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.
Do you have trouble giving thanks for some people? These people may cause you to join the Sons of Thunder in hoping God will rain down fire from Heaven. Don’t be so spiritual, you think similar thoughts! LOL!
A few weeks ago I read through I Corinthians. As Paul opens the book he gives thanks for the Corinthian believers. (1:4) As I read those words I thought to myself, “Come on God, give thanks for the Corinthians.” After all the Corinthians were marred by division, jealousy, envy, immorality, lawsuits, marriage issues, questions of Christian freedom, drunkenness, and questions about speaking in tongues. Talk about a church with problems. I might have missed a few of their issues. Giving thanks for such a group would be like giving thanks for a migraine. I was reminded of the command in I Thess. 5:18, “In everything give thanks.” So, if Paul could give thanks for the troubled church in Corinth, what can we learn from him?
Judy and I are in the process of building a new home. This has been a time of great reflection for me. Many thoughts run through my mind. The thoughts I ponder are different than when I was younger. (I am 60.) When I was younger the excitement and adventure of such a project motivated me. As I get older, challenges such as building a house stir a different set of emotions. For instance, thoughts such as: I might not live long enough to see a 30-year mortgage paid in full! (or) Why is a sixty-year-old building a new house when we ought to be downsizing? Such thoughts are foreign to younger guys. These thoughts sound negative. However, changing thought patterns are a part of life. Stay with me, I am going somewhere with this thought.
As I focus on this new construction the thought that motivates me is not the final destination but the joy of the journey. That is what I desire to share with you. I enjoy cutting bushes, working with my hands and doing things around a construction site. The journey is a lot of fun! That should also apply in our service to Christ. Many times the journey becomes cumbersome. The speed of life, the trials of ministry and the challenges we face can steal the joy of the journey. Each day we should ask ourselves if we are enjoying the journey. If not, there should be adjustments. What kind of adjustments? I offer the following suggestions. You will probably add to your list.
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by prayer? Last week my wife, Judy, and I closed on the sale of our home in DeRidder. Our intent was to sell this property, which was in town, and buy a couple of acres in the country. In recent months we have driven most every road in our area seeking a piece of property.
As we waited on the sale of our home we located several pieces of property, only to have them sold before we could make arrangements. In addition, nothing seemed to match our dreams. These two factors caused a bit of frustration. I know none of you ever feel this way. However, God sent an answer to the door of our home.
Several Saturdays ago a real estate woman brought the lady who purchased our home for a final check. Judy and I cleared out to give them room. While they were looking, Judy and I rode by a piece of property we had been watching for three years. There were no “for sale” signs on the property. We returned home and found the realtor and home buyer with several unanswered questions.
A few years back, Steven Covey wrote a popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book provides helpful concepts in life management. Among the concepts Covey advocated was Quad 2 living. Covey divided daily activities into four quads:
1. There are things that are urgent and important. These are the crises events you cannot avoid, such as the death of a family member.
2. There are things that are not urgent but important. These are life’s vital activities, such as our relationship with God, relationships with friends and family, personal growth and recreation. These activities contribute to a stronger life and help you move beyond crises events.
3. There are things that are not important but urgent. Some meetings and some phone calls would fall into this category.
4. There are things that are not important and not urgent. Browsing the internet and watching television would be examples.
Quad 1 activities (crises) cannot be avoided. Quad 3 activities deplete you because they must be fulfilled, but you do not get excited about them. Quad 4 activities are time wasters or activities that we run to after Quad 1 events. They help us chill out, but do not contribute to our productivity in life.
This brings us to Quad 2 activities. These are the proactive activities. These contribute to our growth and development. These help us avoid many Quad 3 activities and a dependency on Quad 4 activities. All four quads are a part of life. However, our aim should be to prioritize Quad 2 living. This will make us stronger physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.