Friday, January 31, 2014

Preparing for Pastoral Sabbatical - Final Session

In a few days I begin my Pastoral Sabbatical.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate the family of NRN for not only allowing me to take this time but the financial support to make this possible.  In preparation for this time I watched a four part video series.  I thought it would also give you some insights about the importance of my Sabbatical:

Dave Wiedis, Executive Director of ServingLeaders Ministries, interviews Pastor Phil Carnuccio, Lead Pastor of Providence Church, West Chester, on the pressures and stresses experienced by pastors that necessitate taking a Sabbatical.
This is final session of four: 

Please keep me and Sharron in your thoughts and prayers as we experience our first Pastoral Sabbatical in over 37 years of pastoral ministry.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Preparing for Sabbatical Part 3

In a few days I begin my Pastoral Sabbatical.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate the family of NRN for not only allowing me to take this time but the financial support to make this possible.  In preparation for this time I watched a four part video series.  I thought it would also give you some insights about the importance of my Sabbatical:

Dave Wiedis, Executive Director of ServingLeaders Ministries, interviews Pastor Phil Carnuccio, Lead Pastor of Providence Church, West Chester, on the pressures and stresses experienced by pastors that necessitate taking a Sabbatical.
This is part three of four: 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Preparing for Sabbatical Part 2

In a few days I begin my Pastoral Sabbatical.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate the family of NRN for not only allowing me to take this time but the financial support to make this possible.  In preparation for this time I watched a four part video series.  I thought it would also give you some insights about the importance of my Sabbatical:

Dave Wiedis, Executive Director of ServingLeaders Ministries, interviews Pastor Phil Carnuccio, Lead Pastor of Providence Church, West Chester, on the pressures and stresses experienced by pastors that necessitate taking a Sabbatical.
This is part two of four: 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Preparing for Sabbatical Part 1

In a few days I begin my Pastoral Sabbatical.  Words cannot express how much I appreciate the family of NRN for not only allowing me to take this time but the financial support to make this possible.  In preparation for this time I watched a four part video series.  I thought it would also give you some insights about the importance of my Sabbatical:

Dave Wiedis, Executive Director of ServingLeaders Ministries, interviews Pastor Phil Carnuccio, Lead Pastor of Providence Church, West Chester, on the pressures and stresses experienced by pastors that necessitate taking a Sabbatical. In this first segment, Phil explains how the pressures of ministry can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion.
This is part one of four: 

Monday, January 27, 2014

A time of worship in prepartion to face the day.... enjoy ( keep a tissue close by)

Today I want to bring us into the presence of the Lord with a time of personal worship.

I think these songs have a very strong presence of God on them and he's just blessing them so much. So I hope you all enjoy them I know worship gets me very close to Jesus. 

Here is a collection of 5 great worship songs for today:

Our God is Greater - Chris Tomlin
Not Dead (Like a Lion) - Newsboys
Anthem - Jake Hamilton 
Give Me Faith - Elevation Worship
Great I Am - New Life Worship

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Faith of Peyton Manning

On Sunday January 19, 2014 Peyton Manning, the quarterback of the playoff-bound Denver Broncos, completed the greatest statistical regular season at the quarterback position in the 94-year history of the National Football League (NFL). This regular season saw Manning set records in yards passed in a season (5,477) and touchdowns thrown in a season (55), and he led his team to accumulate more points (606) in a regular season than had ever been done before. Manning also tied the record for touchdowns thrown in a game (7) in the Broncos Week 1 win over the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens.

Any fan of Peyton Manning or the NFL generally knows that Manning is the consummate professional. He treats the fans, media personnel, teammates, and opponents with respect. He works as hard—and probably harder—at his craft than any other player in the league. And he produces one fun, family-friendly commercial after another, showing his sense of humor and a humble assessment of his own importance. But what many fans of Manning and the NFL may not be aware of is Manning’s Christian faith. In the excerpt below from Peyton’s book Manning (available on Amazon in paperback here and Kindle here, which he co-wrote with his father Archie Manning in 2001, the record-setting quarterback gives a rare description of his faith and its importance to him. The description is a rare one, not because Peyton’s faith is an insignificant part of his life, but because, as Peyton explains in the excerpt, he has intentionally chosen to speak more by his actions than by his words. Here is the excerpt:

Like my dad, I make it a point when I speak to groups to talk about priorities, and when it’s school kids, I rank those priorities as: faith, family, and education, then football. For me generally it had always been the big four: faith, family, friends, and football. And I tell all of them that as important as football is to me, it can never be higher than fourth. My faith has been number one since I was thirteen years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: “If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure you’d go to heaven?” Cooper was there and Eli [Peyton's two brothers] but it didn’t hit them at the time the way it did me. It was a big church, and I felt very small, but my heart was pounding. The minister invited those who would like that assurance through Jesus Christ to raise their hands, and I did. Then he invited us to come forward, to take a stand, and my heart really started pounding. And from where we sat, it looked like a mile to the front.

