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Archive for August, 2007

Whats in Your Diet?

I love my children but sometimes I can’t help but shake my head at some of the things that they do. Patrick, when he was growing up never was concerned about dropping food on the floor. If something dropped off his plate, we would pick it up and if we missed something, we never worried that he would go back at some later date and try consuming the fallen food.

Micah, my youngest it another story. He eats everything and anything. Whether it is something meant to be consumed or not, it finds its way into his mouth. We will be sitting at the table during a meal and he will purposely drop food off the table and retrieve it later that evening if it is not immediately picked up. But like I mentioned, he consumes anything he can get his hands on. He has wet his pallet with several deodorant sticks, some of our Kansas grown bugs, dirt, dust, books and the list goes on and on.

This morning though made me simply shake my head and ask God, “Why?”. The kids have been house bound due to the extreme heat we have been experiencing. So early this morning it was cool enough to let the boys ride their bikes for a few minutes outside. Micah found a bike helmet and placed it on his head. He looked adorable (I know, bias dad…)! A few moments later, MaryEllen came into the bathroom, where I was getting ready to go to the office, and showed me a handful of torn, chewed up material. Apparently Micah had bitten the Styrofoam lining of the bike helmet and was chewing it like tobacco. I simply look at the pile of chewed styrofoam and shook my head.

As I began to process the events of this morning I began to wonder how many times we are like Micah in our Spiritual life. We look at the empty things this world has to offer us and take a deep bite into it. We know its not food for our souls. We know its empty, but yet we dive in and take a large bite. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy…But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV).

Styrofoam, though it makes a great insulator, makes a lousy meal. What are you hungering after in this life? Are you satisfied with what this world has to offer you; empty calories and a lousy nutrients. Or are you looking for something more satisfying? If so, look to your heart and ask yourself, Whats in My diet?

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Ordained…Now What?

This past Friday I was fortunate to take my place of honor as an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church. This in simplest terms means that I have completed a long drawn out process of making sure the calling on my life as a minister was 1. From God, 2. Was clearly understood by myself, and 3. Was willing to be endorsed by a denomination of believers who stand by biblical accuracy and truth. And now after approximately six (6) years, the journey is finished. I am an ordained Minister in the Wesleyan Church. So Now What?

This is something I struggled with for the past few months. I mean what is the difference from being a licensed minister and an ordained minister? According to the law of man (state of Kansas), there isn’t any new ceremony that I couldn’t perform before becoming ordained; I don’t gain a new tax bracket place or different tax deductions. And then there is my responsibilities at the church. I mean being ordained doesn’t change the fact that I still have to give the best to the church and to God as I was doing previously. I mean if that changed simply because I became ordained, then I’ve been hypocritical and don’t deserve to be in ministry period. So Now What?

Well, from my perspective, ordination wasn’t about changing me or changing my ministry as much as it was about changing the way people perceive my calling. As a licensed minister, I was always under the scrutiny of the DBMD (District Board of Ministerial Development). Now, after completing the gauntlet placed before me, I am no longer under the same level of scrutiny. I have proved myself, my calling, and my ministry. I am seen not as a young minister but rather a fellow colleague; my calling and ministry validated with the same validation as John Wesley, Billy Graham, and multitudes of others. Not saying that I have or ever will achieve their impactfullness, but understanding that God in a similar fashion called those men to follow him with the same level of obedience.

So Now What? I am an Ordained Minister in the Wesleyan Church. What does that mean? It means I need to keep doing what I’ve been doing; striving towards living a Holy Life, striving to be obedient to God’s leading, striving to serve Him with everything I have, am, and ever hope to be. Ordination is a big deal when you consider that it is the church’s way of making the calling of God on a minister’s life clearer.

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Ministry is Hard

If you are the type of person who thinks that all a pastor does is spend an hour a week working, I would like to spend a little bit of time informing you to what an average pastor’s life en tales. Now, please understand, I am not complaining. Quite the opposite. I enjoy being a Pastor but struggle with those who think that the only thing I do is preach on Sunday Morning.

