Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: October Devotional

A Special Bond

Phil 2:20  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. V21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. V22 But you know the proof of him, that, as son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel.

The psychology of post-Christian cultures notoriously minimizes character and virtue. Employing inside politics, whitewashed platitudes, inflated bios, participation trophies, and everybody’s-a-winner celebrations, the intent is to equalize the rewards of human effort. Societies may blend or share the rewards of the well-deserved with the indolently undeserved, but Scripture reveals a distinct line between heart-driven service and efforts framed for image.

That flaccid and contemptible label, “politically correct”, is never attached to Paul, the New Testament’s most prolific writer. His ministry style is too demanding and rare, his candid writing too precise and real, his evaluation of ministers too rugged and raw to be ambivalent.

As Paul meticulously unravels essential church doctrine, so he evaluates those given to ministry and service. Intrepid and forthright, those traveling and supporting the Apostle’s work could receive pleasing endearments or fatherly reproofs.

To walk and work alongside this foundational Apostle, was to have the luxury of relating to a man of unworldly character – one able to discern integrity and able also to publicly exalt or censure it.

His observations of protégés and fellow ministers reflect unwavering absolutes, his conclusions and judgments undeniable and undebatable. There’s no wiggle room in his vocabulary, no possibility for misunderstanding or missing the point in his assessments. Clear, unmistakable and unadorned with fluff, Paul communicated truth and intent masterfully and faithfully.

The above scripture text is case in point…

How boldly then does Paul call out those who stand only in spaces of comfort and convenience!

How sharply does he expose those who become loveless and careless with the Bride of Christ!

How fearlessly does he contrast selfless, sacrificing ministers and the self-centered!

But then there’s also Timothy, a young man faithfully committed to Paul and the Gospel. A fellow minister of whom Paul was not ashamed; a needed companion, a trusted comrade, a willing servant.

Paul’s effusive record of Timothy’s part in advancing his apostolic assignment is both epic and heartwarming. It is incontrovertible that pieces of the early church design came through the father/son relationship of Paul and Timothy.

And it is also certain that relationships of such did not cease, nor did they become unnecessary, at the passing of the early church fathers.

I am both witness and participant of such a relationship…

To God, I’m grateful.

To you son, Pastor Jason, I’m honored.

Happy Pastor Appreciation, Pastor Jason!

Impact Church salutes you gladly today, and honors your obedience to the gifts and divine call of sharing the greatest love story ever told!

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Unknown, Yet Well-Known

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. Philippians 2:25

Honor adorns ministries where virtue and faithfulness are rooted. Yet, ministries outside the limelight of platform, prestige or title are easily overlooked. Inconspicuous and undervalued, these “behind the scenes” supporting gifts are indispensable and utterly praiseworthy. Their labors may flourish without the camera’s flash, and their fruit may be credited to names more prominent; but those who know, know it is of this sort that grace ministries are advanced.

Of all the names aligned with the ministry of Paul, Epaphroditus holds an especial fondness. And though mentioned only twice in scripture, his dedication to Apostle Paul drew the highest of praise and commendation.

Coming to Paul as a two way emissary from the Philippian church, Epaphroditus was sent to provide support and strength to the Apostle while imprisoned in Rome. Mind you, this is not a Titus or Timothy or Silas. Not a renowned evangelist or revered teacher.

Merely Epaphroditus. And defined as, “dedicated to love and beauty”.

A servant. A helper. A lifter. A brother, a minister, a soldier.

Not a competitor or a burden, not a critic or corrector of the called.

Simply a selfless supporter of God’s most prolific preacher.

Forget the greater than two months and eight hundred plus miles of archaic travel to reach Rome, and the dangers inherent as a Christian in hostile lands. And don’t make it a big deal that his age was likely advanced and quid pro quo compensation never crossed his mind.

Simply remember that he was a servant, a man committed to the propagation of the Gospel by enhancing another man’s gift.

And remember that his service to Paul was not without a heavy toll. For his loyal efforts to further the Apostle’s ministry nearly cost him his life. But we must also remember abundant grace; as God was merciful, Epaphroditus was stronger, and Paul was wiser.

