PASTOR

I want to take an opportunity today to do some “Lord boasting“.

First, He has blessed my family and me so greatly, I can’t thank Him enough.  There was a period of time a little while ago where I was really contemplating “hanging up the church ministry stuff” for a few reasons that I’m going to keep myself.  Turns out God was just building patience in me and has blessed us greatly in the position He’s given us here in St. James.  We have a very friendly and caring congregation (not that the ones in the past haven’t been for those of you reading this) that has been a great support since we’ve moved here.  The deacon board at our church is very open and seems enthusiastic about reaching out to the community with the Gospel (based on stories I’ve heard in the past, this is a huge blessing my friends).  I know we’re still new to this, but the Lord is building a great foundation for us when the road gets rough.

Second, in the last couple of months he’s been blessing the church…quite a bit happening within the last week.  The congregation has responded very positively to the challenge of giving to missions and the giving has increased quite a bit in the last couple of month.  The increase is enough for our church to be able to bring in a few more missionaries.

In the last week, we sold our bus for the price I was hoping but wasn’t looking like we were going to get; got a new roof on the parsonage just as I thought we were going to have to get a little tough with the company doing the work (“battle” averted); and yesterday we had a great turnout for the annual church picnic.  I was a bit nervous about changing up the service and having it leave the building and take place at the picnic spot…on top of it, I scheduled it for an hour later.  Turns out, it was the highest attended service we’ve had since taking on the position!  Best blessing of all, we saw a few people give their lives to Christ and build the Kingdom of God!  Many were fed yesterday physically and spiritually.  It was a really great day.

Now I just need to remember this stuff when the road gets bumpy, if not filled with craters.

PASTOR

A couple of weeks ago, I got really angry.  The kind where you can feel your face get red, and you’re literally “hot under the collar”.  I really wanted to yell and go all crazy.  What I was doing was watching YouTube.

The original reason for watching the videos was that I was looking for more information on this thing called the Higgs boson.  It’s a science thing and I was wanting to share some stuff to my Wednesday night group about it as we had gone through a DVD series on a creation vs. evolution/Bible/science thing (it was a good series and you can check out more info here).  Of course, part of what I’m trying to do is figure out if and how this Higgs boson thing works with or against the Bible.

So, as I’m looking at these different videos, of course there are other videos that are there with their claims that they can prove that God doesn’t exist, or that the Bible is false, or that the Bible has contradictions…and like a moth to a flame or me to a chocolate candy bar, I move my cursor and click on the various videos.  As I’m watching these videos, two things are happening.

First, the positive thing.  I’m coming up with some pretty good arguments refuting what I’m seeing and hearing, especially since I’m just coming off the DVD series I mentioned above.

Second, the negative thing.  I’m getting pretty steamed by some of the arguments posed, or by the language being used, or the fact that one of the videos is being presented in a way to get a Christian hot under the collar and it was working on me.  But Dave, what do you mean negative?  Isn’t that what we as Christians are supposed to do?  Get angry at people who want to diss on God and start showing them who’s the boss?

NOPE…let me explain.

First, Christians serve an almighty, all-knowing, ever-present, all-loving, merciful God.  He does not need us “angry and arrogant Christians” proving His existence.

Second, I heard a great phrase a while back in a chapel service at the college I attended.  The speaker said, “Getting angry at a sinner for sinning makes as much sense as getting angry at a blind man for walking into a tree.”  That phrase popped in my head as I was getting hot under the collar, and I started thinking about the times that the Bible shows Christ during his time here on earth frustrated (pretty much any time he talked to a pharisee) or down right angry (kicking everyone out of the temple with whip in hand).  I started to realize a very important theme there…Christ seems to only get frustrated or angry with those who already know the truth and are not following it and misusing it.

