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Warning: ​Transformation May Occur

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My name is Keith Haney.  The writer and architect of this blog journey. Candidly I am a pastor, but you will find no judgment, only encouragement at this site.  I am not sure how you stumbled upon this blog. Maybe you were seeking ways to help your congregation better reach its neighborhood.  Or you were looking to grow as a leader.  It’s conceivable the system and culture are crushing you, and you need consolation.  If inspiration is what you are pursuing you will find it here,  if you want to grow as a leader, I will challenge you to do that.  If you want your church to just improve and add people in the pew, this blog may not be suitable for you. The world is changing and our old ways of connecting isn’t working. This blog will test your traditional views of church and ministry, it may stretch you beyond your comfort zone.  So, if you read, follow and share its contents with your leadership I hold no personal responsibility for the metamorphosis you may experience or the stress and transformation you may thrust upon your leadership.

Some categories to avoid if you want to read this blog safely.  Avoid the section on Millennials.  It is based on actual research and verified by my Millennials friends.  It will ultimately alter your misconceptions about this passionate, missional generation.  You will discover why they are just passing on the local church in alarmingly large numbers. The post entitled, “A Worship Style That Connects With Millennials”  will cause you to abandon many of your Millennial worship initiatives.

You will also want to stay away from the posts on missional communities.  It is the wave of the present for connecting with the unconnected.  This section will make you angry and uncomfortable if you love the Sunday morning gathering time, this movement is not centered on worship in the traditional sense. Missional communities is centered on authentic relationship with the marginalized and missions. You will get a sense of this with the post entitled, “Are Missional Communities a Threat to the Local Chuch?”

And, you will want to not click on any of the leadership sections.  There is one there entitled, “Leadership 101: You Can’t Stop Stupid, and trying to fix Stupid Hurts.”  Leadership is a passion of this pastor.  I believe it is the one thing holding the church back from entirely being what God created Her to be, a dominant force for change in the hearts and minds of today’s culture.

This blog also tackles the difficult often ignored issue of racial division in America.  The writing on this topic led to a Bible Study, published in 2015 by Concordia Publishing House, entitled “Healing One Nation Under God: Healing Racial Divides.”  It will challenge your conventional ideas about race while providing Biblical solutions to a complex issue.

There are safer places to surf while visiting this site.  The devotions and sermon starters while challenging and insightful dangerous in that the Word of God itself points out our sins put also leads us into the arms of God’s grace and forgiveness.

Read, inwardly digest at your own risk.  It is all based on the Word of God so blame the spirit for any transformation.

This content was created to share.  Every day is a share-a-thon.  Share away. We can help shape the future of the church together.

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Words for the Week: Patience

Patience is forged over the hot coals of trials. Those trials strengthen us for the long journey of faith. – Keith Haney

I have never asked God for patience for I fear the things I would have to go through to develop that spiritual muscle. Yet, the last twelve months of my life has been a constant lesson in patience. This past year has taught me that patience is forged over the hot coals of trials. Those trials strengthen us for the long journey of faith. In preparing this post I came across the greatest explanation of the biblical understanding of patience.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “run with endurance” the race set before us. George Matheson wrote, “We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet there is a patience that I believe to be harder — the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: it is the power to work under stress; to have a great weight at your heart and still run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily tasks. It is a Christ-like thing! The hardest thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience, not in the sickbed but in the street.” To wait is hard, to do it with “good courage” is harder! – Our Daily Bread, April 8.

Lord I pray that you will give me the strength to still work for you and the Kingdom while it breaks my heart, my spirit is downcast, my hope waning. Give me the patience to courageously live a life which gives honor and glory to you. That is the patience spirit I desire in 2020. It is patience grounded on hope in a benevolent God and a compassionate Savior.

Prayer:

Dear Lord,
This has been quite a journey and the end is not in plain sight. Through all the trials of life Lord, you are my refuge and strength. In hard times You are an ever-present helper in times of trouble. Help me cling to You and the truth of Your word. When the journey seems insurmountable I know Mighty One You are by my side. When my hope wains Father Your grace is sufficient. As the prophet, Nahum reminds me, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7) In Jesus’ name. Amen

