Pastor's Blog
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November 17, 2014, 12:00 AM

Performance Based Living

It is Sunday evening. I am sitting in our living room thinking about the morning worship times, specifically the sermon part of those experiences. I often do this on Sunday evenings - review what I said and how I said it before I turn the corner and begin work on the next message. Usually there are some smiles, and prayers of thanks for a few things that went well. But the reflections are often dominated by thoughts like, "I could have said that better." or "Did I really say THAT?" or "Darn it - I left that illustration out." or "That point could have been a little clearer." or "The whole thing was too long." I know - I can hear some of you saying, "Don't be so hard on yourself." And sometimes I hear myself saying that. But as one who is constantly trying to improve, trying to give his absolute best to the Master, critical self-evaluation is extremely important for improvement. 

The danger in this process is that there is a hair-thin line between self evaluation and self abuse. We can beat ourselves up at times about the should-haves and the wish-I-would-haves to the point where our self identity gets wrapped up in whether or not we have performed well - even perfectly. And how we feel about ourselves - postive or negative - spills over into all other areas of our lives - families, friendships, careers, attitudes towards life in general. The fickleness of performance based self image can lead to a host of challenges for us ranging from deep depression and hopelessness on one end, to downright arrogance on the other.

I am grateful for a God who constantly finds creative ways to remind me of who I really am, not who I feel I am based on whether or not I have performed well. Texts like these are bedrock for a healthy Biblical self image: 

"Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1Peter 2:10)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

You and I are accepted by God because God says so, not because we have performed or not performed well enough. That's not to say self reflection has no place in our lives. It's where we start the reflection that matters: as a child of God seeking to deepen one's experience of God's grace, or as a man or woman that hopes to qualify for grace somewhere, somehow, sometime before its to late.

I imagine my Sunday evening sermonic reflection times will continue into the foreseeable future.....but God, help me remember I am your child, whether I get it right or not. That's my prayer for you, too: remember you are a child of God not based on getting it right or wrong, but because God in Christ claims you as one. 

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

12-16-2014 at 2:42 PM
Dawn Anderson
I love the way you say "through me or in spite of me." God already has it figured out!
11-18-2014 at 8:42 PM
Sue Dreves
Love it...it reminds me of the recent sermon you preached on living from the "Inside Out." I put this up in my office to remind me that the one whose opinion matters most has already made up His mind if I am worthy enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough,...etc. Thanks for sharing!
11-17-2014 at 9:43 AM
Beth Stanish
Thank you
11-17-2014 at 8:08 AM
Pat Mann
Wow! Coincidence, I don't think so. My BFF and I had some conversation about this same thing in the parking lot of an incident I experienced on Friday. (self examination - self abuse) Lo and behold, her words to me - comforting ,encouraging and building me up. I thank God for this series of messages the Lord has laid upon your heart, and, for those God is using in my journey with Him. As iron sharpens iron. (Prov 27:17)
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November 4, 2014, 9:00 PM

Tripping...........II

So I returned to the scene of the "Tripping Incident" this afternoon (see the blog entry dated 10/19). I had two goals for this trip: to "flag" my path from the logging road to the deer stand I will be using, and to scout some sites for my brother Tom to sit the first day of the season. I planned to place some flagging (plastic, stretchy tape like "stuff" in VERY visible colors) at a few spots that have easy access because Tom cannot walk long distances. 

I parked the car along the road, pulled on my boots, grabbed my spool of flagging, and headed into the woods. I traveled a few hundred yards and came to the first potential place for Tom. Looking it over, I decided to flag a tree to mark the spot. I tore off a long piece and wrapped it tightly around a sapling easily seen from the road. Walking on from there I marked several more places, made my way back to my stand, and a couple hours later walked back past the first tree I marked just in time to see the flagging release from the sapling and sail away in the breeze.

