Sunday, October 23, 2011


I can’t move forward looking at the past. Enough time has been wasted already. As Joel Osteen pointed out in a recent sermon, there is a reason why the windshield on your car is bigger than the rear-view mirror. I just wish my headlights were brighter than my tail-lights!

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Friday, October 21, 2011

Staff Infection?

In belonging to the staff of a church—where I am also a member of that church—I have a greater stake in the work I do there because of my desire that the church, and not just my work, succeed.

As a staff member, I have more ownership than a regular member of the church because of the tremendous investment of my own philosophy, gifts, time, energy, and pure hard work in building a program God has led me to develop. As the director of musical groups, I also have a far different connection with people than other members because of my work in fostering people’s musical abilities and theological understanding over a period of many years. The longer the time as a staff member, the more influence and ownership I have.

But, now that I am no longer a staff member, I have nearly no ownership in the church or its musical program. An ordinary member has more influence, more responsibility, and more to possess than I do. The loss of my position equates to the loss of my place in that church.

Ordinary church members cannot possibly understand the pain and loss that a staff member feels when he or she may no longer serve as a staff member. Some say that a solution is to insist that staff members never become actual members of the church they serve. I think that’s a mistake. In order to enter into wholehearted service, I must also become a member and partner in every aspect of church life.

So now, I sit in a dilemma. I wait on God to show me the next step. I’m glad I can count on the fact that He is always faithful.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Out of the Mouth...

An unholy alliance, a nation of thousands traveling the wilderness, and a donkey that talks: quite a story! Numbers 22-24 tells us the story of the evil king of Moab, Balak, and the evil pagan prophet Balaam, AND the donkey.

Balak became concerned for his nation when he heard about the neighboring tribes that the Israelite armies had destroyed in their journey to the Promised Land. This nation was now nearing his own land. Balak didn’t know that God had commanded Moses not to allow any harm to the Moabites. But, because he didn’t know the God of the Israel, or have the humility to ask for mercy, he cooked up a plan to curse this wandering nation.

Balak had heard about the false prophet, Balaam, and sent servants to implore him to come and put a curse on Israel. (This prophet did evil, as Israel later would experience, but in this instance, God had another plan for this unlikely servant.) Balaam refused to go and curse Israel the first time, so Balak sent a second team with a more enticing invitation which included a monetary reward. This time, Balaam agreed to go because God told him he could go if he spoke HIS word to Israel. BUT, as he traveled along, God knew Balaam’s heart wasn’t submissive as it should be to Him.

Then God used the donkey! As they walked along, the Angel of the Lord appeared in the road. Balaam didn’t see him but the donkey did. The stubborn donkey stopped, and refused to go ahead. When Balaam beat him, “the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth,” and finally the Angel of the Lord was able to get Balaam’s attention. The scripture says, “Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes.” This encounter apparently caused Balaam to fear God and cautiously allow Himself to speak only what God was to put in his mouth over Israel.

God spoke through this unlikely prophet four blessings on Israel. The first, “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed?” The second, “The LORD their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them…It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’” The third, “May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” and the fourth, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” (meaning the Messiah will come from this nation!)

Charles Spurgeon writes these words concerning this obscure story:
Ungodly men, like [Balak and] Balaam, may cunningly plot the overthrow of the Lord’s Israel; but with all the secrecy and policy they are doomed to fail. Their powder is damp, the edge of their sword is blunted. They gather together; but as the Lord is not with them, they gather together in vain. We may sit still, and let them weave their nets, for we shall not be taken in by them. Though they call in the aid of Beelzebub, and employ all his serpentine craft, it will avail them nothing: the spells will not work, the divination will deceive them…We need not fear the fiend himself, nor any of those secret enemies whose words are full of deceit and whose plans are deep and unfathomable. They cannot hurt those who trust in the living God.
We can have the assurance that because God has blessed us in Christ, we are blessed, and no one can curse us or separate us from His love. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Favorite Fall Song

Something told the wild geese it was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden,
something whispered, "Snow."

Leaves were green and stirring, Berries luster glossed.
But beneath warm feathers
something cautioned, "Frost."

All the sagging orchards steamed with amber spice.
But each wild breast stiffened
at remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese it was time to fly.
Summer sun was on their wings.
Winter in their cry.

Rachel Field

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Door

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. Matthew 10:14

Several years ago I saw the hand reach out and snatch the welcome mat inside. I had spent a long time loving that place, the people and their children. I had shared generously of my goods and my gifts. But I still went back.

Recently, I heard the door slam shut when I came near. They didn’t want my brand of ministry, I guess. They didn’t like the friends I chose to honor because of my friends’ love for Christ, and they didn’t care if I stayed away.

The last day there, with a loud click, I heard the bolt slide into place. I was not welcome to return. That seems to be the will of the people.

Yet, with all that said, I know that God can open closed doors. To the angel of the church of Philadelphia, John the Apostle wrote, What He opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Revelation 3:7.

So, I heard the door shut. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of waiting to see whether God leads for me to “shake the dust off my feet,” or whether he opens a door NO ONE can shut. In either case I must exercise faith. I stand waiting.