Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Be Careful What You Pray For

God has a knack of teaching me (i.e. hitting me in the face with a 2 X 4). I recently started a series on "Grace." It's important to spend the year looking at the grace of God and what it should mean in our lives. What has happened has been a spate of incidences that make me look to myself in regards to grace.

Without being too specific, there have been divorces, sad judicial rulings, angry people, other people doing things I don't appreciate, and the list goes on and on. There was more going on than I had remembered in my ministry in a long time. It was really getting to me when I realized, "I prayed that God teach me about grace." GOOD LESSON #1--Be careful what you pray for, it may come true. I am having to learn about grace. About giving people a break. About realizing that in spite of what happens, I must react as God would react. I must realize that grace is so vital in our world.

So I'm trying to crawl out of the pit. It's a difficult concept to learn. I understand a little bit of what Job felt when God finally responded to his questions. (Although God never really answered Job.) These have been hard lessons, but I think they are helping me understand in some small way what God wants of me in regards to grace.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't preach a series on patience

Monday, February 10, 2014

That Made Me Sad

I had to laugh when my daughter told me about a recent incident at the doctor with my three-year-old grandson. He had been coughing and running a high fever so the doctor suspected he had the flu. It's just a simple test to determine the cause of his ague. The doctor just needs to swipe the inside of one of his nostrils and look to see if there are any flu bugs. Did I say this was a simple test?

Hearing my daughter describe the scene made it even funnier to me. She was holding his head with her left hand, she had his legs between her legs, and with her right hand she was trying to hold his right hand. This all the while the doctor is trying to swab his nose. Now, two adults are bigger and stronger than one three-year-old....barely. But with him flailing and crying, I imagine it was next to impossible to carry out said deed. It was probably like trying to give a cat a bath. What came next is what impacted me. Through his tears, once the struggle was over, he said, "That made me sad."

Know what makes me sad? A family who loses a parent way too soon. A couple who haven't been married very long who decide their marriage is not worth saving. Those who don't care what others think about them, so they mess up their lives with alcohol, drugs, or pornography. A mom and a dad who lose their son or daughter to the world because their faith is not strong enough. The word "cancer." Car wrecks. Apathetic attitudes toward Jesus. Those who blame all of their problems on the church or the preacher. Money over family. World over God. As a minister, in my own way I have flailed and beaten myself over many I have seen go through all of these. And I wonder, "Father, what is happening?"

But I press on. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness." That song continues to ring through my mind. I know that God is faithful and He is greater than anything Satan throws in our way. Martin Luther's favorite psalm was Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

In verse 7 it says, "...the God of Jacob is our fortress." That's our God. More important than the Olympics. Greater than any president, prime minister, or king. He reigns over all the earth. When I become overwhelmed and sad, I remember words from my earthly father who wrote to me many years ago with the wisdom he received from others. He said to me, "Jim, just remember. God is still on the throne." I've got to tell you...that makes me happy.