October 27, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XXVII: Shoulders of Giants & The Bones of Martyrs

The Man I Still Wish To Be

In another 8 years at 50 years of age I would like to be well-established in a ministry or home church situation. I am currently switching from a career to a calling in ministry and it is stressful and demanding. I don’t know that I will be able to do this at 50 or older. I can feel it talking its toll on both my family and myself. I sense that I will make a decent pastor/teacher as many have alluded to my ability to do so…even my wife. Any married person realizes how important it is that a spouse would say this about you and be on-board. Without your spouse acting together with you, you’ll either fail or you’ll be divorced…or both.

Giant's Backs and Bones of Martyrs

First and foremost my goal is Christ. To be as Christ-like as humanly possible. To try for anything else is to sell myself short. I also realize that I will never attain that lofty and perfect example so I need to look to others around me to map my path. I loved and admired my father’s faith until his death and it is where and what I strive to in my faith. With that thought in mind there are others that come to mind that are still alive and they are all my senior in terms of age. My neighbor (being a pastor), my own pastor and a few elders from local churches are about as close as I want to be to someone else. I believe God has His own plans for me that will be pieces of many people. I also like the styles of R.C. Sproul being primarily a teacher of theology and John MacArthur being an expositional preacher. Some of my mentor’s I know formally like my own pastor’s others I know informally or at a distance such as Sproul and MacArthur. Good teaching and mentoring does not always need to be in person. The truth is our examples in the Faith are worth noting and emulating. Our Faith is build firmly on Christ the cornerstone but also on the shoulders of giants in the faith and on the bones and bodies of martyrs. So I suppose it is no surprise to find out that some of the earliest stone altars in churches were the actual tombs of martyrs interred in the Roman catacombs or altars were erected directly over the interred remains of martyrs.

Becoming Like Him

I live in God’s word as I believe this is the place I need to be to be a true teacher or the Word and a true pastor in the Faith. I already know from forays into the ministry that the Word and God’s personal relationship with me will often be the only thing that gets me through. I already know that being a teacher/preacher of the Word is sometimes a lonely life and I may often stand alone on the Word. The closer I/we get to the truth the harder it is for those still in the world to stomach. Preaching the Word at times may alienate everyone. Can anybody say Jeremiah or Isaiah? As the opportunities arise though I speak with leadership in many churches because I believe there is something to be learned from all denominations and persuasions with the Body of Christ. Too often we look at the name on the front of a church marque and we allow it to keep us from walking in the front door to speak with others that may be teaching and preaching the same core doctrine we are. We let our hang-ups and petty squabbles prevent unity and the body and that is a crime…and a sin. I realize there are not unpardonable sins but if there was one…this kind of stuff would be one pretty high on the list for selection. Too often we let our little cliques and “good ole boy” networks get in the way of what we are commandant and that is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Instead we refuse to talk to others because we fight over non-essential “-isms” or disassociate ourselves from others because they are “-ites” or “-ists”. Frankly, it annoys the living daylights out of me and makes me want to throw my hands in the air in disgust…but instead I forge ahead and try to talk sense into others with dumb hang-ups. Dying for core doctrines like the early church fathers is one thing but squabbling over non-essentials is asinine. The early church fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew what some folks wer fighting over nowadays. They died for a Faith that too many are willing to rip asunder for pointless reasons. For a long time that included me too.

Those That Help Us To Heed The Call

Without my wife’s help the journey into the ministry to this point would’ve been impossible. She has provided love and encouragement and has held down the hatches during stormy weather. Ministry in this day and age is hard business. In a culture that normally frowns upon the religious we need all the support we can get from our loved-ones. Without the education of both the professors in seminary and the pastors and spiritual leadership or the church I may have gone AWOL also. I cannot begin to imagine how many within the laity or the Church and the leadership itself have prayed vehemently for my family and I. Many seem to see promise in the work God is doing in our lives and I do not take this for granted. These folks have been around and they know when God is doing “a work”. I try to keep this in mind and stay faithful to my task of looking out for the spiritual well-being of my family and then to my extended family in the Church.

Achieving The Impossible

There have been things in my life that people said I couldn’t do. I did them because people said that very thing. I do things are Robert Kennedy said, not because they are easy but because they are hard. God never promised a pleasant life He promised a pleasant destination. I long ago resigned myself to having to grunt through and struggle for things. My parents told and showed me through words and example than something worth having rarely comes easy and there is a certain joy and value we instill in things having needed to struggle for them. The sweat and toil to achieve things in this life is often the reward within itself.

Focusing The Competitive Edge

My competitive nature often gets in my way of properly teaching others or learning from others. When I see others breaking new ground that I have not been able to or achieving things I was not able to achieve I sometimes get jealous and reach out to God asking why it came easier to “that” person rather than me. If I look closely sometimes I realize that it actually didn’t come easy for that person. I find that they do were doing a ton of work behind the scenes will simultaneously putting in the “knee time”. I need to understand that I need to stop gauging expected outcomes in this life on old measuring standards and expectations. I can only twist and skew my perceptions of outcomes. God does things in His own time and in His own way. I may never see a discernible end result from my end.

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