Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

  

I think we can all agree that we have all experienced grief. Grief strikes people from many different directions. Grief is brought on by the death of a loved one. It can be brought on by an illness or an illness of someone you love. It can be brought on by an employer announcing, “we are letting you go.” Or a spouse saying, “I want a divorce.” Grief can happen when we watch those we love suffer from self harm. Grief can come at us when people we love make poor decisions. Many of the parents who are reading this have faced sleepless nights due to their children’s choices. Grief can strike us when friendships are lost and most definitely when betrayal happens. Grief happens when we or those close to us suffer from the hand of an abuser. Grief happens when the joy of a pregnancy is replaced with the pain of a miscarriage. The list goes on and on.    

Sadly we must realize that when it comes to the topic grief the we must realize it is not if but when…

Grief is a natural part of life. Yet, when we go through it, it rarely feels natural. We long for an escape. We desperately want a reprieve but it hangs over us like a dark cloud. A cloud that seems to mirror our every move. It does not leave us or allow us rest. So what is one one to do? 

How do we escape that which is inevitable? How do we see God in the grief? The clouds of grief don’t just place us in a shadow but seem to shield our view of the Almighty as well. Our view of heaven becomes clouded. That which once was bright becomes dark and life feels as if we live in a shadow. Grief can quickly overwhelm us. It can quickly rob us of joy. It can quickly render us helpless and often evokes feelings of hopelessness as well.

Grief is not merely something that you go through. It is something that touches every fiber of one’s being. It touches our sleep, our eating patterns, our feelings, our thoughts, our desires, our relationships, and even our dreams. It often does not leave one stone unturned. It often will haunt us every hour of the day and it is often accompanied by the thought that this will never get better. As stated above, it affects every fiber of one’s being.  

It often does not make sense. It is in these moments of grief that we strive hardest for clarity and understanding yet are often left with confusion and a pattern of answerless questions. We exhaust ourselves as we search for answers that are never to be found.  

Many us within the faith community hear well meaning Christians utter statements that we just don’t want to hear when we are grieving. The one grieving does not want to hear, “All things work together for good.” They do not want to hear, “God won’t give you more than you can bear”. When one is living inside grief it is hard to see any good and within the cycle of grief most feel they have already been given more than they can bear. Our job as Christians is never to remove the grieving. Grieving is modeled by our Savior and is part of life.  

So apart from complete surrender to the inevitable what can we do? 

Well, I would ask you to join me as I each week I will write more on this topic.  Whether you are grieving yourself or not, I can gaurantee you that you know somonebody whose life is currently being touched by grief.  So I would ask that you commit to this journey of grief with me.  For those grieving, it is important that we frame your grrief in a proper manner.  For those who know someone who is wrecked by grief it is imporant that you too understand the framework of grief.  Without proper understanding we can often do more harm than good.

The plan moving forward is to publish articles for at the least the next six wednesdays on the topic of grief.  Please feel free to share your stories in the comments section below and also share this with those you know who are currently wrecked by grief.  

Another Monday is here.  For me, Monday’s are a day when new to-do lists are written out and a successful Monday will set the tempo for my entire week.  It will frame what I accomplish and often will frame how I accomplish it.  Part of my Monday practice includes a time of deep contemplation.  It could be on a variety of things but usually settles on a ministry methodology, a scriptural passage or future planning.

Today I find myself contemplating the significance of a verse that the Apostle Paul penned.  He wrote in Philippians 1.21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  I am not sure why it has become stuck in my head but it is there stuck nonetheless.  Besides the obvious question: is this verse a reality in my life? I find myself contemplating what this verse actually looks like in our society and what it’s implications are.

I believe when evaluating  modern society  the verse could sound something more like this: For to me, to live is all about me, and to die is failure.  As a whole, humanity has defined living to be all about us.  We seek to cram as much as we can into our lives and enjoy our life to it’s fullest as if that is all there is.  Yet as society has nosedived away from accepting God-given principles as the normative way of living there too has been a cascade affect within the walls of the church.

I read articles nearly everyday written by men who I believe truly desire to make an impact but they are inherently flawed in their approach.  They ask the wrong question.  The question should not be be how can I please the masses rather it must be how I can please the Master.  At some point I wonder if those of us in leadership have forgotten that seeking blessing from God does not always mean pleasing and appeasing.

After all when you consider the life of Christ, it was one that was marked by hardship yet coupled with effectiveness.  He faced rejection everyday yet approached His ministry with a posture of prayer.  Yes, the masses followed Him yet the masses also rejected Him.  That did not make Him ineffective rather it showed the dichotomy that exists between a life that is focused on Christ and a life that is focused on self.

I wonder what you think…How do we fix the me-focused society?  How do we fix me-centered husbands?  How do we fix me-centered wives?  How do we fix me centered children?  How do we fix me centered churches?  How do we fix me-centered _________________(fill in the blank)?

Not a theological dissertation rather the musings of someone trying to make a difference…

Lord help me to maintain an eternal focus.  Please remove the temporal focus that so ofter pervades my thinking.  Allow me to model what a life lived for you truly is to look like to all who cross my path.

