Archive for December, 2012

I’m Unworthy

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Faith

“I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant…” Genesis 32:10

Lately I’ve been impressed by how unworthy I am to receive anything good from God. Reading these words from Jacob this evening brought a smile to my face. Jacob was messed up and rightly admitted his unworthiness. God’s dealing with Jacob weren’t, however, based upon Jacob but on God’s worthiness.

I’m forgiven, His grace poured down on me…

Playing Hurt

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Church, Life

playinghurt1

A stream of consciousness about being both a pastor and still human:

Most of us have seen athletes get hurt while engaged in their chosen sport. There’s almost always a cheer when an athlete gets up and walks off the field under his own power. Some injuries are minor and the player is able to get back in the same game. Some are a bit more severe and require time away from the game to heal. Others are career enders. Athletes dread the career enders, but even the lesser injuries which knock them out of play for a few games or worse, the remainder of the season, can be devastating. Most athletes are paid based on performance. No play, no pay. It is, therefore, not unheard of for athletes to throw themselves back into the scrum before they ought to. Sometimes they’re injury is able to finish mending on the go, so to speak. Sometimes they end up hurting it again, and worse than before. The issue for the injured athlete, though, is one of dedication, performance, and responsibility.

Most play simply because they love to. They work hard because of the love of the game. They are dedicated. It’s also true that staying in top shape and at the peak of one’s performance takes constant practice and challenge. A player who is away from the game too long can lose their edge. Athletes also have responsibilities. They have families to feed and clothe and mortgages to pay. All these things cause athletes to play hurt.

Pastors also play hurt, and for many of the same reasons. The difference is that athletes don’t usually sustain injuries from their own teammates while Pastoral injury comes primarily through the people we try to serve.

I’m playing hurt. Just when my cuts start to heal, along comes someone who rips the scab off, reopening the wound to bleed afresh. One of the dangers is that of growing callous. The way to remain soft is for the pastor to make sure that his (or her) relationship with God has priority and is on solid footing. First needs to be a love for and of God. The pastor needs to make sure passion for God does not fade or die. Without this, the pastor will grow callous and hard.

Remaining soft hurts though. And frankly, without daily, sometimes hourly, refreshing by the Holy Spirit, it’s impossible to do. Quite frankly, I haven’t done a good job of it this past year. I found myself over the summer growing hard and cold. Having diagnosed that problem I’ve been seeking God to soften my heart again, but it hurts. The blows keep coming, and from surprising quarters. The other day I was sacked by one of my own … again. I didn’t even see him coming. I twisted my ankle.

One last thing: Pastor’s aren’t allowed to make mistakes or reveal the pain they’re in. Our flocks get angry if we fumble the ball and offended if we limp on the field. Yea, that makes me mad. But I need to shift my focus and return to the coach for some guidance. He’s the only reason I play the game anyway. You see, he’s my dad (he chose and adopted me) and he also owns the team.

Observations on Esau

Posted: December 27, 2012 in Faith

Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” — Genesis 27:36

This verse leapt out at me today. How often do we blame others for our own foolishness? Esau isn’t entirely honest here, with himself or his father. Okay, here in chapter 27 Jacob very clearly did cheat Esau out of his blessing. (There are so many lessons on what not to do and failures in faith and lack of trust in God throughout this chapter.) But I don’t think Jacob took away Esau’s birthright in the same way.

That story is told just a couple chapters earlier in Genesis 25:29-34. Esau comes home after an unproductive day of hunting. He’s hungry. He asks Jacob for some stew. Jacob agrees to give him some in exchange for his birthright. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Verse 34 says, “Thus Esau despised his birthright”.

Yea, Jacob was being a jackass, but he didn’t trick his brother here. Esau says in verse 32, ““I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” I think he’s exaggerating here, as we all do, to express how hungry he feels. Even so, it would be incredibly foolish for me to trade my inheritance (if there were any) to my sister in exchange for a Double-Double with fries and a coke.

