Don’t Question God’s Calling

textI have to admit, there are times while I’m subbing for music teachers, that an old ache fills my heart.  I love teaching music, and I would have enjoyed making that my career.  I believe I would have been successful.

I just finished a very hectic day for an awesome teacher.  She’s great and has wonderful plans, visuals, and equipment.  It’s so fun to put it all together–adding a steady tempo on the Orff instruments to the accompanying omnichord (for you “oldies” that’s the electronic version of an autoharp!) while the students sing. I LOVE IT!  You may ask, “Then why aren’t you teaching music?”  Because God called me elsewhere.

Back in 1983, just a year and a half after we were married, I interviewed for what I would have called the perfect job: high school choir and elementary music.  I got the job, but that same week I was asked to teach kindergarten in our Christian school.  I chose the kindergarten class, having a desire to get into Christian education.  I still remember the first morning we had devotions together as teachers.  I nearly cried.  It was such a joy to my heart to be able to teach biblical truths straight from the Bible while teaching the standard curriculum.  In fact, after leaving Christian education and subbing in the public schools, I nearly started class with prayer several times! Wouldn’t that have raised a ruckus!

When God calls, don’t look back!  Yes, it would have been more lucrative; yes, there were lots of perks, but that wasn’t what God made me to do.  I’m supposed to be a pastor’s wife, and I’m supposed to teach about God and care for His people, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!

However, in some ways, it would have been easier to teach music:

  1. Your day has a start and finish.
  2. You can see when you are being successful: The concert is a success; the student progresses, etc.
  3. The year has a beginning and an end
  4. You have the summers off!
  5. You are guaranteed to have a crowd!

Do you see that the opposite is often true of the ministry?

  1. There is no clock.  A pastor and his family never clock out.
  2. At times, sometimes for years on end, you see no progress.  Lives do not change, truths are not applied or embraced, etc.
  3. Yes, there is a new start to every year, but it seems like there’s no beginning or ending.
  4. Summers mean VBS, summer camps, and often extra activities.
  5. We work with a volunteer army!  They may be here, but then again, they may not be!

All this said, the greatest difference is eternity.  Sadly, I cannot say much in the public school concerning Jesus Christ or the Bible.  Yes, I can be a good example.  I can “shine” for Jesus, but one of the most difficult things for me is to see this great mass of students and know I am not allowed to “preach” to them.  And I understand the reasoning–it’s just hard for this pastor’s wife to be silent!

What’s the point of this rambling?  Bloom where you are planted.  Do the job which God has called you to do.  Be faithful.  We are all in the Lord’s army, and God has given each of us a mandate to carry out His work.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water

only in the name of a disciple,

verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

Matthew 10:42

And if you want to make your pastor, pastor’s wife, youth leader, Sunday school teacher, or any other church worker’s life easier–show up, volunteer, be an active part of your church–be faithful.   Your talents are invaluable, and what better way to use them than for our Lord and Savior? And besides all that, the benefits are out of this world!! A

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Pip and Pop

ID-1005079Once upon a time there was a pipe named Pip.  He was not anything fancy – just a large metal pipe.  Pip lay at the foundry with the other pieces waiting for the day he would be useful.

One day, the men from the foundry loaded all the piping onto a truck. Pip was so excited.  “I wonder where we’re going,” he said to his nameless look-alikes.

“Who cares,” one said as the truck rolled out of the yard and onto the highway.

“Don’t any of you know anything,” said one pipe with an extra fitting on the end.  He was one of the “specials.”  They acted as if they were more important, but Pip knew that each piece needed to play its part well or none of them would amount to anything.

From his perch atop the truck, Pip could see for miles around.  “Wow, this is awesome!”

“Don’t get used to it,” one of the older pipes said.  “Where we’re going, you ain’t gonna see nothing!’

“That doesn’t matter, just so I can do my job,”

The special pipe snorted.

As the truck began to slow down, Pip strained to see where they were going.  They turned off the highway and onto a smaller road which twisted and curved through the mountains.  The sights were breathtaking.  Pip even saw deer and turkey along the way.  He sighed and smiled happily but said nothing.

Soon, the truck pulled alongside a wide path that led through the woods.  As far as Pip could see the path stretched across the field, through the woods and up over the mountains.  In the middle of the path was a long trench.  “My new home,” Pip nearly shouted.

All the other pipes laughed.

Pip was the first pipe to be laid and connected into the pipeline.  His partner was a much older pipe who had seen a lot.  “Well, hello Sonny,” Pop said as the men joined the two together.  “I’m glad you finally made it.”

