Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Guilty As Charged

I have been judged and found wanting by the scales of justice. Before you cart me off to the Pokey let me explain. Like many other Christians I have read Jesus' command that we "judge not lest we be judged". Also like many other Christians I have reasoned in my heart that there is an exception in there somewhere that allows us to judge people who do and say really dumb things when it comes to the church. Suddenly today I realized I have been intolerant of a lot of people in the church just because they held to a different idea than me.

Here is the admittedly lame thing that happened. A relative I know attends a church that is looking for a new Pastor. They have actually been looking for over a year. I guess since they have a good interim they have grown a little drowsy in their pursuit. The search committee of the church is bringing a man before the church in view of a call this weekend. They have provided a great deal of information about the man including a resume with photo and some verbal testimony of the search committee members. From that information alone several members of the body have already made up their mind about how they will vote on God's will.

That deeply spiritual search for the Lord's will was expressed in this comment. "I'm not going to vote for him, he is not married and he has a beard." I did not make this up. Okay, let's be as open minded as possible on this as we can. The last time I checked Jesus, Son of God, our Savior and model for life, was unmarried and likely had a beard. I'm guessing this means that according to these two characteristics God would not be qualified to serve as the Pastor of the church. I have heard of churches historically battling over the issue of Pastoral celibacy but never have I heard of a problem like this in a Baptist Church. Did I mention that he is engaged to be married? At least he will be more qualified after June!

Forgive me, my sarcasm runneth over. To spare these good folk any further embarrassment let's forget the obscenely ridiculous and focus on the simply ridiculous. The truth is many of us often drag extra-Biblical demands to the table in the search for God's will. It doesn't matter whether it is the amount and position of his facial hair or whether we like or dislike the style of his preaching. None of these have any relation to whether he is called of God and whether that calling is to this particular ministry.

The real issue in a church's search for a Pastor, or in pursuing any other decision, is that we should be seeking God's will, not our own agenda. His will is best found through a passionate and prayerful search, not a checklist of the things we want.

That is why I am now guilty as charged. I felt God's conviction that I also bring other things to the table. Instead of looking at the banquet that God has laid out for me I crowd the table with my own junk food. Just because the things I look for are not as silly (to me) as the one from that sister church does not mean they are any less foul in God's sight. I want to learn to empty myself of everything else and seek His will alone. I am going to pray for that brother who needs to know God's will in regards to his next Pastor.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sound of the Abundance of Rain

It's a beautiful Texas morning! Or at least I think it would be if I could see the sky. It's raining today, raining hard. We call it a "frog choker". The sound of the abundance of rain is wonderful and we are very thankful for it.

It rained at church yesterday too. The sky was beautiful outside and on the inside I felt the presence of His Holy Spirit. I am preaching a series on the family. I have received a boatload of complements and requests for copies of the messages. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand it is good to know that the Spirit is connecting through me. On the other I am a little frustrated that people seem to respond so well to topical messages I preach rather than more exegetical messages. Since exegesis means "to bring forth" I guess that it what I am doing with the Scriptures I used in my message yesterday, "Raising Godly Children".

The rain however, was not in the message but in the response. Several young people from a local Foster Home Ranch came forward. If you ever want an earnest prayer meeting just take a serious request from a hurting child and go to the Father. I cannot even begin to describe it so I won't except for this. I immediately felt as if heaven was silent, anxiously awaiting the appeal.

In the afternoon we had a wedding. We had decided a couple of Church Council meetings ago to have no activities scheduled for this Sunday night due to Spring Break. Now we know it was a God thing. A fantastic and beautiful young lady in our church got engaged recently and the family decided to have the wedding very quickly (two weeks!) because her brother was going to home on leave from Guantanamo. It was a great wedding. It was the kind of wedding that makes you so full of joy for the couple and happiness for the parents that you just can't help but to heap embarrassing praise on them both.

So with all this joy why was I so down yesterday afternoon? So much movement by the Spirit. So much joy among the family. Yet I was grounded, my wings clipped, leaving me feeling useless and lonely. Perhaps some of it is physical exhaustion. I guess some of it was a shared burden for a Brother in Christ who I love deeply. He was hurting so I hurt too. Maybe some of it is the side effects of the seizure medication I am taking. Some of it has to be spiritual warfare. The thought kept bearing down on me that there is so much more work to do. I know I don't do the saving but I still kept thinking, "I cannot save them all"!

If I were counseling from my own grace filled and loving point of view I would tell myself to "build a bridge and get over it"! Thankfully, God sent someone else to deliver the message. Two Godly friends and my Godly wife would not let me wallow but instead threw a rope of prayer around me and pulled me out of the mud. My wife then took me to visit and hold a new baby that the Lord has blessed one of my Bible Study couples with this last week. There is something about "baby therapy" that is amazing, like smelling salts for the soul. All the darkness was not gone but there was a growing light coming over the horizon.

The sound of the abundance of rain is slowing outside yet the amazing thunder of God continues in the distance. I feel like God has thundered His way through the darkness that clouded my heart, washed me clean and restored my vision. Maybe the light on the horizon is not just the sun. In my heart it reminds me of His love shining through. It may not burn through the clouds immediately but it will burn through the clouds certainly.

I hope you are feeling very "up" today.