Pastoral ministry.  When I committed myself to pastoral ministry, I had bright ideals and aspirations.  I was aware of the hazards, but chose to be more idealistic.

I realize that as a pastor I have to speak on things that are not popular.  I know that my sermons will never make anyone happy (nor should it).

There will be disagreements.  

There will be arguments.  

Disagreements are healthy and necessary to engage in dialogue which will potentially, and hopefully, encourage soul and bible searching and growth.

But there is also that potential for when disagreements can become personal.  I have experienced that in my ministry, but recently I was vigorously attacked, and it shook me.

I’ve heard it said that pain inflicted by your family is worse than a friend or a stranger.  

It’s true.

If I may open to you the heart of a pastor?

We are human and we bleed like anyone else.  We are flawed.  We are prone to mistakes.  No matter how hard or how well researched and crafted the sermon is, there is that potential for people to be offended, no matter how pure the intention.

In these times, I lean ever more on the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  I’m amazed and humbled that He would use someone as flawed as I am in the ministry.  

Everyday I gain more insight and appreciation for the love and patience that Jesus has for me.  It is my prayer that I can be graceful in admitting my mistakes, courage to make things right and have love and patience for others.  

Pray for your pastors and ministry leaders, my friends.   We bleed too.

The Christian life is not meant to be a peaceful life with nothing but earthly prosperity. On the contrary, all who find Christ also face the wrath of Satan. Still, we find victory when we live in obedience to God’s commands (found in his Word) and maintain our faithful witness to Christ.

Osborne

On the Sabbath day, we are remembering that my relationship with God did not begin with what I’ve done, it is not sustained by what I do, and it is not guaranteed to the end by my effort or work. I’m saved from beginning to end by Jesus’ work.

Mark Driscoll

Valentines: Loneliness or Longing?

Today my co-worker and I were talking about Valentines day and what he was going to do for his girlfriend.  As I was helping him find a nice to take his lady for dinner, he stopped and said “can I ask you a question?”

"Sure," I said.  

"I know you’re single…do you ever get lonely?"

The question caught me off guard and at first I didn’t know how to respond.  But as I reflected on the question, this answer came to mind: “No, I’m not lonely,” I finally said.  ”But I’m longing.”

What’s the difference?  To say that I am lonely would give the idea that I’m sad about my present situation.  I am not.  It’s not a curse to be single.  Adam was single when God created him, but he was not sad, nor despondent about his situation.

It wasn’t until after God presented all of the animals before him that Adam finally realized that he didn’t have a helper comparable to him.  And it was God that said that it is not “good” that man should be alone.  Out of all Creation, the fact that Adam did not have someone comparable to him, God pronounced “not good.”  God put that desire in Adam to long for Eve.

Genesis 2, tells us the story of how God put Adam to sleep and performed the first surgery in the world and created Eve from perfect material, custom made for Adam.  A rib.  Why a rib?  There are different answers such as God made Eve from a part of the body that was neither the head nor the bottom as to make her of equal in standing with Adam.  I agree with that, but let I suggest that it also has to do with the function of a rib: it protects the vital organs such as the lungs and most importantly, the heart.  Among other things, she was made to protect Adam’s heart.

When Adam came to, he saw her: beautiful, perfect, custom-made just for him!  Some translations of the Bible state the first words that Adam said was “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh…”  But I think that the NLT has it right when it records that Adam said, “AT LAST!”  

Finally the longing in his heart was met when God brought Eve to him.  I would love to say that they lived happily ever after, but real life isn’t like the Disney movies.  Because of sin, their marriage was not perfect.

So no, I am not lonely.  I’m not sad when I see other couples enjoying their time together, even on Valentines day.  To do so is a lack of faith on my part in God, who declared Himself that it isn’t good for me to be alone.  He put that longing, that same desire that He place in Adam in me.  

It’s cliche, but God is preparing my own Eve.  She won’t look or act like anyone else’s Eve.  She’ll be perfect for me.  I don’t have naive aspirations that my relationship and my future marriage will not have its struggles, but I do know that it will be worth all the years that I’ve waited.

Until then, I’m prayerfully waiting.  :)