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Archive for the ‘tiredness’ Category

I needed to fix a slow air leak in a  riding mower front tire. Simple fix, really. You just put in an inner-tube. The guy at the tire shop where I bought an innertube informed me that they don’t like to work on those little wheels, “They are real little buggers,” he said.

I thought, “How hard can it be? I’ve done plenty of bicycle and wheelbarrow tires. I’ll save the fifteen buck installation fee.”

“Real little buggers,” was an understatement. “Gigantic pain in the posterior,” would’ve been much more accurate. I wrestled that little wheel like a greased pig and in the process managed to puncture the innertube six times. When I pumped it up it whistled like a pan flute, and, trying to fix the fix I ran out of patches.

Before putting it all back together I watched some YouTube videos on how to fix “little bugger” mower wheels because clearly, I didn’t know how to do it right. It is amazing what you can learn on YouTube.

I clearly needed some instruction before attempting to put things back together a second time (To be honest, I was tempted to take it back to the tire shop on my next trip to town and plunk down the fifteen bucks. But I couldn’t bear the thought of the tire shop guy looking at my new, six times patched tube and cracking up and call the rest of the shop crew over to “check out this clumsy fool!”) So, with my hurt pride, I got myself a YouTube education on wrestling these little butt-kicking wheels. Two Vise Grips and a long bolt and nut in the bench vise proved to be super helpful.

Would you call me “a little dense,” or “downright stupid,” if after watching helpful YouTube videos I would have tried to get that tire back on the same way I did the first time?

Would you think of me as “ridiculous” if instead of trying to follow the practical YouTube instructions I called everyone on the prayer-chain to have them join in praying for a miracle fix to my tire problem?

Would you have a difficult time not rolling your eyes at me, thinking “Really!” if this weekend at church I would tell everybody how Satan is attacking me again, making my life miserable, how everything that possibly can go wrong is going wrong, and that few people have suffered this deeply and profoundly.

Would you wonder if I had a brain if I would park a perfectly good running riding mower behind the shed and let it rot away because of flat a front tire I didn’t know how to fix myself?

Maybe you chuckled once or twice reading this pastor’s note so far, but thirty-five years of pastoring, preaching, and teaching the Bible this is what I see all too often:

  1. Christians ignoring the greatest life-instruction manual ever written, the Bible.
  2. Christians overestimating their own wisdom, knowledge, skill, and strength.
  3. Christians making a mess, leaking, dragging like flat tires.
  4. Christians turning to God, the Bible, and godly counsel in times of crisis (YouTubing solutions), only to ignore them and go back to what didn’t work before.
  5. Christians turning prayer into some kind of magic wand as a replacement for following sound biblical wisdom and instruction.
  6. Christians rolling in continual self-pity and catharsis but unwilling to inform themselves and refusing to implement biblical ways and wisdom into their thinking, attitudes, habits, behavior, circumstances, and problems.
  7. Christians dragging from Sunday to Sunday (or just dragging) leaking air through self-inflicted punctures only to park the whole tractor of a vibrant life in Christ in the scrap yard behind the barn with all the other old broken-down tractors, trucks, and implements.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions the Bible gives you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 (adapted from NLT2)

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. For your tires I got the phone # of the tire shop.

 

 

 

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Replacing the kitchen sink took the better part of two years to get done. Well, it was one-hundred-and-one weeks of talking about it, checking into it, reminding me of it (very patiently I might add), consulting, talking about it some more, researching it on my laptop, and talking and thinking about some more, the actual doing of it took less than a week (thank you Richard Miller). Obviously, the problem here was getting started.

In our son’s senior year in High School Susie bought an old 1960 Ford pickup truck. We (think me) were going to fix it up and look really cool riding around in it. I got as far as getting firing it up once and then tearing out the gas tank and radiator to have them redone, and then it Hansi graduated and went to college, which was followed by his sisters going to college, and all our spare money going to college. So, the truck sat there year after year rusting away and occasionally, I would pump up the aging tires. We finally sold it, we had lost our passion for it, it was never going to get done. Maybe you have some projects, some tasks, some assignments that are waiting, are on hold, as well?

Our bedroom is a mess right now, we have been giving it a makeover. It was going at the rate of the kitchen sink, but we actually did get started in less than two years, and it is mostly done. The walls are painted, the new floor is in, the baseboards are installed, most of the clothes are back in the closet. But it isn’t finished. Susie’s side of the bed is impassable, the floor is covered with stuff, the walls are bare, and we’re thinking about a new bed frame (sound’s like a project within a project, which invariably moves the finish line). If we’re not careful, we will simply carve a walkway to Susie’s side of the bed and never finish.

