Archive for the ‘pastoring’ Category

Half-Way There!

November 16, 2010

When I was in my teens, I would go to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a few days almost every summer.  I was relatively small in stature, but wanted to prove that I was stronger than I looked, so I would volunteer to carry the canoe across the portages.  By the time I was sixteen, I could carry a canoe, while wearing a backpack, across the trails.

On long portages,  they would have places set up where you could lean the canoe, without actually setting it back on the ground.  This would give you an opportunity to rest and catch your breath.

The portages would be marked on the map with their distance.  It was always nice to know when you were at the half-way point, because it gave you an idea of how much further you had to travel.

I believe that I am likely at the half-way point of ministry.  I began my role as a lead pastor twenty years ago and, should Jesus tarry, and my health holds out, I imagine that I will continue in full-time ministry until I am seventy.

It is a good thing that I enjoy a challenge.  It has not been an easy portage, but I am at the half-way point, and it is well worth it.

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Show and Tell

November 8, 2010

Remember as children when we would bring some special item from home to show the class and to tell them about why it was special?

As Christians we are called to show others the difference that Christ makes in our lives.  We “show” them by living a life that is made different by the presence of Christ.  We are also called to tell them about Jesus.  They need to be told that Jesus makes the difference.  It is important that our lives not be just “show” or “tell” but a combination of both.

A Strong Delusion (book review)

November 1, 2010

Joe Dallas, the author of “A Strong Delusion: Confronting the ‘Gay Christian’ Movement” does an outstanding job of clearly and compassionately  presenting a rebuttal to those who presume to call themselves Christian,  yet retain an active homosexual lifestyle.   Dallas writes as one who has been a part of the “Gay Christian” movement.  He candidly describes his personal struggle, explaining his reasoning and conclusions in a manner that is clear and precise.  He reports the history of the gay movement in America, the basic theology that supports the “Christian” version, and a rebuttal to the arguments presented by the gay community.

I highly recommend this book, published by Harvest House Publishers, 1996  ISBN1-56507-431-9.

Pastor/Teacher/Chi Alpha Leader

October 7, 2010

Tuesday was our first Chi Alpha meeting.  Chi Alpha is a campus ministry sponsored by the Assemblies of God, but open to anyone.  I am happy to be able to have the opportunity to lead this activity at the college where I teach.  I have been a lead pastor of a local church since 1991.  I have been teaching philosophy, ethics, logic and world religions, on a part-time basis at the local community college since 1998.  Chi Alpha allows me to blend the role of teacher and pastor at a secular location.   It is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I look forward to what God is going to do with this new ministry.

Walk with God

September 23, 2010

What’s my motivation?

I put in quite a few hours every week working on this, that, and the other.  One day I was struggling for the motivation to keep it all going and it occurred to me that my goal in life is actually very simply stated.

I want to daily walk with God.

I want to encourage others, in their walk with God.

As I go through each day, I remind myself of these simple goals.  I try to keep my spiritual eyes open to the presence of God in my life and in the lives of others.

It provides motivation.

Chi Alpha @ CCC

August 26, 2010

I have been pastoring the same church since 1991.  I have been teaching at CCC since 1998.  This fall there is something new.  In a way, it is a combining of the two jobs that I have been doing for so many years.  This year we are hoping to start a Chi Alpha group at CCC.

Chi Alpha is a student ministry organization affiliated with the Assemblies of God.   Frequently Chi Alpha groups are led by individuals who act as campus missionaries, or pastors, on a full-time basis.  They raise their support from churches that support their vision of reaching out to the college students.

I am not becoming a full-time Chi Alpha worker, but none-the-less, will be working in campus ministries on a volunteer basis.

We are starting with a light schedule.  We will have bi-weekly meetings consisting of a time of sharing, a time of prayer and a time for Bible study and discussion.  We may have occasional outreach or fellowship activities as time and interest dictate.

At this time I have fulfilled the school requirements for a student group, except that I need a sufficient number of students indicating interest.  I have sign up sheets around the college and hope to have enough names shortly after classes begin in the fall.

I would appreciate your prayers as I begin this new endeavor.

Within Our Limits

August 18, 2010

The other day I was out for another long run.  By long,  I mean ten miles.  After the run I commented to a guy at the gym that I had achieved four out of five objectives.

1.  I survived.  (That is always a good thing!)

2.  I made it back on my own, no one had to come get me.

3.  I ran the entire distance without having to walk.

4.  My time was better than the last time.  (The last time, I had to walk part of the time.)

5.  I did not make the goal of averaging either nine or ten minute miles.

I felt pretty good about the run.

