Gratitude Forsaken

I was made to think, today.

I had finished a graveside service over in Madison and was driving home in pouring rain across a little country road. There was a couple walking along the road in the direction I was going. I had seen them walking that same road, a little further up, on my way to the service earlier in the morning.

I never stop for hitchhikers unless they are somebody I know. It's just not a safe thing to do these days. If you don't know who you are picking up, then you don't know what their moral compass is (or if they even have one), whether they are high, or what their intentions are.

But, I stopped this morning for this couple in the rain. I asked them if they needed a ride. They were so grateful as they climbed into the Jeep.

They were a younger couple. Well, late 20's or early 30's -- that's "younger" to me now. He looked like someone who had done physical labor at some time, looking at his hands and his build. She was pregnant.

How Our Clothing Preaches

I have just come off of several days on jury duty.  This was my first time, so it was an interesting experience.  The hours were long and sometimes mind-numbingly boring, but overall it was interesting to see our legal system at work from that perspective.

One very interesting fact was that the guidelines given to us as jurors actually included a dress code.  We were to avoid wearing things such as shorts, halter tops, and immodest or overly-casual clothing.  Why? We were to dress appropriately in order to show respect for the judge, the court, and the judicial process which goes on in the courtroom.

Cages of Our Own Making

I hate being limited. When I want to do something, I want to be able to just go do it. Yet, I look around and see all kinds of limitations on my life.

Some of these limitations are put there by God. I have seen many times in the past where God has limited me by circumstances in order to protect me from something.

Pragmatism or Principle?

All through history, people have had to choose between acting according to principle and acting according to pragmatism.

When we act according to principle, we do what is right, regardless of the consequences.

When we act according to pragmatism, we do what we believe will give us the results we want to see. “The ends justify the means” is the ultimate in pragmatic philosophy.

Which is right? Do we act according to principle and endure possible shame, ridicule, and harm? Or, do we be pragmatic, doing what we need to do in order to get the results we want to see – regardless whether it violates our conscience, morality, or ethics?

21 Things Missionaries Wish Pastors Understood

I pastored for over twelve years before going “on the road” to raise support for our new church planting project. As a pastor, my experience with missionaries has been overwhelmingly positive, and as a “missionary,” my experience with pastors and churches has been 100% positive. I have not had a bad church visit, yet.

However, as I talk with and fellowship with other missionaries, there are some common (and some not-so-common) things that many wish they could communicate to pastors.

Encouraging Moments

It's easy to become "weary in well doing" during those long stretches of ministry when we don't see any fruit.  We know intellectually that God did not call us to labor just when we "see" fruit, yet it is so encouraging when He does reveal something to us.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 tells us that we should not pass judgement on our work too soon.

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

If we are doing what God wants us to do, then we are generating fruit, whether we see it or not. A faithless society and a faithless religion must see fruit to think it is accomplishing anything, but we set pragmatism aside when we step into the ministry roles to which God has called us.

20 Things Pastors Wish Missionaries Understood

My experience with missionaries during my time as pastor was very positive.  During my time "on the road," I have been able to talk with many pastors, who have shared their experiences with missionaries.  Again, the experience of most pastors is very positive -- but every pastor has one or two stories of things that went very wrong with visiting missionaries.  Below are pieces of advice culled not only from my own time as pastor but also from numerous pastors I have visited with and fellowshipped with.  A missionary who takes these things to heart will avoid many potential problems as they visit churches.

God is still teaching

One of the blessings God has given me as I have travelled over the last 20 months or so has been the privilege of meeting many of the people with whom I have corresponded by email over the last few years. I have "met" so many good people through my work with and over the last 20 years, but our contact has been almost entirely by email, until now. One of the "little joys" for me has been to finally meet many of these people face-to-face.