Archive | May, 2013

“Child’s Play” How a Little Girl humiliated Me & the Lesson God Taught Me

20 May

I’m normally fat. Obese. Overweight. And I like eating. So I’m I always doing something that will allow me to eat and lose weight. Or at least not gain anymore. Right now I’m doing the P90x deal. In the past I’ve done weight watchers, juiced, dieted, etc. For a while I was on a running kick. I was doing 5 miles a few times a week. I’m disciplined at times, not so disciplined at others. And I get bored easily. So sticking to one plan just doesn’t work well with me. Oh yeah, and my wife is skinny. She mainly eats chocolate while I work out.

It was a pretty normal day. I took my son to the county recreation department for baseball practice. There is a track that circles all the fields. While he practiced I would run laps. It was the beginning of Spring so lots of people were there. Spring sports were getting started for all ages. The run wasn’t too bad. Except for this one spot. It was horrible. In one particular area of the track there was a little troll…I mean girl. Freckles covered her soft white face. Her wildly red hair was desperately trying to free itself from her head. And she was riding a bike.

At first this little girl seemed cute. When I approached her bridge, I mean her spot, she decided it would be fun to race me. I don’t run fast. She passes me and leaves me in the dust of her bicycle. Then she looks back at me like I’m the tortoise and she is the hare. She stops. I approach her in my normal gait. She says nothing. I smile and continue on to the next lap.

Unbeknownst to me a game has begun. In this game I am always the loser. Each time I make the loop she is waiting on me. And each time she humiliates me with her bicycle and youthful seven year old speed. I am convinced she is mocking me. I’m pretty sure she is talking trash to all her friends as well. “Hey watch me beat Big Boy when he gets here” she is likely saying. So I begin to get a little intimidated. I didn’t ask for this. Part of me wants to try and outrun her. But I’m weighing my options. Maybe I could outrun her. But what if I didn’t? I mean then all those kids would be laughing at me then. And I would likely see this girl again. I don’t know if I could show my face back at the Rec field after that. So I thought the best thing I could do was just keep cool. Maintain my pace. So that’s what I did.

As I made my way around for another lap I dreaded the approach to Raggedy Ann. I was tired. I was breathing hard. My feelings were hurt. But I pressed on.She was waiting on me. She backed up behind me, sped off in front of all of her family and friends and left me in the dust…again. But something different happened this time. When I approached her she spoke to me. I bet you can’t guess what she said. I was hoping for an apology or a compliment on my calves. But I didn’t get that. She said very confidently & mockingly “I’m going faster than you!” She was an observant little thing, I’ll give her that. the only thing missing from her comment was a “Na, na, na, boo, boo”.

I nodded my head in agreement with her acute assessment of the situation. Then a  smile curled my lips. A thought popped into my mind. I told myself “Yes you are going FASTER than me, but I’m going FURTHER than you!” And that little thought encouraged me. I finished my run a little more confidently. I’m not sure where that little girl is today. I’m thinking she is probably incarcerated somewhere. But I do know that the Lord taught me a lesson that day that has stuck with me. If I look around it’s easy to find people that seem to be going faster than me. It seems their church is growing at a faster rate. They are being recognized in their field by their contemporaries. It appears they are doing overnight what I haven’t been able to accomplish in years. If I put my eyes on these folks it’s easy to get discouraged. I’m tempted even to stop running the race. It’s then that I need to remember that ultimately it’s not about how fast I run but how far I run. I know many that started out fast but aren’t even in the race anymore.

To be honest, I’m not real good at this ministry thing. And honestly I do feel mocked. I often feel like many of my contemporaries are passing me by. And I dread “passing by” some of them sometimes. They seem to do so much better than I do. And Satan reminds me on a regular basis of how slow, under qualified and foolish I am. And perhaps I am all of those things. But I’m going to keep running. I’m not going to quit. You see the bottom line is that many may go faster than us. But no one can go further than us. Because the finish line is Christ Himself. That’s where we are all heading. We may have to pass some troll bridges on the way. But let’s not let that discourage us. Keep running. And ignore the little red heads. (Hebrews 12:1)

Why I Don’t Quit

16 May

It was a cold Friday morning. As a bi-vocational pastor, Friday was my day off. The kids were in school & my wife was at work. I like to do two things on my day off: fish and hunt. Hunting season wasn’t in so I headed to the Suwanee river. I don’t have a boat so I’d be fishing off the bank. I would get to the river by passing through a church members private property and then driving down a trail in the woods. My spot was very secluded and very quiet. Just the way I like it.

My wife had already told me I shouldn’t go fishing. She is a city girl. She believes that one day I will get eaten by some wild animal or killed by an escape convict hiding in the woods. Plus she told me it was too cold and I would get sick. Now don’t misunderstand me. I love my wife. She is a great wife and a great mother. Problem is, she has three kids I have two. 