But I got up and did it. And I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been most important to me ever since. Some players get more vocal about it—the Reggie Whites, for example—and some point to Heaven after scoring a touchdown and praise God after games. I have no problem with that. But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me any less a Christian. I just want my actions to speak louder, and I don’t want to be more of a target for criticism than I already am. Somebody sees you drinking a beer, which I do, and they think, “Hmmmm, Peyton says he’s this, that, or the other, and there he is drinking alcohol. What’s that all about?”

Christians drink beer. So do non-Christians. Christians also make mistakes, just as non-Christians do. My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I looked for half my life ago. I think God answered our prayers with Cooper, and that was a test of our faith. But I also think I’ve been blessed—having so little go wrong in my life, and being given so much. I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don’t talk about it or brag about it because that’s between God and me, and I’m no better than anybody else in God’s sight.

But I consider myself fortunate to be able to go to Him for guidance, and I hope (and pray) I don’t do too many things that displease Him before I get to Heaven myself. I believe, too, that life is much better and freer when you’re committed to God in that way. I find being with others whose faith is the same has made me stronger. J.C. Watts and Steve Largent, for example. They’re both in Congress now. We had voluntary pregame chapel at Tennessee, and I attend chapel every Sunday with players on the team in Indianapolis. I have spoken to church youth groups, and at Christian high schools. And then simply as a Christian, and not as good a one as I’d like to be.

How do I justify football in the context of “love your enemy?” I say to kids, well, football is most definitely a “collision sport,” and I can’t deny it jars your teeth and at the extreme can break your bones. But I’ve never seen it as a “violent game,” there are rules to prevent that, and I know I don’t have to hate anybody on the other side to play as hard as I can within the rules. I think you’d have to get inside my head to appreciate it, but I do love football. And, yes, I’d play it for nothing if that was the only way, even now when I’m no longer a child. I find no contradiction in football and my faith.

Ah, but do I “pray for victory?” No, except as a generic thing. I pray to keep both teams injury free, and personally, that I use whatever talent I have to the best of my ability. But I don’t think God really cares about who wins football games, except as winning might influence the character of some person or group. Besides. If the Colts were playing the Cowboys and I prayed for the Colts and Troy Aikman prayed for the Cowboys, wouldn’t that make it a standoff?

I do feel this way about it. Dad says it can take twenty years to make a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it. I want my reputation to be able to make it through whatever five-minute crises I run into. And I’m a lot more comfortable knowing where my help is.

From Peyton and Archie Manning’s book Manning (pp. 362-364), available on Amazon in paperback here and Kindle here

Reflection from my message this morning - New Friendships

Today was such a special time in worship!  In my message I spoke about new friendships.  Here are some additional thoughts:

Question: "What is true friendship according to the Bible?"

Answer: The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the definition of a true friend: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15). Jesus is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His "friends." What is more, anyone may become His friend by trusting in Him as his personal savior, being born again and receiving new life in Him.

There is an example of true friendship between David and Saul's son Jonathan, who, in spite of his father Saul's pursuit of David and attempts to kill him, stood by his friend. You will find that story in 1 Samuel chapter 18 through chapter 20. Some pertinent passages are 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19: 4-7; 20:11-17, 41-42.

Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17). "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order have a friend, one must be a friend. "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" (Proverbs 27:6). "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

The principle of friendship is also found in Amos. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3 KJV). Friends are of like mind. The truth that comes from all of this is a friendship is a relationship that is entered into by individuals, and it is only as good or as close as those individuals choose to make it. Someone has said that if you can count your true friends on the fingers of one hand, you are blessed. A friend is one whom you can be yourself with and never fear that he or she will judge you. A friend is someone that you can confide in with complete trust. A friend is someone you respect and that respects you, not based upon worthiness but based upon a likeness of mind.

Finally, the real definition of a true friend comes from the Apostle Paul: "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8). "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13). Now, that is true friendship!

Would you like to build a snowman?

Here is a message of hope as we place our trust in the Lord:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Preparing for worship on the final Sunday of January 2014 - New Friendships

The worship team brings us into a time of worship....

Now a warm greeting of welcome and opening prayer.  We continue in our worship.....

We enter into a season of prayer.... followed by the announcements and our presentation of financial gifts to the Lord.