So it is of such service gifts that Paul’s ministry is heavily emblazoned on the pages of sacred script, and deeply etched in the hearts of those reading them.

This week, Impact Church, using Epaphroditus as a model for unsung ministry, honors the unseen, yet immeasurable support of those that hold the hands of those with more visible platforms. Your heart is perfect, your motives are pure, your energies are provocative, your life testifies of a divine grace.

And you are valued. Your selflessness is noticed; priceless and precious. Your work is indispensable and incalculable.

Grateful above all. Appreciated. Honored. Loved.

How can we even begin, the work too varied, the fields too spacious:

  • To teachers instructing the young, educating them year after year of the love and faithfulness of God…
  • To hospitality teams and kitchen workers preparing and ministering food consistently to countless faces, young and old alike…
  • To faceless sound technicians, microphone experts, amplifier repairers, speaker adjusters, and wiring experts…
  • To transportation ministers, starting vans on cold mornings and sweltering afternoons, so whosoever will can hear this incredible message of Jesus…
  • To worship teams prevailing in practice and prayer, so the music and lyrics of His Majesty and boundless love may penetrate obstinate hearts or confirm a weary one…
  • To greeters and door keepers, opening doors, parking cars and holding umbrellas, just to be sure they’re warm, safe and welcomed…
  • To web designers, newsletter preparers, social media providers, and communication professionals perfecting their craft so the message is easily comprehended and gracefully disseminated…
  • To pastoral assistants, armor bearers, drivers and schedule makers…
  • To faithful, deeply committed financial givers opening their wallets because they’re openly sensitive to God’s heart…
  • To budget and financial caretakers of the resources richly given, attending to both present conditions and forward initiatives…
  • To house cleaners, yard caretakers, facility maintainers, playground protectors, electricians, painters and builders…
  • To prayer warriors, missionaries near and far, hospital evangelists, school minded ministers, and homeless shelter providers…

And to every encourager, intercessor, need supplier, smile giver and hug provider – and in innumerable other ways ministry is produced from those who love God and His people – here’s a simple thank you for your Epaphroditus heart.

God sees you and His records are detailed and impeccable.

We see you. We applaud you. We thank God for you. Of your type will heaven be glad …and filled.

May grace be multiplied, your blessings increased, and your peace as flowing, tranquil and refreshing as a mountain stream.

Acknowledging today beyond the power of our words, those who live fully committed to the service and exaltation of our glorious King! THANK YOU!

Pastor Appreciation

Everyone was created to honor and everyone does so naturally. It is an involuntary response to impression and admiration. We subconsciously evaluate everything and simultaneously bestow a measure of worth or merit to that object. This occurs innately based upon a deeply embedded value system. In others words, an individual will inherently give honor to that which they value.

However a problem occurs when the measure of evaluation is skewed because of a flawed or erroneous value system. We begin to honor things that have little value and place little honor on that which has great value. Welcome to 2017, where the tawdry is considered worthy of honor and the nonpareil is neglected. Therefore, to give honor accurately requires a just and true value system.

Those who followed Jesus began to argue on several occasions about which one of them deserved the most honor. “Who is the greatest,” they asked. Is it Peter, or John, or possibly James? They insisted that Christ answer them and validate their desire to know. Instead of answering their questions outright, Jesus used this divine moment as an opportunity to unveil His otherworldly value and priority system.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. In our status-driven culture, we determine a person’s greatness by their ability to demand service from others. Thousands of books have been written about leadership and influence. Everyone wants to lead, be prominent, and have authority. Honor given to these inferior aspects of life unveils our sin-skewed values.

Jesus responded to His disciples with this ethereal reply, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43) Greatness, therefore, is not influence, wealth or ascendancy. Greatness is service! With this new paradigm in place, we can now accurately apportion just honor.

