Sometimes being a pastor stinks. This is one of those weeks. I’ve been an emotional mess (though I hide it like the best of Pharisees). I have read that 70% of pastors lack good friendships. While I cannot prove this data, I wouldn’t be surprised. Pastors can isolate themselves.
This week, two things happened that have done a number on me (much more than I thought they would). On Monday, a dear friend and member of our church died of cancer. The cancer didn’t let him live long, as it quickly took hostage the two months the doctors gave him and shortened it to three weeks. Then, tonight I was around many friends of the church as we sent two of them off down the road–albeit it just an hour down the road. I don’t like losing people.
Who said, “Standard hand-on-shoulder pose”?
Weeks like this have me thinking a lot about pastors and friendships, and just how important they are–even if you have to say goodbye.
Sunday Funday. Something about this morning made me expectant. I got to the church building earlier than usual and worked back through the sermon, prayed with our team leaders, and then went at it. But not before Evan and the team sang this as well as they possibly could:
People in the first service wondered whether or not they should clap, but those in the second service figured it out.
We spent the whole morning talking about an incredibly important issue: engaging a lost world.
I recently worked through our 11-week preaching series for the fall semester. For you Chapelites, be warned: it is topical. In fact, a lot of our preaching for the next 15 months will likely be topical. (I can hear the stampede of congregants preparing to check out other churches as we speak.)
It made me realize that, among many evangelicals (that hip group of Christians of which I am a part that prides itself in everything it does), there is often frustration (should I say disdain) for topical preaching. As if God created Adam, created Eve, and then created verse-by verse preaching. Then Chick-fil-A.
I disagree. (Well, not about the Chick-fil-A part.)
Only two things are certain in this life: death and taxes. My maternal grandfather passed away on April 15, 2009, proving that point entirely. I was actually visiting my hometown for a job interview the same weekend he passed, so it was a bittersweet blessing to be home at the same time Grandpa Jimmy died. He was my third grandparent to die while I was in seminary (proceeded in death by both of my dad’s parents) and the third funeral that I was asked to “preach.”
Though I was finishing up my seminary studies and graduating only a few weeks later, my third funeral during seminary made me realize this: I was ill-prepared to officiate funerals.
This morning we looked at Acts 17:1-15 as Paul traveled to Thessalonica and Berea during part of his second missionary journey. As he preached, the Jewish Thessalonians responded negatively to Jesus, and the Bereans responded positively.
What became abundantly clear from this morning’s worship and our time together in the passage is this: everybody responds to Jesus.
You can see them coming miles away–those words and phrases that, when used, paint you into the metaphorical Christian corner. You promised yourself that you would take a different route the moment you even thought those words and phrases were coming, but they still found you. How did they find you? Do they have your address? Maybe you were using Apple Maps and it actually re-routed you right into their warpath.
For me, “I’ve prayed about it” is one of those phrases.