Now I'll be the first to say I have not flagged many trees in my life, but I am pretty sure it doesn't require an advanced degree to perform the task. Wrap it, cross it, tie it, pull it tight - not rocket science. And yet there went the bright orange plastic, floating away as though it had never been tied. As I watched it disappear, I realized that what I had thought was simply a breeze was, in fact, a pretty stiff and steady wind. I had actually tied the flagging correctly, but leaving it unattended and exposed to the wind caused the knots to loosen and eventually come apart. 

And then the Spirit of God did what the Spirit has done numerous times in my life: stopped me and whispered, "pay attention." Like unattended flagging exposed to the wind, my God connection can loosen and even come apart if I leave it alone to face the winds that batter life - and so can yours. We worship once in a while, or catch a sermon on TV or on line every so often, maybe dust off  grandma's Bible and leaf through the pages wondering about the underlined or circled parts, or whisper a prayer when our back's against the wall, and then wonder why God seems distant and unconcerned about the storm that's battering our life. Investing in our God connection sporadically is like tying the flagging around a tree and leaving it to fend for itself against the wind - the connection can loosen and may eventually come apart. The result? Life that is driven by the winds of pain and heartache and human wisdom and...just like flagging caught in the breeze. 

"The Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." (Matthew 8:23-26) Power to rebuke the wind....now that's the One I want to stay tied too....how about you? Think on these things, and remember...

Keep Lookin' Up! 

Pastor D.

 



Comments

11-14-2014 at 1:37 PM
Pat Mong
Loved your analogy, Dave! Spot on!!
11-05-2014 at 3:16 PM
Darlene Finch
Had some wind lately. Thanks for the reminder to stay tied to the One who calms the wind. Keep blogging!
11-05-2014 at 11:50 AM
Pat Mann
Which reminds me of the "forces" within each believer, the flesh against the spirit. (Gal 5:16-18). We need to keep a tight rein on what we believe and the one who we believe in. One little "slip" one loose end, and the flesh is there to pull us away. None of us are alone in this journey. Stay connected. So blessed. Thank you for sharing.
11-05-2014 at 9:32 AM
Charlene Schroder
I am glad to be able to share some long distance moments with you. Your recent reflections have hit the mark with me. It's great when the Holy Spirit makes the connection. Peace and love.
11-04-2014 at 10:59 PM
Traci Z.
Thankful to have stumbled across your blog. Had to go back and read what I've missed!
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October 27, 2014, 6:00 PM

Calling Off...

In these 30 years of ministry, it's only happened one or two times. This past Sunday maybe made three...here's what I'm talking about...

My Sunday morning alarm went off at its usual time. I got up, poured a cup of coffee, sat down in my chair and prepared for my normal morning prayer time. I closed my eyes to begin praying, and it hit me....I am REALLY tired...and then the thought that has only visited me two or three times during this ministry journey: "Wonder if I could call off of work today......???"

Now let me be clear: I love what I do. It is a humble honor and joy to be a pastor - especially one of the pastors of Christ Church. My level of exhaustion has to be significant for me to NOT want to be present on a Sunday morning. To be sure, various health challenges make me a bit more predisposed to being chronically tired. But, upon refelction, I realized I have been running full speed pretty much since Labor Day, living by that constantly present lie that a busy schedule where every moment is filled with something means I must be making a difference. And I suppose to some degree a difference is made, somewhere. But the more common result of living by that lie? EXHAUSTION...

Why do we do that? Why do we think that we have to fill every moment with something? Why do we buy the lie that to be successful in and accepted by the society we live in, there cannot be a moment left in our day that isn't chained to some activity? Why do we look to every possible source except our life priority choices to explain our constant state of exhaustion? An exhaustion that, sooner or later, will lead us to want to withdraw from even the things we love to do: "Wonder if I could call off from..................?"

Interesting that God's design for responding to a busy schedule looks a little different:

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. " (Genesis 2:2-3) "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall do no work..." (Exodus 20:8-10a)

I wonder... if I paid more attention to God's design, would the thought of calling off from.......fade away? Hmmmmmmm............