I cannot recall a time where Christ gets frustrated with someone who doesn’t know God…he lovingly helps them and shows them the way.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not trying to get soft here.  I firmly believe that our God is the supreme judge who knows all things and that those who declare Christ as Lord will be judged for their works, and that those who choose to ignore Christ and push him away will face the consequence of eternity in a lake of fire, but we don’t have to preach that message in an angry and arrogant fashion to those who don’t believe.

We need to allow the fruit of self-control to grow in our lives, and lovingly show the way to those who need the Gospel.

It’s so easy for us to sit on a high perch and look down on those who don’t know the truth and angrily curse them (because I’m telling you right now, it’s not a blessing when you’re sharing the Gospel that way).  Don’t be like the priest in Luke 18:9-14…be like the tax collector.

PASTOR, HUSBAND

What a morning… I was at the home of a member of my congregation this morning to help her with a clogged drain in the kitchen sink.  It was pretty disgusting.  Water just started coming up from the drain when she turned the water on.  It stunk and had all sorts of food particles in it.  It’s one of those two sink jobs, so when she would run the disposal, the drain in the other sink would shoot up water like the Old Faithful Geyser.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but water was shooting up.

So, first things first, I started plunging.  That did nothing but take the water from one sink, and send it to the other sink.  So then I tried what I will now call the “double plunge” in which I took two plungers and tried to plunge both drains at the same time.  Still nothing, but maybe a chuckle from the woman watching me.  Then I decided to plunge one sink to empty out the other sink, then use the other plunger as a cap in the empty sink (since when I tried it with the actual cap, the cap just blew off).  I thought I had an angel working with me as the plunger in the empty sink started to plunge all on its own as I plunged the drain in the sink full of water…nope, it was the law of plunging physics in action as when I plunged it one hard time, the other plunger shot out of the sink (I’m pretty sure an angel would have been able to hold the plunger).

I then decided to keep the one sink dry by plunging the other sink full, and then dumped Drano kitchen crystals in what I thought was the “empty drain”.  After following the directions and releasing the plunger, all that I just dumped in the drain came up and I was back to square one with two sinks half full of nasty old kitchen water.

At this time, I decided to head under the sink to begin to take apart pipes.  This would probably be a good time to mention that I know absolutely nothing about plumbing (as if you haven’t guessed that already).  I undo the pipes and the sinks drain out their water and various food particles.  I figured I’d have a clog full of nasty that I would have to clean out…but nope, nothing.  The pipe was empty, not terribly clean, but empty enough to know that water could flow through it.  So I connect it all together again, run the water and after a couple of seconds it starts to back up again.  Needless to say, I’m pretty irritated an hour and a half into this job, but I’m pretty sure I have a good understanding of what needs to be done.

I drain out the sinks again by disconnecting the pipes, put them all back together and use the handy Drano crystals again, this time in what I know is an empty drain.  After two doses and one quick plunge, it was all good and the lady had her sink back.

What did I learn from all this?  Well, while I was doing all this, I was really thinking, “I should be doing ‘real’ ministry right now.  You know, sitting at my desk doing prep work for any of my upcoming teachings or sermons; maybe heading to a nursing home and visiting with some folks there; possibly walking down the street and sharing my faith; how about heading over to the local food pantry to see if I could be of assistance there, etc., etc., etc.” (That was a short list, by the way, of things that pastors do  who are in full-time ministry in case you ever wondered.)  I was then reminded of a message I heard from a guy named Josh McDowell at a youth pastor’s conference I attended about 8 years ago.

In the middle of the message he said, “Your family should never come before your ministry.”  I’m surprised no one fainted or died from the lack of oxygen from the one large collected gasp of the roughly 5,000 people in the auditorium.  Why the response?  Every pastor knows the order of priority in his/her life is God, then family and then ministry.  We all thought we were seeing the end of Josh McDowell and his ministry.  Then he said, “Your family should be your number one ministry.”  ‘Nuff said…point made!

Wait! What?!?! How did you learn that lesson?

Oops, my bad…forgot to tell you, the congregation member at the beginning of the story is my wife.