Other posts in this series: https://revheadpin.org/2019/01/07/words-for-2019-courageous/

https://revheadpin.org/2019/01/02/what-is-your-word-for-2019/

https://revheadpin.org/2019/01/02/what-is-your-word-for-2019/

Prayer on John 9

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Dear Father,
As this week begins, we reflect on the miracle of the man born blind. There are so many parallels for us today. Many times, we are blind to our sins and faults. We think if we ignore them You will too. But like the man born blind, Jesus exposes the darkness in our lives. So, Lord thank You for the example of this blind man and His developing faith. We pray that our eyes to see the truth and not be influenced by our selfish desires, nor a worldly mindset that seeks to create doubt in Your work on our behalf. The devil seeks to discredit Your grace. Thank You Holy Spirit for the faith you place in our hearts and we have become citizens of heaven. Give us the boldness to proclaim the light of the gospel to those still trapped in darkness. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Baptismal Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

As this week begins we stop and reflect on our baptism. On Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ. His baptism was not a cleansing from sin instead it was a coronation as King. You place Your special blessings of the Spirit of God on Him with these powerful words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17

In our baptism, you also give us a special word joined with water connected with Your promise and adoption into the family of God. You said to us, “In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And Father you attached this promise, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.“ Acts 2:38

In love, You have called us to know you. You continue to lead us to trust You. 

And through baptism, You bound our life with Yours.

Dear Jesus surround Your children with your everlasting love, protect us from the Evil One.

Today and every day fill us with the holy spirit that we may walk in the way of Christ,

and grow in the knowledge of His love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Prayer for the Week of January 6th

Dear Lord, 

As, the new week in a new year fully gets underway fill us anew with Your Spirit. May we rise to meet each new day in the New Year with a renewed passion to live as children of the Light. Wherever we go, let us spread love, joy, peace, goodness, and faithfulness. Let us desire to become more like you and give our lives totally to you as an act of worship. 

May the words of Paul in Romans 12 be our guiding verse this week, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Help us desire these things so much more than the sin that entices us. Thank you for always going before us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Prayers for the Week of December 2nd

Dear Father,

You are the most high, most glorious, the thought of Your infinite serenity fills me with joy. Life is filled with toil and grind, troubles and distress, but in You, I am forever at perfect peace. Lord your power is limitless, Your goodness unending. You bring order out of the mayhem, and my defeats are Your victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigns supreme. 

Holy Spirit find a welcoming home in my heart. May you live and move within me,
breathing life into in my prayers,
speaking in my words,
modeling Christ in my actions
living in my life,
causing me to grow in grace.
Your presence alone can make me holy, 
devout, strong and happy. 
Abide in me, gracious God. 

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones

Dear God,
We are want to express our gratitude for all your blessings. You have given us so much, not only providing what we need to live an abundant life but in giving us an indescribable gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. This Thanksgiving day is filled with a mix of emotions.

We confess our thanks, but also acknowledge sadness because of the empty seats at our table. We know that death and sorrow were not your original plan, but the result of sin in the world. These moments of sorry draw us closer to you and each other.

Loving Father fill the empty places in our hearts and this empty place at our table with Your everlasting love. Teach us to savor the moments we have with one another, to remember what we have lost, but also to look forward to the great union in heaven.

In Jesus, we pray.

Prayer for the Week of Thanksgiving

Dear Lord,

As this week of Thanksgiving begins I stop to ponder why do we often need a holiday to remind us to give thanks. It is hard in this sinful life to have a grateful spirit. Life makes that challenging, events and our circumstances harden our hearts

A grateful spirit becomes more challenging during times of oppression, persecution or grief than during periods of bliss. I have had seasoned, and new Christians ask me this question. “Please tell me how we are supposed to ignore all the pain and suffering and have a thankful attitude?
What exactly I am thanking you for Lord?” Have you been there? Have you wanted to ask God this question? I want to explore the answer. We will see want answers God provides.

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians provides context.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:15-18


Is a wake up call that happiness is not the prerequisite for a grateful spirit, but Christ is. No matter our situation we have been redeemed.

We give thanks for the gift of God’s grace freely given to all the world through His Son, Jesus Christ. So, this week and every week be grateful for whose you are in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Prayer for the Week of November 18th

Dear Lord,
As this new week begins may it be filled with joy and contentment. May nothing rob us of the joy of our salvation. Help us to enjoy Your abundant blessings. No matter what the devil attempts to do this week, Jesus, you have already won the victory. Lord grant us the victory over every adversity that comes our way. Gives us the strength to stand firm in the faith and stand tall in the face of challenges. No matter the size of the mountains they are made low by our faith in Jesus. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for the Week of November 5th

Dear Lord,

As we welcome this new week may nothing separate us from You today. Teach us how to choose only Your way today so each step leads us closer to You. Help us walk by the Word and not our feelings. It is easy to allow life to distract us and lead us far from you. Help us keep our hearts pure and fixed on the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Protect us from our own careless thoughts, hurtful words, and unloving actions. And keep us from being distracted by our selfish wants, our unhealthy desires, our self-centered thoughts on how things should be. Help us to embrace what you have in mind for us this week. May we rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13, ‘Great is your love toward me.’ God is is awesome that the Savior of the world would desire to spend time with us minutes this morning. Lord, help us to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

When Church Traditions Are Dangerous?

