Scripture: Phillipians 2:5-11
There are days where I really don’t want to deal with people. This is kindof a problem since I am a bivocational pastor and work in retail. Dealing with people is pretty much all I do. I am human though, as every pastor is even the ones we listen to on the radio. I get angry, irritated, and annoyed. Well this week I have been all thoughs things. This affects pretty nuch my whole life, because I live in a proverbial glass house. If I vent my feeling about a person’s actions my coworkers look at me in shock. This usually makes me laugh, but sometimes they just make it worse
We are emotional beings. To deny our emotions would be like denying that we breath air. We buy sports cars and hybrids not out of the practicality of them, but out of our emotion. (If you own a hybrid I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend but to me it isn’t practical…but I’m broke so I can’t afford new car.) We buy houses because they make us feel something. We get angry because someone, including ourselves, sparked our emotional side. Even the people we consider emotionless are filled with emotions they just tend to bury them.
In many Christian disiplines we try to deny the emotional aspect of our lives. We do this for very logical reasons, mainly because living on emotions can empty our pocketboks very quickly. To deny emotions can be detrimental to our spiritual lives, so we must be careful. The key is to look at our emotions through the light of God. Why am I irritated? If I were to consider this for myself right now, I would have to say that the source of my irritation began from me feeling disrespected or unappriciated. This snowballed as. I was give more work than I can handle. So basically I am feeling sorry for myself because I am stressed out. I know you should cry with me.
I bring this up because our spirtual lives are similar. We get into funks where we just don’t feel that spiritual. Many mystics call these times a dark night of the soul or the cloud of unknowing. These are stressful times for our spirtual lives just like the emotions of life can cause stress in our social lives. In these times we beging to question our faith in some way. We may feel it is pointless so we stop praying, stop meditating on scripture, we may even start engaging in things we normally wouldn’t engage in. In short we fall into a life of sin, or a life that distracts us from God. The flip side is we may think we need more prayer, more scripture, less entertainment or interaction with others. We don’t know why we feel unspiritual. For me it is important to take a moment to just consider this for a bit and see if you are the cause or if mabe God is just being silent for a bit.
Our emotions do play a role in our spiritual life. I’m irritated I don’t feel like praying, so I run a risk of neglecting a very important relationship. In this case, my emotionas are distracting me from God. What is the cure for my emotional heart? We it is the very thing I don’t want to do, pray.
In my irritation and self-pity I realize that Jesus was disrespected, left with a big job without much help and face pretty much everything I am feeling right now. The difference is what He does. He knows who He is and what He can do. We do not know all that He is. I feel disrespected because thoe around me may not value the same things I do, this makes me feel like they do not care about me. This leads me to make asumptions about them and myself that may not be truth. Jesus is equal with God, my understanding of this is that he is of the same essense of God, or God. He values the things of God but He chose to live among humans like me. And humans aren’t the same as God, we don’t always value the things of God. I’m sure this annoyed Jesus at various times.
This did not distract Him from His mission. He came to bring redemption to mankind. He remained obedient to this mission no matter what the sitation brought. I sit here considering my owe life and I realize that Jesus remained true even through His stress. This bring hope becase in Him I have acceptance, and friendship. I realize that even though I’m irritated I can extend the same grace Christ has for me to others. Sudenly I don’t feel quite so bad. I do not have to draw my acceptance from others because I have God on my side.
Funny thing though, I complain about not being respected at work yet this was not true at all, in fact some at my place of employment have great respect and actually recomended me to other positions. In my self pity I nearly lost an oppertunity. So I encourage you in your own dark times, don’t lose heart, keep going and just examine your life to see if maybe there is something that maybe causing the darkness. If you don’t find anything don’t give up because God loves you. Focus on that love, remind yourself of that love, and stay on the journey.
Scripture: Isaiah 50:4-9a
I wonder what it would be like to have a prophetic vision. What would I do with it? Would I keep quiet or would it stir in me such passion that I would proclaim it to the world? To be honest I don’t know what I would do. I have heard people speak as if they had seen a vision from God, yet usually I’m right in the crowd laughing when they are proven wrong.
I imagine the prophet in the Hebrew scriptures would probably feel like I do, just before they actually received their vision. Most probably did not want to be a prophet since there is only profit in it when people like what you have to say. To be honest the only reason we know what the prophets of ancient ages said is because people didn’t like what they had to say and it came to pass, so they recorded it as if to say, “oops our bad, sorry we killed you.”
