Several weeks ago I had an ‘incident’ that is somehow still fresh in my memory. Following our small group meeting, in an area that I’m not overtly familiar with, I decided to try a new route home. All because I’d heard people say that it’s shorter.
I started the journey into the unknown territory and very quickly I thought, ‘boy this is muddy’. Never mind. You do what most blokes do. Just power on ahead, hoping to make it out. But, it got worse. The mud seemed to get deeper and the sides of the huge Cumbrian hedge seemed to wall me in tighter and tighter. I kept going until I was forced to stop. It was only as I got out of the car that I realised the idiocy of my venture. I was in deep trouble.
It was a miracle the car came out of there that night. Miracle, because it was a God sized task. Fortunately, God’s instruments were people, one who was an amazing ‘reverser’ and three very strong buddies. What should have been a tractor pull job in the daylight, with the attached scorn by the farmers ribbing the silly townie, was a job done in the middle of the night.
It’s one of those stories I can laugh about, but there are many lessons learned.
- Shortcuts aren’t always shorter.
- Do your homework before trying something new.
- If it looks bad, it doesn’t always get better.
- It’s not always embarrassing to admit defeat and do a u-turn.
- Asking the right questions might save you plenty of hassle.
- Mistakes are life’s growing pains, you won’t grow without them.
- God has an amazing ability to put the right people in the right place.
- Life events will teach the teachable soul many lessons.
In my research for my sermon for tomorrow I have come across this interesting snippet from a letter by CS Lewis. On July 17, 1953 he wrote a letter to a Mrs. Frank Jones in which he explained why he did not own a TV set:
People who have sets seem to do nothing but go into a huddle over them every evening of their lives, instead of being out walking, or in their gardens. And of course, like all things which begin as luxuries, they end up by being necessities; an unofficial cost of living survey was recently held in our [community], and quite a large percentage of the working class interviewed complained that if prices didn’t come down, or wages go up, they would not be able to maintain their payments on their television sets—which have now become part of the worker’s basic standard of living. C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C S Lewis, Volume III (Harper Collins, 2007), page 350.
This continues to stir-up my mind and heart about the ‘wants and needs’ of our consumer driven society.
Fear is our enemy.
It speaks a language that often no one else understands.
It taunts you. It blindsides you. It is our Chinese water torture.
It hits the young and the old, the rich and the poor.
It spreads and often seems to play it’s hide and seek game.
It’s nested in the mind but it affects your whole body.
It’s yours but it spills into the life of all those around you.
Some allegedly seem to thrive on it – the daredevils of our day – while most of us are sidelined by it.
God knows all this.
That’s why often, His message was : ‘fear not’
When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I trust; I will not be afraid.
Our Lord in heaven,
our hearts overflow when we think of Your goodness to us.
Even though some of us may have difficult times
and insoluble problems to face,
yet You fit for each one of us Your blessing.
You do not lay upon us any burden we are unable to bear.
You always intend and purpose some good thing for us.
As we are sick,You are teaching us to lean upon Your kind arm.
In our heartaches, You are showing us that You are our hope and our refuge.
Lord, had we a thousand lives to dedicate to You,
it would be too short a time.
We pray that through all eternity we may live in Your presence;
bow before You, sing Your praises, speak of You loving kindness.
O God, how wonderful You are to us.
And we pray that the sweet communion and fellowship of our church
can be felt by even a passerby, a stranger in our midst;
the love of God in Christ Jesus that passes all understanding,
ours to enjoy, to share, to possess forever and ever.
Thank You, Master, for every good thing You give us…
– W. A. Criswell, adapted
HT: Trevin Wax
HB Charles Jr has some great advice in praise of long pastorates:
Brothers, churches are not stepping-stones. It is wrong to pastor a church looking out the window for a bigger or better opportunity to come a long. The souls over which the Lord has made you an overseer deserve your best. For that matter, the Lord demands your best.
Be faithful right where you are. Work on the depth of your ministry and trust God to work on the breadth of your ministry. If the Lord intends for you to be somewhere, believe me, he knows how to get you there. Until then, plant your flag. Preach the word. Love the people you have been called to. Count it a privilege that the Lord would use you to lead his people. And serve the Lord with gladness.