The final message in the teaching series: 

Part 4  New Friendships
A mirror reflects a person's face but what they are really like is shown by the kind of friends they choose. Proverbs 27:19 Hudgens
I am praying for an overflow attendance this Sunday.  On any given Sunday 1/3 of our church family is away.  I am praying and hoping that this Sunday people will hit Facebook; emails; text and phone calls to encourage everyone to be in attendance this Sunday as I preach this Sunday and will not be back into the pulpit until March 16, 2014  It would be of tremendous encouragement to me to preach to over 100 people this Sunday.  This has been one of my top 3 prayers every day for the past 6 months.  God has a message for our church family we need to hear....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Guidelines for a Successful Sabbatical

This coming week I begin my very first Sabbatical in ministry.  In the course of my 37 years of pastoral ministry this is the first time I have been able to take a time of Sabbatical. In each of my senior pastorates I have not met the criteria for a sabbatical to be offered. I began my service at NRN on August 1 2007 and this year I have been offered by the church board a sabbatical break.  This is an article that I have found useful as I prepare for my time away.
Five Guidelines for a Successful Sabbatical

Too many ministers are running on empty. Burdened with almost unbelievable loads of duties, they are running out of both physical and spiritual gas. Consequently, congregations suffer from ministry by ministers who are experiencing stress, burnout, and possibly compassion fatigue. However, one solution has saved the ministry of many pastors and staff. Churches are beginning to realize how important it is for congregations to set aside time and funds to allow their ministers extended rest and study.

What is a sabbatical?

The sabbatical tradition began in the universities at the time when the university was part of the church. The idea was that the university professors needed one year in every seven to become students again and to refresh their spiritual calling. That tradition is alive and well in secular as well as church-related universities today. Unfortunately, it is not as alive or well in the churches.

Too often church leaders are reluctant to arrange periodic times when the pastor or staff member can become a student and worshiper for the purpose of refining and updating professional skills and refreshing the spiritual life and calling.

The sabbatical meets a mutual need for minister and church

Both congregations and their pastors and staff actually need sabbaticals from each other, and both can benefit from some time spent apart. Ministers and Church leaders should not see the sabbatical as a reward for good work or simply a benefit to keep the minister happy. Neither should they view it as an extension of the normal vacation period. Rather it should be an important part of the program of the church and the working relationship between the church and its ministers from which both will draw benefits.

Leaders in many major churches have noted that fatigue seems to set in after about six years and clergy tend to become restless. Unconsciously, pastors and/or staff know they need a change and a renewal; so many decide the way to meet these needs is to change situations. Unfortunately, too often this desire to change is supported by the people in the congregation since the “honeymoon” is now over, the routine has set in, and possibly boredom.

Five guidelines for a successful sabbatical

1.   Establish time parameters. Most congregations cannot afford to allow a year, with three to four months being more common. In addition, it should be spelled out which months are sabbatical and which are part of yearly vacation leave.

2.   Plan the way you will spend it. The pastor must decide on a specific study or spiritual-growth program for the sabbatical period.

3.   Make financial arrangements. Will there be a part-time or full-time salary paid? What about the costs of tuition, travel, and books? These questions should be worked out ahead of time. Some churches set aside a months salary each year so after six or seven years they have enough set aside to pay for the pastor and an interim during the sabbatical.

4.   Develop a realistic plan to achieve the goals. Often goals are too ambitious and the allotted time for the sabbatical does not allow enough time to achieve the goals. If goals are set that can be reached, the minister will derive a sense of satisfaction from the sabbatical.

5.   Plan your reentry. Returning from a sabbatical may be more difficult than going on one. It may be difficult to get back in touch with the total situation all at once. Consider and adjustment period when returning. One wise seminary professor once remarked, “It is not possible to board a moving train with a perpendicular leap.” Therefore, the pastor needs to run alongside for a while to catch up with the church’s momentum. While advance planning was necessary for embarking on the sabbatical, it is no less important for returning from it.

The sabbatical is an important event in the life of both pastor and congregation. It is one of the most effective ways for clergy and congregation to develop and maintain a long-term relationship. It can be a vital ingredient in a mutually beneficial relationship. Before either pastors or church staff and their churches seek to sever relationships, they need to consider the mutual benefits of a sabbatical. The result of all this may be that ultimately both will return to the Lord’s vineyard with a new sense of refreshment, ready now to take on new tasks in His service.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Causes Burnout and What You Can Do About It

Burnout is a function of our total life management.  Burnout is never caused by a single area of life. Burnout is a function of our total life management.

One area of life cannot get out of order without overt choices of neglect being made in other areas of life. This means that if we managed the other areas of our life well, it would have contained the area (i.e., work, ministry, parenting, etc.) that was the primary cause of burnout.

