Friday, May 20, 2011

The Power of Prayer

(Click to enlarge)

I don't know what it is about being a pastor, but since I started working at Lorne Park I've been asked to say the grace every time I sit down to have a meal with people. It's almost as if people believe that being a pastor makes me more qualified to be thankful for food. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind saying grace; I love prayer and talking to God, and if you've seen my pant size you'll know that I'm grateful for food! I just think it's funny is all. Part of me almost hopes that this trend continues because it really reminds me that I do need to be active in prayer. another part of me feels the need to encourage others to pray as well.

My friend Ryan (the recipient of the box comic) is a student at MacDiv; he explained it this way: "Well, pastors make really low wages, so maybe we are more grateful for food! because its more of a rarity when we have some!" we then decided that we should eat with homeless people more often and ask them to pray, because they would be the most grateful for it. (Before you recoil at the offensive nature of the joke, take a moment to think about the truth hidden inside of it. Maybe you should go eat lunch with a homeless person. They would be very grateful!)

I'm trying to improve my prayer life in general, so maybe grace is a good place to start. Remembering to pray before meals could be a good gateway to remembering to pray before everything.

And hey, we could all do with a little less wizardry in our lives. repent.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mr. Cellophane

It’s about to get real

My life has gone through several transitions lately. I recently became a father. I have two amazing kids who I’m grateful for every day. I also recently became a pastor. It is the best job I’ve ever had. However, in both cases there was a key area that I was unprepared for. The idea that I am now a role model for not only my kids, but other people’s kids as well has been slightly more crushing in its gravity than I had anticipated.

Before this year I had made it my goal to live transparently. I wasn’t afraid or ashamed of any of my sin because I was confident in the redeeming power of Christ and in the salvation I had attained through his sacrifice. My thinking was: if all my dirty laundry is out in the open, then no one will ever be able to dig anything up on me. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe all the things I believed a year ago, but I realized something recently: it is easy to live a life of surrender when you have nothing to lose. A year ago God could tell me to go anywhere in the world, for any length of time and with zero notice and I’d have hopped on the next flight. To my embarrassment I don’t know if I’m so willing now. You see, 5 months ago I got something to lose. I got a lot to lose actually. I got 2 kids who are learning how to be people from me, and I got a nice job with an office, benefits, and a pension. I got all these things and I realized that if I messed up bad enough, I could lose everything. Subconsciously I became afraid and I began to burry my sin. I don’t think that I was sinning any more or any less than I had been before, but I began to hide it; I hid it from my job, my wife, my God, and myself. I was so crushed by the idea of being a positive influence on people’s lives that I shrouded myself in deception. (I should state that I think I’m making it sound worse than it is, but this is the severity I feel inside me. I was also during these past few months dealing with my annual spring depression [Seasonal Affective Disorder] which probably played into the spiritual haze I was feeling). I was worried that if people saw me as I was and saw all of my imperfections and struggles than they wouldn’t trust or respect me. This is of course bogus. Who wants to hang out with Mr. Perfect all day?

Being a Christian is a conundrum. We are to strive each day for perfection as we follow Christ, and yet be humbled by our imperfections and submit ourselves to Christ. I got my job by not caring about my past sin, by not worrying about what the world thought, but by being concerned about what God thought. Why did I think I would keep it by acting differently?

I realized something the other day. I was praying and praying, trying to figure out how I could repair what I viewed as a damaged relationship with God. What I realized is my whole problem stems from the fact that I am trying to do something. God wants me to surrender everything, my family, my job, my pride, even my relationship with him. I had repented of my sin to all those affected, myself, my wife, my church, but not God. I hadn’t come before my creator and surrendered myself, calling a spade a spade and telling him what I’d done, asking for his help, surrendering my pride. Part of being a role model to my children and to others is showing the proper way to repent. I hadn’t done that. I won’t make that mistake again. I am transparent once more. I am shaky, nervous, scared, but see through. Wide open. No secrets. Some regrets, but regrets remind me of where I’ve been and where I want to go. I am scared to raise these boys, to pastor these kids. I am scared but equipped. God is my guide, I am only his vessel. This is his ministry, not mine. Praise God for that.