I've been neglecting my blog. Sorry about that, but I have a good excuse...
It is the holiday season and consequently very busy - especially for pastors. But this season was even more busy because my daughter and son-in-law visited us for a week with their two children.
Now, I like blogging, but there is no contest between spending time on my blog and spending time with my children and grandchildren. The blogging I can do anytime, but I only see my grandchildren a few times a year.
Caleb is a smiley five month old. He hardly ever cries! If he isn't smiling at somebody, he is working very seriously at exploring his baby toys.
Emma is a two year old streak of lightning! She is also being potty trained. She enjoyed bossing the dog around, playing with her new dinosaurs, coloring pictures, and hiding in the "cave" under the roll-top desk. She did not enjoy the potty training!
She was not alone in this attitude. She had to be watched constantly. Living room chairs had to be protected from flooding. Timers were set and beeping constantly. Hours were spent sitting on the uncomfortable edge of the bathtub waiting for Emma to be "all done" on the toilet.
We had some successes. We had some failures. Sometimes Emma was pretty unhappy about being put on the toilet. She was mostly pretty agreeable. By the end of the visit she was having quite a bit of success.
So, how was our visit? We laughed and celebrated together! We got on each other's nerves and argued with each other. We went out to eat. We shopped. We babysat. We moved furniture. We used a bale of paper towels. We cuddled. We sang silly songs. We played jokes on each other.
It was a GREAT visit. Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercies. How amazing that sinners like us can get along with anyone half so well as we got along for this crowded and busy week!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Think of that old western song - "I'm back in the saddle again..." Or Willie Nelson - "On the road again." The sentiment in those songs is pretty much how I feel this week. I am back in the pulpit again!
During the move I took two weeks off from preaching. It was, I suppose, necessary. I had tons of work to do and no time to study, but I sure missed preaching. The privilege, the challenge, the adrenaline... Preaching is like breathing to me. When I am not preaching it is like holding my breath.
Of course, there is a sense in which preaching is terrifying. The Bible is the word of God. Preaching is a tremendous responsibility and no matter what I do, I always fall short of what I would have liked to do in preparation and presentation. I live in fear of misrepresenting the truth of the word - or even of giving people a wrong impression.
On Monday I posted my Sunday sermon to my web page. That adds another level of insecurity. Preaching - at least for me - is a very personal thing. I prepare through study and prayer to the best of my ability. I open myself up to people as I preach. I preach to the audience before me - and their responses and feedback during the sermon affect my presentation (though hopefully not my message). To put that sermon on the web where it could be accessed by pretty much anybody in the world hits me in my insecurities.
But, it is what it is. In twenty-one years of pastoral ministry I have preached thousands of messages. I try to learn from my mistakes, but I can't allow myself to obsess about them. I can only pray that God will use them in people's hearts as I turn my attention to the next message.
So, I am back in the pulpit again! Praise God!! This is what God made me to do, and I count myself tremendously blessed to be back at it.
God is great and greatly to be praised!
Have a blessed week.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Now that I live in Canton I need to get used to the traffic. This evening I drove up Whipple Ave. to Everhard Road, then across to South Main Street. I was awed by the volume of traffic. Four lanes full - backed up at the red lights - a steady stream of cars.
My first reaction was, "I don't like it." It is busy, dangerous, frustrating and noisy. But then, while I waited through four light changes to get my turn at the intersection at Everhard and South Main, I though it over.
I grew up fishing in a deep lake near my house that had many many fish. I caught Bluegill, Perch, Pickerel and Large Mouth Bass. It was a rare day that I didn't catch fish. As an adult, however, I've fished in other deep lakes that didn't have so many fish and where I rarely caught any. Now where would I rather fish? You guessed it, no doubt. I like fishing where there are plenty of fish to catch.
Jesus called His disciples to follow Him and told them they would become "fishers of men."
So I looked at that traffic streaming by and I thought, "Praise God for all these people. Surely God has put us in a place where there will be good fishing for men."
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
We are in the midst of our move to Canton and it is wearing me out! Yesterday I worked outside all day - first cleaning up things from our outbuilding, then tearing an old utility trailer apart with a sledge and a crowbar. (I guess I mostly beat it apart.)
After that, I loaded a ton of junk - pieces of wood, old notebooks, broken computers, etc. and took them to the transfer station. Then I came back and loaded 29 lbs. of aluminum and 460 lbs. of other assorted metal pieces (mostly two really heavy pieces) and took them to the scrap yard.
Believe it or not, but most of the time pastors don't get to spend much time doing heavy work outdoors in the cold. I was frozen, chapped, covered in mud, and tired! (It was like deer hunting - only without looking for deer.)
The point of this story is that I was so tired when I sat down... My muscles ached. I just wanted to rest.
And it felt good, too! It feels good to get really tired. It makes the rest that much more sweet! It feels good to be tired and to know that you got that way doing something that needed to be done. It feels great to know that there will be a time for rest as well.
We are moving to Canton. We are packing up everything. We are tired and we have many questions that we haven't found answers to yet. We also worry that we haven't even asked some of the important questions. But Friday we load the truck and Saturday we go up to our new home. Hopefully we will find more time to rest after that.
May God grant you both meaningful work and wonderful rest.