I Remember the days…

As my bald head freezes due to the crazy temperature drop here in Texas today I find myself being a little nostalgic.  I am beginning to wonder if the concept of loyalty exists in today’s culture or if “the-grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side” principle will now forever be the mantra of our YOLO society.  Whether we verbalize the hip term YOLO, we have embraced a mindset that says I am number one and I will make my life about me.  If I want to take a risk… I will, if I am not comfortable… I will bail, if I can heap more riches upon myself… I will chase it, and if there is something I deem better… I will grab it.  You only live once so do what you want and look out for the only person that matters.  You.  So many institutions of our society are affected by this chasing of comfort, money, adventure, risk, reward and self indulgent newness: Church, Sports, Marriage, and the work place.

Call me an idealist but I remember when people valued loyalty above self indulgence.  If I am transparent I even see this value of comfort over loyalty in myself.  It is so easy when times get tough to run.  It is so easy when more money is extended to take it and run somehow hoping it will give us more joy.  It is easy to look at another person’s situation and wish ourselves into their place thinking that in that we would find more joy.  It is easy to look at life as taking risk after risk because your only purpose is trying to find the high that newness brings.

BUT I remember the days…

* When people dedicated themselves to one company and worked there until they retired.  I know today’s economy does not always allow this, but loyalty chooses to endure even when present seems cloudy.

* When people made the covenant of marriage and truly intended to for better or worse stay loyal to this person they had pledge their life to before God.

* When people would commit themselves to one church (not picking and choosing the best flavors of 2-5 churches) and resolved to walk with that church in times of harvest and despair.  Loyalty says as long as the Gospel is central, my feet are planted here and use my talent’s for the worship and glory of God and the benefit of the local body of Christ.

* When athletes played their whole career with one team and did not choose money over being loyal to the owner who first gave them a chance.  Gone are the days of guys who value team loyalty over free agent gain.  I know this one goes both ways with GM’s choosing to not give players extensions (i.e. Michael Young traded to Philly), but I miss the Cal Ripken, Craig Biggio one team for a career scenarios.

Again, sue me for idealism but we must remember it is in the seasons of discomfort that we grow more than ever.  It is in the seasons of trial that we learn to lean on God.  Loyalty teaches us that problems are not permanent and shows us the blessing of learning to overcome conflict.  Every long term relationship brings with it conflict.  Loyalty stands tall in conflict and seeks resolution for the better of both the institution and the person, but self indulgence runs for greener pastures when times get uncomfortable.  How do I know this?  I am guilty of being a runner and if you are honest maybe you have been too.

Let’s recapture the concept of loyalty.  Loyalty is synonymous with the words allegiance, fidelity, faithfulness and devotion.   What have you been loyal to? Your selfish desires? The chase for greener pastures?  More than any organization I hope you know the biggest loyalty you must possess is a devotion to Jesus.  Dig in, stand up, stay strong, refuse to let your mind wander in what ifs and greener pastures.  Be willing to stay true to what matters and not chase selfish desires.

Suicide in Sports

The news of former Cy Young award winner Mike Flanagan’s death by suicide is still fresh on my mind as the story was released today. He becomes another on the list of athletes from my childhood years who has taken his own life over the last five years. I will post a list at the bottom of this message of those players.

From all reports Flanagan took his life due to being upset about financial concerns.It breaks my heart to see so many who see death as the only option to rid them of their pain. If only we could go back and tell them that there was hope. If only we could go back and tell them that they were loved by their families, friends and fans.

If you are reading this and feel life is hitting nothing but deadends please talk to someone. Seek out help from a trained counselor or local pastor. There is hope, God has placed you here on Earth for a purpose. Jesus came and died to set the captives free and he came that we might have a full and abundant life. He loves you, and His love for you never wavers or changes, no matter how many times you fail.

I have helped a family walk through suicide in the past and I know how tough it can be on families. Pray for the families of those listed below, especially the Flanagan’s as this is so fresh.

