Finally Found What I was Looking For

I’ve been in the ministry for over 20 years. For many of those years of serving God and the church, something huge was missing. No more! What is this “thing” that I was lacking?

The answer lies within the story of two of my friends. They have the same “thing” that I had longed for. The problem, I couldn’t find it. At least, not the way I was searching for it.

One friend, is the lead pastor of an awesome church near Houston. We were visiting a few weeks ago and I noticed he had this “thing” that I did not. I’ve known this guy for over 15 years. Truth is, he has always had it, but I had only recently realized that what he had was something that I really wanted.

My other friend is also a minister. He was a passionate pastor and evangelist but had suffered some pretty bad spiritual abuse from pastors and other church leaders. He was a former college football player and the ultimate competitor. He is now confined to a bed with late stages of MS. We spent a few hours together and I noticed that he too had the “thing” that I don’t see in many people. Especially pastors like me.

Both of these guys have what I have always wanted in my ministry. Am I coveting? No. I don’t want their “thing”, I want my own.

As I said, I have been in the ministry for a pretty long time. I have worked hard at it, and God has blessed greatly. I am thankful for my many experiences and life lessons. I am grateful for learning that God deserves our best. I love the many opportunities and the thousands of people God has placed in my path. But even in all of these great things, that “thing” was still missing.

Working hard has never been a problem for me. Long hours, week after week without a day off was routine. When I needed a break, I disappeared for a few days to recharge, then I’d get back to it with full force. My life has been filled with “striving”. Striving to achieve. Striving to please. Striving to be successful. I love to compete. I have run on the performance treadmill for many years. But in all of that busyness for God, I missed something critical for my life. Here is that thing. It’s called REST. Rest with God. How did I finally find it? Actually, it found me.

In starting a church a couple of years ago, I have never worked harder in my life. But something’s different now. And it happened only recently. For the first year and a half of church planting, I did what I knew best: Work hard. Push. Strive. Compete. Perform. It almost killed me. But even in the craziness, of the pace, God heard my prayer and blessed me with my heart’s desire. Yes. Finally. My heart is at rest with God. Doesn’t mean that my days aren’t busy. Many of them are. But now, my heart is at REST with God. It is so totally awesome. It’s so fulfilling to work hard, play hard, and rest in the fact that God is pleased with my day. I don’t have to perform in order to be accepted by Him. I am not in competition with any other pastor or any other church. As long as I am faithful to what God has called me to do today, then my day is successful. He alone is responsible for the fruit of my ministry. I simply need to be faithful to Him.

It is hard to fully describe the joy of resting in Christ! Whew. What a relief. God is pleased with me!

Are you tired of striving? Then Rest. Even in the middle of a busy day, you can find rest in Christ. If you are exhausted in your serving, then you are not resting. If your service for God is burning you out, then you are NOT resting.

Psalm 46:10 - “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

If God is in charge, then I can rest. If He is not in charge, then I’d better get busy performing!

Jesus invited us to come and find rest for our souls. Need rest? Stop trying to please God with your performance and let Him “perform” great things through you as you rest in Him.

I pray that you will find rest for your soul, in the presence of our Amazing Father God!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Thursday, February 4, 2010

So I am taking my daughter Madison to school and as we pull into the carpool line we hear a siren. We couldn't see what it was or where it was , so we started looking around. As I glanced back at my little First Grader, I heard her praying, "Jesus, we pray for you to help whoever is hurt that they will be ok. Be with them and keep them safe. Amen." I told her that it was so nice to do that. She says that mommy does it every time they hear a siren.

Kristi had never "told" Madison to pray when they heard a siren. Instead, she simply did it, and Madison was watching...learning. So when Madison heard a siren, she didn't need mommy to pray, she had learned to do it herself. It became her natural response to a siren. So awesome!

Made me wonder what I am modeling in front of my kids. Maybe some of the things we see in our kids are a direct reflection of us. We can blame this challenging world we live in. We can blame our churches for not doing enough. But the reality is, for the most part, our kids reflect us, parents. And what I "say" counts for little when compared with what I "do". That is a fact.

Lord God, help me to model for my children, a life dependent on You. Help me to show my kids how to treat others with love and grace. The same love and grace I desire from others.

Dealing with Rejection

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I’ve been studying for my sermon this weekend and needed a break. The topic is pretty sensitive to me and I’m sure to many others as well. Rejection. We’ve all experienced it at some level. Even Jesus experienced rejection from some really close friends. You can read it for yourself in John 13.

Depending on the relationship and the circumstances, rejection can be pretty devastating. I’ve lost some really good friends over the past couple of years. I’ve called them. Left messages. Sent word with mutual friends. Nothing. Not even a “tell Doug hi”. Of all those who can hurt you, it’s those closest to you who have the greatest potential to inflict the most pain.

So how can we deal with rejection? We’ll, we can choose to take revenge. You know, say bad things about them or do things to smear their reputation. That might feel good for a little while, but it will only make matters worse. Or, we could respond to rejection by building a wall around our heart to block the offender out. Problem is, that wall around your heart might keep other’s out as well. That can be a pretty lonely existence!

Fact is, how we deal with rejection impacts so much of our life. So how should I respond to rejection? We need to look no further than the life of Jesus to get the answer: Choose to forgive. To forgive means to “release someone from debt”. That means the person who offended you no longer “owes” you anything.

In some cases forgiveness can come pretty easily. I have chosen to forgive my “lost friends” of the last couple of years. If they called today, I’d be so excited to visit with them. There are other friends I’ve loaned money to who have never paid me back or even said “thank you”. I’ve chosen to forgive them as well. When I was 14 years old, I was “in love” with an older woman who was 16 years old. She said she didn’t “love me the same way”. Ouch! But I have forgiven her, too.

In other cases, forgiveness seems to take a little more time. I’ve had those experiences as well. (Sorry, I’m not going to name names.) But I have chosen, over time, to forgive them. Some situations seem to have taken me a little more time and a lot more grace.

Is there someone you need to forgive? You may be thinking that there is no way you can do it. God says He is willing to give us all the grace we need to do it!

2 Corinthians 9:8 assures us:

8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Cry out to Our God, “Lord, give me the grace to forgive ______________________ .” Pray it over and again until He blesses you with the grace you need. And when He does, choose to forgive!