The drum of Scripture continually beats a theme that, unless consciously and carefully observed, will go largely unnoticed. Some portions of the inspired Word speak to this theme louder than others. Others require a vigilant reading between-the-lines interpretation to decipher what the Lord’s telling us. I am, of course, referring to the theme of God’s upside-down economy.
Growing up, I never really believed in Santa Claus. You can call that a parenting travesty if you wish. I don’t, however. I am thankful that it was never instilled in me to believe in this omniscient, omnipresent man who’d reward you on December 25th for all the good you’ve done throughout the past 360-odd days.
Of all the traits that are to be associated with believers, perhaps the hardest (at least for me) is remaining patient and kind with difficult people. I’m sure you’re familiar with these sorts of individuals — co-workers, classmates, associates, even friends in your circle that, for whatever reason, just irritate and aggravate you to no end.
It’s no secret that I’m an ardent fan of The Lord of the Rings — both J. R. R. Tolkien’s original works and the film adaptations by acclaimed director, Peter Jackson. Both the trilogy of books and movies comprise monolithic achievements in the realms of literature and cinema. Both remain masterpieces of storytelling and art.
I believe it’s no small charge to assert that there’s a massive problem in the majority of America’s pulpits. A lot of pastors step up to preach week after week and instead of feeding the hearts that sit before them with grace, they give them a lot of fluff. Instead of speaking to their souls, they itch their ears and fill their egos.
I know I’ve said this before, but I basically grew up in Sunday School. My dad’s been in a senior pastorate position since 1998. Before that, he was serving as youth and assistant pastor for a few different congregations. What’s more, both of my grandfathers served as lead pastors at various stages of their lives. Needless to say, I was always in church.
One of the most fundamental of human pursuits is the quest for a legacy. About the time our thoughts mature, the general movement of those thoughts is directed on making a name for ourselves, leaving something behind, ensuring we’re remembered. We resolve everything to this end, endeavoring to achieve something bigger, greater, and larger than ourselves.
A lot of things promise us joy. We’re basically guaranteed this through innovative and flamboyant marketing schemes that get shoved down our throats. Yes, I’m talking about commercials. The premise of a commercial or television advertisement is essentially to get you to believe that what you have isn’t enough and that this new thing can give you all the joy that you’ve sought after for so long.
Renowned Scottish philosopher, writer, and historian Thomas Carlyle once quipped, “The History of the World [is] the Biography of Great Men.” Carlyle, himself, was one of the leading proponents of the “Great Man” theory, which sought to explain the course of history by the impact of “great men,” or heroes.
Growing up a pastor’s kid, you’re privy to a lot of dilemmas the general church-goer doesn’t see or understand. This isn’t meant to sound haughty, it’s just the nature of the beast when it comes to growing up in ministry. Being a “double p.k.” (as both my grandfather’s are former pastors as well), I’ve seen my fair share of ministry ups and downs. The ebb and flow of pastoral ministry is more dynamic than most realize.