August 6, 2012
I feel like my head is spinning. The last week has been crazy. Between traveling and church stuff and international students invading my house and little rug-rats all last week and now my friend from the Philippines is here, I can’t catch my breath. But wow it has been good. I have seen God at work in so many ways. He even found time to give me a sanity break with my wife tonight.
It is hard to understand how people can say that they get burned out with God.
I understand that you can get burned out if you are serving your church, but maybe that is the problem. Maybe you are getting burned out because serving the church is not always serving God. (Gasp!) That’s right, I said it. Serving God and serving the church can be two different things. The church has a tendency of becoming overburdening while Jesus said His yoke was easy and burden was light. God does not cause burn out.
Now this does not mean that you will never have problems if you serve God. But God promises that when we are being productive Christians and serving Him that we will have joy and peace and love and it will be rewarding and there is nothing to get burned out about that. We have been called to ministry. The word minister means to serve. We have also been called to do all things like we are doing them for God. So if you are serving God in whatever you do and you remember that He is the one rewarding what you do, it makes it easier to serve with joy and avoid burnout.
If you are one who is feeling burn out, then maybe it is time to spend a few minutes alone with God to ask why. Be honest about what you are doing and feeling and listen for that still, small voice to say that it may be time to change. It may be time to change your attitude. Perhaps you are doing what God wants, but you are not doing it for His glory. Perhaps what you are doing is not truly a ministry. Maybe it is a church position that hasn’t changed in 100 years and is no more a ministry than clipping your toenails. FYI, I grow mine really long before cutting them and then donate them to people whose toenails fall off, kinda like the hair thing people do. Perhaps you are doing too much and you need to let someone else serve. Here is another FYI…your church will not fall apart if you stop doing something.
Burn out can happen to anyone who is not serving God or serving in a ministry of God. Feeling burned out is like when your car begins to backfire. It is a warning sign that something is wrong. The number one reason people’s cars quit running properly is because they don’t read their owner’s manual and follow the instructions for preventive maintenance. The reason Christians face burn out is because they don’t read the Bible and follow its instructions. So if you are listening for God’s voice and you don’t recognize it, it might be time to familiarize yourself with what God sounds like through reading His word.
Don’t burn out! Get fired up!
June 8, 2012
Change is a natural part of life and yet so many people fear and even loath change. If change never happened, we would spend much of our lives beating on vending machines…get it? Change? Vending Machines? I kill me. But seriously, change gives us butterflies, frogs, ice, and a new diaper.
Recently my wife has been feeling like it is time to change. No, not husbands. No need to lower her standards. Her job has been a real pain in the neck and even a few months before the recent stretch of difficult times in her office, we have been talking about how perhaps God was leading her to go elsewhere.
Changing jobs can be quite nerve-racking in the best of times, but throw into the mix a bad job market and it gets even more difficult. But when my wife told me that she had turned in her two weeks notice, she said that she felt peace about it. I knew then that she was hearing from God. The Bible tells us that God gives us peace in difficult times as a way of knowing that we can trust Him. I know my wife is a woman who prays about things and listens to God for direction. This is no different.
There have been many times through the years that we have had to make tough decisions about jobs that did not make the most sense to some at the time it happened. Early in my ministry I also ran my own VCR repair business. Yep, I said VCR. It was during the time in my ministry when I was only getting part-time pay as a youth pastor and was feeling like I was not being effective in my ministry. At the same time I had an opportunity to expand my business to become a part of a national company and the money part of it was quite awesome. In the same week I learned that the church was cutting my part-time salary and that God, through my prayer life was telling me to close my business; you know, the one that just showed promise of a national account. But I had been asking God to make something happen and that I would trust Him when he did. I had peace about my decision and my wife supported me, so I closed the business and within a week was called to interview for my first full-time pastorate.
I had never thought about moving from the town we lived in. It was home and it was where my church was and all was fine. I had been at my church for almost 4 years and it was growing. But in my prayer time I felt like God was telling me that another change was coming. Within a few months there were things that happened that caused me to resign from my church and spend almost a year not being a pastor of any church. It was one of the toughest things I had ever done, but I knew it was right. One day I got a call from a church in the town I currently live in wanting to interview me for the pastor of their church. I had no intention of moving to another town and neither did my wife,but after the interview I had a peace about it that I couldn’t understand and within a month the move was on.
My wife was an executive at a major cellular company. It was a job that most people only dream of and the financial part of it was incredible. But shortly after taking the church, she began to feel like she needed to leave the company. Although we both knew that this meant dramatic financial cuts, we also knew that God was behind it because we both felt a peace about it. So she took early retirement and resigned. Because of that, she was able to work with me at the struggling church that hired me. We were leading it through bold changes and I needed her management skills like never before. Because she listened to God, we were able to lead the church through a change that resulted in the church that I currently pastor. This is a church where we are seeing people’s lives changed on a daily basis. It has grown from a church of barely 30 people who worshiped on Sunday morning to a place where over 150 people worship on Sunday morning. Not only that, but the amount of people who have gotten saved here is incredible. This all happened because of making tough decisions about changing jobs at weird times and trusting God instead of what logic says.