Suicides

NBA
Mel Turpin 2010

NFL
Dave Duerson 2011
Kenny McKinley 2010
Shane Dronett 2009
Andre Waters 2006

MLB
Keith Drumright 2010
Brian Powell 2009
Mike Flanagan 2011
Hideki Irabu 2011

National Suicide Hotline 1(800)273-TALK

Asking the Right Question

In the last few weeks I have had more than one person approach me about feeling a lack of passion or dryness in their pursuit of Christ. Many seem to associate Christ with feelings of shame and guilt, so they want to avoid Him all together. So many of us have become so accustomed to living a legalistic, rule based Christianity that when our performance fails we cannot escape the guilt of our failures. Many of the thoughts below came from what God has helped me learn in my journey, what God taught me this Summer in studying to teach Bible Studies for Camp 220, and hearing others teach this summer.

First thing I need to remind you, IF you belong to God, meaning you have a relationship with Him, then Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This verse has meant so much to me, because it promises that in the midst of our failures God in his grace and mercy forgets our trespasses against Him. It is almost as if God is telling us I do not condemn you, QUIT CONDEMNING YOURSELF. Quit living a powerless Christianity swallowed up with guilt. When God looks at you as a Christian, he does not see your failures; He sees Christ’s righteousness that has covered you.

Zephaniah 3:12-19 is a beautiful picture of the joy that God finds in who we are. God sees someone worth singing over, he has taken away his judgments over you, he fights for you and he is near to you. God says you are so worth all Jesus did.

So first we must see ourselves in the way that God sees us, but second we must ask the right questions about how to get back the passion and zeal that seems absent. Many times we begin with the question how can I pray more, how can I read the Bible more, or what can I DO to draw closer to God? I believe this is the wrong question to begin our thought process.

1.) The question is not how much am I doing to draw close to Him, it is how much am I letting Him do in me?

Does he have my whole heart?

What things in my life steal my affection for Him?

Am I living out Philippians 3:7 that everything compared to Christ seems like dung, poop, or rubbish? It is not an obedience problem as much as it is a love problem. When Jesus has all of our affections no one has to tell us to pray, or read our Bible, we just desire to do it. The prayer is not God help me increase my Bible study time, but help increase my love for you, help remove the things that steal my affections from you… Come and have my whole heart.

Many of us are like the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2, we are checking off all the duties of a Christian, but we have lost our passion and love for him in the midst of doing things for Him. The question must come what am I letting him do in me?

Have I surrendered my spiritual gifts and passions to be used by him? These gifts are not accidents, but are intended to be used by him for his church. Some of the most excited students in my youth ministry right now are those who have realized their spiritual gifts, asked God to take those gifts and use them and seen God begin to work in them and through them. It is in giving God complete control that our passion and desire to be in word and pray increases.

2.) The next question we must ask is by whose power am I living in? 1 Corinthians 4:20 says the kingdom of God is not in Word but in power. Paul tells the people if he comes he will not judge their closeness to God by what they say, but by the power which they live by.

What are you living in that takes God’s power to complete? Are you living by his power or living in what is comfortable and manageable for you? The reason most Christians never move forward in their walk with Christ is they spend their whole life walking in and praying for things they can accomplish without God.

What are you letting him do in you? Have you been just a follower in words or are you living each breath, each step by his power?

3.) How big is your view of God? What God is able to do in and through us is relative to what we believe he is able to do. So many Christians spend so much time arguing what God can’t or doesn’t do anymore. I am persuaded that if we worship a small God who has a list of things he can’t do and we have a holy spirit who is mute and serves as just a glorified conscience then we limit what God is able to do in us and through us. Check out Mark 9, part of our drawing into a powerful life changing relationship with Christ is admitting the areas of unbelief and saying God help me believe in the depth of your power.

