Posts from September 2010
If life wasn't beautiful enough already, God put the most beautiful Hibiscus Tree right outside my front door. Every time I leave or return I see this lovely tree and just smile and say "Thanks".
A year or two ago, I attended a great retreat for pastors. We were asked to read a book by H.B. London who has been called the "Pastor to Pastor's" and for good reason. He is so understanding of the unique struggles pastors face, is compassionate yet honest, and filled with wisdom.
This morning I ran across one of his blog posts that addressed an issue that several pastor friends are struggling through right now. How to handle the attacks of others.
1. In time, the truth usually surfaces.
2. In your heart, you know what's right.
3. We most often are stronger after the dust has settled.
4. Neither revenge nor retaliation is ever the solution — nor is self-defense. All of that is God's business.
5. Forgiveness is a must. If you don't, it will eat at you like a cancer.
"Do not take revenge, my friend, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Rom. 12:19).
I would highly recommend H.B. London's books and his blog to anyone in ministry.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:34-36 ESV)
I find it hard to believe that shepherds were ever sissies. David, the shepherd boy, had faced lions and bears while watching over his father's sheep. He would go on to face giants and fierce armies while watching over his FATHER'S sheep.
Pastors (shepherds) must be men of courage, willing to face the enemy head on while watching over their Father's sheep. The enemy loves to prey on the Father's sheep.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
It took about sixty seconds to read my resignation letter to the ministry leaders gathered in my office several months ago. Some of those leaders had been with the church 20 years, some 10, and some just a year or so. Each of them reacted pretty much the way that I had anticipated. Some of them were hurt, some were scared, and some were concerned about the future. There were a few that expressed understanding about how difficult this decision must have been for me. What I didn't expect was that in those sixty seconds I would be transformed from a hero to a zero in the hearts of some of those people I loved with my whole heart.
I'll be 44 years old in a couple weeks and my journey at that church really began 22 years ago when Kathy and I loaded up a U-Haul truck and moved to Fairfield to work with Sam Hensley with the understanding that two years later we would plant a new church in the bay area. By God's grace we were able to establish a pretty good Free Will Baptist church in Vallejo/American Canyon before He chose to call us to a new ministry.
Those 22 years were given to God and He is the one who took what little I had to offer and multiplied it. I was the little boy with the fishes and loaves, He is the master who takes what we offer and does something wonderful with it. He is the only hero in the story and I'm ready to offer the next 22 years of my life to Him to be used where ever He sees fit.
Jesus should be the only hero! Perhaps I needed to be humbled.
1 Peter 5:5 "...Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
I don't ever want to be opposed by God. I desperately want His grace. I'd rather be a zero with the grace of God, than a hero without His grace. Maybe I needed to be more like John the Baptist, willing to 'decrease' so that Christ would 'increase'
John 3:28-30 "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Or maybe this is an opportunity for the church to grow and mature like never before. Maybe they needed to realize that It never was about 'Pastor Mike'... it was always meant to be about Jesus. I was just a servant, I belonged to Him, and God will send another servant along to continue His work. Maybe they needed this opportunity to refocus.
1 Corinthians 3:3-7 "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."
I'm loving ministry more than ever now. God has blessed us with a wonderful church. People who love the Lord, love my family, love each other, and love the lost. And I don't ever want to be a hero again... I just want to be His servant.
In His Service...