The title of this piece may cause you to raise an eyebrow. When we discuss the subject of tolerance or intolerance actions such as immorality and liberal theology tend to jump to the front of our minds. That should certainly be the case in reference to the aforementioned subjects. However, there are occasions when intolerance may burn fuel that should not be wasted.
Consider this example. In Philippians Paul discusses people who were preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry (1:15). Paul says they are preaching Christ, not with a spirit of love, but from selfish ambition in order to stir up trouble for him.
Have you ever been guilty of forcing things? This can happen with people, circumstances, projects or God’s will. I recall an experience I had while building a chain link fence. This involved one of the chain link fence post tops. The post tops are made of a soft but inflexible metal. Too much pressure and they will shatter. While constructing the fence I came to the point when I installed the tops on the metal posts. Everything went smoothly up until a point. However, one of the post tops did not readily slide onto the post. I decided to help it. I gently laid a piece of wood on the piece and struck it with a hammer. I forced it. Guess what? The piece shattered.
Does it disturb you that God sometimes takes the path of silence? Not only is God silent, but His silence comes at the most (seemingly) inappropriate times. What are those times?
Obviously these examples are a small sampling of God’s silence.
For me, the challenge of God’s silence would be more difficult to bear had He not allowed us to sample this reality in His word. In Matt. 27:46 we find the agonizing prayer of Jesus as He hung on the cross. He felt forsaken by His Father. He felt the silence of Heaven.
Are you a person who will ask for and accept directions? It has been joked that men are not good at following directions. Some smart person said, “The reason Moses wandered in the wilderness for forty years was because he would not ask for directions.” A woman must have made that statement.
The past three years I have worked closely with pastors. I see both the good and the bad side of pastors. I love being a support and encouragement to pastors. However, one of our major drawbacks is a refusal to ask for, accept and follow directions. I realize some of this drawback is who we are as leaders. Leaders lead rather than waiting around for directions. This is a part of our DNA.
My wife and I are in the process of building a new home. The home is located in the midst of three acres of wooded property. This process led to my purchasing a chain saw. The saw and I are faithful companions. I can spend hours sweating, working and cutting. One aspect of the chain saw routine that I dislike is sharpening the blade. It is a tedious task. However, without a sharp blade the chain saw routine becomes a difficult task.
Chain saw sharpening reminds me of one of the tasks of the pastor. It is essential that a pastor keep his skills sharp for ministry.
Have you ever gone through the effort to stop an app on your cell phone only to find it continues to run in the background? This often happens with cell phones. You can use a program, close the window, leave your phone, and come back later only to find the program is running in the background.
I have a music application on my cell phone that does this on a regular basis. I go through the motions of attempting to close the application but find it is still running in the background.
Several weeks ago my wife, my mother and I went fishing. It was an awesome experience. We visited a catfish pond and within 30 minutes filled our cooler. The only down side to the trip was having to pay for the privilege of fishing.
Is fishing ever a bad idea? Rarely, would be my response. Fishing is relaxing, fun and a good stress reliever. However, fishing often reveals things we had rather leave hidden. The relaxing effect of a fishing trip reveals our need for rest, relaxation and gives us a fresh perspective of life.
Have you seen him lately, The Enemy Within? You are probably thinking this will be a rant against the devil and his tactics. No doubt, Satan needs to be confronted and kept at arm’s length; however, for this discussion I refer to another enemy. The enemy to whom I refer is the enemy within our own hearts. In looking back I am painfully aware that I was often my own worst enemy.
Several years ago a young man walked up to me and asked this question: “If you were not a preacher, who would you be?” He went on to explain that his question was meant as a thought provoker. He explained that much of our identity is tied to our vocation, possessions, accomplishments and the like. My friend reminded me that we are valuable because God created us and loves us just as we are apart from our accomplishments.
All of us know this to be true. God loves us unconditionally! Love is His nature. “God is love.” (I John 4: 8) Sometimes we forget and need to be reminded of this simple truth. As I pondered my friend’s question I quickly formulated my list of things in which I seek value.
My vocation- I am a pastor. I feel affirmation in being a pastor. I must differentiate my vocation from my standing before God. I need to be reminded I will always be valuable even when I am not serving as a pastor.