Poimen Ministries

Listening to Podcasts!

© Lightstock.com

© Lightstock.com

The first 3 months of 2019 I found myself doing a lot of driving each weekend. As part of my work with Poimen Ministries, I’ve been assisting a young pastor dealing with some serious health issues. He and his young family moved to the Florida panhandle from So California to plant a church a few years ago.

Each Saturday morning for 3 months, I made the 4 1/2-hour drive to their area and back again Sunday afternoon. So, I put the time to good use by listening to podcasts. It’s been a blessing for me to come alongside this pastor, preach through much of the book of Hebrews, and encourage he and his family as we pray for his healing.

Thankfully, he is recovering his strength and health, so I’m only going out to help once a month. Also, it’s been great to see the church rally in support of him and develop fresh vision to see how they can continue impacting their community with the gospel.

A new podcast launched!

I’ll share more about the podcasts I’ve listened to but first— Check out the newly launched Poimen Ministries podcast—Strength for Today’s Pastor—hosted by our director, Pastor Bill Holdridge! Although our primary goal is to provide practical help and insights for senior or lead pastors, there are plenty of great thoughts for everyone to glean.

Here are a couple podcasts to check out—

So far, we have 6 episodes uploaded and each week a new episode will be released. You can listen to, subscribe, and download episodes from ITunes, Spotify, and Anchor.

Some other podcasts

Other podcasts I’ve appreciated and gained insights from include— 200Churches, Revitalize and Replant, and Making Disciples.

Here are some links to podcasts I liked and many be of interest to you, if not just because you might wonder what interests me…lol.

From 200Churches.com primarily targeting small church pastors but relevant for all pastors

From Revitalize and Replantfocuses on revitalizing churches and replants but relevant for pastors and leaders within all churches

From Making Disciples with Robby Gallaty this brother practices what he preaches and is quite knowledgable with great insights on disciple-making and disciple-makers

There are other podcasts I like to listen to but these stand out as a few of my favorites related to ministry, especially with Poimen Ministries. Give them a listen and let me know of any podcasts you like and why!

Catching Up!

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Since I’m working on a couple of book projects and other things, I thought it good to catch y’all up with some posts I’ve done in Medium including two haiku poems (my first attempts).

Enjoy and thanks for reading!


© Ed Henderson Photos (IG– ed_henderson619)

© Ed Henderson Photos (IG– ed_henderson619)

Starry Wonder

A child’s wonder

lost in nighttime starry gaze

endless universe

https://medium.com/@tkbeyond/starry-gaze-4f162167d911


Out of the Ashes

Beauty for ashes, gladness instead of mourning

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denny-muller-1260019-unsplash.jpg

Fire!

“Sir, Ma’am…fire!” We popped out of bed disoriented and pumped with adrenalin. In the early morning darkness, somewhere around 4 am, Susan and I ran out of our room and saw the fire’s glow at the other end of the building where 24 children under our care slept soundly.

I grabbed the fire extinguisher as I ran to the back bedroom and began spraying at the flames. I could almost hear the fire laugh out loud at my feeble attempt to put it out.

I threw the emptied extinguisher on the floor and helped grab the babies in cribs closest to the fire. It was chaotic…intense heat…overwhelming.

We brought the babies and children out to the lawn in front of our building. As I ran back to rescue more children, I could hear the circuit breakers popping and cracking as sparks lit up our kitchen area.

My wife cried out with desperation, “Leanna!” Our teenaged daughter was trapped in her upstairs bedroom. “Go! I’ll keep getting the others!”

Susan dashed up the stairs. As she took hold of the doorknob, she cried out in anguish to our daughter over the roar of the flames and as the doorknob seared her hand.

They stumbled and crawled down the stairs through the smoke to where we gathered the children on the lawn.

A wrenching reality

As we counted the children and staff, a sickening realization wrenched our gut. We hadn’t gotten all the children out!

As Susan started to run back in, the intensity of the heat and spectacle of flames made it clear—no one else could be rescued. As she cried out, “My babies!” I restrained my wife from a desperate attempt to save those missing.

Some of our staff woke three of the older children but they fell back asleep. Two of the babies were consumed by the fire before we could reach them. We were stunned and in shock—mesmerized by the raging fire and tragic reality.

Thankfully, someone—a neighbor, a friend? We don’t know. But they backed the only vehicle we owned away from the building. It was an old car built to hold six to eight people.

We piled ourselves into and onto the car—nineteen babies and children and a few staff and our family.

As we drove into the darkness of the early morning, the firetruck arrived—too late to be of any help but to douse the twisted ruins of our children’s home.