“Me too,” Pip said, knowing that he had found a kindred pipe!

As the days past, Pip and Pop waited and watched, anxious to get started.  It rained on them.  The leaves fell about them and the air turned cold at night.  “Will we ever do our job,” Pip asked impatiently.

Pop laughed.  “Patience, Sonny.  Our day is coming.”  And sure enough, the day came when all the connections were made, and the dirt was placed over them.

“I’m as snug as a bug in a rug,” Pip exclaimed, “but my mouth is awfully dry.”

“It won’t be for long,” Pop said sleepily.  The warm dirt was making him drowsy.

And then it happened!  Pip could sense that something was coming.  He heard it and smelled it before the gas began to flow.  The sensation was beyond his wildest dreams!  “At last,” he shouted in complete joy.  It felt so good to be used.

He never again saw the bright blue sky or the darkness of the night sky pin-pricked with a million stars.  He had said goodbye to all the woodland creatures who had wandered his way.  No more rain.  No more sunsets. Only dirt, and the comfort of knowing he was being used.  For Pip, it was all he needed.

Little did he know that some of the liquid gold that passed through him had fueled the ambulance that drove a dying child to the hospital, enabling the doctors to save her life.  He never knew that some his cargo kept babies warm and their bottoms dry, and it put new color on Grandma’s walls.  It didn’t really matter – he just wanted to be useful.

Do you know that God made you and saved you to use you for a specific purpose?  It may just be to speak a kind word to a neighbor or the awesome task of raising a godly son or daughter. Service for the Master comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes but they all require a few things:

  1. Surrender of MY will and desires
  2. Perhaps a “shaving off” of some personal quirks that get in the way
  3. Patience
  4. Sometimes misunderstanding from other pipes!
  5. Time – there’s no such thing a convenient Christianity – that’s one of my favorite quotes.

You may not be appreciated or even noticed, but that kind of service is the most enjoyable!  God always sees and that’s all that matters!  And don’t forget that it’s His ministry, His power, His service, and His glory.  We’re just the pipeline!

How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
  That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me,
  That I might Thy channel be.

Channels only, blessed Master,
  But with all Thy wondrous grace,
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
    Every hour in every place.

Just a channel, full of blessing,
  To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation,
  All Thy loving message sound.

Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
  A clean vessel in Thine hand;
With no strength but as Thou givest
  Graciously with each command.

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/268#ixzz2McrVtTbR

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Servant?

foot-washing1We’ve enjoyed most of Downton Abbey.  For the most part, it’s been quite entertaining, thought-provoking and informative about a time in English history of which I knew very little.

However, one scene caught my eye in the last episode.  Some of the servants had traveled to Scotland where the family were visiting relatives.  As the visiting servants joined the others, they were referred to as Lord and Lady Grantham instead of by their own names.  In other words, Mrs. Bates, who attended Lady Grantham would be called Lady Grantham among the servants.

Isn’t that also true about our Lord and Master?  Are we not called Christians?  Oh, how that term is bantered about so loosely!  Those servants’ lives were totally dedicated to their lords and ladies!  They stood erect, waiting upon their every need.  They held their jackets while they dressed and then brushed them.  They coiffed the lady’s hair and held the towel for her as she exited the bath.

How’s your service?  Oh, how rebuked I’ve been.  I’m afraid my service is shoddy at best.  Is my eye focused on the Master’s face, just waiting for the opportunity to serve Him?  I’m afraid not – and remember, He is the one that said:

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.“Matthew 25:40

So, take the rebuke, put on the apron, pick up the towel and keep listening for the trump and his beautiful words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

A New Year

ID-100125807Happy New Year!  At times, I complain about the clock and look forward to an eternal heaven where time shall be no more; however, today I thank the Lord for a new beginning.  Oh, how we need them!

The following poem is from The Continual Burnt Offering, a 1941 daily devotional book by H. A. Ironside.  As I read it, I thought it put life into perspective for this New Year.

The Maker of the universe

As Man, for man was made a curse.

The claims of Law which He had made,

Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough

Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.

The nails that pierced His hands were mined

In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung

The tree on which His body hung.

He died upon a cross of wood,

Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o’er His head

By Him above the earth was spread.

The sun that hid from Him its face

Be His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood

Was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which His from was laid,

Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears

Was His from everlasting years,

But a new glory crowns His brow,

And every knee to Him shall bow.