Following Jesus has a beginning, middle, and end; it requires a starting, staying at it, and finishing well; it is comprised of a first step, many in-between steps, and a final step. Following Jesus means following him, being devoted to him, serving him all the way to the finish, “Enduring to the end,” Jesus called it (Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13). The entire letter to the Hebrews is concerned about finishing the Christian life well, not quitting, not abandoning the race, not getting sidetracked by other projects, not losing our passion for Christ, “run with endurance the race set before us” Hebrews 12:1.

Scripture is replete with examples of believers who struggled with or didn’t finish well. Solomon, who got the title of Wisest Man, didn’t finish well. David, whom God called “a man after my own heart,” struggled with finishing well. Demas threw in the towel altogether. Most of the believers in the churches Jesus mentions in Revelation 2-3 were buckling at the knees, slowing down, getting sidetracked, were in danger of not finishing their Christian lives well, and Jesus repeatedly encouraged and warned them not to give up:

To him/her who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

To him/her who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him/her a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him/her who receives it.

Only hold on to what you have until I come.

S/He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his/her name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his/her name before my Father and his angels.

To Him/her who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will s/he leave it.

To him/her who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Revelation 2:7, 10, 17, 25; 3:5, 12, 21 (NIV, s/he and him/her, mine)

Maybe today is a good day to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no slowing down, no wandering off,”* all the way to finish line.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

*(“I Have decided to follow Jesus” by Holland Davis & Eugene Thomas)

 

 

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As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him…

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 9:9 & 16:24 (NIV)

 

You can go to church and remain unchanged. You can read the Bible and remain unchanged. You can pray and remain unchanged. You can set up a Bible slogan yard sign and paste a spiritual sounding bumper-sticker on your car and remain unchanged. You can listen to Christian music all day long and remain unchanged. You can come forward in a church service weeping week after week and remain unchanged. But you cannot follow Jesus and remain unchanged. You cannot claim to be serious Christian and remain unchanged.

In order to follow Jesus, you have to:

  • Leave some things behind

There has to be a starting point, a beginning. You can’t follow anyone anywhere without taking a first step, and you cannot take that first step without leaving something behind. Sadly, there are way too many stories that tell of having gone back to the things we are meant to have left behind. One thing is for certain, once you have gone back you are no longer following. (Mark 1:17, 2;24, 8:34)

  • Let Jesus determine your direction

In order to follow Jesus, you have to let him lead, let him determine the direction. There is one question a serious follower of Jesus continually asks, “Where are we going, Jesus?” The great temptation is to chart our own course and then sanctimoniously invite Jesus into it, but the moment I do I quit following. (Luke 8:22-25, Acts 8,10)

  • Get involved in what Jesus is doing

You can’t follow Jesus on your butt, that’s why just taking in a church service here and there is a long way from seriously following Jesus. You won’t find Jesus sitting around a lot doing nothing or anything other than his Father’s will. What gets in the way is that there is not enough time to do what we want to be doing and what he is doing, one or the other has to give. You can’t follow Jesus by making him a mere add-on. (John 5:19, 20:21)

  • Let Jesus teach you

Jesus taught people wherever he went, but his disciples he taught continually, daily, and in all kinds of different situations. His expectation was for them to implement what he was teaching them into their way of thinking (values), their way of seeing (world-view), their way of feeling (responding), their way of life (habits). As much as we are tempted to, following Jesus’ teaching is not a pick-and-choose affair. (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

  • Keep on following to the finish line

Finishing well is part of following Jesus because following Jesus is a life-long affair, down to our last breath. So, following Jesus is about walking after him, serving alongside of him through thick and thin, through ups and downs, in crisis and craziness, in the ordinary and amazing, whether I feel like it or not, in pain and suffering, in joy and grief, when things a clear and when things are fuzzy and confusing, in weakness and in strength, when all alone or in sweet company, in trials and tribulations, when it is easy and when it hard, at our worst and at our best, when exhausted or refreshed, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, month after month, year after year, all the way to the finish line. (Hebrews 12:1-3, Mark 13:13)

Do you need to make any adjustments in your following Jesus?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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“I’M NOT TIRED!” was the angry scream of several of our kids, and it was a sure sign that they really were tired, very tired. Sometimes we are tired and don’t even know it, although it is no secret to those around us. But there really are things we don’t get tired of; this preacher hasn’t gotten tired of.

Below the milk collective, where the farmers dropped off their milk in our little German town, they sold milk, butter, cheese, and whipped cream in a waffle cone for 10 Pfennig, a little over 2 cents. I was hooked the first time my Grandpa took me there (I had no idea whipped cream was addictive). I will scrape off frosting but to this day I am a sucker for whipped cream.

I have not gotten tired of love, even though it doesn’t always make life easier. There is something incredibly beautiful about real love. To me it is more addicting than whipped cream. The most important things in my life all depend on love: Being a child of God, being Susie’s husband (HBoM – Hunking Block of Manliness), being our children’s Dad, my church family, my friendships, my family, being a pastor. There is nothing like loving and being loved.