As we drove out our driveway, dodging the firetruck and weaving through the onlooking neighbors, we headed to the only place of refuge we knew. All we had was each other and what we wore to bed.

We were stunned and in shock — mesmerized by the raging fire and tragic reality

Continue reading… Out of the Ashes


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raquel-pedrotti-775921-unsplash.jpg

Refreshed

fresh spring wildflowers

splashes of color refresh

reviving my soul

https://medium.com/haiku-hub/refreshed-92dbf48641b6


A Maligned Gift and Enduring Memorial

What do you have to offer Jesus?

Mary-anoints-Jesus Julius-Schnorr-von-Carolsfeld / Photo thanks to–  povcrystal.blogspot.com

Mary-anoints-Jesus Julius-Schnorr-von-Carolsfeld / Photo thanks to– povcrystal.blogspot.com

I read two posts a while ago about kindness and it got me thinking about how we may have differing personal views on kindness. This personal view involves our motives and intents — how and why we value kindness and perhaps what we consider as kindness.

A simple story found in three of the four gospels — Matthew, Mark, and John — reveals at least two different views on kindness. It also reveals the heart and character of two people — known for very different reasons.

I’ll give a synopsis of the story below but you can read it for yourself here — Matt 26:6–13Mark 14:3–9John 12:2–8.

A story of two hearts

Following the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, at the beginning of the week and before the Passover Feast, a woman named Mary comes to anoint Jesus with an expensive ointment as He reclines at a meal given in His honor.

Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead only a short while before this, reclined at the table with Jesus at the home of Simon the leper. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, is busy serving the guests as her sister Mary anoints Jesus with fragrant spikenard.

As the fragrance of the oil filled the room, it prompted a complaint and caused some dissension.

Why the complaint?

It was seen as a waste of money. Who complained? None other than Judas who would soon betray Jesus — the focus of this act of pure love.

Mary understood who Jesus was and expressed her love and devotion by sitting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha served. Once again, her devotion to Jesus caused some dissension. This time with her sister, Martha, who complained to Jesus about her workload because of Mary (Luke 10:38–42).

When Mary poured her oil on Jesus, it was an expression of love, a picture of true worship.

It’s as if she poured her soul out to honor Jesus. It was true kindness.

Continue reading… A Maligned Gift and Enduring Memorial


Spiritual Talk

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Can someone really hear God speak?

When you hear people say things like, “The Lord told me…,” do you wonder how this happens or if they really hear from God?

Do they have some mystical connection with God or are they just hearing voices? Or, is this just some spiritual sounding talk?

I’m really skeptical of anyone who says to me, “The Lord told me to tell you….” And yet, throughout the Bible, we read of God speaking to people.

This is a test…

Years ago, when I took courses to be certified as a substance abuse counselor, I needed to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Several questions dealt with hearing voices and God speaking.

The clinical bias of the test was that if you heard God speak, or heard any other voices, your mental stability was in question.

Since I understood this, I carefully picked my way through the test. And if you’re wondering — yes, I passed the test and my courses.

So, how is it possible to hear God’s voice and be in your right mind?

Continue reading… Spiritual Talk


3 Approaches to Cultural Shifts

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Finding a better way to approach cultural change

Culture is dynamic. Fluid. Fickle. Culture changes over time. Sometimes with extreme pendular swings. Popular culture is reflective of shared beliefs, values, and social norms.

Each swing of culture has its own trends like currents within an ocean or sea. These trends are movements within the larger cultural context.

People tend to respond in one of three general ways to pendular swings in culture — to reject, embrace, or engage each swing. Only one of these approaches is effective in bringing helpful change or productive dialogue.

These pendular swings have one fixed point — human nature.

Though these swings may be wide or wild extremes, it all pivots on self — our basic nature. Not our identity but our being — our innate essence which centers around self-preservation.

Cultural swings have one fixed point — human nature


Continue reading… 3 Approaches to cultural shifts

8 Characteristics of a Servant Leader

https://unsplash.com/photos/kkQAfonO1XY

https://unsplash.com/photos/kkQAfonO1XY

In a previous post, I shared the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet as an example of servant leadership. As mentioned in that post, the idea of servant leadership has become more popular wherever leadership is discussed. However, transferring talk into action is always a challenge.

Knowing why we need to be servant leaders is answered by Jesus in John 13:12-17. But knowing how to do it—how to actually be a servant leader—is not always clear.

First of all, for pastors and leaders in churches it is fitting for us to be servant leaders because that’s how we see Jesus lead. This is reflected in what Jesus says about Himself and for His followers in Mark 10:43-45—

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

It is also the very nature of Jesus—

… and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. (Matt 11:29)

But what if you aren’t a pastor or leader, at least not in a recognized sense?

