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Category Archives: Ministry

Monday Therapy

From Spring to Fall, Monday morning typically finds me mowing my lawn. As good a job as I can do, it always grows back and requires weekly attention. But truth be told, I find it to be good therapy.

One of the challenges of pastoral ministry is that people are always in process. Spiritual growth is internal. You don’t see quick results. You sometimes wait years to see significant changes. You seldom see a finished product.

Mowing the lawn provides instant results. As I progress up and down the rows, I see quantifiable before and after evidence. When I apply weed & feed, the grass seems greener in two weeks and the dandelions don’t make an appearance. After a two-hour walk behind the lawn mower, I can take pride in a job well done.

As a pastor, I spend all week preparing a sermon. After delivering it, I receive a few “good sermon, Pastor,” comments, but I cannot tell if it sunk or not. In some cases, it may be weeks, months, or even years before a change is evident. The typical measures of pastoral success, attendance and giving, don’t really measure success. They simply tell me how many people were present and how much they gave. They don’t indicate whether or not growth is taking place.

Taking care of the lawn reminds me of the need for faithfulness. If I skip a week or two of mowing, the grass is taller and harder to mow. If I neglect applying the weed and feed, the grass turns brown and the weeds take over.

Pastoral ministry requires faithfulness as well. If I take shortcuts in sermon preparation or skip praying, the results will eventually show up in the lives of people. I need to be just as diligent and even more so, before people are much more valuable than a green lawn.

Another therapeutic benefit of mowing the lawn is that it gives me time to think. I evaluate my sermons. I think about needs of people. I make and revise plans. I dream about the future. I pray for people and ministries.

Time to fire up the mower and begin another therapy session.

 
 
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Good reminder for pastors

 
 

The Question of Commitment

“I didn’t think you should go to Russia.” I have heard that sentiment from more than one person since I returned from my most recent trip. Some were concerned about my mobility issues (using a cane while still recovering from my broken leg/hip). Others were worried about the blood clots in my calf and flying for hours on end. Still others were concerned about the tension between the USA and Russia over politics, Syria, etc. While I appreciated the concern, I also appreciated the fact that most waited until afterwards to voice their reservations.

Without being overly defensive, let me try to explain why I proceeded with the trip as planned.

  • I tend to be optimistic. When told in November I was facing a six-month recovery process, I calculated that April was the sixth month and barring a setback, I should be recovered enough to proceed.
  • While cautious, I am not fearful. I am not risk averse. I choose not to live in fear of “what if?” I know I am safer in harm’s way if I’m in God’s will than I am sitting at home in my easy chair. If I am overly worried and fearful, I also know that is a giant that needs to be conquered.
  • I feel a responsibility to use my gifts for God’s glory (Matthew 25:14-30). I don’t want to stand before God and have him ask me why I took it easy or didn’t do more with what he has given me.
  • Something has happened every time I’ve gone on a short-term ministry trip that I have had to trust God for (health, job, political crisis, personnel, car repairs, family, etc.). My injury was just one more thing.
  • I listened to and trusted my doctors. None of my doctors—surgeon, primary care physician, vascular surgeon—were overly concerned about my mobility and/or blood clots. None of them told me to stay home. All three said I should not have any problems. I also followed their instructions for my prescriptions, compression socks, and walking.
  • I went with the blessing of my wife and church elders.
  • I knew I had help while traveling—wheelchair assistance in airports, and the friends I travel and work with.
  • Having built a friendship over several years with the missionaries I work with and the men and women I would be teaching, I would have been disappointed had I not been able to keep my commitment.

I am grateful for answered prayer. I am thankful that God healed me enough that I was able to travel. I am grateful that he protected me while traveling. I am thankful that he blessed the ministry. I am grateful that he continues to use me to teach and equip others.

Thanks be to God!

 
 

Embedding the spiritual DNA into the floor of the sanctuary

On May 20, the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, will have a special worship event to embed the spiritual DNA into the floor of our soon-to-be-renovated sanctuary. Below is a letter to the congregation explaining what we are doing and why.

 

Russia 2018 Trip Report

 

Russia 2018 – Week two report

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Ministry, Missions, Photos, Russia

 

Russia 2018 – first week report

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Ministry, Missions, Photos, Russia