If you kiss an alligator you will die. If you play in traffic you will probably get hit by a car. If you eat at the buffet everyday then you will become obese. If you break into my house you will get shot. If you shave your head you will be bald. If you refuse to go to school then you will fail. If you challenge me to tetris you will lose. If you drive your mom’s minivan and live in a small farm town, you are not gangster. If you jump into the bear exhibit at the zoo, you will get mauled. If I take up skateboarding, I will hurt myself. If you come to my house and disrespect my wife, I will ask you to leave. What goes up, must come down.

What am I talking about: Cause and effect. We understand in every area of our lives that we are responsible for our actions. If I stop showing up for work then I will get fired. If I drive 90mph everywhere I go then I will lose my license.

I make my choices and then my choices make me. The same is true when it comes to our spiritual walk. Yet we often seem to feel that God owes us something. We will declare with our lips, “God I love you”. Then we will choose to live in and sin and ask, “God why do you feel so far away”. Or we will neglect fellowshipping at church, reading the Word or spending time and prayer and say “why does my faith feel so dead”. Why is there confusion?

I am interested to hear what your feelings are? Can you think of any contingent promises in Scripture?

I just pounded this out while sitting at my desk following some time of personal contemplation.  Nothing here is overly earth shattering but I thought I would share it nonetheless.   

Leadership is not the outcome of a title.  Just because I have the title pastor does not make me a leader.  My title only means that people trust me enough to follow me is I should choose to lead.  Yet the title and position in and of itself does not equate leadership.

If I were to define what it means to be a leader and was told only to use one word, I would use the word influence.  Far too many “leaders” wish to demonstrate they are leaders by telling you that they are leaders.  Reality is, if you have to tell me you are a leader, you probably aren’t.  If you were showing me that you are a leader by how you lived your life in the first place, then you would not have to tell me. 

Many people who hold a leadership position believe they must be followed because of their title.  I firmly disagree.  There are many leaders that I will never follow.  There are men and woman that I would never allow to influence my life as a leader.  Yet, I would respect their title and position. 

The question I pose of myself on a regular basis is how am I influencing others?  Can they see things in my life that are worth replicating in theirs?  I am not saying that I want a bunch of miniature Jon Goodwins running around.  What I am saying is that I regularly ask myself if I just have a title or if I am living my title out.  I don’t want people to say, “oh he’s a pastor” just as a reference to my job.  I want them to realize it encompasses my entire life and the title defines who I am and not just what I do.  A true leader embodies their title.  Do you? 

A great example of a man who embodied his title is the apostle Paul.  He writes to the church or Corinth in the 1 Corinthians 4.16 “Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.”  He basically repeats himself again in 1 Corinthians 11.1 where he says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”  Then in the book of Philippians he writes, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Phil. 3.17). 

Now Paul might be seen by some as an arrogant man.  But a careful study of his life will show that he was man worth following.  He was a man worth following not because he held the title: apostle.  He was man worth following because his life was in alignment with his title.  The man owned his mission and therefore earned the right of leading his followers and telling them to follow his example. 

While you I may never tell people to follow our examples, it is implied because we choose to be leaders.  Because it is implied we must therefore strive for excellence in all that we do.  Failing to lead is no longer an option because it affects more than just you and me.  It affects all who look to us as leaders.

So as I write this, I would urge myself and whoever else might be reading this to own our title.  Whether is being a mom, dad, pastor, town board member, school teacher, business owner or captain of a sports team own it and live it.  Provide an example that is worth following.  Remember it is not your title that makes you great, rather is what you choose to do with it.

Revelation 1.17a says, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.”

Verses 12-16 is a fairly impressive description of the glorified Christ. I could get into a description of what each of the different elements of Christ’s appearance represents. But guess what? I won’t! We can save that for another day. Instead I want to take a brief look at the result of being in the presence of Christ.

Fear and falling down both seem to play a major role when it comes to seeing things that are heavenly. Throughout all of Scripture, when angels appear to people they usually start their messages with the words “fear not”. In fact that is what Christ says to John in the end of verse 17. He says, “do not be afraid…”

So why do people fear when they see the glorified Christ, or angels? Why is it that they tend to fall on the ground?
Do you remember when Moses was in the presence of God? He saw the backside of the Lord and when the people saw him he was forced to cover his face because he was shining from the glory of the Lord! They were terrified of Moses. Something was different about him. They feared Moses for the same reason people in Scripture fear angels. The glory of the Lord was evident. People (and angels) are changed in the presence of the Lord. Something happens and it is noticeable to the world around them.

For this reason, you and I cannot spend time with God in prayer and in His word and not be changed. God’s presence demands change. A reaction will occur. Moses glowed, John fell down, and the angels invoked fear! What kind of change has occurred in your life lately due to your proximately with the Lord? If you can’t site any change then maybe it is time to purposely change!

Lack of change in a believer screams lack of involvement with their Lord. Being in the presence of God affects people. How affected are you and how effective are you?

I am currently trying to write out practical applications on the book of Revelation. In doing so I am not trying to explain every jot and tiddle but to help show that even an intimidating book like Revelation is jam packed with practical truths that we can apply to every day life.  So I would ask that you follow my newest entries that will be posted weekly on my thoughts from the book of Revelation. My prayer is that you will be both blessed and challenged!

If you are a member of my Sunday morning Discipleship Hour class I would strongly encourage your interaction with these posts. 

God Bless!

~Pastor Jon~