We must resist the temptation to blame life, or even one area of our life management, for the experience of burnout. Burnout is a result of how we have managed our life as a whole.

So, we might begin our assessment of burnout’s cause with this foundational statement—burnout is the result of living beyond our means with the time God has provided.

It is common to say that someone is “living beyond their means” financially. There is a cultural epidemic of people spending more than they earn. The majority of Americans have a negative net-worth; we owe more than we own.

We will use this parallel of financial and time management many times, so begin to think in these categories.

The first thing God’s fairness requires of the person moving toward burnout is to rest in the fact that everything fits in a 168 hour week.

This means that even if there are 200 hours worth of excellent things to be accomplished in a week, that you can have assurance at least 32 hours of your agenda are outside the will of God for your life; not “outside the will of God” in terms of being bad, but “outside the will of God” in the sense that God will accomplish this, if it needs to be done, through someone else.

Budgeting rest, work and family.

In order to think this way, you must have an intentional plan for how you use your time. Like a financial budget, it must be detailed enough to be useful, flexible enough to be practical and looked at enough to alter your life.

Let me begin by offering some general parameters for this time budget.

First, you should allocate at least 50 hours per week to sleep.

This is a bare minimum of honoring the Sabbath command to express faith in God by resting a significant portion of each week.

Second, you should budget around 50 hours per week for work.

Even before the Fall, God called every person to productively use his or her life for the betterment of others and stewardship of creation (Genesis 1:28). Allocating these hours may be easier for someone who works an hourly job than for those who are business owners, independent contractors or full-time parents.

But some limit must be put on this sector of life or our defeating motive (i.e., greed, ambition, people-pleasing, guilt, perfectionism, etc.) will expand this aspect of life until it destroys the others.

When the rest of life is destroyed, productivity loses its purpose.

Third, you should budget at least 17 hours per week for marriage and family.

This number is chosen a bit arbitrarily, but it represents a tithe (10 percent) of your time devoted to family. Being part of a family will strongly influence your usage of the rest of your time.

This 17-hour time allotment is a recommended minimum amount of time to set aside for exclusive focus on family. If you are married with children, it would be very difficult to have “quality” time with your family if this “quantity” of time is not being met.

“Family time” does not merely mean “in the same building at the same time.”

A useful definition of “family time” would be “investing my full attention in something that affirms my spouse or child by allowing me to know them better and makes them feel more known by me.”

What kind of activities fit this description will vary widely based upon factors such as personality, interest, age and season of life. But the main point is that family time reinforces and strengthens the sense of knowing and being known within the family.

Budgeting "the rest of life."

Fourth, if you follow the recommendations above, that leaves 51 hours to be allocated for “the rest of life.”

The other parts of life should feel “holy” (set apart by God) before the week begins. In the first 117 hours of the week you are merely looking for the most situationally-wise and enjoyable way to accomplish rest, family time and productivity.

It is only in these last 51 hours that we should feel an additional degree of freedom about how to use them.

For many people, this mindset will be uncomfortable, but when we call ourselves “God’s servant” and claim to live “under the Lordship of Christ,” this necessarily places a limit upon our freedom.

Within the first 117 hours, we are free within the God-given role of finite creature, spouse-parent and productive worker. Within these last 51 hours, we are called to do maintenance, service and recreation.

Maintenance: This involves cleaning one’s home, mowing the yard, going to the grocery, paying bills and the other mundane activities necessary for life. In this area, a grandmother’s advice on home cleanliness provides sound guidance for all areas of life maintenance: “A home should be clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.”

Recreation: This involves the kind of activities that you find rewarding and replenishing that place you in the mental, physical and spiritual condition to serve God and others. Life requires more than 50 hours of sleep in order to be healthily sustained. Here the advice is to know yourself—what restores you, gives you energy or relaxes you? Whatever these things are should be a regular part of your schedule.

Service: This involves service through your church to the congregation and community for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth and deeper into the lives of those around you. The discussion that follows will focus primarily upon this area since that is the particular area of life that this document is designed to prevent from becoming a contributor to burnout.

No recommended percentages or time allotments can be given for these three areas. But it should be noted that all three are essential to healthy living and should be given time.

Healthy relationships are those that actively help you guard and honor balance in all three of these areas of involvement.

By:   Brad Hambrick

Here is a time budget tool to help you implement these concepts: Burnout Time Budget
You can order my booklet on burnout here 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This evening we plan to gather for prayer at 6:30 at NRN.  As we gather for prayer we come with faith believing that God hears our prayers and as we pray His answers are already on the way.

