Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday's Ambition

Mondays are hard days for pastors. That is the day that the enemy makes his weekly rounds and speaks doubt, defeat and discouragement to those who lead God's church. We all know that satan is a liar, but unless you have walked in the shoes of a pastor, it is unlikely that you would truly understand the strength of the attack that hits pastors on Sunday evening and Monday. I want to remind all of my co-laborers out there that there is an antidote for the toxic lies with which the devil seeks to infect you. It is found in 2Cor 5:9, "Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."

So many pastors are easily caught up in the business of leading a church and forget that the measure of their success is not found there. Search high and low through the record of ministry achievements and it cannot be found. The measure of a pastor's success is found in the prayer closet. Oswald Chambers said it best, "the master ambition...means holding one's self to the high ideal year in and year out, not being ambitious to win souls or to establish churches or to have revivals, but being ambitious only to be 'accepted of Him'. " Oswald goes on to say that Paul did not heed the approval of the audience if he could catch the look of approval from his Master.

This is what matters on Sunday and Monday...that we are close to Him, entwined daily with Him in the intimate dance of hidden fellowship. If we allow anything else to become our measure of success, then we embrace carnality and we grieve the heart of our Father. How are you this Monday? Measure what matters most, which is the distance that exists between you and God. I pray that there is no distance, that you are breathing in the unfathomable treasures that He breathes out.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Are You Kidding Me??

Mankind has "evolved", if you will, into such a breathtakingly advanced creature. We discovered how to fly when we have no wings and how to cure diseases that were at one time a death sentence. In the late sixties we put a man on the moon and in the late eighties we saw the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Why is it then that, in this age of civilized diplomacy and wireless technology that is changing and advancing at an unprecedented rate, we are unable to produce a bag of shredded cheese in a ziptop bag that actually opens like the instructions claim that it will??? Yesterday I was trying to open a new bag of shredded cheddar for my son. I firmly grabbed the corner of the bag that said "tear here" and pulled with all my might, foolishly believing that the plastic strip would give way to my great strength so that I could get to the zipper beneath. Wrong. So I reached for my trusty kitchen scissors and cut where the imaginary perforations should have been. Ahh, the zipper. I then gripped the bag and gently pulled to separate the zipper top only to see the zipper come unattatched from one whole side of the bag rendering it useless. Are you kidding me???!!! Useless! Infuriating! We can cure Polio but we cannot produce a bag of zipper top cheese that works? I realize that I am numbering myself among those who criticize but offer no alternative solution, but this is not my job! I don't invent, I don't package cheese, and I don't make claims I cannot back up. I am a humble pastor, teacher, and writer who just wants to provide shredded cheese for my children without actually having to shred the cheese myself or find proper storage for the pile of shreds. Is this too much to ask? I think I might need a vacation...


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thank You, God

What if God took from you everything for which you failed to thank Him? Would you still have your spouse, friends, or children? Would you have your home or car or job? Would you still have a church to attend? Would you even have arms or legs or the ability to see, hear and touch the beauty that surrounds you but goes unnoticed most days?
A number of years ago, the Lord used some difficult circumstances in my life and the cruel words of another person that I had once trusted to show me my need to allow the Lord to work thanksgiving in me. At that time, I expended much energy thinking about what I didn't have or what wasn't right in my life and very little time thanking God for the endless array of blessings that were mine each day. I was deeply hurt by the words of this person because they did not come from a heart broken with love for me, but I ran to God and asked Him to show me what truth could be mined from this unsolicited cave of criticism. He took me to His word and revealed a profound truth in a familiar passage of scripture. Phil 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I had never seen it before. How had I missed this? His peace follows our thanksgiving! The peace in which you and I will walk is connected to a thankful heart.
I am grateful that God loved me enough to use even harsh words from a misguided woman to redirect my heart to His. Not that I have this sewn up-not at all. Still I struggle with my flesh in this area, but my heart is filled so much more often with deep, heart-felt thanksgiving for the beauty that is mine to relish in this life.
And you? How much of His peace surrounds you? Maybe it is time to take stock of all that He has done. Better clear your schedule...this could take a while.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spongebob :Torture for the Modern Parent

I just spent a mind-numbing half hour watching Spongebob with my eight-year-old son and it affirmed my staunch belief that Americans should spend more time reading books or cleaning their toilets or having a root canal. As a parent, I take spending time with my children very seriously, but as a thinking adult, I must draw the line somewhere. There are just some things that I should not have to endure and watching Spongebob is right up there with watching my dog vomit in the yard or watching maggots squirm in the bottom of a trash can. I know that there are plenty of respectable adults who do not share my opinion, but I just have to say that they are entirely and completely wrong. Nevertheless, in my efforts at finding common ground with my sons, I will probably have to watch Spongebob again. At least it is not as embarrassing for me as trying to learn to play Megaman on my son's Gameboy. Not a big win for Beth. But spending time with my kids? A big win for everyone.