Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Summer Break, Stress, and Calm. Oh My!


Just in case you were wondering about that strange sound coming from the Green household. No worries! It is simply a sigh of relief that summer break has commenced. That wonderful time of decompressing from the fast-paced days of early alarms, endless meetings and all of the expectations that come along with the education profession. I have been going to school in varying capacities for over thirty years and the one consistent thing about them all is that summer break is always a welcome sight. Couple that with a particularly demanding season as a pastor and physical difficulties at home and we are extremely glad to enjoy a change in pace.

We hope to be able to visit our friends and relatives in Florida and Alabama this summer, which will encompass over two weeks of our break. When we return home there are also some components of the kid’s education that we need to complete and also some church meetings that we are looking forward to attending. BUT, the theme of this summer is CALM. That sounds easy enough doesn’t it?  Experience proves that it is much easier said than done when reality, expectations and time (or lack thereof) inevitably collide in the game of life.  Despite the challenges, we would all benefit from a healthy dose of calm in our lives. Let’s examine this subject from a biblical standpoint:

Philippians 4:5-7 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Do you notice the beautiful progression of this passage? Herein contains some crucial steps to achieving calm in your life. Step one is moderation. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: calmness of mind; equanimity; as, to bear prosperity or adversity with moderation. In other words we should confront the inevitable challenges of life without extreme emotional reactions. Both good and bad are to be responded to in a moderate manner. We should not overreact either direction. Why? Because the Lord is always with us!

The next step involves replacing worry with conversing with God. I confess that a large amount of my thought life is consumed with ‘what ifs’ that might never come to fruition. It is my nature to overanalyze every little aspect of life. But the Apostle Paul admonishes us to replace such with petitions to God. Worry is fruitless. Talking to God is always productive and time well spent!

Finally, the fruit of these two habits is supernatural peace. That is the calm that I desire! That is the example that we desire to cultivate in our home this summer and beyond. The demands of life will always be present. There will always be roadblocks along the journey. But what a wonderful joy to know that obedience to God and adherence to the simple pattern that He breathed into scripture can produce peace in the midst of incredible challenges!


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne PBC

Monday, May 06, 2013

Treatment of God’s Children

Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

As part of the body of Christ we must take great care in how we treat our brothers and sisters in the church. It is not an accident that the above passage is one of Jesus’ first sermons specifically directed to the church. He recognized the challenge that we would encounter when interacting with one another.

The word ‘despise’ conveys the meaning of looking down with contempt on another. It also means to regard as negligible, worthless or distasteful. Such an attitude is accepted in many avenues of life in our modern world, but should not be present in our churches. Remember, that we are called out to live differently as disciples of Christ.

What are some ways that we despise or look down on out fellow believers? One way is by being a respecter of persons? In the church setting this generally occurs when people separate themselves or isolate others by forming cliques. It is human nature to gravitate towards people that are most like you. As a high school teacher I witness this phenomena daily. We want to associate with those who share the same interests, backgrounds, upbringings, etc. But discipleship requires us to step out of this comfort zone and embrace all members within our local body of believers.

Earlier in Matthew 18, Jesus says that it is better for us to have a millstone hanged around our neck and drown than offend one of his children. Those that make up our congregations should feel loved valued when in our midst and we must do all within our ability to avoid offending them. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be a shelter from the storms of life and a welcome change from all of the contention and divisions that exist in our world.

James writes, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons (James 2:1).” When we assemble with the saints, all natural differences should be checked at the door. There are no big “I’s” in the church. We must remember that we share the common bond of being sinners saved by the grace of God. Before the King of Kings we are equal. We all deserved eternal condemnation. Yet Christ died to save those who were elected in Him before the foundation of the world. In Ephesians 2, Paul references Christ as, “our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (v. 14).”  Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, famous or unknown; all are equal through the blood of Christ!

God help us to break carnal habits and take time to minister to everyone that the He allows us to have contact with in His church. Next Sunday I encourage you to adjust some of your old habits to facilitate this change. Relocate your seating during public worship and fellowship to position yourself near new visitors or closer to those that you have had little prior contact. This move shows that you value others and desire closer fellowship. It is also a good practice to purpose to visit and/or communicate with all members of your church on a regular basis. Perhaps creating a list or schedule can assist you in this practice. It is amazing what a small change such as this can accomplish. I am certain that the Lord will bless any move in this direction. It is not just the job of the pastor to make sure that everyone is visited. We all have the blessed responsibility to embrace all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne PBC

Friday, April 19, 2013

Help in the Midst of Trouble

 Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Occasionally we will have a week where we are confronted with one trial after another. This week has been such for me. The combination of headline grabbing tragedies that have been rampant, difficulties at work, challenges at home, and the everyday battle with my own flesh has been overwhelming at times over the last several days. Compared to the burdens of others, my problems are minor. But they are problems nonetheless.

