Archive

Monthly Archives: February 2017

It’s Monday and I’m tired.

Mondays are weird days for pastors. Our energy is spent, yet we know that no matter what the week brings, next Sunday is coming. The week will be filled with phone calls, texts, visits, staff meetings, and conversations. In all of this, there’s preparing Wednesday’s devotional and Sunday’s sermons. On Monday, this all seems a bit much.

In college and seminary, I diagnosed myself with “syllabus shock.” Each semester, on the first day of class, the professor would pass out the syllabus, review it, and then my panic would set in. How could I possibly do all of this work? There’s no way I’m going to pass this class. I’ll have to quit school, get a dog and cardboard sign, and sit by I-40 for the rest of my life.

I know. It was a bit of an over-the-top reaction.

I began typing this blog on Monday afternoon. My computer says that it is 2:29 PM. Yesterday, according to a text message that I sent to Donna about supper, I walked out of the church at 7:15 PM. It was a really good Sunday. I taught my Sunday school class, preached an evangelistic morning message, spoke about the tabernacle on Sunday night, and met with the deacons after church. My Hardee’s Frisco Burger tied the day into a nice bow.

Those sermons, the Sunday school lesson, and the items I brought up in the deacons meeting took all week to put together. I delivered everything I prepared and was empty—a good empty, but empty all the same.

I sat down this morning and began working towards next Sunday. I’m continuing to preach through John 11-17. On Sunday nights, we’re moving into Numbers. Wednesday nights are in Matthew. As an introvert, study time rejuvenates me, but I still experience a bit of syllabus shock each week.

The thing that keeps me going is the clarity of my call.  I have never doubted that God called me to be a pastor. He fashioned me this way. It’s not a job. It’s who I am. This truth allows me to see those empty moments for what they are—fulfillments of my calling. This calling drives me to continue to dive into the Bible each week, so that I bring a fresh word from God.

What has God called you to do?

Are you tired?

Are you empty?

God calls us to be His children, to be spouses, to be single, to be family, to be church members, to be employees and employers, and to be missionaries to the lost. Those callings look different for each of us. They can also sap our spiritual strength.

It is okay to be tired in the Lord. Many have correctly said that while we may be tired in the work, we are never tired of the work.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (NASB).”

Don’t lose heart. God called you.

Do you have days that empty you?

Rest in that emptiness. The only way you know that you are empty is because you were full.

God fills us by empowering us through the Holy Spirit. When we obey that filling to the point of emptiness, we give back to Him the very spiritual energy He gave to us.

Rest in a job well done.

Advertisements

“Dad, what’s your favorite book?”

My third daughter asked this question last week and I couldn’t give a good answer. I have so many books that I love. Only book people will understand this, but books, both the physical copy and the story, are like old friends. Their presence brings comfort and joy.

So, I decided to make a list of my favorite books. At first it was going to be ten. Ten quickly became fifteen.

This list may surprise you. It did me. The books on this list are a mix of devotional, biography, and fiction. With the exception of the first, the books are listed randomly.

 

  1. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

This book made me a reader. I finished it on my third attempt and have been reading steadily since. I connected to the story as a young boy by identifying with Jim Hawkins. My copy sits on our bookshelf today. I occasionally pick it up to remind myself that some things never change.

 

  1. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Two Volumes by Iain Murray

I’m a great admirer of Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones served Westminster Chapel in London during WWII and into the 1960s. Before London, God used him to revive a dying church in his homeland of Wales. A trained physician, Lloyd-Jones left his profession to become a pastor. Murray’s two volumes should be read by every pastor.

 

  1. Grant – Jean Edward Smith

I’ve always read about the Civil War, but I’ve only been reading about Grant in last few years. I’ve come to admire him greatly. Smith’s biography paints the picture of a leader who, though flawed like all of us, understood the reality of war, respected all people, and lived with humility. This book inspired me to read further about Grant, including additional biographies and his Personal Memoirs.

 

  1. Lincoln – David Herbert Donald

The reason I read Smith’s Grant was because of Donald’s biography of Lincoln. Years ago I decided to stop reading leadership books and instead to focus on reading biographies of leaders. If you want to be inspired to do the difficult task, then read this book.

 

  1. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

While Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, I think The Fountainhead is a superior story. Admittedly, if Howard Roark actually existed we would think that he was a massive jerk. But, the story of the individual struggle against powers-that-be is inspirational.

 

  1. Absalom, Absalom – William Faulkner

This story is visceral and complex. I had never read Faulkner before picking up this book. He’s not easy reading, but the journey is worth it. I plan to return to this story.

 

  1. The Postman – David Brin

You may be familiar with Kevin Costner’s movie adaptation. The movie was a flop, but the book is fantastic. Brin, who often criticizes negative post-apocalyptic science fiction, wrote an uplifting story set in a broken future.

 

  1. The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Okay, this isn’t exactly one book, but Holmes is my all-time favorite fictional character. Just last summer, sitting on our church bus to and from a mission trip, I reread The Hound of the Baskervilles. As much as I enjoy watching Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch, those guys are no substitute for the real Sherlock.

 

  1. 1984/Animal Farm – George Orwell

These two books tell one story. Animal Farm shows how a totalitarian government comes into being, while 1984 details how that system remains in power. I originally read both as a teenager and revisited them in the past two years. They retained their power.

 

  1. The Fortunate Pilgrim – Mario Puzo

Most people know Mario Puzo for The Godfather. The Fortunate Pilgrim, which is more literary and written first, tells the story of early 20th century New Yorkers. I still think about the story’s characters, even though I read the novel at least four years ago. This book is on my reread list.

 

  1. Only One Life – John Phillips

I’m a great admirer of Dr. Stephen Olford. John Phillips, himself a well-known preacher and writer, wrote this biography about his friend and mentor. The scope of Dr. Olford’s ministry and his commitment to expository preaching continues to encourage me. The world could use another Stephen Olford.

 

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien

Peter Jackson’s movies are great, but they lose much of the story’s charm in the adaptation. Tolkien created an entire world, taking the reader through a patient, yet harrowing, journey. I’ve read these twice and plan to take another trip through Middle Earth.

 

  1. The Hustler – Walter Tevis

As an avid pool player in my youth, the movie adaptation with Paul Newman was required viewing. The novel, of which the movie is a close adaptation, is equally exciting. Tevis’ writing is lucid and concise. You can see the balls roll into the pockets as he describes the showdowns between Fast Eddie Felson and Minnesota Fats.

 

  1. Mockingbird – Walter Tevis

The Hustler introduced me to Walter Tevis. I’ve since read all of his novels, and Mockingbird is the best. The idea that a science fiction novel could be set in a future in which people have forgotten how to read is brilliant.

 

  1. Knowing God – J.I. Packer

I want to be J.I. Packer when I grow up. His books are substantial, yet relatable. This volume, probably his best-known, explains the nature of God so that anyone can understand and draw closer to the Creator. It is one of the few books I’ll loan out. Read it if you haven’t.

 

 

Now that I’ve answered my daughter’s question, I’m interested to see how this list will change over time. Maybe in five years or so, I’ll put a new list together. I’m sure some books will change, but a few of these old friends will stick around.