Here is a historical account that reminds me of the faithfulness of God:

In 1857 there was a 46 year old man named Jeremiah Lamphere who lived in New York City. Jeremiah loved the Lord tremendously, but he didn’t feel that he could do much for the Lord until he began to feel a burden for the lost and accepted an invitation from his church to be an inner city missionary.

So in July of 1857 he started walking up and down the streets of New York passing out tracts and talking to people about Jesus, but he wasn’t having any success. Then God put it on his heart to try prayer. So he printed up a bunch of tracts, and he passed them out to anyone and everyone met. He invited anyone who wanted to come to the 3rd floor of the Old North Dutch Reform Church on Fulton St. in New York City from 12 to 1 on Wednesday to pray. He passed out hundreds and hundreds of fliers and put up posters everywhere he could.

Wednesday came and at noon nobody showed up. So Jeremiah got on his knees and started praying. For 30 minutes he prayed by himself when finally five other people walked in. The next week 20 people came. The next week between 30 and 40 people came. They then decided to meet every day from 12:00 to 1:00 to pray for the city.

Before long a few ministers started coming and they said, "We need to start this at our churches." Within six months there were over 5000 prayer groups meeting everyday in N.Y. Soon the word spread all over the country. Prayer meetings were started in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington D.C. In fact President Franklin Pierce started going almost every day to a noonday prayer meeting. By 1859 some 15,000 cities in America were having downtown prayer meetings everyday at noon, and thousands were brought to Christ.

The great thing about this revival is that there is not a famous preacher associated with it. It was all started by one man wanting to pray. People have been seeking God, and seeking a relationship with God through Jesus Christ for centuries.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

10 Keys to Being a Healthy Pastor

Healthy pastors lead healthy churches. Tim Peters' advice will bring health and peace to your soul. Healthy pastors lead healthy churches.  Below are keys to being a healthy pastor.  Do not skip over #1.

1. Let God restore your soul daily.

Psalm 23.                    Matthew 11:28.

Worship.  Prayer.  Solitude.  Listening.  Bible reading.

Averill quote: I pray for you to know the REST of Jesus in all things.The enemy will deceitfully persuade you that you have many things to accomplish in order to keep things running.  I am all too aware of this temptation.  Simplicity in Christ leads us to only one thing to do- let Christ do it.

2.  Give your marriage priority attention.

A bad marriage ruins the rest of life.  (Remember the Proverbs.)

A good marriage fortifies you for the rest of life.

Is your home a tunnel of chaos or an oasis of rest?


3. Work with your personal rhythms.

For me:  start early, try to leave early.

Creative work in the mornings.

Between 4-7 p.m.--not my best time for mental focus.


4.  Keep your Sabbath rest.

A principle of creation:  rest one day in seven.

Sabbath is a day to pray and play.

Eugene Peterson:  hike all day.

5.  Do the things only you can do – and delegate the rest.

Be ruthless in simplifying your work.

Empower others!

Take some time now to save much time later.

6.  Focus on results not time at work.

40-50 hours a week, total for me.

However, the point is not to clock your time but to get things done.

Focus on your highest impact activities.

Managers do things right.  Leaders do the right things.


7.  Get regular exercise and eat healthy.

For me:  weight lift and cardio 4-5 times per week

If you are healthier and fit, you can work harder and you will last longer.

Exercise is a huge stress reliever.

Avoid the Three White Killers: salt, sugar, and flour.

8. Ask for help.

Secrets are dangerous.

Need help?  In the last 18 months, has a trusted person told you, “I think you need to talk to somebody about that”?  If the answer is yes, get help.

Every prominent Christian leader and pastor I know regularly visits a counselor.  It is okay to ask for help.

9.  Let God heal your anger.

Ask God to show you…heal you.

Ask a close friend if you seem angry.

Consider:  Elder prayer, counseling, talking with an insightful friend.

This is enormously important!

10. Don’t be crushed by criticism.

Consider the source.

Be willing to receive criticism from trustworthy people – people who are for you, who are insightful, who are not negative.

Consider if you are a pleaser.  Galatians 1:10
by Tim Peters

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Making of a Champion


The Seattle Seahawks are bringing their game-changing defense — and the 12th Man — to the Big Apple for the Super Bowl.
Seattle's top-ranked defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers, and Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the winning points in a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC title Sunday.
Seattle will meet Denver (15-3) for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It's the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks (15-3) since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.

The conference champs had the best records in the league this year, the second time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl in 20 seasons.

It also is a classic matchup of the Denver's record-setting offense against the NFL's stingiest defense.

Now, placing football aside - here is a presentation you MUST watch about the true making of a Champion.