Being A Pastor

March 17, 2011

I have been a pastor now for over 20 years. Most of that has been in a full time capacity. I have seen a whole lot of stuff in those years. Some intense highs. Some intense lows. I have had friends expend massive amounts for me and I have had friends abandon me. I have received from the ministry and have been taxed by the ministry. I have felt all kinds of feelings being a pastor.

One think I just can’t get used to is the dramatic shifts. You can have an amazing experience one moment and then find out something that knocks you down so low you could play handball with the curb. I hate it. I know it comes with the territory. And when you pastor, you take everything personally. So when anything goes wrong or if someone is upset or if failure happens, it becomes personal. I don’t always want it to but I can’t help it.

Today has been one of those days. A couple of big highs. The a couple of deep lows. Jesus knows. Jesus understands. He has experienced it all Himself. It doesn’t help me feel better right now. I will sleep and in the morning I will read my Bible and pray and surely experience a new high. But right now, I just feel the weight of ministry. The last few days, in fact, I have felt like someone put a big 100 pound bag on my back labeled pastor.

I am not writing this so you will feel sorry for me. I am just writing to express my feelings at the moment. We have a great church with great people serving a great God. I just want to enjoy the highs more and hang out with the lows less.


What’s new

March 15, 2011

Haven’t blogged in a while here. Still trying to wrap my head around how I want to publish information, yet keep what is published for the church separate from my personal stuff. I might be coming out of that soon, so today, I give you a new post.

Pretty sure that no matter where we turn, depression wants to attack. The recent disaster in Japan can make you depressed. Our economy. The news. Our government. Disease. How our future unfolds. You don’t need to go on a hunt to find something to bring on a fit of depression. According to http://www.depressionstatistics.org/,  fifteen million people in the United Stats suffer from depression. And many tend to medicate it, drink it off or eat it away. Depression is a nasty nagging culprit.

But there must be a choice on our part not to accept the invitation to wallow in it. We have to push it away. Depression is like tofu. If you add water to tofu, it explodes. If you lean into depression, it will grow and eventually explode. For me, I have to pray it out, grab my Bible, think about all the good things going on, and choose not to let it ruin me. I have a few things that I could really get depressed about. But God is not interested in me going down that road. He is interested in me putting my trust in Him every step through it. No one likes to walk in dog poop. But if you keep walking, eventually it will eventually wear off your shoe. Stand there and you have no hope of getting rid of it. Stupid analogy I know. But we must not let depression rob us.


I don’t want to know

January 6, 2011

I really don’t like going to the doctor. I guess I feel like if I don’t go, I won’t find out what’s wrong with me. If I don’t find out what’s wrong with me, I won’t have to make any changes. But, the pain in my side, the one that wouldn’t go away, has forced my hand. I have had my visit with my doctor – not exactly a fountain of personality. I have had my arm poked for a blood sample. And I have had xrays. Besides not knowing what is wrong, I have high blood pressure. I have the fortune of taking medication now. But I am intent on getting in shape, losing weight and eating right. Just hate HATE the idea of being on medications. I am guessing my cholesterol test is going to reveal my deep obsession with pizzas and hamburgers. Drat you medical science. I suppose it’s good I went. I will now hopefully get some things taken care of.

And that brings me to church. Some people treat church like the doctor. They only go when they have to. Married. Buried. Baptized. Easter.  Christmas. Sadly, being in church on a regular basis is pretty similar to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In church, there are a lot of people that are there to help. God is not trying to hurt you but rather, trying to heal you and help you and get you spiritually fit. We may not want to make changes. But changes will help us be better in the end.

My doctor didn’t wrinkle up his nose at me because he condemned my avoidance of a physician for five years. It was his general disposition. God however, sees you coming and runs up and grabs you and welcomes you home! Jesus, after all, is called the Great Physician.


2010 Disappointments

December 29, 2010

Thinking back on this year, I find a lot of things happened that did not contribute to the best year ever. And most of the unpleasant experiences in all our lives revolves around people. We don’t spend a lot of time made at the washing machine because it broke down. We don’t wake up every day and look at our car and think how awful it is for having a flat tire that one time. Disappointments come from people. Their words. Their silence. Their actions. Their inactions. What they did consciously or unconsciously. It’s easy to hold people hostage to our disappointments. And, others will hold us hostage with their disappointments in us.

My challenge to me and my challenge to you is to let it all go. Forgive. Release. Have grace. Have mercy. What an amazing 2011 will be like if we all determined to not let any grudge, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, or resentment creep past the back door of 2010. It’s time to lay it all down. I heard it said once that people will fail you and you will fail people. So true. But I heard Jesus say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” When you bind those two phrases together, we recognize the frailty of all of us. There is no need to let any 2010 disappointments creep into 2011. Let’s make it happen.