No, Jacob didn’t take away Esau’s birthright. Esau despised it and sold it for a meal. Yea, the second time around Jacob stole the blessing. But Esau ought to have owned up to his own failures. I guess the lesson I took from this was to make sure I get the log out of my own eye when I feel I’ve been wronged. I need to spend more time in reflection and mediation, to listen to the Holy Spirit reveal to me what I’ve yet to give over to His control. In short, I need to focus.

Lockout: My Two Cents

Posted: December 26, 2012 in Film/TV

I don’t really know how to write a review. I’m not sure this is a review, per se, but I just finished a film which I, surprisingly, enjoyed and wanted to write something about it… so here’s something.

Lockout, staring Guy Pearce (never heard of him before) and Maggie Grace (Lost), really surprised me. I’m not sure how it ended up in my Netflix cue. But, it apparently did as it showed up in my mailbox. The leader blurb sounds like it was written using a Hollywood version of Mad Libs:

“A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.”

I gotta say that made the whole film sound really cheesy, but almost from the start I was hooked. Yea, the beginning started off with a bang, but it was Pearce’s acting which made it work. I’d never heard of the guy before, but he was actually very good. There was really only one scene in there which was hard to believe (from a character development standpoint) but personally I think it was either bad writing or due to other character development scenes ending up on the cutting room floor.

One of the pleasant surprises of this this film was the lack of profanity and sex. By no means a family film, Lockout was, nevertheless, a pleasant surprise.

 

Just a Freeform Expression

Posted: December 25, 2012 in Faith, Life

Not a poem. Just some words written down in broken line.

Here I sit, my cursor blinking
Telling me to type a line or two.
But nothing comes; I feel dry,
Dry in heart and soul.

This is Christmas. I should feel joy:
At least that’s what all the songs say.
It’s the hap, happiest season of all.
Not that I’m depressed, I just don’t feel glad.

Physician heal thyself, I hear myself say to me.
My own sermon on peace tells me my focus is off
And to this I must agree.
My focus is off, but what is it on?
If I knew that I might be able to fix the problem –
But probably not, I’m too broken.

Even preachers have dry spells,
Dry valleys with dry bones.
We walk the line and hoe the row
Shouldering the burdens of the flock.

Suddenly along comes one, who
After hours of painful craft by we,
Manages to knock the wind clean out of our sails
And we leave deflated, defeated and despairing.

I’ve heard tell that even greats like C.H. Spurgeon
Suffered terrible bouts of blackest depression.
This gives me great comfort and hope
For in this Dark Night of the Soul
I drag myself from point to place
From soul to face
And wish upon no one the emptiness that I feel.

And so this is Christmas.
My family is gathered here.
My children are sleeping.
The stockings are stuffed,
The presents are placed.
I read again incarnation’s story
And pray for more of God’s Amazing Grace.

I know no human words
In any language I speak
To tell God almighty how broken I feel.
Yes I have lost my focus,
I’ve gotten off course,
I lost the plot…
So with groanings beyond
Any human agenda
I release myself to the Spirit
Who takes up my prayer.

Restore me, O God.
Pick me up, carry me through.
Give me direction
Make me sing praises
To you my Great King

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but know I’m found
But sometimes I still cannot see.

Grandmommy

Posted: December 4, 2012 in Family
Grandmommy with my son in 2008

Grandmommy with my son in 2008

Grandmommy. That’s the name I gave my paternal grandmother when I was a little boy. Her car was the coolest. It was the first car I ever saw with power locks and windows. The back seat had an arm rest in the middle … and she’d let me sit on it so I could see out the windows. She had some of the neatest toys and games in her back room. I remember her letting me have instant oatmeal for lunch. She was great. Another childhood memory, or really a conglomeration of memories, is her sitting on the sofa in the living room reading the Bible and praying. It seemed no matter how early I got up, she was there first – reading and praying.

Just a few weeks ago I took my whole family “back home” for Thanksgiving. We all went down to the care home where she was and reintroduced her to several of her great grandchildren – and introduced her to a couple she’d not yet met. It was a short but pleasant visit. She couldn’t take her eyes off the baby, and the baby couldn’t take her eyes off of her.

Grandmommy passed away this morning. I miss my Grandmommy.