Think about it. A time for family, gathered around a table to thank God for the blessings of the year? Not exactly common, these days. Sadly, this is a Norman Rockwell scene that is fast becoming a faded relic of the past in our world.

And that’s really a shame, because it’s the holiday that we need now more than ever.

Do we get presents? No.
Is there a Tree? No.
Are there sparkly decorations? No.

But there’s an even more revealing question:
Can we celebrate it without acknowledging God? No.

“…Happy Turkey, Gluttony, Football and Christmas Shopping Day, everybody!”

Oh. Well, yeah, I guess you can, now.

But not if you’re giving it any attention, because even the name and origin of the holiday points to something bigger.

Most major American holidays have some kind of origin or roots in pagan rituals or holidays:

Christmas – Winter Solstice and Yuletide.

HalloweenSamhain and Lord knows what.

Easter – Fertility festivals and the beginning of spring.

The church has rightfully redeemed these times with more meaningful reasons to celebrate, but the parallels are still there. You can celebrate most holidays these days without acknowledging God on any level.

Not so with Thanksgiving.

In the United States, it was originally for the giving of thanks for the bounty of the year’s harvest and God’s blessing, and in Canada, it was for the giving of thanks for the recovery of the Prince of Wales from a serious illness.

But no matter how you slice the turkey, it’s still about giving thanks.

But the idea of “giving thanks” begs the question: “Giving Thanks to Who?” or rather, “To Whom?” (Although “to Whom?” sure sounds “stuffy.” No need to “dress it up,” though.)

Thanks to each other? Sort of, I guess.

Thanks to the Earth?  Hmm, “Thanks, Earth.” Kind of misses something. Besides, Earth has it’s own day, now.

Thanks to nothing? If so, I guess we could just call it, “Happy Lucky For Us Day” (With apologies to St. Patrick).

It’s kind of hard to avoid God in Thanksgiving, if you truly celebrate it. But that’s one of the things that makes it so special.

But there’s also something else on display here:  our collective loss of patience and self control, as Thanksgiving falls by the wayside. The ability to wait for something. To pace ourselves.

By 8:15 p.m. on Halloween night this year, I drove past a house that had already put up its Christmas Decorations. Wow, in a hurry, much?

I think Christmas is a glorious holiday, but too much of a good thing is like too much dessert. Obviously, Christmas is not a dessert. I just mean that it has a “specialness” all it’s own that doesn’t need to be shared with a different holiday. …And it’s worth waiting for.

What if I told you that our church was going to be celebrating Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day at Easter this year, because they’re all part of the “Spring Holidays?” That would be goofy, because there is something distinctive about those observances that deserves individual attention.

Consider the satisfying sequence of the American Fall Holidays, if they occurred in a more perfect world:

Halloween – Fall is in full swing, the stresses, frustrations, and fears that have built up over the summer are released with outlandish costumes, parties and “boo’s!” We laugh in the face of evil, death and the things that scare us.

Thanksgiving – As the year is approaching its end and the fall harvest time has arrived, we enjoy a time of reflection. We acknowledge God’s blessings from the whole year and enjoy food and laughter with family. We take and release a deep breath of gratitude to our Maker and Provider.

Christmas – Winter is on it’s way; wonder is in the air. Candles, lights, songs, ornaments, decorations, trees, presents and joy receive full focus, now, celebrating the birth of the Savior of the World.

New Year’s Eve & Day – We celebrate life with friends, reflect on lessons learned, set new goals, and dedicate a new year to God.

Now consider the way things are today:

Halloween – The nightmare before Christmas and the weird beginning of the Christmas Season.

Thanksgiving Dinner/Black Friday – Nice supper and shopping in in the middle of more Christmas shopping.

Christmas – Starts at Halloween and is really the only holiday we’re talking about here. Tinsle, trees and lights for two and a half months.

The pace is off. The hurry is on. And the ability to savor and enjoy each celebration has gotten a little muddy.

I don’t know. These are just holidays we’re talking about here, not the Bible or doctrine, but I think we’re beginning to lose something special as Thanksgiving begins to fade. Something important. Something we need.

But I’m really not a Scrooge. If you have your Christmas Tree up before Thanksgiving, I’m not mad at you or judging you.  If you break out the Christmas cups before you’ve eaten the Thanksgiving Turkey, it’s not the end of the world. Heck, I listen to Christmas music at various times during the year, myself.