So I am excited to see what God has in store next for My wife and I. She has so many skills and gifts that can be used in so many ways that I am having a hard time imagining the awesome experience that is coming. Sure, there may be a few challenges along the way, but that is why God gives us the skills that we have and the peace that comes from His promise to provide all of our needs according to His riches in Glory!
Something new is on the way. I like new! I am made new by the power of God and what Christ did for me on the cross. In heaven, everything will be new all the time and that is hard to understand. So, new is good and new can only come with change. God says that He will change us into new creatures in Christ and lead us through the change every day. How can we go wrong. I am excited about what’s new!
December 22, 2011
This will be my last blog for a few days. It will be Christmas soon and we are traveling several times. Although they are short trips of less than two hours, it is still traveling. I only get to spend time with my family like this a few times a year and this is always special since my kids have married and moved away. Christmas just keeps getting more special to me, a guy who use to despise it and regretted the whole family ordeal.
Christmas for many of my early adult years was spent acting like I enjoyed the facade of family when in reality I was bitter and hateful. After marrying my wife and meeting her family it was hard to watch so many people loving each other so openly and I had a hard time with it. But they were not putting on a front, they were real and I learned to like it. Then as I got older and God became more real to me and called me into the ministry I began to see things with a better light. It was about family and it was about getting together, but more so it was about Jesus and Jesus has given me even more family through kids and grand kids and my church. I am richly blessed!
This is the time of year when Christ is in the forefront. It is the celebration of His birth, regardless of what anyone says. And it is because of His love for me that I am no longer bitter and angry at Christmas, but joyful and at peace. It took time, but God is patient.
So for Christmas this year I get to drive to three different places on three different days and hang out with family and friends. I get to see kids smile and adults laughing and I can look in the mirror and see a once broken and bitter man now filled with Christ’s love and joy. This only happens because I took a long look in the mirror too often and saw something that I didn’t like and couldn’t fix. It was not until I personally met Jesus and allowed Him to be the meaning of Christmas and the Lord of my life that I was able to find the peace that I had longed for.
I hope that you have joy and love and peace this Christmas. I hope that your families are able to get together and celebrate and I hope that Jesus is the reason that you are celebrating. But if you are like I was and you struggle with this, take some time to get alone and see if God will meet you there. He only wants to know if you believe in Him. He will only help if you ask. God does not intrude where He is not wanted, but will meet you anytime you ask. The transformation takes time and the joy is hard to recognize at first. But with time and you seeking to know Him, God reveals this joy, gives this peace, and fills with love, even the hardest and most bitter heart, like mine.
Merry Christmas to you. Peace, joy, and love, from Christ the Savior.
November 17, 2011
Rock Hill SC is not tornado alley, but that does not change the fact that a tornado touched down and took the lives of 3 people yesterday. It is hard to imagine that yesterday morning, if you had asked these people, “do you think that you will die in a tornado today?” that they would have done anything other than laugh at you. Yet here we are facing the horrible truth that it happened and they are gone.
As always, I hope that these people knew Jesus as their Savior. I did not know any of them, but that doesn’t change the sorrow I feel because of this tragedy. It does not change that I hope they had eternal security and if that is true, ultimately they are okay now. I pray for the family members that are left to question why this happened and that they will find peace that only comes from God. Again I will continue to pray for them and there are already efforts to reach out and help those who have lost there possessions as well.
Most of us have probably thought about a scenario in which we meet our death. No, I am not being morbid, just blunt. Every time I fly I think about it. Often when I ride my motorcycle on long trips I think about it. But most of the time death is the farthest thing from my mind. And on most days which start off as normal as yesterday did, I don’t think about death at all.
Here is the problem. If we don’t think about death, and most importantly, what happens after we die, we are leaving eternity to chance and that is a chance I had rather not take. Very few people truly think that when you die, that’s it, the switch is off and nothing else happens. But we are confused on what to believe about the many possibilities. Even those who are Christians have some differing thoughts about what happens after death and I find that strange. Maybe we make it too complicated. Here is what the simplicity of the Bible says.
Hebrews 9:27 People die once, and after that they are judged. To be judged, there must be a conscious state after death. To be judged, there must be a standard of judgement. To be judged, there must be a Judge. To be judged, there must be a crime.
The crime, is called sin. An eight year old once gave me this definition of sin and I like it and think it is biblical. Sin is anything that you think, say, or do, that does not please God. The standard of judgement is holiness. God is holy and tells us that we are not. Sins reward is death and death is the vehicle in which we are brought to trial. No one is holy, not among humans. We all sin. One sin means that we are not holy and thus death is imparted. God is our judge, through Jesus Christ as our advocate. If you have accepted the death of Jesus as payment for your sin, He proclaims your penalty paid in full and commutes your death sentence to life in Heaven. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, He says that He does not recognize you as His client and the death penalty is carried out. Not believing in Jesus or God will not stop this trial nor will it get you leniency. Proclaiming that you did not see the speed limit sign does not stop the officer from giving you a ticket.
