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Are you facing a brick wall? Vanishing lines Today is Throwback Thursday! Click here to see what we were discussing two years ago. Photo courtesy of Neville Nel.

Is being early a waste of time? descoleirado Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is 2 Chronicles 24:4-5. Someone told me that when you are early, you are actually not being a good steward of your time.... that you are wasting time. I heartily disagree. In our text, King Joash orders the Levites to gather the necessary funds to repair the temple. To his orders, he added, "See that you hasten the matter." In other words, "hurry up" and "get it done early." In life, we need to learn that schedules, time frames, and appointments matter.  These things are serious matters.  That's why they are called "deadlines." Someone said that those who do not value their time will not value yours. The practice of hastening demonstrates that you value time... everyone's time. Being five minutes early says that this matter really matters. Photo courtesy of Rebeca Hidalgo.

I couldn't believe what one of my professors told me 13 years after graduating from college. A formation Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is 2 Chronicles 12:1. A few years back, I was given the honor of speaking at a pastors' conference.  After I spoke, I was approached by one of my former Bible College professors.  I didn't even know he was in attendance at that conference. After a few pleasantries were exchanged, he told me, "John, I have been following your ministry ever since you graduated." This professor lived and taught hundreds of miles from where I was pastoring.  I had not heard one word from him in over 12 years.  Yet... he was observing  me from afar. I know what he meant by "follow."  He was aware; he wasn't actually stepping in my footsteps. But there are people following me... and you. There are people who know who you are, who look up to you, follow your steps, and you are not aware of this. I will never forget when I heard the teacher say, "You fifth graders really need to be careful about what you do here in school.  There are third and fourth graders watching and imitating you." You and I are "salt and light" even if we don't realize. You and I are influencing others. King Rehoboam was being followed by an entire nation.  Sadly, they were following all of his steps, not just his governing steps. There are people who are doing what you are doing because you are doing it. Photo courtesy of Jan Fidler.

Do you give 110% in life? Frank Peters Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is 2 Chronicles 31:20-21. If you tell me that you give 110%, would you please forgive me if I don't believe you? King Hezekiah served God "with all his heart."  If "all your heart" is in it, that is 100%. All that you and I have at our personal disposal to use in any area of life is our all, the totality of what we have, our fulness.  We do not have any more than that.  No one can give 110%.  No one can go beyond their all. Sometimes people, myself included, say things without thinking.  This is one of those things: "I give 110%." No one can give beyond 100%. Our best is our all. Our best is our total self. Our best is 100%. As this week begins, focus on giving every task you are privileged to do your best.  Give all duties your all.  Give 100%. When someone tells you that they are giving 110%, realize they aren't.  They aren't even giving 100% because they just gave you an exaggeration. What a relief to know that I do not have to give 110% this week.... only my all... and that's all. Happy Monday! Photo courtesy of Sybren Stüvel.  

Who is your provider? The Family Farm Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Genesis 42:1-3. As the famine intensified, Jacob's sons looked to each other for grain.  Jacob interrupted their stare-fest and told them the grain could be purchased in Egypt. In life, many do what Jacob's sons did.  Many look at a person, people, an employer, the government, a child, a spouse, an ex, etc. as their provider. God may use a person or some other source to get provision to you.  But don't be guilty of seeing anyone or anything as your provider.  Your provider is The Provider, the Good Shepherd, our God, the King of the Universe. This truth is very liberating.  Who among us hasn't gotten mad at someone for not providing what we expected?  That person is not The Provider.  That person may be used by the Provider but he or she is not the Provider. A friend calls me frequently upset with the powers that be for not sending his check on time.  He gets angry, upset, and mad at the government.  I remind him of Who the True Provider is.  He calms... a little.  Thirty days later, the same scenario is repeated. I am thankful for every employer that I have ever had.  I am thankful for the pay and benefits that they have given me.  But along with my gratitude is the acknowledgment that they are only channels through which The Great Provider is meeting my needs. God, Help me not get made at man, knowing I'm fed by Thy hand.  Amen. Photo courtesy of Jason Mrachina.  

