Sometimes we all wake up on the wrong side of the bed. That’s understandable. Occasionally, we will just wake up in a bad mood, and carry that mood into our day.
Colby is just finishing up Kindergarten. Every day that I have dropped him off at school we have passed one of two crossing guards (depending on which route we take). These two women, regardless of the day or night they have just had, ALWAYS greet Colby, and every other child, with a smile, a “Good morning”, and a “Have a great day today!”
I don’t know them personally, other than returning pleasantries each morning, but I can’t imagine that every day they have had the best of mornings, but they always have that attitude. It really struck me these passed few days that these women are the first people Colby sees each morning, other than his mother and I. It has also struck me that no matter what kind of morning Colby has had, he now always greets them…It’s routine now.
All that being said, I’m so very thankful for these crossing guards. I expect them to keep my kids safe, I expect them to not be mean and nasty…but the attitude and consistent pleasant nature was not expected. And I am so very thankful for the effect that those pleasant attitude’s has had on my child.
Thank you Crossing Guards…for the unexpected lessons that you are teaching my son.
Currently, I am a student at Asbury Theological Seminary. After 96 credit hours of courses (of which I’m a little over halfway done), I will graduate with a Masters of Divinity degree. That being said, many people don’t know what seminary really is. I get the questions, “What do you learn in seminary? Is it just reading and talking about a lot of scripture?”
Seminary is far more than studying scripture. I learned something today that I thought was interesting. The word seminary stems from the Latin word “Seminarius”, which means seedbed. So seminary is about generating solid soil. It’s about nurturing, nourishing, maturing, and fortifying people for a lifetime in ministry. A seedbed doesn’t just produce plants, but it produces a place for plants to produce more plants. Seminary, as a “seedbed” means that as seminarians grow and prepare in their experience with God, then they will create space for others to also grow.
Carmen and I have a new guilty pleasure t.v. show. It’s called “Preacher’s Daughters”. It’s pretty silly for the most part, but I became intrigued when I realized that one of the people they are filming was from Spring Hill, and the St. Paul’s in Franklin, where I used to work, is commonly featured on the show. So that’s kind of cool.
Anyway, most of the time I watch the show (which is, ironically, about preacher’s and their teenage daughters) and I think, “Is this how preacher’s really come across?”
This week, however, one of the daughters was talking to her dad about her fears. She said she was afraid of failing. His response, “Failure is an event, not a person.” I was so struck when I heard that statement. It is so true, but rarely do I let what that statement really means sink in. So many times I (and I think we, as well) end up basing my feelings of failure on a given event. One bad grade, and the world comes crashing in…I’ll refrain from other examples…but you get the point. Instead of judging an event for itself, we take that event, overlay it onto the entirety of our lives, and begin to let that “failure” of an event define who we are as a person.
Colby (our 5 year old) had a stretch of a few rough days when he started kindergarten. His comment he would make every morning was, “Today is a new day! Can’t worry about yesterday!” While I am trying to teach him responsibility for his actions, I hope he always holds on to that idea…that while he may have a bad day, or make poor decisions, those decisions can be judged in and of themselves and do not cast a final judgement on his life.
I’ve been thinking about fruit lately. The fruit that my life produces. Scripture about fruit has been popping up in just about every setting for me (perhaps because it is spring)? Anyway, a few weeks ago I was in a group that read John 15:1-17. The vine and the gardener. I invite you to read it now if you don’t already have the story in mind.
A few things struck me in that conversation. First of all, the branches not bearing fruit are cut off, while the branches that are bearing fruit are “pruned”. Either way, there is cutting that is happening. The things that do produce fruit in our lives are still being trimmed and cut, in order to be shaped to God’s will. Some things are removed entirely, some things are snipped here and there, but the cut…the wound…still happens. Even when we are bearing great fruit, there still may be some pain in that process as God shapes us more fully to His will.
Secondly, I found myself taking control of the situation. I found myself saying, “I try to cut these things out of my life. I try to focus on these things that I recognize as bringing fruit”. One of my friends pointed us back to scripture and said that it was GOD that was pruning, not us. Hmmmm… It should be so very simple, I’m not sure how I had missed that. In order to truly submit to God’s will, we must be willing to submit to the fact that He has control over what to cut off and what to prune. Something many of us may understand, but to hear the words was profound.
Thirdly, I thought about the ultimate goal of fruit. Fruit, ultimately, is not just good for the eye. It not just good to eat. The ultimate goal of fruit is to grow a new tree, that will then produce more fruit. This has a profound impact on my understanding of ministry. If the fruit of ministry is not building others up to produce more fruit, then it is not fully doing what God intended.
Just some things that I’ve been thinking about…What do you think? Do you ever try to be the gardener? Where have you seen the fruit of ministry, growing new disciples, which produce more fruit?