All believers are leaders in some way in various roles in life. Wherever we have influence in people’s lives—whether among family or friends or at work—as believers, we are called to be examples and this is an important qualification for any leader.

Even within the church, whether we are recognized by others as people having influence, we are called to fulfill God’s purpose for our life within His church body (Eph 4:15-16). 

Here are the first 3 of 8 characteristics of a servant leader—seen in the leadership of Jesus (John 13:1-17)

1– Motivated by love (verse 1)

This is always our first priority. We are to be compelled by love to serve others with our leadership—not ambition, nor obligation.

We need to see people as Jesus saw them and love them as Jesus loved them. Jesus had compassion on people as “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). Jesus was compelled by His love for the Father. It was always His number one priority. But is it ours?

Click here to read the whole post

What Can We Learn from Dead Churches?

Photo credit: unsplash.com KHillacre
Photo credit: unsplash.com KHillacre

Throughout the history of the Christian church, there have been cycles of life and death. Cycles of revival and decline are evident by their impact upon the culture around them—both good and bad.

What about individual churches? You can find similar cycles of revival and decline. Some churches seem to thrive, while others struggle to survive.

Is death and decline an inevitable destination for every church? Not if we're willing to learn from history.

Thom S Rainer's book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, doesn't sound like a fun read. I wouldn't call it fun, but it is enlightening, and in the end, encouraging.

I could easily see various churches I've known or been involved with that identified with Rainer's post-life church assessment. These are actual churches Dr Rainer worked with and knew.

He begins with a story of a church as if it had been a patient, in denial of her real condition. She no longer had vision and followed a familiar path to death. It's a sobering look at fourteen different churches who died. The author provides insights as to why, and later gives twelve responses to the question, "Is There Hope...?"

What is learned from the autopsy

Amazon-Autopsy_Church
Amazon-Autopsy_Church

All the insights Rainer writes about are helpful, but a few struck home in a sad way. He speaks of the Slow Erosion (Chap 2) that takes place, and of the inward and rigid focus a church develops.

In the The Past Is the Hero (Chap 3), a fixation develops on the "good old days." I've seen this too often in churches who experienced high points during the Jesus Movement, but this applies to other churches also. Rainer says this was the "most pervasive and common thread" in all of the autopsies, which created a backwards-looking vision.

This nostalgic, inward focus eventually leads to a church with ...No Clear Purpose (Chap 10). I've seen this way too often, churches that "do church," but have no clear direction or purpose except to exist.

Out of place and out of sorts

Rainer's small, succinct chapters yield insights into churches who didn't change, though the community around them did (Chap 4). Other churches rarely prayed together (Chap 9), and others became ...Obsessed Over the Facilities (Chap 11).

A chapter that struck a sad, familiar chord is where, The Great Commission Becomes the Great Omission (Chap 6). As a missionary and pastor, this one grieves me the most. The focus of the church becomes so inward that the command to "Go!" is set aside and forgotten.

I see this in both a lack of local evangelistic outreach and disinterest in world missions. This is pervasive throughout America today, along with a diminished focus on discipleship and equipping God's people.

Another great insight looked at the life stages and decrease in pastoral tenure (Chap 8). Rainer lays out five general stages of relationship between a pastor and the church. From my own experience, I found these to be accurate and remember going through or seeing each stage.

Is there hope?

An autopsy isn't fun, unless you're a forensic doctor I guess. So the book doesn't end on a down note but with hope.

Rainer lays out twelve responses to give hope. These are laid out in three categories of churches— those with sick symptoms, very sick, and dying.

You might think the last category isn't going to have much hope, but you'd be wrong. It's all a matter of focus and perspective, which is lost in a sick or dying church.

Final thoughts

I was sent this book by my friend, Pastor Bill Holdridge, who established Poimen Ministries, and graciously allows me to be part of this ministry to pastors and churches. He's seen all of this more than I have. If you're a pastor and concerned about the health of your church, I encourage you to contact Bill or any of us with Poimen Ministries.

So I recommend Dr Rainer's book for any pastor, no matter what your current role may be in church. It is well worth the read.

Here's a blog post of Dr Rainer's that echoes much of the same issues in his book– 8 Reasons Many Churches Are Living in the 1980's

Another resource I recommend is the blog of Pastor Karl Vaters, especially for pastors of small churches– New Small Church. Karl has a clear focus and purpose that is healthy and outward, and is a great encouragement to many.

If any of this post encourages you, or you see its value for someone else, please feel free to share it! Thanks for reading!