After 40+ years of ministry and 20+ years of pastoral leadership, it is evident that Pastor Michael Davis has personified the characteristics of Christlike greatness. In a church culture where most leaders find their validation and satisfaction in their ability to demand and require of God’s people, he has remained vigilant to his responsibility to simply serve. If you spend anytime around Pastor Mike you will quickly learn there is no shred of pretense or the slightest air of ostentation. He has nothing to prove and no one to impress; he does not require our validation nor seek for our approval. He just is. He is pure hearted and authentic; he is generous and forgiving; he is selfless and sacrificial; he is unique and creative; he is fair and pious; he is committed and patient; he is honest and sincere; he is forthright and dependable; he is passionate and insightful; he is brilliant and eloquent. He is simply the greatest man, according to Christ’s definition, I have ever met.

He is a husband, a father, a preacher, a leader, an author, and a theologian but what makes him “great” at all of these responsibilities is because he is first a servant. On this Pastor Appreciation Month, we cheerfully honor the Senior Pastor of Impact Church and the overseer of all Impact Ministries, Pastor Michael Davis, for his Christlike and God-honoring service to the Body and Bride of Christ.

We celebrate your greatness.

Love,

Your Son

The One

“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” Psalm 23:6

Researchers suggest that bedtime routines are essential for establishing and maintaining good sleep habits for children. For that reason we’ve kept a consistent bedtime routine since our little ones were a few months old. Our nightly rhythm includes bubble baths, books, and praying together as a family. Just last night I was sitting in the floor, post baths, with one toddler in my lap and the other curled up at my side. We were reading books when one struck me in a fresh and profound way. The book is entitled, “I Promise I’ll Find You” and is written from the perspective of a parent to their child. The parent vows to find the child, if ever it is missing, no matter what. The end of the book reads, “And if I had no other way, I’d walk or crawl or run. I’d search to the very ends of the earth, for you my precious one.” Sweet friends, that’s precisely how our Heavenly Father feels about us.

Throughout all of Scripture the Lord reveals Himself as a diligent seeker of the heart of man. One parable in particular gives us a clear depiction of His heart as He compares Himself to a shepherd who, despite all logic, leaves ninety-nine sheep to seek and save the one lost. Luke 15:4-7 says, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Here’s our beautiful truth – Read the rest of this entry »

No Matter What

It’s 6 am and darkness still covers the ground. I sleepily shuffle to my Keurig and impatiently wait 30 seconds while the water heats up so that I can push that glorious blue flashing button. After my liquid joy, known simply as coffee to some, is made I make my way to the bar stool to sit. I open up my leather bound bible and begin blissfully reading Psalm 81:1, “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to….” Suddenly the sound of real life shouting from my tiny tribe pierces through the silence and alas my quiet has abruptly come to an end, again.

This is my everyday reality. Waking up early before my children do and spending time alone in God’s word truly is my jam; however, more often than not it just doesn’t happen. I live in a season of noise.

What about you? Perhaps you are in a season where your daily grind is noisy. The kids are crying. The bill collectors are calling. The boss is talking. The dog is barking. You’re being pushed and pulled in 1000 different directions and you long for the tranquility and peace that accompanies the quiet.

If you’re like me you also long for quiet “inside.” Regardless of our external reality we all know what it’s like for it to be noisy internally.

One recent example of the external directly affecting the internal involves my daughter who behaved in an unacceptable manner. As I sat her in time-out her tear-filled eyes searched mine and I knew what she was looking for. The question in her eyes was clear. I have asked my Father the same one; “Do you still love me?”

It’s amazing how much noise arises due to questions concerning love. She’s only two so she doesn’t yet know that from the moment I discovered her existence I’ve loved her fiercely. She doesn’t have to work for it and she could never do anything wrong enough to make me stop. My love will never be dependent on her actions because it was there before I ever held her in my arms. Likewise, my friend, Read the rest of this entry »

Trust is Power

“Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Mark 4:38

Is not this desperate appeal for help a common reaction when our lives or livelihood is in jeopardy? And do we not exercise our ever present right to blame something or someone when others could, or should, intervene and save us from peril and pain? Of course, it’s common to patronize such responses. For we’re conditioned to redirect our fears and uncertainties to outside power sources, in hopes our distresses are alleviated and our fears assuaged.