Last week was midterms. It was a pretty busy week…
Unfortunately, on Tuesday, while studying for Greek, I was overcome with fear. Now, I have an “A” in Greek, and while I want to do well on the midterm, it was an irrational fear of failure. I did not remember anything…I was going through vocabulary that I’ve known for 6 months, and consistently getting things wrong. It was a very disheartening feeling. To the extent that I nearly dropped the class, because of fear of doing poorly on this test (yes, I am crazy enough to consider dropping a class that I have a solid A in).
So I emailed my professor. Told him what was happening, and he asked to call me. Of course, I told him he could call.
“This is Brad. I just want you to know that what you are experiencing is lies. Do not give in to the lie that you are not good enough. And that you don’t know anything. You have a solid grade in the class, you have been preparing, and you need to know that God will overcome this feeling.”
He went on, essentially reassuring me and my abilities. It was very empowering. And he gave me permission to put down the books for the day, get away from it, and come back later.
Sometimes we hear the lies, whether they are from Satan, or from this world, or from ourselves, it doesn’t matter. We hear lies, and we sometimes we live in to them. The lies become so powerful that we begin to see them as reality…and we allow them to become the author of our lives, rather than God.
What are some of the lies that you’ve been told? Are there people in your life who help you to combat the lies that you may begin to believe?
I give thanks for Brad, my professor, for the prayer and reassurance…as for the test…well, it wasn’t so bad.
I wasn’t planning on posting much this week…it’s midterms, and I’m feeling the pressure. However, something in my studying provided a spark.
“In a world where mighty works were accepted more easily than they are today, the problem was not so much whether they actually happened but rather by what power were they done?” (J. Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology, pg. 86)
Jesus performed miracles. But people didn’t question them themselves, they questioned where Jesus got his authority, or what power he tapped into. This is prevalent in Mark’s gospel. The same I think can be said of the apostles.
What is it about today’s world that leaves us less receptive to the mighty works that God is doing? Do you see any of those mighty works? When seemingly amazing things happen, are we asking the right questions? Are we asking if it was from God, and giving glory appropriately?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away’ behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I’ve been reading recently about personality types. While sometimes I have often struggled with things like the Myers Briggs test, occasionally it can be helpful. In reading through a brief version of the test, and what that may mean for me, some thoughts have stirred in me.
These personality types all have their bonuses. They all have something of value to offer others…but they also provide a unique set of challenges when dealing with the world. What is stirring in me, though, is how do I overcome these challenges? Basically, my personality type described me to a “T”…and it’s helpful to be aware of some strengths I offer and my weaknesses, but what do I do about them?
For instance: To some extent I am a visionary. I dream big…and always look toward what the future may be. But, I also usually lack the grounding to create logical plans for how to make that reality.
What I realize is that those weaknesses need to be touched by the grace of God. I pray that these weaknesses would be made new…my personality would begin to reflect less of who I am, and more of who Christ is. I know it’s not an overnight change, but we are all works in progress…
What about you? Do you know your personality type? Have you ever really tried to pay attention to that kind of thing? What does it mean to you to have God touch those “challenge” areas?
David introduced me a few weeks ago and I apologize as I have been late in my response. As David mentioned in his introduction of me, we are school mates and best friends. I am thankful for my friend who is closer to me than a brother. We have walked a long road together in a short period of time!
I have been married to my wife Michelle for four years and we have just welcomed a bouncing baby (16 year old) boy named Dorion into our family. We also have an unofficial, but much loved ten year old girl named Lucy. I am in my fifth semester at Asbury Theological Seminary and serve as pastor at South Point United Methodist Church in South Point, Ohio.
I want to express my gratitude to David for asking me to be a part of his blog. Stay tuned as I will be posting very soon. God Bless and Happy Easter. He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!!
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. “ – James 1:17–18.
I don’t know why exactly this scripture came to my head this morning, but as I was reading, it was there. It really had nothing to do with what I was reading.
It did, however, get me thinking. Somehow being perfect involves our gifts. If God is the giver of every good gift that we have (our talents, skills, money, etc.) then we are to use those gifts to bring about His kingdom. The scripture tells us that our gifts will help us “be a kind of firstfruits of all he created”. Firstfruits were the initial harvest of crops from the land. They were supposed to be offered to God before the crop could be used in sustaining the community.
That’s an interesting thought…that before we can use any talents or gifts for ourselves, we are to dedicate and offer those gifts and talents to God, as first-fruits. This has pretty big implications about how we use our skills, talents, gifts, money…basically any and all of our resources.
Do you think our gifts have anything to do with “being perfect”? How can we use our gifts to bring about the kingdom of God?