— F. W. Pitt

 For those of you who are familiar with the movie White Christmas, think for a moment about one particular scene.  They are all sitting in the grist mill inn are the ladies sing.  Bing Crosby makes as statement about his former general who now owns the inn: “We ate, then he ate; we slept, then he slept.”  He was really bothered by the fact that this man whom he served under was now serving him.

What a wonderful picture of our God!  I serve Him because of His great example as Servant!  I die to selfish ambitions because He died for me!  May this year find you joyfully serving the Great God of the Universe Who came and died that we might live!

 http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

To Clean, or NOT to Clean

Having a pastor-husband has many wonderful perks.  We can go to the mall at 1:00 Tuesday afternoon.  (Can’t stand crowds!)  We can spend a weekday with my in-laws who are no longer able to drive to our house.  We can take an afternoon and cut my mother’s lawn.  Our time schedule and our lives march to the beat of a different drummer and is measured by a different clock!

However, one of the “down sides” of having a pastor-husband, whose office is in our home, is that I’m never alone; and I have found that I can be a loner, even though I am in the ministry.  (Or maybe it’s because I AM in the ministry!)

Well, today I am alone!  Now, I KNOW what I should do – CLEAN!  The dust is so thick the plants are choking!  And we do have a Cocker Spaniel – need I say more?  But I don’t want to!  I’d rather do anything but clean!  I LOVE a clean house, and once I get started I’m fine; but sitting here at the computer tempts me with a thousand other desires: most of them are just plain time-killers?

So, is it God’s will for me to clean?  🙂  How do I know?  I’m being a bit facetious, but how often do we wrestle with that question: knowing God’s will?  Is there some secret formula for finding God’s will in our lives?

It’s the week after Easter.  What were the disciples doing?  How did they know what to do?  This one is simple.  Jesus gave them specific orders: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:4) Interesting that Peter went fishing!  I don’t remember seeing any places to fish in Jerusalem!  The command was clear: WAIT – the one thing that is hardest for us to do!  “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Ps 27:14)  When the way is not clear – WAIT!  I’ve made more blunders by pushing ahead to do MY will rather than wait on the Lord’s leading.

So what if we don’t have a clear mandate like the disciples did?  Paul gives us another great example.  When Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, Paul simply says, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6)  Right now, we are dealing with an important decision in our church. I know what I’d like to happen, and I do pray for that situation to come about; HOWEVER, I must always couch it in, “Lord, thy will be done.”  If it is not God’s will, it won’t be right and all will suffer.

Ask and wait, and keep serving the Lord.  When we were in India, we saw a great illustration of this truth.  We were in a nice restaurant.  It was early and the place was not crowded.  As we were seated and then received our meal, there were about 5-8 waiters standing across the room watching us. If we so much as blinked an eye at them, they were by our side, asking if we needed something!  That’s waiting and serving!  May we be so tuned in to our Master!  (And yes, I will clean today!!  As my mother used to say, “We don’t want the Board of Health to come and kick us out!”)

 “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”    Psam 57:7

Joy in Serving Jesus

”Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:

 he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Ps 55:22

Are you suffering from the Elijah syndrome?  You know: you’ve seen great victory in battle; joy fills your heart; and then, down to pity party pit you go!  Your life mirrors the latest country song: your hubby’s gone, the money’s gone, the dog is gone… you know the story – it’s the “everything’s gone wrong” song!

I was there today.  I don’t have to give all the details – they do not matter. Satan aimed his fiery darts right at the chink in my armor, and my flesh did the rest!  Poor me!  As much as I tried to tell myself to stop it, it just seemed like I was bent to go down that road.

Dear patient husband of mine!  He suggested a walk.  It helped, but you know what really broke the spell?  Serving Jesus!  We just got home last night (Thursday) after being away for a week; I had three calls to sub this morning (Friday) before 7:00 AM; and then a dear lady called asking me if I was coming tonight.  “Coming where,” I ask.  “You know – the children’s party you scheduled for tonight.”  No, I had forgotten.  All that started me on the slippery slope of despair.  But now, after the party’s over, JOY!  THERE IS JOY IN SERVING JESUS!!  Why He even uses me, I don’t know; but I’m sure glad He does!  He loves me too.  I’ll never understand that!  AND, He forgives all my sins.  Hallelujah!  What a Savior.

Are you in the dumps?  Go bake someone a cake. Make a phone call. Write a letter, all in Jesus’ name!  You will have joy, unspeakable!

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not,

yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” 1Pe 1:8