Feeling Blessed

There is something about your life that someone else dreams of possessing. 

This could be the salary at your job, the house where you live, the spouse you spend with which you spend your life, possibly your toys, and even the friends in your life. There is an endless list of things people could and do covet about your life that you simply take for granted. 

The biggest key to a happy life is not obtaining more. Instead, it is appreciating the things you already have. 

I know God has blessed you in some way that you have overlooked. Joy is a state of mind, not a destination where we hope to one day arrive.     

This Pastor: Raw and Unfiltered

The greatest thing most Pastors desire is the support of their congregation. 

We do not feel like we work for the Church. We work for God. The work is an extension of our soul, and we seek to please our creator. 

Along the way, we would love to have the support of the people we lead and serve beside. 

Support comes in all kinds of ways. It can be a kind word about the sermon. All forms of encouragement are appreciated. The way people treat my spouse and my children are a blessing that most people do not realize is critical. Attendance on Sunday morning and other programs helps me see that my work is not pointless. ALL kind actions are little pieces of support that make ministry a joy. 

A camp leader once told me that he could not figure out why pastors leave the Church they are leading. But when he flipped the question over, he quickly discovered why pastors stay; they are offered love and support. 

This post is not a plea for people to run up to me on Sunday and say something supportive as a desperate attempt to keep me happy. I am out of town on vacation and want to share something on my heart while I am away. 

I am thankful that God allows me to remain a preacher, but I am extra grateful for the people who support me on this journey. 

My Excuses

That is precisely what they are:  Excuses. They are my petty attempts to rid myself of blame while justifying my actions. 

But please don’t poke holes in them. They keep me safe from expectations. 

They are flimsy and flawed, but I need them to feel comfortable. They keep me from confronting my prejudices and pride. 

I know you see the holes in my logic, but they make me keep up a look of confidence.

There are times I will admit to them, but that doesn’t mean I will change anything. 

They hurt me, keep me from growing as a person and a believer, and limit my relationships. But I think I will keep them. They are MY excuses, and to make changes might upset the status quo. And I, like many of you, are completely fine with that.

Little Billboards

Along the highway, I have seen giant billboards advertising Jesus, faith, and local Churches. Almost every city has at least one full-color banner to help people become believers or connect to a faith community.

I have never used a billboard throughout my ministry, even though I have used every other type of advertising. So I cannot tell you if they are effective or a waste of money. However, I guess I noticed them, and I am sure I am not the only one. 

A few years ago, I made a move as a pastor to stop using too much advertising. I still think it has a place, but for now, I would rather invest my resources into the walking billboards in our Church. 

The people who comprise the community of faith are the best form of advertisement. Their life provides the opportunity for people to see and hear what genuine faith looks like. And honestly, if the people in the Church do not align with the message we share, no number of giant billboards by the road will make a difference.

Each life in the community of faith is a walking ad for the life of faith. Is the message you are presenting worth considering?   

It Started As Hurt

They were one of the most bitter and angry people I had ever met. They never had anything positive to say. A scowl accompanied their bad mood and poor attitude. Nobody could do anything correctly, or at least to their liking. Their words were often loud and filled with a seething anger that seemed to have no end.

While I do not know all the reasons for their anger, some things became more evident the longer I got to know them. Loss of a beloved family member at an early age, a strict father with an overly submissive mother, and a long list of painful experiences filled their past. Over time those feelings of hurt had turned into anger.

One mental health website states that people change their feelings of pain into anger because it feels better to be angry than to be in pain. I believe it also gives them a sense of control in a life that has been out of control. Finally, anger can distract us from feelings that bring us down. 

I am sure there are other reasons, but my experience has been that most angry people are the product of pain. The hurt they once felt is now channeled into another emotion. 

So, if you know someone like the person I mentioned, the problem may not be anger but hurt. These people need love and grace while being the most challenging person to offer it to. But sometimes, loving our enemies better results from understanding their background.  

What is God Trying to Teach You?

In your current situation, what is God trying to teach you? How is he trying to grow your faith? What lessons could you learn from what you are experiencing?

That difficult person might be the way you learn acceptance.

That particular job you hate might be teaching you patience or perseverance.

That feeling bringing you down might be an open invitation to do something more meaningful.

Instead of being upset at some of the events in your life, why not flip it over and ask yourself what God might be trying to teach you. 

Teachings abound, but lessons are not always easily learned.

Not Knowing

Once we learn something new, we quickly forget what it was like not to know it.  

It doesn’t take long for someone who is new to the faith to forget what life was like before Jesus. Likewise, a person who begins attending Church quickly forgets what it was like to walk into a building for the first time. 

This becomes an obstacle for Churches and individuals who want to reach new people with the message of salvation in Jesus. They approach their building and programs like everyone knows what is happening and why. 

One vital step to reaching your neighbor for Jesus is to try and put yourself in their shoes. 

Dog Ownership

Liking puppies is different than owning a full-grown dog.

Puppies are cute, and everyone loves them. They touch your heart with their cuddles and tiny bodies.

Dogs take work. They require food, water, vets, grooming, and walks continually.

Whenever you take on a new project for you or your children, be careful about getting into something with a limited window of instant joy and a lifetime of work. Knowing the commitment required down the road is an important factor to consider.

Responsibility and a willingness to work are essential when the cuteness is gone and things mature.

That is true in all relationships.

The Trouble with Gurus

One of the primary definitions of a guru is a teacher with knowledge and expertise. 

A guru has studied and learned everything possible about one topic. They have dedicated their lives to having knowledge that few others obtain. Then they willingly share what they have learned with others.

The trouble comes when they think their knowledge transfers to other areas. 

This could be a sports star talking about politics, an actor speaking about writing, or even a preacher talking about things not found in the Bible.

Be careful whose voice you listen to for advice, teachers abound, but only a few are true gurus.

Only You See It

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 – NIV 2011)

Some of the decisions Christians make seem crazy to people who do not follow Jesus. That is because we are focused on things that others cannot see. 

Living for eternity gives you a perspective that is complicated to understand if your focus is somewhere else. And if you do follow Jesus, keep your eyes fixed on the prize no matter what anyone else says.