And do we not often bemoan the fact that few acknowledge or sympathize with our dilemmas, uncertainties, injustices or negative experiences? Does anyone really care anymore? Are we now expected to fend for ourselves? Are we to configure and plan the joy and fulfillment of our lives through social connectedness, perfect timing, or favorable winds? Or far worse, are we winging life by trusting good luck charms, vibes or karma?
Be sure, the parallel of the disciples’ fearful experiences on the Galilean Sea are not so far from our own. For though we may never embark with Jesus on a boat to cross the sea, those who’ve believed in Him have in a figure enlisted with Him on the journey of journeys… Life!

So it’s not strange then to hear fellow believers bewail the downward spiral of our world; of our culture, the breakdown and perversion of morality, the division of religions and races, or the rancorous state of our elected officials. “Where’s God in all this?” we mutter on Monday as our chaotic world tilts and its trusted systems implode. Yet on Sunday and on cue, we sang gustily, “What a mighty God we serve”! Seems we’re not so different from those drenched disciples who woke up Jesus to save them from the perils of the sea!

Our human sympathies extend to these disciples as they, through fear, approach Jesus with, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”. Yet it elicited a loving reproof from the One who invited them to the journey! He abruptly calmed the storm with a “Peace be still”, but He also quickly challenged their faith. “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

Moral of the storm? Read the rest of this entry »

Anchored In Christ

My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and tears were cascading down my face. I sat paralyzed, staring at my laptop for far longer than I’d care to admit. With each flash of the cursor at the top of the empty word document, my heart was being assaulted. Lies were being hurled my direction at the speed of Chapman’s fastball during the 2010 minor league season. I felt the impact as each pitch hit its intended mark and chipped away at my confidence.

“You are not a real writer. You are not equipped. You have nothing to offer. No one will connect with your writing voice. God can’t use someone like you. Your past is too tainted. Your present is too messy. You are not enough. You should give up.”

“CRACK!” Each pitch struck my vulnerability with such force that my confidence was crippled by the fear that perhaps truth was found in these accusations.

My husband once told me that when an engine is built it is created to support a vehicle of specified weight. If the assembled vehicle surpasses the target weight for which the engine was constructed, the engine will fail. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me that there are some things that are too heavy for me to support. My calling is most certainly one of those things.

I believe that we are each assigned a calling that we will never see come to fruition without the active work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot hone our craft, pad our bank account, or work harder and longer and that be enough. This, sweet friends, is a relief. Our callings are not dependent on our work so much as they are our trust. Read the rest of this entry »

All Things

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
(Romans 8:28)

Few would dare to question that Romans 8:28 is one of the highest summits of Scriptural truth. But, sadly, it is frequently misquoted and misunderstood. Non-pious folks often point to the verse with “It’s all good” nonchalance, while devoted believers sometimes err in the opposite direction by limiting its scope whenever life throws them a curve.

First, let’s look at what the Apostle Paul does NOT declare:

  • “Relax. Everything is going to be all right for everyone. The Bible says so.”
  • “Don’t worry. When you become a Christian, nothing bad will ever happen to you again.”
  • “Well, God can forgive and redeem most of our mess. But if you cross the line, you’re done.”

The incredible promise and declaration of God’s sovereignty in this verse is limited only in its intended audience. Paul’s “we” early in the statement is directly connected to the two “those who” phrases that come later. So the blessed assurance offered by the Apostle is meant only for born-again believers who love God and are called by Him.

To be compassionately clear, the Bible does not say that everything is going to be all right for everyone. Job rightly declared that in a fallen world man’s days are brief and full of trouble (Job 14:1). Yes, Jesus said the sun shines and the rain falls on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45),…but only God-lovers can rest in His promise that He will redemptively work on our behalf so that life’s circumstances ultimately produce a result that is for our benefit and His eternal glory.