I love happy endings, not just in movies or books, but in real life. I don’t get tired of them, I pray for them, hope for them, haven’t given up on them. And it is not because I have not experienced grief, ugliness, evil, and the inexplicable. Maybe it is because of it. Great outcomes are rare, happy endings are precious, and they are worth it. I believe Jesus thinks so too.

Angels rejoice, celebrate, over one sinner who repents. It is an awesome thing to see a sinner kneel at the cross of Christ and just for the asking receive forgiveness, eternal life, a heavenly birth certificate, and a chance of living every day with God himself. I haven’t gotten tired of telling about that day in my own life, and I am not tired of witnessing someone else’s day of salvation.

Goodness I don’t tire of either. I vote for it every chance I have. I am still for honesty, for saying what is meant and meaning what is said. I am in favor of integrity, transparency, simplicity, and generosity. They scrub the air like rain in the summer; you can breathe deeply where there is goodness. And at the beginning and end of every single drop of goodness you and I get a glimpse of God, because when it comes to goodness he is involved in it. No, I am not tired of goodness or the glimpses.

I don’t tire of God amazing me. “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?2 Samuel 7:18b (NASB).

To God be all glory, love Pastor Hans

 

 

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When the preacher gets tired

 

Since I am always encouraging others to not hide behind generalities, and because I can’t speak for every other preacher it is better if I let you know about when this preacher, when pastor Hans gets tired.

 

I know this much, when I am tired I am not as efficient, I am more critical, am more negative, have less patience, prayer becomes a struggle, I let myself get sidetracked, procrastinate, and wonder if all effort, all that preaching, teaching, shepherding is making all that much of difference.

 

When I am tired I am tempted to holler more from the pulpit, which is kind of like a frustrated parent yelling at their kids. But since I have been at this for a while I know that doesn’t do a whole lot of good, you end up having to holler more and more.

 

There are different aspects to my tiredness but they are intertwined like night crawlers at the bottom of a worm can. Some of it is my own fault, too little rest, doing too much, my ministry habits and patterns. Susie and I were dirt poor when we got into this ministry thing. When you are dirt poor you fix things yourself, cut your own firewood, do your own pest control, and save wherever you can. When you pastor a small church start in a tiny community you work several jobs, are the janitor, service planner, youth director, and end up plugging the dam a lot. That has shaped me, maybe scarred me, and certainly has worn me out more than once over the years.

 

Some of my tiredness stems from what I am tired of. I am tired of hearing someone who claims to be have been a believer for 25 years still claiming that they don’t know how to share the Gospel with their family, neighbors, and friends, or being afraid to pray out loud or for someone right on the spot. I am tired of watching brothers and sisters scale back or drop out all together, I don’t get it. I am tired of pussy footing, anonymity, outright gossip, and too many careless and trivial words. But I am hollering, ain’t I.

 

I am tired of having to motivate those who profess faith in Christ to follow Christ, to be faithful, to commit themselves to growth, to service, to think missional. I wonder if that is my own fault? Am I preaching Jesus incorrectly, if people are not internally compelled to follow, to change? If there is not a heart constrained by the love of Christ, continually overwhelmed and grateful for the mercy poured out and received?

 

I am tired of Christians talking Bible and flushing it as soon as there is conflict, hardship, change, or something they don’t like. Talking scripture without living it when it really counts is hollow, bridle, lifeless.

 

I am tired of the level of conformity that is required in my own denomination and other denominations. There are too many Christian circles all requiring conformity, be it some form of patriotism, liberalism, activism, or some particular theological ism. So you have to watch what you say and do or you are outrageous, outdated, or simply out.

 

There is a relentlessness to ministry, to being a pastor that is tiring to me. One sermon done another one coming (and it should be good, boring preaching is inexcusable). People don’t transform easily. The needs never stop. The spiritual battle never has a cease fire. There are always things weighing on my heart and mind.

 

Some of my tiredness comes from the fact that a good deal of what I do I am neither gifted for nor passionate about. I know that’s like any other job, which means you know exactly what I am talking about.

 

I am tired, shamed even, by my own slow progress, by the wide gap I still see after so many years between what is the present reality of my Christian life and what Christ, what scripture, calls me to be.

 

Now, I haven’t penned this note to elicit your pity. You could write your own. Teachers, plumbers, police officers, doctors, parents, … all get tired. I wrote this pastors note because I want to live with you in real and transparent fellowship. I hate having to pretend, so I don’t want you or me to do so, not in regard to tiredness or anything else.

 

Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them? Hebrews 13:17 (MSG)

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

P.S. I will use next week’s pastor’s note to let you know what this preacher never gets tired of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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