I’m just encouraging you to focus on Thanksgiving as Thanksgiving. A holiday with it’s own focus and meaning. A holiday of Thanksgiving to God for His blessings in our life.  (Psalm 106:1)

I love Christmas.

But I love Christmas more, when it actually follows Thanksgiving.

Until then, Happy “HalloThanksMas,” every one. Happy HalloThanksMas.

————

 Johnny Leckie is a Christ Follower, Husband to Leona, and Father to Matthew, Melissa & Michael. He is also a Church Planting Pastor, Musician, Artist, & Blogger. He’s a big fan of Coffee & Bacon and is currently planting a Church in Aurora, Colorado called Compass Church.  He is the founder of MinistryBackpack.com.

Just In Time For The Holidays

Posted by Johnny Leckie | Shop

The Ministry Backpack Shop is now open! 

We’re starting with the simple stuff for now – Calendars, Stickers and such…

Because the holidays and the “Gift Giving” season of Christmas is upon us, I thought it’d be a good idea to make available some possible gifts for Pastors and ministers out there.

With rare exception, all of the images and quotes have appeared here on the site, our Facebook page, or the Podcast this past year.

I recommend ordering one of the 2 calendars that are available:

  • The Ministry Backpack 12 Month Base Camp Calendar contains Quotes, Images and Encouragement
  • The Ministry Backpack 12 Month Trail View Calendar contains Images only.

I dig ’em both.  Or maybe get a couple of stickers.  But to order something to arrive in time for Christmas, I encourage you to order soon.

In the days ahead, there will be a number of helpful, encouraging and fun things that will be appearing in the shop.

Thanks for taking the long trail of ministry with us.  There are some good things around the bend…

Johnny

Ministry Backpack Full Shop

Show Notes: Seven Questions With Pastor Brad Rud – Part 2

Summary: In this episode, I continue my interview with my longtime friend and brother-in-law, Pastor Brad Rud. Brad and his wife, Laura, have a long history at the Crossing Church in Chugiak, Alaska. Laura grew up in Chugiak, and the Crossing is the first church Brad attended as a new Christian. They were also married and baptized in this church! After spending a number of years teaching school and one hitch as an Army Paratrooper, Brad was excited to be able to serve the Crossing family full-time. Alaska is the perfect setting to combine his love for adventure with his passion for people. Brad is an avid hiker, mountain climber, and coffee drinker. Like many Alaskans he enjoys hunting and fishing . He also loves working with youth, and coaches high school basketball and volleyball.

The Crossing
http://www.CrossingAK.com

Some Highlights and Links From Today’s Show:

Brad’s Basic Schedule:

“Ministry is life; life is ministry.”

Mondays: Staff day. 45 minutes of staff prayer time/ share with each other who they shared Christ with and how things went in each ministry from the week before. Victories are shared. This is followed by focusing on the upcoming week.

  • Most of the Staff takes Friday and Saturday off. (Alaska is so huge, that it takes more time to do much recreationally. It’s hard to do the things Alaskans do in just a day.)
  • Brad’s schedule is flexible and relational – it varies from week to week.

Sundays –
Two services, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

* Brad usually arrives between 2 and 3 in the morning! He starts with a big mug of coffee, then for about an hour, he opens the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to show him anything he’s missed in the message. Then for another hour or so, he prays for lost people by name, his family, his staff, and multiple prayer requests from his prayer journal. he follows this prayer time with reading and a short nap.

Around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., he goes back through his message notes, which are typed out as a “full manuscript.”

(His sermon is “always more than his notes, but never less than.”)

At 7 a.m., he prays with some pastors on staff, and at 8 a.m. he prays with his elders.

Brad’s messages are available on their church’s website:
http://www.CrossingAK.com

To younger pastors, Brad says:

“Pursue a holy life. Be in the world, but not of the world – not the other way around.”

“As a leader of the flock, rather than asking, ‘What am I free to do?’ ask, ‘What is helpful? What is beneficial?'”

“Those who are spiritually mature are always willing to limit their own freedom for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of living a holy life.”

“It’s your genuine love for people that breaks down the walls, not the fact that you’re exactly like all of the people that you are trying to reach.”

Brad recommends that people in the Aurora, Colorado area to check out the possibility of serving at Compass Church (http://www.CompassDenver.com) 😀

Join the conversation on this topic by commenting or leaving questions below. If you have a question that you’d like to have heard on the podcast, record your question, and upload it to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or some other cloud based site and send the link to Hello@MinistryBackpack.com

Music Provided by “Artist Unknown” – https://artistunknown.bandcamp.com/