Bittersweet

Supply lines are incredibly important. Tim Cook revolutionized the supply lines at Apple helping make it into the amazingly successful consumer electronics company it is today. In the military, wars have been won and lost because of supply line issues. If the front line gets too far ahead of their supply line, their progress will be slowed dramatically. If the supplies get too far ahead, they risk vulnerability and capture by the enemy. Continue reading “Bittersweet”

Selflessness

Bob and Janet are a couple in the winter of life who attend our church. Janet recently entered into her eternal rest with our Savior.

In a church like Bethlehem, its easy to not meet people, or to not get to know them. Some studies show that we can only ever really “know” about 75 people very well. So, to say that I knew Janet would be a gross overstatement, though, much can be gained from observation. Directing the technical aspects of the services and attending the South Site for the past 4 years or so, I’ve seen Bob and Janet come in faithfully each week and sit regularly near the audio console. Janet’s health struggle was very clear, though specifics were never shared with me. As I watched Bob faithfully wheel her in to church each week, I received a tiny glimpse at the great love that he has for her and the even greater love they share with our great God.

Bob would carefully put her into a position where she could best see the platform, and follow along with the lyrics in worship. When we changed venues to Lakeville South High School, Bob had to change his methods. He would bring many pounds of large and heavy books to raise her wheelchair up to a higher level to give her a better vantage point. He made sure she had a copy of the worship folder so she could track where we were in the service, and would adjust her glasses for her to make sure that she was able to see properly. I could see Janet’s lips moving with the songs of praise to Jesus. Bob adjusted her in her wheelchair I assume to help her be in a more comfortable position. When it came time for the sermon, he would make sure she had her Bible, and that it was opened to the correct passage and I would watch as Janet would track with her eyes and hand the verses in the Scriptures.

Once, I saw for a moment the kind of labor it took for Bob to care for Janet, as he lifted her from her wheelchair and loaded her with great care into their car, and this on a very cold and icy winter morning. I think back on the labor it took for Bob to care for Janet and I see with great clarity the living out of what I’m sure was part of their marriage vows together before God, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health…”

Death has now separated them, but the legacy of selfless love that I witnessed in their lives, lives on in my heart. I pray to God for the strength to pick my wife up when she needs to be carried, the diligence to make sure that she can participate in worship when circumstances make it difficult, the patience to always make sure her glasses are on straight, and the love to give up my own comfort and ease to make sure she can be at ease and in comfort, all for God’s glory, for He laid down his life for us.

Encouraged in witnessing life and death for the glory of God.

Raise

“You need a raise.”

“I need what?”

“You need a raise.”

This was a new conversation for me to have. We’ve struggled with money before, and more money would mean getting out of debt faster, but this really seemed to come out of left field. Suddenly we don’t make enough money? We’ve survived on less than half of what I make now, and I’d keep working here even if they cut my pay, but then again, I love this job, so my judgment is clouded. My wife’s argument is that I’ve been working hard for four years and it’s time for a raise. I think I could predict how the conversation will go if I were to bring it up and maybe I should, but then again, maybe I shouldn’t

As with most conflict, the issue that is brought up is rarely the real issue. Something deeper is at stake. I’ve been gone from home for most evenings the past two weeks on an install. I also have been dedicating a great deal of my free time to other activities.
I’ve been doing all these good things, but perhaps, I’ve been forsaking some primary things. My time in the word and prayer for the past couple of weeks hasn’t been where it needs to be. I haven’t spent time with my kids like I should, and my wife thinks I’m someone between a distant cousin and an all-out stranger.

Does this sound familiar? Sure it does, it’s called life as a Technical Director.
I didn’t make a vow before God and witnesses to work for my boss as hard as I possibly could for the rest of my life. I made a covenant with God and my wife. She’s an amazing gift and beyond what I deserve. I made a commitment to her to love her as Christ loves the church. Legitimizing family neglect because of ministry is heresy.