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You probably know there are jokes about different Christian communions — Baptist jokes, Catholic jokes, and yes even Lutheran jokes. More often than not, they’re told by members of that church body to other members. Lutherans are known for being traditional in its ways of doing things. So, “How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer is, “Change? We can’t change my grandfather donated that lightbulb when the church was dedicated.”

While most of these jokes are a harmless reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. There is an underlying reality that often isn’t funny, our attitudes toward change. Our jokes about religious traditions point humorously, to the danger of taking traditions to extremes and how those extremes can be unhealthy. I share this with a church I was working with, “It’s not a good idea to sit in the dark because you can’t bear to get rid of your tradition-hallowed, but burned-out, lightbulb.”

The Background of the Text

In Mark chapter seven Jesus tackles two important questions about the Gentiles. “Does interaction with Gentiles defile the Jews?” (Mark 7:1–13) And a question you can insert for any group not a part of our tribe “are the Gentiles less Important than the Jews?” (Mark 7:24–37).

For the point of brevity, we will limit the discussion to Mark 7:1-13.

Jesus was being taken to the woodshed (as they say down south) for violating the Sabbath traditions earlier in Mark 2:15–28; 3:22–30). He had received an official visit from the scribes and Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious ruling council. Because of His early infractions, he was being closely watched to see what others lines He might cross. In Mark seven it violated their tradition of the ceremonial washing of hands. I mentioned earlier that some traditions are dangerous and hurtful. This hand washing falls into that category. This ritual had nothing to do with hygiene; it was purely ceremonial to get rid of whatever defilement the Jews accidentally picked up from the Gentiles or Samaritans.

Nothing Against Tradition.

Let me be clear, I have nothing against traditions per se. Heck, I have some of our family and would hate to see those broken. Traditions go off the deep end when it has more authority than the Word of God. When we get to that point those firmly held ceremonies are wrong. Colossians 2:6-8 warns us against man-made traditions. 6 So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. 7 Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught. 8 See to it that nobody enslaves you with philosophy and foolish deception, which conform to human traditions and the way the world thinks and acts rather than Christ.

The formula that leads us astray is laid out by our Lord and Savior in Scripture. If you fear that your traditions, ceremonies, your practices have strayed from what God requires or desires below are keys indicators from Jesus’ interaction in Mark seven.

  1. We lay aside God’s Word (v. 8).

8 “You ignore God’s commandment while holding on to rules created by humans and handed down to you.” Mark 7:8

  1. Then we reject the Word (v. 9).

9 Jesus continued, “Clearly, you are experts at rejecting God’s commandment in order to establish these rules.”

  1. And finally, we rob the Word of any power in our lives (v. 13).

13 “In this way you do away with God’s word in favor of the rules handed down to you, which you pass on to others. And you do a lot of other things just like that.”

 Things had gotten so far out of control, so far from what God intended that the man-made traditions, not God’s truth, control the lives of God’s people. The Pharisees could rob their own parents of help by hiding behind their traditions!

Jesus exposes the Jews’ hypocrisy; He also exposed their hearts. “14 Then Jesus called the crowd again and said, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15 Nothing outside of a person can enter and contaminate a person in God’s sight; rather, the things that come out of a person contaminate the person.” The Jews were not made unclean by coming in contact with Gentiles, what defiled them came from within. Like us, what defiles us are our own sinful hearts. As King David points out after his issues with infidelity in Psalm 51, no amount of washing on the outside can remove defilement on the inside. “Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!

When the church or our religious traditions place a heavy emphasis on following rules we open ourselves up for the danger of robbing God’s Word of its power…the power to set us free by the work Jesus has already done for us. We make faith about US not about HIM!  Jesus wanted to focus the hearts of the people back to the cross, back the what He had done to set them free form the expectations of the Law, back to grace.

 

A bonus post on worship to connect with Millennials,

https://revheadpin.org/2016/05/17/simple-plan-to-worship/

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