As always...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

10-28-2014 at 8:49 AM
David smith
Brother Dave, thank you so much for sharing. Your blog really is what I needed at this time. Very thing you said is what I'm feeling at this time. Thank you again.
10-27-2014 at 10:17 PM
Lea A. Guiney
I can't imagine there are many pastors who haven't found themselves in the same place...for the same reasons. I know I have. Maybe if we were all a little more honest about admitting to it, we would do a better job of making sure we aren't so exhausted all the time.... Thanks for sharing Dave.
10-27-2014 at 9:53 PM
Robyn Ohmer
Man, my toes hurt! You keep stepping on them! I plan to get a copy of Sunday's message about servant evangelism to share at ABC's next staff meeting! Thanks for keeping it real!
10-27-2014 at 9:12 PM
Pat Mann
God didn't design us to "burn out" which makes me think of the quote by Vance Havner. "If we don't come apart, we will come apart!" Your serving, Pastor, is above & beyond. I don't know how you do "keep lookin' up" but, Praise God, you do.
10-27-2014 at 8:59 PM
Dick Shaner
6 days the Holy Spirit gives us inspiration with daily happenings so that on the 7th day, you can use those inspirations such as you did enthusiasticallly in the children's sermon on Sunday.
10-27-2014 at 7:29 PM
Anne Bakker
Not gonna lie....that thought hits me nearly every single Sunday, and often into Monday. The desire to serve (and the subsequent guilt that often follows) often becomes the "chain" of discontent for me personally. I so frequently feel that if I don't do this or that, then who will?? The answer is, if I sometimes DON'T STOP, then I won't be able to serve where He is calling me. I am learning slowly to say the word "no" to humans sometimes, and to answer "YES" to Him who calls me more frequently. Thanks for such an honest writing!
10-27-2014 at 7:23 PM
Candy Reina
Want to know how it feels to be "fed" by your pastor EVERY Sunday? Then top that off with a great blog? AWESOME!!!
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October 19, 2014, 8:00 PM

Tripping.......

So I tripped the other day. Now all you 60's and 70's kids, not THAT kind of tripping..... 

No I actually tripped and fell. I was walking through the woods with a friend. He had led the way along the trail in, and as we started to make our way out, I said something about not being sure I could find my way back to the road. He immediately said, "Then you lead and I'll follow." So I started back the way I believed to be right. We were making great progress, and I was actually quite proud of myself. We made our way across the creek without anyone falling in, and started up the bank on the other side. I was looking out ahead to see where the path was, not paying much attention to where I was walking, and it happened. I picked up my left foot and the toe of my boot caught on a stone I didn't see, and down I went.  Nothing injured, except maybe my pride. I got up quickly and we continued down the path and very soon arrived back at the road.

I've been thinking about that "tripping moment" a bit over the past few days. I tend to be a person that is always looking ahead - searching for the path forward, dreaming and envisioning where life could go in the days and months ahead. That means sometimes I am not as aware of current realities as I could (maybe should) be. Other people live life very aware of current realities, always very well grounded and in touch with the now, but find it hard to see beyond where they are and catch a glimpse of what could be. Which approach to life is the best one?

In our home we live by a particular beatitude. It's initial clause was authored by the greater part of the Janz partnership (that would be Betsy): "Blessed are the balanced..." and then I added part B: "for peace and contentment shall be theirs." I think it's a pretty good way to tackle life. We  need to be aware of BOTH where we're headed and where we are. At times, vision will play the dominant role in our circumstances, and at other times we'll need to stay grounded in the present so as not to jeopardize the future. How do we know when to operate from which place? Well that's where the gift of wisdom comes into play. Proverbs 2 says wisdom comes as a gift from God, given in response to seeking God in his Word. The more we seek God in his Word, the more tuned into God's presence always at work around us we'll be, and the easier it will become to know when to focus on the path ahead, and when to pay attention to the stones on the path in front of us. Balance is achieved as God's wisdom operates optimally in every moment of our days. 