My first ministry is to my wife and kids. I’m their pastor before any other call God has put on my life. When my relationships at home start to suffer because of ministry, I’m sacrificing my family on the altar of pride. I’m worshiping in the temple of work and getting things done, rather than taking joy in the wife of my youth and finding my satisfaction in my relationship with Christ. You might bring up the argument that ministry is service to Christ, and you’re right, but let me remind you about what David wrote in Psalm 51…

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. (Psalm 51:15-16 ESV)

David knew about sacrifice, but he also knew a ritualistic act couldn’t save him. Look at verse 17.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 ESV)

David saw in his own heart that he was far from God, and God showed him the solution. A broken spirit and a contrite heart were greater than the blood of goats and lambs. Abiding in Christ, living a Christian life, and serving the church is about a heart relationship.
I need to care for my family above my work because this relational care is the model that Christ has given us of how he loves his church. If I love Christ’s church, then I’ll live out the best model I can of Christ’s love for it, beginning with my wife, followed by my children, and continuing to my neighbors.

The only way for me to live this out effectively is by letting it all be an overflow of my relationship with Jesus. So where does my job fit into this whole equation? The things that I love to do, making audio, video, and lighting merge into a beautiful looking and sounding invitation into experiencing God’s glory, is also an overflow. But it has to come after a properly cared for family or it’s just work and an idol of my own making.

Let’s show Christ our undying affection, and find our complete satisfaction in him through prayer and the word. Let’s take the overflow of that relationship and lavish it on our families, and THEN let’s work as unto the Lord with the strength he supplies to his everlasting glory. This joy is more than money can buy, and no raise would be enough for me to give up the great joy of serving God through leading my family.

Free

At our home, we’ve been on a debt crushing vendetta. When you enter college, the government requires that you take a short course on school loan payback. The idea is to remind you that the money you’re borrowing to attend school actually comes from somewhere and has to be paid back. I knew the time was coming, but I wasn’t aware that it would impact my heart so much. Regardless, now that we are working to pay it all back as quickly as possible, our budget has a new appreciation for cheap and free items. Continue reading “Free”

Change

1 Peter 2:13-25

Maybe you’re in a job situation where you boss doesn’t treat his employes as they should be treated, how do you handle that? How do you feel about subjecting yourself to a president that approves of killing babies before they have their chance at birth, or worse yet, what about a situation like exists in many places in our world today where the government powers that be, seek to kill Christians for the very things they believe. Peter gives some direction for us, even in our own situation that isn’t as drastic as that.

Continue reading “Change”

Trapped

From the archives:

Even with the best of intentions it is so easy to wind up someplace that you never intended to go.  A wrong turn, missing an exit, bad directions, or just poor planning often lead us to places we never wanted to be.  My son Joel, when he was a toddler was spending one day as he normally did, exploring every corner of our house. As he was wandering around he found a cabinet door in the kitchen that he was able to open. What he discovered behind it was more exciting than he imagined. An empty shelf that disappeared beyond his vision. For little Joel, it was an unexplored cavern ripe with possibilities and adventure. Sometimes we see things that catch our attention like that. What we don’t expect is to get stuck, or trapped in a mess of our own making. We work and stress, trying to escape our circumstance but are often unable to save ourselves. That’s when we have to cry our for help. That’s what Joel ended up having to do too. Paula heard his cry and rescued him from his self created snare. Perhaps, you’re like little Joel, just exploring around, wanting to see what is around that next corner, only to find yourself stuck, alone, in the dark, crying for help. I think we are all like that sometimes.  We take a wrong turn and realize before we know what happened that we aren’t where we ought to be, and we cry out to our Father in heaven.  Sometimes we often forget is that He had His eyes on us all along, and has been reaching for us the whole time.

Psalm 40:2

 

Arms

Its handy having long arms. I’m 6’2″ and my arms are decently long. I’m able to reach those high places in the kitchen where Polly has stashed some seldom used gadget. I imagine myself reaching for it and handing it down to her the way Wesley did for Buttercup in The Princess Bride. “As you wish.” But is seems long arms aren’t enough to be able to reach the most important places sometimes. Continue reading “Arms”

Grief

Grieving can be painful. Emotions get confused. Sadness can turn into irritability, or physical illness, and it just doesn’t make much sense.

We have a family friend who is dying. Slowly. She has a form of cancer, and it is taking her life from her. I say that in a blaming way on purpose. It’s not her fault she’s dying, she hasn’t physically done anything to herself that will take her life from her, but none the less, her vaporous life is passing. Continue reading “Grief”