While running I try to pay attention to what my body is telling me.  I really don’t have a death wish and so if I need to slow down, or walk or even quit, I will make adjustments as necessary.

It is important to recognize our physical limitations.

I once read that “the key to accumulating wealth, is to live well within your means”.

I have sought to live within my means for all my life, not because I seek to accumulate wealth, but because I want to avoid financial hardship.  Many of those hardships are caused by poor financial planning or decisions.

It is  important to recognize our financial limitations.

When I was young, I had a tendency to over-commit.  I would stuff my schedule so full of  activities and commitments that I would run myself down and have to quit abruptly.  Over time I have learned how much I can handle.  I still try to do too much, but I have become better at selecting what needs to be done, and have not crashed…yet.

It is important to recognize our limitations of time and energy.

God however, is not limited.

The challenge in doing the work of the ministry is to have the wisdom to recognize when we must stay within our limits, and when it is time to allow God to stretch us, to go beyond ourselves.

If we operate only within our limits then we may not realize the fullness of God’s plans for us.

If we go beyond our limits on our own initiative, and not by the direction of the Holy Spirit, then we, and others with us,  may suffer serious consequences.

May God grant us wisdom to run the course that is set before us, to achieve the full potential of his calling in our lives.

Confusing Excellence and Godliness

August 17, 2010

Over the last few years I have heard a lot about pursuing excellence.  I am concerned that people may begin to confuse excellence with godliness.  They are not synonymous terms.  It is true that we should do our best,  that “whatever we do, we do as unto the Lord”.   However, a person’s best may still be mediocre in the eyes of the world.  A godly young person may be an average athlete or musician.  They may pour their heart into their efforts and still be average, not excellent.  That does not make them any less pleasing in the eyes of God.  On the other hand, a person may be a gifted athlete or musician, work very hard and be excellent in their fields of endeavor.  However, they may be arrogant or proud, or fall short in many other ways, not being very godly at all.

On a different note,  a church may have excellent facilities, a beautiful building, the best equipment money can buy, a polished performance by the musicians and preacher, achieving excellence in every observable way, but they may be cold, loveless and dead.  A different church may have an old building, worn carpet, and a failing sound system, with less polished musicians and preacher, yet they may be filled with warmth, love, and the presence of God.

It is possible to be godly, but not achieve excellence.

It is possible to be excellent, but not godly.

I submit that God is more pleased with godliness, than excellence.

In our pursuit of excellence,   we should remember that it is, at best, a secondary virtue.   We should place more emphasis on godliness.

Stability and Depth

June 9, 2010

I’ve been too busy to have a mid-life crisis. 

Still, it is appropriate to reflect on what has been accomplished in my nearly twenty years of ministry.  From a purely statistical approach, the results would be disappointing.  We have remained roughly the same size for the vast majority of those twenty years.  However I believe that the effect of ministry is not reflected by so simple a means.

I believe that our church encourages people to have a faith that thinks, feels, and acts.  It is important to think about our faith, what we believe, and why we believe it.  We should not shy away from difficult questions that challenge our faith and our way of thinking.  It is also important to have a faith that impacts our emotions.  Our encounters with God, and with each other should provide emotional, as well as intellectual support.  Finally, our faith should propel us to act in a way that is christ-like.  After all, a faith without works is dead.

After twenty years of ministry, I cannot say that we are cutting edge, trendy, or particularly exciting, but we do offer stability and depth.  For some people, that is enough.

What is Normal?

June 2, 2010

Our lives have been pretty busy lately.  Actually, our lives are always very busy because of our involvement in a bivocational ministry.  When I say that our lives are busy, I mean busy in comparison to our normally busy lives.

Things have been so busy that I have begun to wonder when things will get back to normal.  Then I realize that our version of “normal” may not really be what I want to get back.  Maybe what I want, is to be able to have a life that is more like a “normal” life. 

What is normal?

The lives that people lead are all so very different, that how could we honestly, and accurately, define a normal life?

Perhaps what I am looking for is not a normal life, but simply a less busy, less stressful one. 

I may be in the wrong occupation for that to happen.

I guess that I will try to live the life that God has for me.  I will try to make good choices each day, to fulfill my calling, keep my obligations, try to make the best of my situation, to make good use of my time and resources, to live within my means, and enjoy the good that comes my way. 

Is that normal?