Which leads me to think how well do I receive the words of other? If they say something I dislike or think is judgemental am I thinking that because they are being jerks, or is it because I am? I am guessing in my case I’m the biggest jerk.
Isaiah speaks of a vision, one that we see reflected in the final days of Jesus. I do not know if Isaiah himself faced this sort of trial but I wonder. Either way we have two people that gave all they had: their reputations, financial security, and lives for a cause. The cause to draw people back to God.
What do we give ourselves to? I consider my own life, I am a pastor yet I work outside the church too. Do I do this because I need the money or do I have other employment because I like money? You can judge me if you want. To be honest your words eiher way would have a prophetic ring to them. The point is we should encourage those around us to draw closer to God. Our words, actions, employment, and our leisure should be encouraging a deeper relationship to God, if we claim to be disciples of Christ. If we do things out of selfishness or personal profit we may not be encouraging those around us as much as we could. In the same breath we could live a life of total self sacrifice and not promote any spiritual growth either. How do we know if the life we are living is promoting the faith we claim? That is where taking time to spend meditating on scripture and listening to God is so important. If we are seeking God and being a prophet to those around us (proclaiming the Gospel) then we only need to please one person…well if you are married two.
I am reminded of a conversation between George Fox and William Penn. Penn wanted to become a Quaker, but they spoke against war and promoted peace. So he asked George about the sword he carried, Penn was of the noble class so it was fashionable to carry a sword. Fox gave probably the best advice he could. He knew that Penn was considering his faith and was developing a deeper relationship with God so he said to Penn, “carry it as long as you can.” No judgement, no proclaimation of right and wrong, he simple said carry it as long as you can. This meant that if Penn, in his pursuit of friendship with God, could justify continue to carry a weapon of war while learning about and embracing the peace of Christ he should carry the weapon. If you were to move forward in time you woul learn that William Penn stopped wearing the sword.
Do I live for profit or prophet? Do I live my life to promote a deeper relationship with God or do I seek my own desires. Jesus lived His life to bring honor and glory to God knowing full well that the message He brought of the kingdom would lead to His death. But it was too important to give up. It ment that there would be life, love and friendship between god and mankind. His followers too followed in his ways many of them lost their lives as well. The passion of Christ and His followers tell me that something is important here. And in the face of death they go down forgiving those that caused harm, and praising God.
What a life. So what would I do if God gave me a vision? I still don’t know but I can say I will I will continue doing what I am as long as I can. And if I need to change directions He’ll let me know.
Scripture: Psalms 118:1-2, 19-29
Today I am just glad to be alive. Last weekend I spent time at worship and hanging out with the family. Even took in a couple of hockey games. Which I know is odd for a Quaker pastor but it is a very intresting game. Today I consider this scripture as I sit in the open air enjoying the spring air. I sit in a place with a church’s cross up on a hill and the smell of Bar-B-Que lofting through the air. I live in Kanas City the air always smells like this! I sit here thinking isn’t it great to be alive.
How often do we just slow down enough to worship? Truely worship, not the worship we do at our “meetings for worship” or church, but just being in a place where we stop worrying, stop planning, and just be. This Psalm reminds us of worship and praise. I consider what the writter encourages the worshipers to use in worship. Branches of trees, this means that the worship began not in the temple of God but somewhere else. It began in the fields, in the yards of the houses. Our worship starts at home as well. We should already be engaged in worship long before we enter our Meeting Houses.
They begin to praise God, they cut branches and they make a procession all the way to the temple. They praise for a simple reason, God’s love endures forever. Spring time encourages me in this. I know scientifically the cycles of growth and dormancy, yet I stll am drawn to worship God. Life is all around the beauty of creation is emerging before my eyes and the aroma of all that I love tickle my nose. Life is good.
How often do I forget to remember to praise God for the simple reason that God created this world for us to enjoy. He allows the cycles of life to continue every spring, and it shows the vast love of God.
When I add in the Gospel of Christ everything builds to something even greater. God’s love is so vast that He came to live with people just like me. He taught us how to be human, not only taught but showed us how to be human. And he gave his life so that I can live free. In the darkness of winter a light came a light that became the hope of humanity. Just as life begins to emerge we remember that the hope is fulfilled when Christ, God incarnate rose from the grave to live again.
What great love. I sing, “Lord save us” along with all the ancients. And I have the assurance that he will and can because he proved it to us all in his life, death, and resurrection. Blessed is He that coms in the name of the Lord. I encourage you to just be in God’s presence tonight praise the one whose love never ends and whose grace is new every day. As for me I’m going to grab some bar-b-que don’t judge sometimes eating is worshipful too.