Easter Poster

aaaaalhjtr copyAn Easter poster I created from one of my images. A joyous Ester to all of you! God’s blessing on TRYING to communicate such an astonishing message! All of our Easter sermons will be a ridiculous understatement!

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HeartCarvedInSandThere are times when the sheep we’re called to shepherd hurt us.  This statement by Spurgeon spoke to me.

“When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good.” (quoted from Attributes of God, A. W. Pink, eBook Loc 1116)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1 — and five other times in the Bible)

Sermon Prep

sermonicebergSoooo true, or at least it SHOULD be!

Leading The Flock Or Just Tending The Flock?

shepherdWe pastors are to be under-shepherds for Jesus, the Great Shepherd. I think the sheep we’re called to tend often have a different idea of our job description from what we believe it to be.

Our flock wants us to tend to their needs: preach, marry, bury, and visit the sick and shut-in. In addition to these roles of the shepherd most pastors believe there’s also the role of leading the flock. I’ve watched shepherds do their job of shepherding and though the sheep may wander during grazing it’s the shepherd who leads them to where they’re to go. The sheep of our pasture often don’t get this.

I’ve been the pastor of the same church for over 37 years and I still sense people resisting my leadership on many an occasion. I suspect that in churches where there’s a history of pastoral change every few years the pastor can express very little true leadership. Do they see the pastoral role as plug ‘n play? Probably. It’s less about being a shepherd who leads the flock and more about being a chaplain to an institution.

“Behold, there go my people! I must hasten after them, for I am their leader!” 

My church’s constitution gives the pastor almost no authority, and I’m OK with that. After all, the best authority is that which is gained through influence and respect. This takes time, lots of time, a reason I’ve always believed in the benefit of long-term pastorates.

What to do? Perhaps you have some suggestions. I remind myself that Jesus Himself didn’t have the respect of everyone, not by a long ways. To some degree we’re all Rev. Rodney Dangerfields. Our God also reminds us that it is in weakness and humility that somehow, someway God is able to use us and expand His kingdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)

In the end, we do what we can. And we remember we do our task of shepherding as best as we can because our calling is from our Great Shepherd and that it is not dependent on how His sheep act. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” (1 Peter 5:2-4)

Our Own Spiritual Health First

oxygen maskEvery time you fly the pre-flight safety lecture by the flight attendants includes proper use of the oxygen mask. A loss of air pressure in the cabin will activate the dropping down of the oxygen masks. You’re instructed to put yours on before you attempt to help a child, or someone else, get theirs on. Why? You aren’t going to be able to help someone else get oxygen if you don’t first have it yourself. When you’re passed out you’re pretty much useless to anyone else.

I see a corollary for those of us who shepherd people along the spiritual journey. We aren’t going to be able to help them take in the breath of life unless we are first breathing that Holy Spirit rarefied air ourselves. I’m not comfortable with the secular philosophical statement, “Take care of yourself first,” but we really aren’t much good to others if we don’t first let God be good to us.

This means that I don’t allow the busyness of ministry to crowd out my own personal time with the Lord. This means that I don’t find my greatest satisfaction in ministering the Lord to others but in allowing the Lord to minister to me.

“And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22) We must inhale before we can exhale, take in a breath before we can speak, take in the breath of the Holy Spirit before we can exhale a Holy Spirit inspired word.

Inhale before you exhale, inhale and then exhale.  This concludes our breathing lesson for today.

Just a thought….

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