What have you labeled "beyond repair" and placed at the curb for disposal? Caution.. Today is Throwback Thursday.  Click here to rekindle the conversation we began one year ago. Photo courtesy of juicyrai.

Every once in a while, you are going to have a bad day.  Hopefully, today will not be one of them. A bad day in the office... Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Job 2:1. In the book of Job, especially in the first two chapters, you have the record of two really bad days in Job's life.  He lost almost everything in those two days. As a result, Job wished for death and even wished that he had never been born. In life, you and I are going to have bad days.  We are going to experience suffering.  Such is life in this world for all of us. One of the mistakes that we make is turning a bad day into a bad week, a bad month, or a bad year.  I know I have been guilty of this. A bad day can become the lens through which we view longer periods of time. At the end of the day, let the day truly end.  Don't let it spillover into tomorrow. Job allowed two bad days to do two very sad things: erase all the good memories of the past and taint the prospects of a good future. We are going to have a few bad days, but they will not rob us of the abundance of life provided by Yeshua.  (See John 10:10.) Photo courtesy of Omar Gurnah.  

I can remember back to childhood days, when I first began to hear sermons on the Rapture. They made quite an impression on me. Along the Lagoa Road Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Isaiah 19:1. One day, little Johnny was really wanting Jesus to come back.  I probably had a test the next day or I was facing getting a shot at the doctor's office.  I knew the Rapture would remove me from those situations. I went outside and there was not a single cloud in the sky.  I was greatly disappointed.  I thought, "Since Jesus is coming back in the clouds, it can't happen today." I went back inside the house to sulk. After about five minutes, I went back outside.  There were clouds everywhere!  My hope in an imminent Rapture was rekindled! Whatever it is in life that you are expecting God to do, be encouraged today.  It doesn't take God long to bring all the elements together.  The missing piece may very well be on the way. God is pictured in our text today as "riding on a swift cloud." Let the swiftness of our God bring encouragement and hope right now. By the way, it's cloudy today. Photo courtesy of Barbara Eckstein.  

Do you like stories? 9O8A1645 Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Acts 26:1-6. You have a story to tell.  In fact, you are a story. The Apostle Paul took every opportunity that was given to him to tell his story.  His story had a beginning, a twist in the middle, and an end that had not occurred but was greatly anticipated. Many people will not listen to a sermon, but they will listen to a story. You are in midst of a great story. Someone told me, "John, we love your messages and look forward to hearing what happened to you during the week." A lot of my story is told from a pulpit or a blog. But I am no different than you.  You have a story to tell. A man was asking me how to share the Good News with a friend.  My advice to him is what I would tell anyone.  Tell your story. Your story has a BC: Before Coming to faith.  Your story has an AD: A Day that changed everything, the day you opened your heart to Yeshua.  And, your story has a PS: Part Still being written. As this new week begins, this part of your story is beginning. Share your story. If you'll be real, you'll have the masses lining up to hear "The Ongoing Story of You." Photo courtesy of Conall O'Brien.

One night I was awakened with a phone call.  The caller kept saying, "I don't have dying grace. I don't have dying grace." Sunset over the desert Today's pastoral care devotional scripture is Psalm 84:5-7. Walter and I had many conversations.  Most were very upbeat.  So... this one, over the phone, in the middle of the night, was quite alarming. Walter had been in poor health for years, but so far, nothing had been diagnosed that was immediately life-threatening.  But that did not keep Walter's mind from "imminent doom" thoughts. He kept repeating. "I don't have dying grace." I said, "Walter, there's a reason you don't have dying grace.  You're not dying right now." And he didn't.  Walter lived more than ten years after that phone call. We need to realize that we are graciously given by God grace and strength for the moments and events that we encounter when we encounter them. Just as God gives "daily bread," resources for each day as it unfolds, so God gives grace and strength when needed. We go from "strength to strength." When Walter passed away, his family was with him.  Later, they told of his departing that was encapsulated with dignity and grace.  Walter was given "dying grace" in the season of his passing. Our kind and loving God will give you the grace and strength for whatever you will encounter today.  When the need arises, the grace will be supplied. Photo courtesy of Yinan Chen and Good Free Photos.  

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