Is your God manageable, understandable and full of things he can’t do or doesn’t do anymore or is he the powerful God of the Bible? Part of letting him do what he wants in us is having an accurate view of Him.

4.) Lastly, we will all spend time in the desert or times of dryness; it is how we navigate through that time that tells if we fully belong to Him. It was in Jesus’ time in the desert (Matt 4) that he was tempted, he responds by clinging to Scripture. In dryness we must cling to the Word, not as a duty but because we need it.

What are you allowing God to do in you?

Mark Matlock endorses No One Really Knows

BOOK

Check out the newest endorsement received for my
coming book No One Really Knows.

 

Mark Matlock- Wisdom Works Ministries (Planet Wisdom) and Vice President of Event Content at Youth Specialties
mark

“Leave it to Darrell Halk to capture the lives of real teenagers as they experience life and faith. Darrell has been in the trenches with teens for years walking with them through the trials, triumphs and tragedies of navigating a life of faith in Jesus Christ. “No One Really Knows” captures his insights along the way and offers real hope.”

 

Book Synopsis, Pre-order Info and other Endorsements–> CLICK HERE

By Our Love

I always intend to write here, I really do, but somehow some way I find other things to occupy my time.  Today I HAD to write, something is stirring my spirit and I cannot put it aside.  I guess it even relates to some of the blogs I have posted in the past but this one is more than anything directed to all of us as who labor as Pastors.

This verse has been really birthing repentance in my heart for the last few days as I have thought on it, meditated on it and have sought to be intentional about living in light of it.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

I attended the C3 Pastors Conference last week and was really shaken by every single message that was preached.  Some were delivered by ministry legends like Ed Young Sr., others by pastors I had oftenly judged with scepticism like TD Jakes and Ed Young Jr and others by pastors whose name I had never heard like David Hughes, Leon Fontaine, Dr. John Cross, Samuel Chand, Dino Rizzo and others.  All that to say, I am different because these guys listened to God’s Spirit and shared from the depths of their soul what God had spoken to them.

It got me thinking, especially in light of all of the publicized attacks on Ed Young Jr, Pastor of Fellowship Church in the last few months, why do we as pastors seem to ” eat our own” so to speak.  It is obvious that Ed is anointed and gifted by God to be a voice to help those without Christ see their desperate need for them.  So in his time of attack, why are we blogging about him, slandering him, speaking out against him when I am sure most of us only know of him personally what the media has told us is truth.

What does it gain for us or the kingdom for us to be the cheerleading bloggers that are adding to the fire of those who are questioning his motives? It sickens me that  sometimes I feel it gives us some kind of joy when we see one of the “big dogs” in Church leadership fail because then we can pat ourselves on the back and feel better about our shortcomings as leaders.  All of us who pastor know how difficult being a pastor is, the behind the scenes stuff that can steal our joy and exhaust us if we do not stay intune with God himself for filling, contentment and power.  Many of us know the pain of slander that has been aimed at us or our family.  So why are we the ones sitting behind our comuter screens firing darts of accusation at one of our fellow co-laborers for Christ?

Don’t we believe that Ed needs prayer from us right now? If the pastors aren’t willing to stand with their own who will? Whether we agree with his actions, his theology, his method of ministry, he is still one of us. One of us who is impacting lives all over the globe for the kingdom. Rather than perpetuate the slander, lets unite to pray!

I was also convicted by my quickness to judge or be skeptical of the motives of pastors that I really knew little about.  I will tell you I felt pretty foolish that I had long been skeptical of TD Jakes when I heard him preach God’s Word Friday.  This man allowed God to work through him in a way I have seen few others do. He spoke with power, he spoke biblically, but most of all he allowed the Spirit to use him as a vessel. His message ate my lunch, gave me hope, pointed me toward Christ and helped trim away some dead branches in my life.

I guess in all of this the principal I learned is we can spend a lot of time slandering other leaders, jumping on our blogs and facebooks when another leader “fails” legitmately or by our standards or we can be a people who stand with one another, pray with and for one another.

