Posts Tagged ‘family values’

At church yesterday, someone was giving away fresh peaches.  A large box was placed by the door, filled to the brim with at least a bushel of the yummy fruits. “Our trees are full,” my friend said. “Please, take as many home as you like.” She and her husband had even brought shopping bags for the interested peach-lovers in our congregation. 

As people were heading towards their homes, (or lunch out), I noticed treasure collections of peach-filled bags in the hands of many. “Did you get some peaches?” my friend asked those who had forgotten.

“Oh! I forgot!” was the usual reply. “Thanks for bringing these.” Many made plans for their peaches — jam; pies; just peel-n-eat.

I love serving in ministry. Did I tell you that?  For the past thirty years, Bill and I have worked together as senior pastors; first in the north, and now in the southeast. We have learned and evolved over the years; relaxing a little somehow.  Hopefully we are a little wiser; stronger; more mature; hopefully we are just better.  In the process, our marriage has been through storms and summers. As our personal family has grown, so has our ministry style.  In fact, the years have solidified lessons about ministry, and my own approach to it. 

For my own part, I have decided it is more profitable to live on a learning curve.

I can’t give out what I haven’t received — so I have to stay open. To the Spirit of God, and to other people…

I can’t ask people to do what I am not willing to do myself — so I need to invest myself. Not living with an entitled mindset that “someone else will do it.”

I can’t carry the water of Life to others; in worship, the Word, or even in example, if I am empty. So it is vital that I hear Jesus speak to my heart continually.  Manna is good; day-old bread, not-so-much.

Most importantly, ministry is my job. It is not my relationship with Jesus.  If and when I confuse the two, trading one for the other, a terrible treadmill is the result; a trap whose lure is success and man’s approval — a tendency towards contemporary trends and relativism.  No, Jesus and I must meet and discuss my heart attitudes, the development of my personhood, my discipleship.  Jesus and I must meet and explore what it means to be a human being, rather than a human doing.  Without that daily meeting with the Spirit of the Living God, I cannot find substance or depth. Nor will I be able to live my days with passion for Him.

My life with God should be about my loving God — not about duty…..

In the early days, Bill and I were sitting in a Denny’s restaurant, studying for exams in our pastoral epistles class. (Thanks, Jim and Jean Hodges!!)  We weren’t married yet; or even engaged. We were just study partners. We were talking about I Timothy 3, and what the office of a bishop/pastor would look like.  In our conversation, we came to some conclusions. For a minister to have his home “in order,” the instruction was not discussing the portrayal of an image, or a flawlessly spiritual existence.  It meant that the God-order of relationships had to rule the minister’s family; that we treat each other well — safely.  Without control, manipulation, domination, anger or strife.  It meant that we seek to out-serve each other, and seek to enter each other’s world, like Jesus did for His Bride. …

Practically put, I can’t give away what I don’t possess. If I haven’t mined it out for my own life, I can only describe it to others — I can’t take them there. 

When family comes before ministry, the result is healthy living.   The God-example of the people before the machine comes into play. In my own understanding, this is the conduit God intends when He calls us.  He calls us to healing. There is no other way for our lives to become the pipeline Jesus wants us to become. 

 It means that my relationships within my family, and the life I am living at home, become the avenue through which ministry comes.  In priority and principle, it looks like this:  #1. Relationships before Tasks; #2. Take the time for the individual;  #3. Some tasks will take longer because of #1 and #2.

After thirty years of living our lives in ministry this way, I keep making discoveries of how well I love our church family.  And they have become our family; a community of safety; a Safe Haven.  

Hopefully, we are bearing good fruit.  I realize we won’t really know the end-results of our efforts until the end of days; sometimes, though it’s good to get a glimpse, just to encourage yourself.

“Mommy! Look at the peaches!” My dollhouse-toehead tugged on her mother’s pant leg.  “We need some!”  (If you want to know who she is, please see the blog entitled “Doll-house Toehead.”)

Her mother and I had been in the midst of a quick conversation.  You see, we head to court tomorrow.  We are seeking to rescue her from the effects of abuse; to create a safe place for a child who needs to relax in order to heal and grow.

In my heart, I hope we get a judge who listens. I hope we get a miracle for this little girl and her mother…. I hope.

In my heart, I give thanks that healing happens in the midst of community — mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters.  Learning what Jesus meant for our lives to look like when He put two “fruit-pickers” in a Eden’s Garden….. sharing the harvest fruit of our lives with one another; growing up into the image of Him, with roots going deep; people of substance and relationship.

Sounds peachy…. (sorry couldn’t resist!)  Blessings.


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