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Elijah the Tishbite. Read all about him

October is Clergy Appreciation Month. At my church we don’t think in terms of clergy. We refer to Pastors. No matter the name, these people are under attack. The more they are trying to do God’s will as a leader, the more Satan is concerned and focused. Having served as a pastor myself I can report that it can be wonderfully rewarding. But even as a “part-timer”, it’s a thankless job full of headaches, disappointments, conflicts, loneliness, frustration, petty complaints and tight budgets. Since I was part-time and had a full time job that paid me well, compensation wasn’t an issue but the average pastor makes less than $34,000 a year—and  may work an extra job to feed his or her family. 90 percent of pastors work more than 50 hours a week; 70 percent say they don’t have any close friends; and 45 percent say they’ve had to take a leave of absence from ministry because of  depression or burnout.

The biggest problem is that Pastors are asked to do the impossible. Most modern Christian churches are lead by a single man. The leadership can be viewed as a pyramid with the Pastor on top and with a variety of assistants and workers serving under him. There is no biblical basis for such a structure. In the early church, leadership rested in the elders, a group with a variety of gifts and personality. As a group, the real leader was Jesus. The group had to discern the will of God. The answer to every question was not “Ask Pastor.” 
                   
Since he is asked to do the impossible (being all men to all members) he deserves more than a pat on the back every October. Short of reorganizing your church (good luck with that), you are called to do all that you can do. Some help comes in the story of Elijah (1 Kings 17-19)  with elaboration in an article by J. Lee Grady, the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady

1. Pray against witchcraft and satanic attack. Satan is real. If your pastor is trying to be real. Satan will come after him. Prayer is our weapon. A little fasting doesn’t hurt either. 
2. Pray for courage. Contrary to media portrayals, Pastors, good pastors, are not wimps. Pastors don’t last long without courage. 
3. Pray against depression.  Try igniting the frozen chosen into disciples on fire and introduce yourself to depression. 
4. Pray for rest. Follow your pastor around for a day. This prayer will come naturally. 
5. Pray for the touch of God.  Pastors are often so busy that they have no time for their own spiritual life. A Pastor out of touch with His Lord is of no use to his flock.
6. Pray for convicted elders. Church leadership was never meant to be a one-man job. Pray for God to surround your pastor with men with gifts that complement his and with the energy to put them to use.

Your pastor would appreciate a nice card or other gesture, but he needs you to spend the month on your knees with at least the 6 concerns above massaged in your head, heart, and spirit. Read about Elijah the Tishbite. You may see more of your pastor than you would have thought.

Appreciate your Pastor and be blessed.

Nick

Please Just Stop

Recently I received a request to send everything to a certain person via email instead of by text because the person was having problems with receiving texts. My thought was that I didn’t remember ever sending this (very nice by the way) person any text messages. After a few minutes God got my head straight and I think I know what’s going on. What a refreshing change!

At our church, Amana Christian Fellowship, we have something called “Amana Prayer Partners.” We send reminders of church events, prayer requests and announcements, the Daily Bread daily devotional, and “Nick’s Walk.” It seems to work pretty well and all anyone has to do to get plugged into that is to provide the church with their email address. In fact, you can do that here. If they then have a prayer request or need, they simply send an email to amanaprayerpartners@googlegroups.com. Of course, they can fill out a form on the church’s web site, or send me an email, or call me or send me a letter, I guess. But sending the email directly is the easiest thing.

Not that long ago, only very computer savy people communicated by email. Now, it has largely replaced “snail” mail. For you younger folks, that’s putting a piece of paper in an envelope, putting a stamp on it and taking it to the post office. Very old fashion, I admit. But if you’ll pass by any post office you will see people, mostly old like me, standing in line to perform this ancient ritual. Old habits die hard.

Of course in 2011, many people communicate, sometimes exclusively,  on Facebook. For those people, if they “like” Amana Christian Fellowship they will see on their Facebook page everything which Amana Christian Fellowship posts, along with the posts of all their “friends” and organizations, restaurants, whatever, that they ‘like.” If you are a Facebook person, click here and “Like” Amana Christian Fellowship. You will get all the info and prayer requests through Facebook. This is the same info that someone gets by email who has “signed up” to join Amana Prayer Partners. If course, with the New Facebook, they will start seeing stuff the didn’t ask for, but that’s for another day. 

Some folks are Tweeters, you can follow  Amana’s postings.

Of course, the youngest and the coolest (is that still a word) communicate mainly by text. This generation will have the strongest thumbs since the dawn of time.  If texting is your thing, text “follow amanachristian” to 40404 and you will be texted all the Amana Prayer Partner reminders, prayer requests and announcements and so on.  

If you surf the internet at all, it’s not long before you have signed up for tons of email, “liked” a whole bunch of things, are “following” everyone in the known universe, between texting everyone you know and some you don’t.