First thing to note about my specific situation is that I am a Solo Pastor (which means I do it all) at a small country church in North Central Kansas. When I say small, I mean my congregation is a little more than forty on an average Sunday. And when I say country I mean over twelve miles from the closest town and over 30 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart. We literally live in the middle of a wheat field where our closest neighbor is 1/4 mile away. We are alone.

But back to Ministry. A typical week for most ministers consists of several areas of ministry. First is Education of the Church. This is the area which most people understand as the responsibilities of the Pastor; Sermon Development, Sermon Delivery, Bible Study Preparation, Sunday School Lessons, Membership Classes and any other type of class where the body of Christ is being mentored and matured. What people do not understand is that the preparation time for each type of class (sermon, ect.) can take anywhere from 2-4 hours per class and 8-12 hours per sermon. So a Pastor who is leading a weekly bible study and preaching twice a week can have at least 20 hours in preparation alone. And then another 3 hours for delivery time. In other words, half of an average 40 hour week can be spent in preparation time alone.

Another area where Pastors spend a lot of time is in the Caring for the Church. This is the visitation of Believers and non-believers who may of may not have any association with the church. These visits range from Hospital visits, Nursing Homes, Jails. They also include taking part in Men’s groups or Coffee with the Pastor. It may include going door to door or acting as the welcoming committee. Visitation can happen according to a schedule or it can happen randomly; like at a grocery store or restaurant. Being a Pastor who Cares for his/her church and community means living as part of the community. Visitation doesn’t have an hourly amount that can be associated with it because it is constantly part of ministry. When a Pastor stops and checks on you, he is sharing his precious time to make sure you are experiencing the Love of Christ in a practical manner.

When was the Last time you stopped and thank God for the leadership of your Pastor? When was the last time you thanked your Pastor for showing God’s love?

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Time in My Desert

From time to time I’ve visited this site to see if there was any activity. And from time to time I would read the comments left based on some of my prior entries. One could say that they proved to be an encouragement through my travels in my personal desert.

To explain what I’m talking about I would like to draw from two “desert” experiences found in the Bible. The first is the story of the Israelites as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. This was a journey that was supposed to take a few months at the most to travel, but due to their disobedience and lack of faith in God their journey took a little over forty years. That is the story we (especially as Pastors) tend to focus on. The fact that God has our best intentions at hand and it is through obedience that we learn to trust in God completely. But I believe there is another lesson to be learned; that of Preparation. You see the hearts of those who had come out of Egypt had not fully learned to place their trust in God so obedience to God became difficult. But after that generation fell away, God raised up a greater generation that fully trusted in the leadership of God (for some time). It was this desert experience that prepared them for the Promised Land.

The second “desert” experience takes place in the book of Acts, chapter 9. The character; Saul of Tarsus. The Event; Recently converted to Christianity he flees Damascus due to the treat of harm. And where does he go? Jerusalem? Samaria? Rome? No, he goes into the desert. According to the Acts account it seems like he flees and then goes to Jerusalem, but according to Saul’s own words in Galatians 1, he goes into the desert. We don’t know the specifics of what happened in the desert but we do know that it is another three (3) years until he returns and finally goes to Jerusalem to meet the other apostles. Again I believe that God was taking time and Preparing Saul for ministry through his time in the desert.

So what does this have to do with anything? I honestly believe that I have been having a “desert” experience for the last few months. A time where God has been defining and redefining my calling and ministry. And while in the desert, I’ve experienced times of stretching and growth pains; times of spiritual hunger and thirst; and times of total reliance on God. I honestly believe that God is preparing MaryEllen and I for something greater than we can imagine.

If you are finding yourself in a “desert” experience, don’t become anxious. God has a way of taking the desert and preparing his people for something greater than they ever believed possible. For when we are in the desert, our total focus and dependence is in God, our provider.

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