Its Friday morning and its my day off. Before my wife went off to work this morning I asked her, “Is there anything you’d like me to do today?” Her response:
“Oh, I could give you a huge list of things that need to be done. But its your day off.”
(Is it any wonder I’m so crazy about this woman?)
So, here I am sitting on our front porch, sipping coffee, lounging in our Adirondack chair, watching an insanely beautiful butterfly gently open and close its wings, seemingly for the sheer joy of showing them off. The grass is cut, the breeze is cool, and the perfection of the morning has just been interrupted by an electric hedge clipper down the street.
My blog well has been dry for the past several days, so its good to get back and try and eek out another post. Hopefully it’ll include some worthwhile things. I honestly don’t post when I don’t feel like anything is worth sharing. Some people can post everyday and always seem to have something interesting to say. Maybe I’m just too busy living to be able to pull that off.
So, let’s see. I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, “Jesus Loves You…..but I’m His favorite.” Maybe you’ve heard that Jesus loves you so much that if you were the only person on earth, He still would have come and died just for you. Well, I don’t know how that stands up to theological/doctrinal scrutiny, but I DO know that such a thing was never His plan or desire. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus came for ALL people, everywhere, for all time. Sadly though, not all will embrace Him as Savior and Lord during their lifetime. But all people WILL call Him King of Kings, for that is what He is.
Years ago I was a youth pastor in Nyack, New York. I served at Simpson Memorial Church (which has since been renamed, thank the Lord) for 7+ years. I joined a multi-staff ministry team and LOVED every one of them. But as time went on, one by one they felt called to other places and ministry roles. Until I finally found myself as the only pastor on staff. Can you imagine the youth pastor running the church? Even with a couple Godly and committed confidants to lean on, there were times when I simply felt…well….lonely. For some reason, I found encouragement in Kirk Franklin’s song “Hold Me Now”. There were times when I would literally be on the floor of my office, praying for wisdom, and listening to that song. Sounds silly, I know.
Somewhere in those 14 months of being the solo pastor at Simpson Church, I went to our denomination’s annual assembly called “Council”. It was held that year in Nashville, TN. I stayed at the beautiful Opryland Hotel. There was literally a canal boat ride that went through the palatial atrium/lobby of this huge facility. During that week, I bought a worship music cd because I had forgotten to bring any music with me (uncommon for me). On that compilation cd, I listened for the first time to a song called “Here I Am To Worship”. Today, that song is well known by so many. But that was the first time I had ever heard it before. And not to exaggerate, but the words to that song both met the need of my heart at the time as well as taught me what it truly means to worship.
[A side note: During an adult small group Bible study years later, I heard the best definition of worship I had ever encountered: “singlemindedness.”]
So, in that hotel room at Opryland hotel, I listened to that song repeatedly. It wasn’t but a few minutes later it seemed that I could sing every word as an expression of my heart to God…
“Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You’re my God.
You’re all together lovely,
All together worthy,
All together wonderful to me.”
To this day, I consider this song one of my favorite songs to sing to the Lord.
And in those days as a young pastor, my perception of being in ministry began to change. Truth be told, it changes every day as I experience more and learn more; I hope that it will never stop changing. When it does, that means I’ve stopped learning and growing. I couldn’t stomach that.
That might be why I seem to thrive in an ever-changing environment. The sense of sameness that many churchgoers seem to find comforting, I find unnerving. Doing things the same way, even if its “working” isn’t something that appeals to me. I’d rather change the way things are done, even if that way works just fine. Some say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’d say, “If ain’t broke, break it.” To me, the risk of going after a new thought, a new paradigm, a new path is completely worth the chance of falling flat on my face. I should also mention that I truly believe failure is more valuable than success…much more, in fact.
Whereas I would had previously thought (years ago) that being in ministry was summed up by “Keep people happy”, I would now contend that being a leader in ministry is better summed up by “Love Jesus and don’t fear it when people aren’t comfortable with all He expects us to do.”
Well, when you’re not sure how to end a blog post, its never a bad idea to ask, “What do you think?”