It’s easy to forget when your thumbs are numb, or your email inbox is full of “spam” that you started all this.  For example, someone might say why is Amana (or Nick) texting me, emailing me, and facebooking me all the same stuff? Well, I’m not. Like kids will say, “You asked for it.” 

But, thank the Lord, if you just remember that you are in control,  you can stop the flood of information. You have the power. You can unsubscribe from any emails you are getting. Nice guys (like me) will take you off their emailing list. If they don’t,  you can always filter out any emails from such annoying types. We can also “unlike” what we have “liked” before or “unfollow” what we have been following.

If you receive Nick’s Walk, I hope it blesses you; but if you wish I would just shut up that can be arranged. You have the power. I send my blog to Amana Prayer Partners (and some members of my family who I won’t tell how to shut me up 🙂 Some get my postings because they signed up for them on the blog. I can remove you from the list with a simple request. Kind of like what mamma used to say, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.”  The bottom line is you can stop getting stuff the same way you started. 

I hope this will help you from stopping all that annoying “stuff” that gets thrown at you every day. I hope Nick’s Walk is not part of the annoying but in some small way part of the blessing. Either way, you’re the boss. I guess we should all remember that we control the information that comes our way. We are responsible for what we hear, what we watch and what we read.  There is an awful lot of info out there and it ain’t all true or good.  It’s an awesome responsibility.

Be blessed.

Nick

It gets much better than this


On Monday, I had my post-surgical doctor visit. I had many questions, but they could all be summarized as “Is this as good as it gets?” Even just a week post op, things are better. I can stand without pain. But there is still pain. It was a foolish question. I am more frequently than not, foolish. The question was foolish, not because my doctor is great, but he’s no prophet. But because the answer to “Is this as good as it gets.” is always, “No. It’s going to get much better.”

It always amuses me when someone sighs with satisfaction and says “It doesn’t get much better than this.” Those words represent a sad philosophy that could be restated as, “This is as good as it gets,” or maybe, “it’s never going to get better.”

Here I was exhibiting what I know is a sad philosophy The truth is, in God, there is always more. The present is always just a foretaste of some more glorious future. No matter how things may seem, good or bad, it’s going to get better.

That’s a wonderful promise whether we are slogging through a valley of life, dancing on a mountain top, or staring at what looks like a long hard slide down.

Praise God. It’s going to get better.

Nick

Be blessed,

Nick

Pass the torch, but Read the Manual

I’ve had my i-pad for a couple of weeks. I love it. I sleep with it. Okay that last one needs an explanation. I use it in bed and sometimes I fall asleep and it’s still in the bed. You can do lots of cool things with it. You can watch movies, read books and magazines, play games. And, yes, it is an incredible help in my legal practice, and in my role as “webmaster” for my church. Well, you just have to try it for yourself. It’s very intuitive. My three year old great grand child just picks it up and starts doing amazing things with it. 
In watching her play with it, I realized that she was doing things more efficiently than I was. Shortly after that I stumbled upon the User Guide. For you ipad-ers, it’s a favorite on Safari, the web browser.  More amazing, I read it. I’m the type that throws away instruction manuals with the packing when I get something new. So manual reading isn’t my forte’.
The darn thing has a manual and I read it and now refer to it often. I view myself as an emerging i-pad expert, but self-delusion is a subject for another day. There are at least two significant lessons for today.
First, my three year old grand daughter can do some things better than I can. This lesson was enforced this week. I’m a fixer and I believe many people in my life rely on me. (I have to start working on that self-delusion blog piece real soon.)  We have been having trouble with our cable. I haven’t been able to get if fixed. My grand daughter (the twenty-something not her three year old daughter) in frustration finally asked me to let her deal with it. Shortly after the problem was fixed. She called Cox. What a uniquely brilliant solution. Trying to find a manual online and doing it myself seemed so brilliant at the time.  She did a better job than I had. It’s a tough point to come to: the realization that maybe those younger than you can do things better than you can. But isn’t that part of God’s plan? If God grants us a long enough life, we are given years as student, years as producer, years as teacher, then our final years as cheerleader. It can be tricky being aware what period we are in and when we need to move on to the next season of life.
Our ultimate satisfaction depends on making the best of each of those life periods. A good student makes a good producer. The life lessons picked up as a producer…produce a good teacher. Passing off what we have learned earns us the position of cheerleader for the precious ones God gives us. 
The second lesson? There is a manual for this. We don’t have to guess and fumble. He’s given us a manual. We would be wise to use it. How often I would have avoided pain for myself and others, if I had read the manual first. 
All this pontificating has earned me a nap. I think I deserve it. After that I’ll get to work on self-delusion.
Be blessed.
Nick

Hearing God in the Noise

I heard from God yesterday. It’s amazing He was able to get through to me. He didn’t email, text or contact me through Facebook. Yet He was able to reach me nonetheless. It happened this way. I had to make an announcement at church Sunday morning regarding the upcoming Kairos weekend. I was up early on Sunday, researching, drafting handouts, burning up my printer.

