Boredom: How to drive a stake through its heart forever

Scrambled eggs.

I had scrambled eggs for breakfast  yesterday morning and did not enjoy them at all. Having survived cancer of the mouth and then radiation for the head and neck area some years ago, my present reality is simply that some foods are to be eaten for their nutritional value, not for their taste.

But lying in bed this morning early and reflecting on having to determine my own menu for the rest of my days and the necessity of learning to cook a few things since the Lord took my wife to Heaven recently, it occurred to me that I should learn how to make scrambled eggs more interesting.

And I will.

Now, I’m not entirely opposed to a little boredom now and then.  It can actually assist in the creative process. But for the most part I hate it.  Of all the people in the world who should despise boredom in their personal lives, preachers and pastors should lead the parade.

Boring sermons is certainly a matter of widespread concern, true, but I’m not talking about that.

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The most frightening thing about preaching

It’s actually several facets of the same thing:  I’m speaking for God.

Imagine such a thing.

Lives hang in the balance.

People are making decisions about God based on something I say.

People are making choices about their eternal destiny based on something I say.

Is this frightening or what?

What if I get it wrong?

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Times the Lord tests the preacher

“For You, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver….” (Psalm 66:10).

I have no memory where the impetus for that particular Bible study came from that Wednesday night.  But my topic was “serving God faithfully even when fatigued.”  Perhaps it was John 4 where a very tired Lord rests at Jacob’s well, then encounters the Samaritan woman to whom He delivers a strong witness, and later the disciples remark that someone must have given Him food (4:33).

Anyway, what happened was this.

No sooner had I stepped off the platform to greet a few church members before they scattered for home than Carolyn approached me.  She and her small children had begun coming to our church after we gave them some financial assistance, and they seemed to be genuinely appreciative.  Carolyn was humble and not demanding, and we wanted to do anything for her we could.

“Brother Joe, I need to move tonight.”

How’s that?

She said, “I live in an apartment that is terrible. And I’ve lined up a new apartment that will be so much better for my children and me. But if I don’t move out of the old apartment tonight, I will lose my deposit.”

How much is your deposit, Carolyn?

Several hundred dollars.

About what she made in two weeks of work. A significant amount.

I asked where she lived now and where the new apartment was, and how much “stuff” she had.

It’s a good thing I did not know the full answers to these questions.

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What pastors do that cause their members to cringe

“Lord, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us” (Mark 9:38).

Robert Schuller died last week. This founder of the Crystal Cathedral in California and founder/host of television’s “Hour of Power” broadcast was the “media pastor” to countless millions who would never have entered my church.  He wrote books, did a lot of good, did much that was questionable, and drove us traditionalists out of our collective minds.

When I read of his passing, I posted this on my Facebook page:

My favorite Robert Schuller story: When he was a kid, his mother taught him piano lessons.  Once, in the middle of a recital, his mind went blank and he forgot the rest of the piece he was playing. There was nothing to do but walk off the stage in humiliation.  Later, his mother gave him some great advice. “Honey, any time you mess up in the middle of a piece, always end with a flourish and no one will ever remember what you did in the middle.”  Schuller would say, “Some of you have messed up in the middle of your life.  But my friend, you can end with a flourish if you start now.”

 

It’s a great story and a fine sermon illustration.

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Church leader, be the kid brother in the room.

“He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22:26).

Raise your hand if you’re the kid brother in a large family.

If so, you have been given an insight into this teaching of the Lord that most people miss altogether.

Now, in our family Mom and Dad had four sons and two daughters.  I was the number three son, born between sisters Patricia and Carolyn.  Ron was (still is) the eldest and Charlie was the youngest.  (Charlie died in 2006 and Glenn in 2014.)

Growing up, since he was the eldest in our large household, Ron took the role of the assistant father.  Whether Dad established that rule or not and whether the rest of us liked it or not, when Dad was not around, Ron called the shots.  Once when we were small, some relative came to our house and gave each of us a nickel. By nightfall, Ron had all the nickels. He’d traded or cajoled or something to corner the market on McKeever nickels.

As the baby of the family, little Charlie caught the brunt of everything.  He wore the hand-me-downs and had little say in family decisions.

I still smile at this exchange between Ron and Charlie when they were something like 15 and 6, respectively.  Ron called out, “Charlie! Come here.”  The little kid reluctantly came near.

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What to do, pastor, when you are the victim of a rumor

“Why would you rather not be wronged?…..For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:7,20).

In 1990, after a preacher had served only seven months and tore the church up twice, I arrived as the new pastor.

I  was not the excited new kid on the block as with my previous moves. This was different.

I had endured a brutal three years in my former pastorate and thought perhaps the Lord wanted this broken church (to which I was coming) and this bruised pastor (moi!) to help one another heal.

Some years later, I learned a preacher in our area was telling people that I had torn up this church because of some serious immorality.

I sought him out and asked if he were really saying this.

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Let the pastor respect his people.

“We being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5).

Has the Lord ever spoken to you through your own words?

One morning recently, I posted the following on Facebook: Pastors, do not ever say that your people do not like change.  There are no 1947 Packards on your church parking lot. Even your seniors drive late-model cars, own flat-screen televisions, and are on the computer.  They do not mind change, so long as it’s not abrupt, not all at once, and not forced on them.  Pastor, respect your people and they may surprise you.

Where did that last sentence come from, I wondered as it flew off my fingers through the keyboard onto the screen.

That was a new thought.

“Pastors, respect your people.”

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Perhaps the greatest failing of godly pastor-husbands

Many a preacher who loves the Lord, enjoys his ministry, and seems to be doing well, wishes he had married differently.

His wife does not appreciate him sufficiently.

Give me a break.

Here’s what this looks like…..

Pastor Chuck is sold out to the Lord and completely committed to the ministry to which he was called.  The church he serves is doing well.  Everything is fine, except for one small thing….

His wife irritates him sometimes.

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Five facts about pastors most church members are unclear on

“Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

In my experience, most pastors hesitate to teach the biblical understanding of the role of pastors because to do so might sound self-serving, as though they were trying to carve out a bigger role for themselves in leading the church.  This is a serious error for which we are now paying as many congregations are turning the minister into a hired hand, employing him as an errand boy, or treating him as an executive brought in to lead their “country club.”

Pastor, preach the whole Word of God.  Be bold in declaring its truth.  Then, having done this, go forth and set new standards for humbly serving the congregation.  Let them see you leading by serving and no one will ever mind calling you their pastorand following you.  However, lord it over them and dominate the decisions and no one who knows his Bible will want to follow you.

What follows is the truth on the role of pastors as taught in Scripture. It’s not “all” the truth, for this is but one simple article.  However, it cuts to the heart of the issues….

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When the pastor lives below the standard of his church leaders

Here’s a situation that might surprise some church members to know preachers deal with and that it is frequently a problem.

The pastor visits in the homes of his members and notices that they live more luxuriously than he and his family.  Their house is larger, built better, and is located in a classier neighborhood. They dress well, have a pool, and their cars are always the latest model.

The pastor and his wife notice these things; count on it. And as their children grow into the teen years, they also become aware that some in the church are wealthier than they.

Now, every family is different.  One would hope the pastor’s spouse and family are so intent on serving God in this community that material things are a distant second to them. You would hope they rejoice in the success some families enjoy, and let it go at that.

That’s not always the case. At times, the pastor and family come down with a severe case of “why not us, Lord?”  Also known in the medical books as “Why can’t we live the way they do?”

Here are a few thoughts on this issue.

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