What a comfort to know that we have both a refuge and a source of strength in the midst of our troubles! We have a friend in Jesus who has the power to both protect and empower us to endue the difficulties of life. No other individual can provide such to us. I am thankful for the few dear friends that I have that would do anything to help me if I were in trouble. Yet their assistance is limited. Distance, lack of resources, lack of understanding, etc. naturally limit what they can do for me. I also have the same shortcomings as I try to minister to others. But such does not limit Jesus.

Our Savior has unlimited availability. He is omnipresent. He is always available. Therefore he is a present help in time of trouble. We can call out to him in prayer at any moment and he is available. He has the power to protect us. Sadly, I have tried to minister to individuals who were in such trouble that I was powerless to assist them. Not so with our Lord. In this Psalm, David said that the Lord is our refuge though the earth be removed. That is complete power! In addition to protection, the Lord also gives us strength. In reality, we do not have what takes to endure the trials of life. We are weak. We are fragile. We are sinful. Yet by the grace of God, we can fight the good fight of faith in the midst of manifold trials and tribulations.

The Apostle Paul concurred with the Psalmist. He constantly dealt with both Jews and Gentiles that sought his life. Yet he pressed on with joy and encouraged others to stand fast in the Lord. How on earth was he able to maintain such faith in the midst of so much trouble? He remembered where to look for refuge and strength and understood that Christ was a very present help in trouble!

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Wherever we find ourselves this morning I pray that we will pause and remember this profound thought. Sometimes troubles come from outside difficulties. Sometimes they are of our own making. Either way we have protection and power in Jesus.


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church

Thursday, April 11, 2013

True Friendships

1 Samuel 18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

Deep and meaningful friendships are a rare occurrence in our day. We now live in the Facebook age that gives the appearance of having friends, but generally consists of mere acquaintances.  The reality is that at best most of us only have a few close friendships with others.

Such was not the case with Jonathan and David. It appears that they grew close soon after David slew the giant Goliath. David had brought the head to the king and had exemplified courage and conviction that was lacking amongst the leaders and warriors of Israel during that time. David witnessed the blasphemy and mockery of this wicked Philistine and asked the question, “Is there not a cause?” He confronted the giant with the confidence that God would deliver. And God did.

The Bible states that their souls were knit together. Jonathan loved David like he loved himself. Some have wrongfully tried to make this friendship into a perversion. It is an example of two men of faith and love for the Lord ministering to one another. This is something deeply needed in our society today.

Many relationships are based on how others can benefit us. We make alliances with those who can provide material success or popularity. We make superficial connections with those who make us feel better about ourselves or the sheer numbers of so-called friends somehow increases our value as a person. These are not enduring friendships! We need to more focus our energy on more substantial relations such as Jonathan and David. Their friendship was not selfish, but mutually encouraging.

When faced with the difficulties of life it is a blessing to have another person that will be there regardless of circumstances. We all need a Jonathan in our lives that will walk arm-in-arm with us in the midst of the inevitable trials and tribulations of life.  Solomon later wrote:

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the high numbers of people struggling with hopelessness and depression today is the lack of meaningful friendships that bear one another’s burdens. Both David and Jonathan were to face numerous troubles. What a blessing that they did not endure them alone. Lord help us to find at least one other person that we can knit our souls with. We need the godly support and encouragement of others as we navigate life’s journey.


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Wisdom and Understanding

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

The self-help industry is a huge business in our nation. Billions of dollars are spent to buy the latest and greatest book on whatever issue one might encounter. Some of these resources have merit and are useful tools for navigating through the difficulties of life. Others are not worth the paper on which they were printed! We all have a responsibility exercise diligence with such. Whatever assistance such resources might offer, we must remember that they will never offer perfect counsel. One must eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds.

But there is one guide that we can trust fully. That is the word of God. The King of Kings has provided the ultimate authority on how we should conduct ourselves as His people. Some will argue that the Bible does not specifically address every issue that one might confront. This is true, but God had provided guidelines that indeed apply to every issue that one might encounter in this world.
Job teaches that true wisdom starts with fearing the Lord. The world as a whole is systematically trying to eradicate God from every avenue of life. We observe this in many civic and educational institutions. This has been going on for many years now! In light of Job’s proclamation is there any wonder that our society is so ‘dumbed down’ today. We have neglected the fountainhead of wisdom.

He also exclaims that understanding is demonstrated by a departure from evil. This is indeed a timeless truth. One of the catalysts of the downfall of all great nations is the cultural move towards and endorsement of gross immorality. Unfortunately, this appears to be the current trend in our own great nation.
But this does not have to be so! If we would simply return to God’s instruction book, The Bible, we would find the solution to the problems that plague our current way of life. Paul emphasized the blessings of the word of God to Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Most homes have easy access to God’s word, yet how often is it neglected? It is complete. It is inerrant. Lord help us to dig out the truths of Scripture such as the ones exalted by Job. It was a comfort to him in the midst of great difficulty. I am certain that it will benefit us also!


Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne Primitive Baptist Church