We are not sure if we will have a tomorrow. Death can sneak up on us in many ways and much too often, when you least expect it. That is why many people carry life insurance, which provides for the family after you are dead. It does not return life to those who die. The only way that can happen is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. This is life insurance that helps those who die. It is free and not because of a government mandate. It is free because God loves us and does not want to have to judge us as guilty sinners, but rather forgiven children. To get this insurance all you have to do is ask. Romans 10:13 So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
August 9, 2011
What an eye-opening experience I had yesterday. I am not sure how close together it happened, but my wife had it too. We both realized, not out of ignorance, but rather out of amazement, that as of now, all of our children have children of their own. I am not sure why it was so mind-blowing but it was. We have been very blessed with the fact that we have great children of our own and now each one of them have given us a grandchild. I never dreamed that one day I would be looking at having three children and each of them with children. WOW!.
Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of grandparents, and parents are the glory of their children. How true this is. Even though I have been a grandparent for about 7 years now, this never gets old. But seeing the youngest of your own children having his first is pretty cool.
I often get worried about what kind of world they will grow up in. I worried the same about my kids, but they had an awesome dad. My two sons can only hope to be as awesome a dad as I am, and my daughter was never going to find someone good enough for her or to father my grandkids. But that is what my father in law said about me and he was wrong. Some how I think they will all exceed my expectations though.
But we do live in a world that is much more unstable and much less friendly to children. With the invention of the internet, child predators are coming out in groves and it means that parents must be on their toes more. Our kids are really good parents, but I still worry. I guess it would only be fair that I should let every child predator know that I am a Christian. This means that I am forgiven of every sin that I ever have or ever will commit. Although this does not give me a license to sin, it does give me the peace of knowing that if I snap and kill some pervert who would ever even attempt to hurt my grandkids, that I would still go to heaven. And in case someone might be thinking that I don’t have it in me to do such a thing, I should also tell you that I received my marksmanship medal after achieving a perfect score while I was in the military and I still practice regularly. Not only do I have a hand gun, but I carry it, loaded. What would be even worse is if my wife got a hold of you. She too is an expert shot, but she is much meaner than I am when it comes to our grandchildren.
Sorry for chasing that rabbit, but it felt good.
God has blessed me with so much and I don’t know why, other than He is just an awesome God who loves us more than we can understand. Every time I see a newborn baby I marvel at His ability to create life and then to think that He entrusts me to have a part in raising that life. It is a tall order, but I love stepping into the responsibility. I think I am going to pray that everyone gets to experience having grandkids.
So quickly let me tell you a few things that were incredible yesterday when Bryson was born.
Watching my son agonized over his wife in labor.
Watching my son walk into the room holding his newborn son.
Watching my daughter in law weep tears of joy as she held him.
Watching my wife glow with pride and love as she held Bryson and then as she held our son.
Watching Bryson look at me as I held him. He smiled bigger then than any other time that day.
Seeing Bryson wear his Gamecock ‘boggin’ as he was smiling at me.
Watching all the responses from so many of you as you sent your congratulations.
Thanks for the support and prayers. Thank God for His love and blessing.
May 11, 2011
So last night I did a short blog about a storm of life, but little did I know that God was going to show me a real storm. Somewhere around 1am the first really loud clap of thunder rolled and woke me up. For the next couple of hours I was awake trying to calm the dogs. It was funny, I had no anxiety at all. I started thinking about how I had earlier blogged about a trial in my life that was testing my faith and my joy and peace. I think I am passing that one, but sometimes it is good to let others know that you aren’t as strong as you think. But as I was just reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded that when I am weak, God is strong and He is the source of all strength.
As the winds blew and the lightning flashed and the thunder shook the house, the power went out. As of 10am today it is still out at my house. It is funny how much noise little things make and when you lose power how quiet it can be. Quiet inside, but outside it allowed me to hear every raindrop and every limb that cracked.
I had heard that these were bad storms and that there was a chance of developing tornadoes. In the past few weeks other states have suffered incredible damage from storms and many lives were lost. As I lay in bed listening to the storm I was thinking about them. But it never crossed my mind that we could be in danger. God had given me an incredible peace and I just listened in amazement. I was not hearing God in the storm I was hearing His still calming voice. But wow He sure can create some awesome power.
I was told as a child that you can count from the time that you see the lightning until the time that you hear the thunder and for each second it takes to hear it, it equals about one mile of distance to where the lightning strikes. There were many times that I did not have to count. When you hear the thunder as soon as you see the lightning, you know that it is close. But as the storm moved on, that is what amazed me. There were times when I counted to ten before I heard the noise and then the low, long, window rattling rumble would start. To think that something that happened ten miles away could shake my windows with such intensity is amazing. The power of a storm is incredible. To think that a mighty oak tree can be slit in half by a lightening bolt or better yet, blown over by the wind is mind-boggling. These storms were nothing compared to what happened in other states in the past few weeks or the earthquake and tidal wave in Japan. All of this and it doesn’t even compare to the power of God who not only makes the storms but makes the universe that these storms exist in.
God has an incredible ability to allow devastating natural events to take place and in the middle of it all to allow His calm and protecting power to show up in great miracles and better yet, the small ones that we often take for granted in the way He just calms us in the midst of the real storm.