I stopped for a couple of minutes to relax. In the early morning quiet,  I felt the strong “feeling” that I needed to make the same announcement at Pastor Doucet’s teaching which occurs before the worship service. You will notice that not only did God not contact me electronically, He didn’t speak to me audibly. Often hearing from God is only a “feeling.” But it is confirmed by results.

At the 9 o’clock hour, as the teaching began, I sat in the back and heard Pastor continue a discussion on the Glory of God. Suddenly I knew why I was there. I was to offer lab work for the classroom work. Attendance at the Kairos closing would allow those who were studying about the Glory of God, actually see the Glory of God in the faces and testimonies of recent graduates of the Kairos program. That announcement and the one at the worship service was greeted with a tremendous response. God had been working.

We can do much better at listening for His voice. Most of our lives are cluttered with information. Information is great; but as the flow of it increases the noise of it does as well. It’s hard to hear God above the noise. We have to grant ourselves periods of quiet, when the important communication can slip through.

If we haven’t been hearing from God, it isn’t because He isn’t speaking, we just can’t hear Him above the noise.

Nick

Happiness is Gainesville, Florida, in your rear view mirror


Around these parts, I have a reputation as a Florida Gator fan. A brave thing to be in South Louisiana where most folks bleed purple and gold. Many would have a hard time believing that I once proudly wore a t-shirt that read “Happiness is Gainesville, Florida, in your rear view mirror. ” I had just finished 27 months at University of Florida Law School. I was ready to get on with real life and not in a mood to look back. My eyes were firmly fixed on the future.

Life is not always like that. We can we spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror. If we consider the qualities of rear view mirrors versus front windshields we might learn something. Autos and humans are designed for facing and moving forward. Safety requires only an occasional glance to the rear. God created us as to be future focused creatures. With God, all the good stuff is ahead. He gives us the gift of excited expectation. We can never say we have seen the most beauty we will ever see or had the best of life. That’s always ahead. With God there is always more.

It’s dangerous to stare into the rear view mirror. We can lose sight of where we’re headed and collide with dangerous obstacles or we can just sit there never moving, only looking back. We all now someone who lives in the past. Sometimes that someone can be seen in the mirror. Without the God planned sense of expectation, life becomes dull and, eventually meaningless.

Rear view mirrors distort. Some rear view mirrors warn that objects may appear larger or closer. Our life memories are also often inaccurate. Were the “good old days” really that good? Sure we were younger, smaller, and more energetic, but were we really better. We are designed to get better as we move forward in all the ways God considers important.

God wants an abundant life for us, a life rich in the things that bring joy. Our part is to keep headed in the right direction, using the past as a foundation and education, not a museum. Looking expectantly to the future.

Maybe if we glance up from the rear view mirror, we will see, looming ahead, something new and exciting
Nick

Location:Beau Coteau Pkwy,Broussard,United States

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Practically everyone on Facebook is complaining. Significant changes appeared on the world’s most popular website on Thursday. It’s clear that most folks prefer the old and familiar to the new and innovative. Most Facebookers assumed that Facebook was just messing with them . . . Change for change sake. In fact, the internet changed forever yesterday. Some will “like” the changes, and why not. They will be able to watch media with friends and have their personal history compiled and displayed. They will know what their friends are watching, doing and saying online in real time. Some will hate having that much known about them. Facebook friends will “know” each other like never before. Privacy and intimacy will never be the same.

If you think I exaggerate, Wait and see. Two great perceived needs of man are about to collide: the need to be known and the fear of being truly known. We want to be known and loved. We think we won’t be loved if we are truly known so we filter what others know about us. Facebook intends to change all that.

Just think how you would feel if everything you did was known to everyone. Facebook won’t accomplish that, but will come close. Will friends run in fear from the site or embrace this new openness?

Here’s the question for us: Do we want everyone to know us intimately? If not, why not?

God already has what Facebook only dreams of: complete knowledge of what everyone is doing. How’s that working out for you?

Act right and be blessed. Someone is watching and soon He may not be the only one.

Nick

Location:The New Facebook

Perspective

We can all benefit from a little perspective. I’m recovering from knee surgery, but some are struggling back from knee replacements or cardiac bypasses. Others are losing fights against killer diseases. My temporary inconveniences are insignificant.
I’m keeping my eye on my bank balance and the calendar, hoping October 1 comes before a negative balance. But others are paying for houses that are worth less than they owe. Some are jobless. Others don’t know how they will feed their kids today.
It’s not a new thought that there’s always someone worse off; but it’s a constant struggle to keep that in mind. The Faithbuilders page on our church website includes a number of videos that help me keep my head straight. See if they work for you. If you have some other Faithbuilders, I would love to add them.

Maybe we can build up each others faith.

Be blessed,

Nick