Meanderings of a Minister


On The Road Again

As I write this article, I have been home for a couple of days and am preparing to leave on a mission trip to Haiti.  I have been to Tennessee for a week, Children’s Camp in Salina for a week, Phoenix for our denominational convention for a week, and now I will be heading to Haiti for eight days.  I have been amazed to consider what God has taught me at each stage in this journey.  While I am certain that my travels are of no consequence, I hope that the lessons I am learning will be.

First, I took a week’s vacation prior to a very busy Summer.  I am grateful to my church family for allowing us the time off prior to a very busy season of ministry.  Vacations are kind of hard for me because I like to be active for the Kingdom and vacations seem not to be this way.  Having said that, I know that this vacation was necessary prior to so much time away from my family.  Psalm 85:6 says, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”  This time of vacation was a very necessary time of recharging both for me and for my family.  God helped me to understand that part of revival is getting still and allowing Him to work and move while you rest.

Next was Children’s Camp.  At camp, I had the wonderful privilege to pray with many children.  Some to surrender their lives to Christ as Lord and Savior.  I got the chance to love on kids by listening to their stories, watching them conquer fears, and celebrating with them as they shared their gifts and talents in worship of the King.  In the New Living Translation of the Bible, Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  As I reflected on this verse throughout the week, I realized that part of my struggles is that I never feel adequate.  I never feel like I measure up to people’s expectations.  I always feel like I am trying to earn my place at the table with the spiritual giants.  Meditation on this verse helped me to hear God’s voice as He encouraged me to be who He created me to be.  If I live for Him and He lives through me, then I am enough because He sees me as His child.

At our convention, I was blessed to be able to listen to various preachers as they preached through the entire book of Philippians.  One of the messages that really stood out to me, the young preacher said, “The only way for Philippians 1:21 to be true is if Jesus is Who I am living for.  If I am living for anything else, then death takes away what I am living for.  If I am living for Jesus, death brings me to the One I have been living for.”  This really challenged me to ask the question, “What am I living for?”  If I am living for men’s applause, then death with take that from me.  If I am living for family, death will take that from me.  If I am living for fame, power, promotion, retirement, graduation, independence, etc., then death will take those things from me.  If I am living for Jesus and for God’s glory, then death brings that to me.

As I prepare to head off to Haiti, I am also mindful of the scripture that says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  (Proverbs 16:9)  The last three years, I have either had to leave Haiti early to return for urgent ministry needs, or I have been prevented from flying due to weather, problems with the plane, etc.  So, I am planning to go to Haiti.  I have packed.  I have bought my ticket.  I have prepared.  I am planning to go.  But whether or not I go is up to God.  It is His mission to which we go, so it is His will and His plan for whether I get there or not.  Now, if I could just learn this in all areas of life.

So, God uses everyday events to teach us eternal lessons.  This is what Jesus did with parables and how He taught His disciples.  What is He teaching you?



What You Do With Your “Free Time” Shows Your Heart

Vacation

As I write this article, I am sitting in a condo at Grand Lake in Northeastern Oklahoma.  We arrived last night and will spend the week here prior to a very busy Summer of ministry that will begin when I return on Friday.  Friday night, our church will host a 5K to raise money for a trip to Haiti we will take later in the month.  On Saturday, I will be at the Harley-Davidson shop to hand out water to the Harley Owners’ Group that will gather in Liberal.  On Sunday, I will preach and then leave for Children’s Camp for the week, return to preach again on the weekend, and then head off to another camp only to return for a week and leave for Haiti.  Because of all of this activity, my family and I decided to take a trip to relax and charge up for the busyness ahead.

So what do we do while on vacation?  Many would say that they would want to just relax and not think about anything and not worry about anything and just make their time about focusing on them and their family.  I understand this sentiment, but I also wonder what it means to truly desire the things that are above and not the things that are here on earth.  What would this look like on vacation?

First, while vacation may be seen as a time to break our normal routine and open up more time for play, relaxation, family, etc., what is we took this opened up “free time” to connect with God more than we normally have time to do?  Jesus said, “No man can serve two master, for he will love the one and hate the other or he will serve the one and eschew the other.” (rough translation).  If Jesus is truly the love of my life and that which I am building my life on, then shouldn’t I WANT to take the extra time to connect with Him?

The extra “free time” of vacation also gives me more of a time to help my family connect with each other and with the Lord.   If vacation is a time just to get away from everything and connect with family, then what am I teaching my family about what is really important in my life?  What am I teaching them about what to set their hearts on?  Is it any wonder that my generation grew up thinking that the ultimate goal of life is retirement and the days of not having to do anything I don’t want to do?  Is it any wonder that, even in the church, people work at teaching, singing, and serving for a time and then want to back away and let others do the work?  Jesus said that we are to work while it is day because the night is coming when no one can work.  Let’s not hasten the night.

Additionally, extra “free time” can be spent, not only connecting me more with Jesus, my family more with Jesus, but could actually be a time when I could prepare myself to have more to pour out to others on vacation and when I return.  A little time spent in more focused reading, prayer, contemplation, or planning, can be time that prepares us to be of more use when we return to the place of ministry God has placed us.  That’s assuming that we believe we have been saved, not just from sin, but to a life lived for Him.

I hope you have a chance to go on vacation or take some time off this Summer, but hope that this time off will be of more value to than just going somewhere to have some fun, make some bills, and return more tired than when you left.  I hope that you are able to Raise Your Gaze to things above…even on vacation.