Now, what about children of God who are struggling with their faith because they can’t seem to get past the guilt and condemnation of past sins – or even the immature decisions they’ve made as a carnal Christian? Certainly, there is a natural law of sowing and reaping, but Paul spends the first half of Romans 8 reminding believers that if you are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation because you’ve been adopted into God’s family and hold the high position of His heirs (vv. 1-17)!

Does that mean you will never experience trials, afflictions, heartbreaks and disappointments? No, of course not. The world is still fallen; glory still awaits after the King’s return. Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Classic

Matthew 20: 26-28
26) But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Years ago, while leaning on a woven wire fence watching a youth rec league baseball game, (at a game where I knew no one and no one knew me, in a community I’d never been in before, and on a road my travels would have never had me on!) the concept of church leadership was unveiled to my yearning heart. Young in ministry and possessing far more zeal than knowledge, the true spirit of ministry was displayed on a baseball diamond with a bunch of precocious kids!

Providentially, inconveniently and unconventionally (don’t most revelations arrive in like fashion?), that tightly wound sphere of pastoral leadership and the mental struggles my fears created from ignorance concerning it, was unraveled and clarified by an analogy at a rural elementary school playground.

With seven year olds screaming as only seven year olds can scream, and seventy year olds competing quite well with them, I delved into the joys of a late summer evening of baseball with second graders! I loved baseball and kids, and being led there, I settled in for some country competition. Little did I know.

The team with yellow jerseys was at bat and the red jerseyed team was in the field, when #3 hit a shot to deep right center! Rounding first and heading for second, pudgy #3 tripped and fell head first onto that hard, dusty baseball infield. Inglorious as that spill may have appeared to seven year olds, what happened next, to this grown man, became the teachable moment of a lifetime! Read the rest of this entry »

Double-Honor Worthy

The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17, NASB)

Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, HCSB)2014061595144051

It is with great excitement that we at Impact Church corporately and individually honor our pastors during the month of October! Although sometimes they make the “hard work” of preaching and teaching seem like a Sunday (Saturday?) stroll in the park, Pastor Mike Davis (Reidsville campus) and Pastor Jason Davis (Greensboro campus) labor among us with tireless devotion. It is altogether fitting that we observe Pastor Appreciation Month in honor of our shepherds who faithfully lead the sheep throughout the year.

An English dictionary typically gives four definitions of the verb “appreciate,” so let’s see how those usages line up with what we want to accomplish this month.

  1. To be grateful or thankful for … Our hearts are filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for the loving, gentle way our pastors lead and serve. We recognize their God-given gifts and anointing, and we feel truly blessed that they have answered the Master’s call to build His Church here in the Piedmont Triad.
  1. To esteem, prize, value or hold in high regard… It’s not hard to be impressed when listening to our pastors passionately preach the Gospel, but those who take the time to get to know them more personally will value the Davis men all the more! These learned, seasoned men possess a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, and they are willing to share it humbly and freely.
  1. To be fully conscious or aware of,as in “to appreciate the dangers of a situation” … Unless you have served as a pastor yourself, none of us probably has an accurate understanding of the sacrifices made by those who carry the burden of our congregations. As we become more aware of how our shepherds lay down their lives in daily ways for the sheep, may we be reminded to lighten their load by praying more fervently for them.
  1. To increase in value… Few of us would say that we help to make the ministry of Pastor Mike or Pastor Jason more valuable. But as gifted as these men are, they’ve never led an empty chair or pew to the Lord! (Well, there were those times when Pastor Jason helped some stuffed animals find salvation!) We make their ministry more profitable by faithfully attending services, listening and growing and equipping ourselves to do the work of the ministry. In return, they get the opportunity to pour into our lives all that the Holy Spirit is revealing unto them. And can we not agree that our lives have been enriched — indeed, they have appreciated in value! — through their ministry?

The writer of Hebrews declared in 13:7 that it’s not enough just to remember our leaders. He instructed us to take a close look at their lives, then “imitate their faith.” We, too, believe that a more intimate examination of the lives of Mike and Jason Davis will reveal that these men walk out every day what they preach and teach. And we invite you to come follow them as they follow Christ!