So I’m enjoying my day. But honestly it was windy and pretty cold. I was fishing for catfish. I love catfish. I usually take a couple of poles. So after setting up one of my poles I laid it down. I walked away for just a moment to work on another set up. I was about 30 feet from my rod when I realized I had a fish on. The whole thing was heading into the Suwanee River. It left the bank and sped hurriedly with the current. I jumped into the river to get my pole. My foot sank into a hole and I went face first into the river. By God’s grace I caught my pole. I stood up and realized I still had the fish. After a good fight I landed the beast. Two massive pounds of catfish.

I was drenched from head to toe. I was cold. I was bleeding from my dash against the rocks. And then I remembered that my wife had sent her cell phone with me. It was in my pocket. It was wet. It didn’t work. In the quiet of the early morning I could hear my wife who happened to be about 40 miles away at work. She said a lot to me…..and about me. 

I prayed that day….for my wife’s cell phone. After I took it apart and broke out the hair dryer the Lord resurrected it. I was grateful for that. I cleaned my fish, picked up the kids and waited for my wife to get home. When she arrived I told her the whole story. I’ll spare you the details. But to summarize it ” You’re gonna get killed out there one day!” was pretty much all that was said.

Honestly I did feel like an idiot. I did look like an idiot. I was wet. I was cold. I was hurt. But you know what? I’m still going to go fishing. You know why? Because I love fishing. And that’s why I keep at this thing we call ministry. There are times I am embarrassed. There are times I am beat up and overwhelmed with the storms of life. There are times I do dumb things and make a fool of myself. There are times the cold winds of loneliness blow against me. But I keep going. I keep running this race. Because quiet honestly, I love fishing. I love bringing Christ glory by sharing the gospel with a lost world. To a lot of folks it doesn’t make sense. But to me it makes perfect sense. I’m a fisher of men. And I always will be. Jesus told me to follow Him and He would make me into one. He has done just that and I am glad.

Some Do’s & Dont’s on Mother’s Day

9 May

Last Mother’s Day I made it a point not to take the whole “Mother’s Day” phenom in the church too far. I talked about how insensitive we can be on Mother’s Day. I talked about barrenness, horrible mom’s, etc. After the service a young woman that recently started attending came and spoke with me. She thanked me. She said for years Mother’s day had been so awkward for her. She felt guilty. She felt less than other women because she was barren. She said that she had never been to a church that made her feel comfortable on Mother’s Day. That really humbled me. It inspired me to be careful on Mother’s day.

I certainly hope no one takes this post the wrong way. I have nothing against women. My mom is a woman. I married a woman. My daughter is on her way to womanhood. So please, bear with me. I just want to vent a little bit. If we are not careful as a church we can go overboard on Mother’s Day. In fact, as far as our worship service goes, it can become “Smothers Day”. Rather than focusing on Christ, our focus can easily shift to people. I am aware that God has lots to say about moms. And I also believe that mothers are under appreciated and overlooked in our society. We could write volumes on those two truths. However, I want to use this space to steer our churches in the right direction this Mother’s Day.

1) Don’t say “Being a mother is the greatest privilege in the world.” Here are a few reasons why we shouldn’t say that:
* It isn’t true. Being a child of the King is the greatest privilege in the world.
* It is hurtful. It implies that if you are a father or a barren/childless mom you can’t enjoy the greatest privilege in the world.
* It is disingenuous. Honest people listening to us know that statement isn’t true. It can cause folks to tune us out for the rest of the service.

2) Don’t plan the worship service around moms. We go to church to celebrate Jesus. I understand that our culture has created a great day for worthy individuals. The restaurants, flower shops, and even our churches benefit from it. That’s all fine. But when we walk into church we shut the world out. It’s about Jesus. Every worship service should be planned around Him.

3) Don’t exaggerate. We do that in church sometimes. There are a lot of songs out there about a mother’s Bible or a mother’s prayers. Granted there are some wonderful praying moms and we are thankful for them. But be careful. Prayers are not more powerful because the woman who prayed them bore children. We shouldn’t pretend that by virtue of being a mom you will pray better than other folks.

4) Don’t deify moms. I’m convinced that some people want to go to heaven simply because their mother is there. I will guarantee you that there is not a mother in heaven that wants to be the center of attention. Everyone in heaven has their eternal attention on the Lamb of God. And please don’t portray mom’s as the greatest gift ever given to us! I think John 3:16 lays that one out for us pretty plain.

5) Do let mom’s know how much you love and appreciate them.

6) Do remind mom’s of their responsibility before God to lead their children to Christ.

7) Do comfort those that are barren or single or have lost children.

8) Do preach the gospel. Share Christ. Tell the folks that Christ loves them more than their mother does. Tell them that the pain their mother endured so they could be born cannot compare to the pain that Christ endured so they could be reborn.

As a final note I would encourage you to show your mom how much you love her if at all possible. For that matter, show every woman in your life how much you appreciate and love them. Women are a special gift from God. They should be loved and appreciated every day.