Monday, July 28, 2014

Joy is Serious Business

Joy is serious business! It is the natural state of the soul. Joylessness is like a toothache, which indicates an internal cavity -- or worse.

When we realize the joy has evaporated -- it's time to do some inner heart examination. Where did it go? What toxins have entered my soul, resulting this negativism? What must I do to recapture the joy? Leaking seems to be a part of the human condition. We're all a bunch of "joy leakers!"

One lady tearfully prayed, “Please fill me with joy again!" Her husband, overhearing her request, prayed, "Don't do it Lord! She leaks!"

It might be a good idea to patch up the holes.  Perhaps we need a spiritual root canal.

Holding a small perspective towards life will drain the joy right out of your heart. As the hero in Red Badge of Courage stated, "elfin thoughts made cowards of us all."

Ancient desert fathers spoke of "logismoi", the dark thoughts -- the false thoughts and desires that lead us to despair.

If you want to rekindle the joy, you have to declare war on "logismoi!" What false thoughts have been hammering your mind? How have dark thoughts clouded reality? The truth will set you free!

Gordon MacDonald, in "Monday Morning Restoration", spoke of the "Seven Deadly Siphons. These are the things that drain our positive energy, faith and joy.

1) Words without action.
2) Busyness without purpose.
3) Calendars without a Sabbath.
4) Relationships without mutual nourishment.
5) Personality without self-examination.
6) Natural giftedness without spiritual power.
7) An enormous theology without an adequate spirituality. 


From such things, Oh Lord, deliver us, and help us plug the leaks!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Go Fishing and Leave the Universe to God

"This day you and I will discuss the governance of the universe."said Philip Melancthon to Luther.

Martin Luther responded, "This day you and I will go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Measure Every Grief


A poem by Emily Dickinson:

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long –
Or did it just begin –
I could not tell the Date of Mine –
It feels so old a pain – 

I wonder if it hurts to live –
And if They have to try –
And whether – could They choose between –
It would not be – to die – 

I note that Some – gone patient long –
At length, renew their smile –
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil –

I wonder if when Years have piled –
Some Thousands – on the Harm –
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm – 

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain –
In Contrast with the Love – 

The Grieved – are many – I am told –
There is the various Cause –
Death – is but one – and comes but once –
And only nails the eyes –

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –
A sort they call "Despair" –
There's Banishment from native Eyes –
In Sight of Native Air – 

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary – 

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they're mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like My Own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Advice for a New Pastor


A friend contacted me, seeking advice as he began the pastorate of a new church.  Here's how I responded:

1)  You only have four jobs:  preach, pray, lead and love -- not necessarily in that order.  Your prayer life is the single most important factor in your ministry -- you must maintain a robust soul, overflowing with Christ for effective ministerial service,.

2)  Loving people is the key -- and not just the people in your  congregation -- but the whole community.  That means intentionally going out to seek them.  By default, most pastors stay in their offices too much, when they need to be out where people are.

3)  Look for those who are suffering and bring love to them -- and better yet, take someone with you when you go.  This is a blessing in more than one respect -- and will multiply favor and blessing when you demonstrate the compassion of Christ.

4)  Don't get worked up about little things -- most issues aren't worth the fight.  Go with the flow mostly - -and save protests for the big stuff.

5)  Assume 85-90 percent of the responsibility for getting along with people.  (some are unreasonable -- that's why I don't say 100 percent) -- but if you "get along" with others, they will "go along": with you.

6)  Preach with stories -- illustration works far better than explanation.

7)  Schedule at least one connection with a non-church person each week -- more if you can.

8)  If you don't know them already, within the first week or so, make appointments with community leaders -- such as the mayor, police chief, school supt, postmaster, funeral director - -they need to know who you are and what you're doing.  When you meet them, make it brief - -without any requests or expectations.

9)  Mobilize your people to bless the community -- have discussions with them -- what are the dark placees in our community?  How can we light a candle in the darkness?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eight Ways to Make a Good Day

1. Determine to have a good day.


Make up your mind that you are going to make the best of this day, no matter what! A firm decision to live positively is half the battle.

2. Start your day with a prayer. 


Before you get out of bed, pause and thank God for your life and ask for guidance and wisdom.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff. 

Isn't it funny how we can become so uptight about non-essentials? My friend, Eunice Walker, calls these petty frustrations "bugs on the windshield of life." Refuse to let minor annoyances get the best of you.

4. Look for postcards from heaven. 

Every day God sends postcards that say, "I love you." He hides them in the most unexpected places - and you have to search in order to find them. Each day is packed full of blessings for you to enjoy. Look again!

5. Release your resentment and regret. 

Some people are hostage to the past. Regret and resentment (the Siamese twins of misery) bind us up so we cannot enjoy the present. Yesterday is history. You can't go back and change it - but you can do something about today. Make the most of your moments - and do not allow bandits from your past to rob your joy.

6. Invest your life in service to others. 

One of the best ways to be happy and fulfilled in life is to be a blessing to others. Look for ways to help and encourage other people, and you will be rewarded with happiness. I've never yet met a generous grouch.

7. Always tell the truth. 

Honesty brings freedom to the soul.

8. Nurture your most important relationships. 

Be sure to cherish your faith, family and friends. Don't get so caught up in the hectic pace of making a living that you forget to make a life. The human heart is rich, indeed, when full of love.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy Belated Birthday to John Calvin


Yesterday was John Calvin's 505th birthday.

Happy Belated Birthday to You!
Happy Belated Birthday to You!
Happy Belated Birthday Dear Johnny-Boy!
Happy Belated Birthday To You!

Q: What do get when John Piper drinks Mountain Dew?
A: A Hyper Calvinist!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Matter of Perspective

The rain had ended. The sun was shining. A beautiful rainbow arched across the sky.

"Isn't this a beautiful day?" the robin chirped contentedly.

"That, my friend," said the snail, as he raised his mud-soaked face, "is a matter of perspective."