Does the world know we are followers of Christ by the way we love each other or conversely do they see people who are quick to cast a stone at easy targets. God is telling me to put my rock down, that unless I have not failed as a leader then my stone belongs as an ornament of the dust rather than a weapon of accusation. Honestly I think this is a universal principle, who needs more prayer than our government leaders right now? Who needs to know the Lord more than the celebrities and atheletes that we see fall into moral failure?

We can continue to comment on our opinions of peoples failures or we can become serious about standing in prayer before God as broken people praying for other broken people, I know the road of change God is leading me down. I have no voice nationally, no one knows who I am in the Christian world but my prayer is that the things God has convicted me of will affect and resonate with Christian leaders around the globe

Praying, Loving and Standing with other broken leaders,

Darrell Halk

Calvinism: Idea that is changing our world?

Time magazine has just labeled Calvinism as one of the top ten ideas that is changing the context of our world.  I too have noticed that so many ministers are going back to this doctrine that was embraced by so many of the early reformers like John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine and more recent leaders such as Al Moehler, John Piper. Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler and Francis Schaeffer.

Thought it was interesting that Time picked up on this shift happening in Christendom.  Check it out!!
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1884779_1884782_1884760,00.html?imw=Y

Faith Required…

I just finished reading a book by Francis Chan entitled Crazy Love .  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to live out Christianity in the crazy radical way that God has called us to pursue Christ.  So much of what he said really resonated with my heart but one reflective question he asked has been spinning through my mind for the last few days.  I thought it would be awesome to share that quote with you today.

“What are you currently doing in your life right now that requires faith in God?”

A life lived for Christ, is a life lived based on faith.

Leadership

Allow me to just be transparent for a second, and just say sometimes being a leader is so hard.  With all my heart I want to please God, but sometimes in pleasing God I have to displease people.  That is hard for me, because I have such a desire to please people, to be respected by them and to have them on board with where I am leading.  This is another time in which I feel God is stretching me.  There are great decisions that face me in the coming weeks, vision to be cast and steps of faith to be taken.

God give me the courage to follow you, even when the choices that need to be made may not be popular.  God help me to hear you clearly, let this be your youth ministry and not my own.

Practical Applications for Ministers

Yes, yes, it is finally new post time.  I found this list of practical applications for ministers from a chapel service led by Dr. Jimmy Draper Jr. at SWBTS.  I think this was from my first semester there, but I am not sure.  I thought these might be helpful for other ministers out there.

1) Don’t neglect your personal relationship with God

2) Make time for your family

3) Everyone needs encouragement- be kind

4) Never make decisions when you are depressed or discouraged

5) doubt never means yes

6) be open and honest- be transparent

7) answer all phone calls, mail and email

8.) don’t let anger be a pattern of your behavior

9) Few people make mistakes on purpose

10) Let your preaching be from the Bible

11) There is no excuse for being unprepared to preach

12) Don’t flirt with temptation ( Ephesians 4:27: 2 Corinthians 4:2)

13) Cooperate with your fellow believers

14) Be a good steward of your position, influence and all your experiences

15) Pour your life into a few people

16) Cherish and protect friendships

17) Give credit to others

18) Keep cpnfidences

19) Lead by example

20) No premadonnas in God’s service- you have to earn the right to be the leader

21) You’re not always right so admit it

One Thing

 

I have begun reading a book called ” One Thing” by Sam Storms and already it is renewing my spirit and my focus.  There is one quote that I thought I would share with you today regarding our purpose on this Earth.  Storm says, ” You weren’t created for boredom or burnout or bondage to sexual lust or greed or ambition but for the incomparable pleasure and matchless joy  that knowing Jesus alone can bring.  Only then in Him, will you encounter the life-changing, thirst-quenching, soul-satisfying delight that God, for His glory, created you to experience.”

Remember in all we do, His glory should be the focus and the issue.