Wednesday, October 20, 2010

surprise rewards

I received a phone call a couple of weeks ago from some old friends--people I pastored fifteen years ago in the Dallas area. They had plans to be in my neighborhood and wanted to stop by.

It was not hard to remember them. They were a stunning young couple and during the time I knew them, as young believers, were fervent in their desire to know the Word of God and to live out their faith uncompromisingly.

Twenty-five years later--and five children "richer"--they spent some time with us, after I had moved away fifteen earlier.

They have a wonderful family, obviously well-parented and spiritually sensitive. As we sat around the dinner table with them, we were impressed by the wisdom and gentleness of mom and dad as they listened and ministered to their children's needs (four with them from 5-17, a sophomore away at college). Nothing was rehearsed--you can tell with kids--but this was a reflection of how the family interacts together on a regular basis.

Dad and mom homeschool and travel with their children by car on educational trips, investing in them as they play together and learn together. They are connected to a large church that has provided them ongoing spiritual training and fellowship, as well as an opportunity for ministering with the gifts God has given them.

The joy for me is that they (a) wanted to see me, and (b) they wre grateful for the foundation that was laid for them in their early days of marriage. My years as their pastor included a difficult time of personal family crisis so it was uplifting to hear that even through those tumultous times, something good had come.

I am not in the ministry for material rewards, or, for the accolades of others. But there is something wonderfully affirming to know that some small thing we have done--however imperfectly--has been used by God for His glory. That for me is the highest reward of all!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


I lack ambition these days. The allurement of ocean waves, a grandchild's soccer game, the quiet of my trailer nestled in a forested-park, uninterrupted time with my wife--these things, and more, seductively beckon me away from my daily responsibilities.

I am trying to understand this season of my life. Much of my life I have been driven to get things done, to be considered productive and successful, to stay busy lest someone think I was shirking my responsibility, to go to bed exhausted at night confident I was burning myself out for a noble cause.

These days I am less concerned about how others appraise me because I have discovered most are too busy and preoccupied with their own lives to be measuring mine. Additionally, I realize that in spite of my misguided attempts to keep everyone convinced of my "sacrifrical service", I still manage to raise the ire of some by whose standard I could never do enough.

What I am left with is my calling--a call to serve God and His church. I am seeking to exchange my ambition for obedient, faithful and loving service, unbounded by time constraints and human accolades; on the contrary, my intentional desire (most of the time) is to please God.

In a strange way, it's my ambition.

And it keeps me going when ocean waves are played on my I-Phone, soccer games are enjoyed via scrambled videos, trailer trips involve a trip to the storage place to pack away things for next spring, and quiet alone time with my wife has to be scheduled.

I am headed home right 3:30, instead of 5:00 p.m. Unscheduled surprise!