It’s almost over

December 28, 2010

2010 is almost over. 2011 is almost here. I think about the stuff I wanted to accomplish this year and think how much I didn’t get done. And now I think about 2011 and roll forward some of those things. But the more I think on all that, I hope next year I am not completely goal oriented. I hope I am more people oriented. I hope I can be a better friend. I hope I can be a better follower of Christ. I hope I can be healthier because that will help me with the other goals. I hope I can become a better husband and father.

Some goals I have might actually take care of themselves as I take care of the friends and family around me. I hope next year you can forget this year and you can also become more about people. Can’t wait to go through 2011 with you!


Daily Devotional Luke 12

December 23, 2010

His Word—Luke 11

 

1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.   2 “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.   3 “Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.   4 ” And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.   5 “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!   6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.   7 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.   8 ” Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.   9 “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.   10 “And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.   11 “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.   12 “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”   13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”   14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”   15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”   16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.   17 “And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’   18 “So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.   19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ‘   20 “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’   21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”   22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.   23 “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.   24 “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?   25 “And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?   26 “If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?   27 “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.   28 “If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?   29″And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.   30 “For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.   31 “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.   32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.   33 “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.   34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   35 ” Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;   36″and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.   37 “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.   38 “And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.   39 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.   40 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”   41 Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?”   42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?   43 “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.   44 “Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.   45 “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,   46 “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.   47 “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.   48 “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.   49 ” I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!   50 “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!   51 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.   52 “For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.   53 “Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”   54 Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is.   55 “And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is.   56 “Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?   57 ” Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?   58 “When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.  59 “I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite.”

My Thoughts

 

It’s a crazy scene. An innumerable crowd shows up. It’s so bad people are starting to trample one another. It’s a tense scene. Lives are at stake. And I am quite certain the disciples are anxious about this unfolding situation. There are no riot police. There are no barriers or cars to escape in. Jesus, no doubt knowing what’s happening, delivers some interesting remarks. On their own, these remarks might seem important. But set against the backdrop of this crushing crowd, the words He speaks take on a more dynamic meaning.

He warns them not to be afraid of people that can harm physically. Rather, be wary of people who can harm spiritually. He reminds them that God knows every detail about them. He encourages them to be bold witnesses. He keeps talking and talking, all the while seemingly ignoring the crowd, ignoring the looming danger.

Reading this, it seems Jesus is so aware of the spiritual urgency. This crowd, pressing in, has so many reasons for pursuing Him. They are sick. They want to hear Him speak. They need deliverance. They need rescuing. They want deliverance from the governmental oppression. They want to kill Him for opposing their religious gods. They all have different reasons for pressing in on Him. Yet He looks to spiritual matters to remind Himself and the disciples what is most important.

Things don’t change much really. Today, we face the same kinds of pressings. We are pushed on so many sides. Yet Jesus is looking to us and wanting us to look to Him. He is wanting us to keep our eyes on the spiritual more than the physical. And because so much is spiritual, there is a journey to live out. There are people that we will come across that will impact us spiritually and that we can impact spiritually. There are things we must avoid. There are events and activities that we need to pay attention to. While we have to care for our physical bodies, we have to embrace the fact that we are highly spiritual people and God is wanting to connect with us all the time. Important and critical things are always taking place in the spirit. So we must pay much heed to the spiritual side of all things.

Your Questions

1.  What are some things you are troubled about right now?

2.  What are the spiritual issues at stake in them?

3.  How important is prayer in the pursuit of staying spiritually tuned in?

4.  If we look at situations spiritually, how will that change how we deal with situations?


Your Breath Precedes You

December 16, 2010

I went to a hockey game the other night. And I talked with some people around me. And one thing I noticed is that because they were drinking beer, their breath was kind of nasty. I guess if you drink beer you don’t notice it. But I did. And I could smell it even when they weren’t talking. Their breath preceded them.

This morning, I had the opportunity to talk to employees of a local business. And part of what I talked about is really resonating in me right now. It’s about attitude. The attitude we carry often precedes us. Just like nasty beer breath, if our attitude is bad, it will jump out ahead of us. If we are angry or frustrated, it will show before we ever speak. And in the same way, if we have a great attitude, even in the worst situations, it will precede us.

Having a great attitude takes work. It is easy to be negative and snarky and cynical. I can be the king of negative when I want to be. But being positive and encouraging and happy really requires me to look past what is around me and decide to have that right attitude.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.