Amazing what one can learn from falling flat on their face, huh? As always...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

10-21-2014 at 5:06 AM
Sharon Chandler
Another great blog!! AND how I relate--one year ago I was "lost" in our woods when the CA "kids" were here--by myself when I left them to return home. NEVER again--stay with your guide--God will see us "home."
10-20-2014 at 5:12 PM
Shannon Hoffman
It's amazing how sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest impact. This was a very well - written reminder of that. Thank you!
10-20-2014 at 2:00 PM
Dick Shaner
Good observation. Wonder how many would not have fallen if they just kept track of where they were about to go. God bless.
10-20-2014 at 10:28 AM
Sandy Homer
Thank you,I needed to hear that.
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October 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

What a Weekend!

What a weekend we just had! Two weddings, two funerals, and three worship services in 48 hours! I feel tired just reading what I've typed! Congratulations to Mike and Georgia and Kurtis and Alyssa - newly weds on this Tuesday morning! Deep sympathy and many prayers for Lane Grafton and family, and the family of Earl Alt as they adjust to living without loved ones who were so central to life. And thanks to more people than I can name here for enabling our worship experiences to be filled with love and joy, compassion and care. 

Someone asked me yesterday if I went home on Sunday and collapsed after the busy weekend. I confess I expected to, but that's not what happened. Oh I was tired - but not as tired as I thought I'd be. I actually did not take a nap - I had a bite to eat and then started reading an assignment for an online continuing education class I am taking. Imagine that!

Part of me is celebrating and crediting being in a good place health-wise at the moment as the reason for my "not-completely-spent-ness." But as I think about it, the bigger part of me celebrates and credits the church being the church as the reason I was not entirely exhausted. The church as Bev Lehman and the funeral meal teams. The church as Luann Valdesalice and Katie Aaron who made sure the wedding details were cared for. The church as Sam Wagner who, as always, provided extraordinary care and support for grieving families and celebrated the life of Ginni Grafton with joy, sensitivity and excellence. The church as musicians - choir and pianists and organists - and servants to run the audio/visual equipment - all who willing gave of themselves in response to God's goodness and grace in their lives. The church as Amy Dick who added two additional bulletins to an already busy week. The church as Bill Latchaw who made sure the building was perfectly presentable for each event. 

See that's how the church as the body of Christ is intended to work: "Now to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good...The body is a unit, though it's made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ....If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1Cor. 12:7,12,26) 

That's what I saw at work this weekend - the church being the church. Yes I was tired - but I was more energized by watching the church be the church - have been for 30 years now. The most rewarding and awe inspiring thing about ministry for me is watching YOU live as the people Jesus redeemed you to be. 

What a weekend we had.................indeed..........

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

10-15-2014 at 5:46 PM
Dick Shaner
God bless you and our work! Pray persistently!
10-15-2014 at 1:37 PM
Pam Kilgore
Continued prayers from WV for strength, stamina and the unction of God to all from Dave to the sweet smiles on the children of the Christ church family, that minister to the community and the world. Your reach is far more that you can know, carry on brothers and sisters in Jesus.
10-15-2014 at 7:47 AM
Katie Aaron
I am always amazed and thankful as I see how our people look out for each other and work together in ways that could only come from the love of Jesus Christ they have in their hearts. It WAS an amazing weekend. We all needed each other.... an encouraging word and smile, a hug, praying together, and knowing that we are the hands and feet of Jesus...these are just a few of the ties that holds us together as a church with a strong foundation. Thank you Pastors David and Sam for being good leaders and examples of what it means to really care about each other and work together as the body of Christ.
10-14-2014 at 3:14 PM
Sharon
BEAUTIFULLY written!! BUT you MUST take care of yourself, too!!

Thank you for being you!!
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