This is Ministry

11902314_10153660271772268_4461891590249871027_nIt’s the mud in the eye that stings and blinds.  It’s the never ending barrage that leaves you saying, “I’m too old for this.”  Wave after wave they come determined, unrelenting, unmerciful.  They all want a piece of this old man.

The confrontation hurts, but not as much as the missed opportunities; those that pass by unnoticed, unchallenged, unchanged.

This one’s back again.  For the 15th time he’s taking his run at me.  How does he get up so quick when it takes me so long to recover?  Will this time be his victory?

From my knees I bring him down and from my knees I help him back up.  Not this time son.  Try again.  I want him to try again.  I want him to succeed, but I won’t lay down.  I won’t simply give it to him.

With every encounter he’s learning; learning to adjust, learning to persevere, learning to respect.  With each run he’s growing he’s maturing He’s getting stronger.  It comes at my expense but it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

This is impartation.
This is mentoring.
This is iron sharpening iron.
This is ministry

What’s Your Mark?

Narrate-13If you had to pick one word to describe yourself what would it be?  Funny, successful, attractive…perhaps when you look in the mirror the words echoing in your mind have a darker voice.  Perhaps that voice says you are fat, ugly, worthless or unlovable.  If I had one word to describe myself I would say “marked”.

Webster’s dictionary defines a mark as “a visible impression assumed or imposed.”  My life bears the impressions…the scars… the marks of the encounters I’ve had and the choices I’ve made.  It also bears the resulting marks of choices others in my life have made that affected more than them.

For many years I allowed these scars to define me, whether directly or indirectly. For even my attempts to cover and not be defined by my scars was an action born out of my scars.  Despite my efforts I was marked; perhaps not to the world but to myself.  Try as I may I could not escape my scarlet letter.

On Halloween night 1998 I received another mark.  On that night I had an encounter with the risen Jesus which left an imprint upon my life that has been growing ever since.  It is a mark of His person that has been imprinted upon my being.  It is a mark of renewal and it heals all my other marks.  Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new!” His imprint on my being is a mark of Life.

I’m no longer ashamed of my marks.  They are no longer a scarlet letter.  I bear a greater mark.  My mark is a symbol of love; it is an emblem of grace.  Above all it is a testament to the power of renewal.  I have been marked by Life…for life.  That is the mark, the visible impression I have received.  That is the mark I am now called to leave behind on the people I encounter each day.

If every encounter leaves a mark, what mark are you leaving behind?


tresspassMy neighbor’s kid, he’s a squatter. No…literally, a squatter.  The kid lives on my side lawn.  From dawn till dusk he’s there….in my yard.  But it’s not his uninvited presence that irks me.  It’s the fact that, well, like I said…he’s a squatter.  The kid literally will drop trow and cop a squat anywhere.  I don’t know why.  Could be nature, could be nurture.  I don’t know.  But I do know where…my lawn!

Now when in the course of this six year olds life he decided to go ‘free range’ is a mystery to me. Like a lawn gnome that leaves you wondering, “Why?” this kid’s presence and miscreant activities leave me befuddled.  There are only two things I know for sure:

  1. He’s not my kid. I’ve got four of my own and while their names may occasionally escape me I still recognize their faces!
  2. This isn’t his yard. I verify that fact with every monthly mortgage payment!

So the question remains, “What event in the course of this six year olds life led him to believe that my lawn is his? What instilled this squatter’s mentality?”

Truth is many of us are no different than my neighbor’s kid. We too go through this life as squatters.  Laying claim to that which we paid no price for and ‘dumping’ on others along the way.

Jesus said, “…the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44 italics mine)

Far too often we see the field. We see the treasure in it, but like squatters we feed off the treasure without buying the field. Instead we hop the fence and free range.  We call to God when in need and forget him when things are fine.  We’ll attend church as long as it doesn’t go over one hour.  We want programs for our kids, but were just too busy to help teach.  We’ll freely give our opinion as to the latest message, event, lack of event, and the general state of everything holy, yet refuse to be a part of any potential solution.  And let’s not forget about our wallets which instinctively pucker up tighter than a snare drum or are conveniently not on us when the offering plate is passed.

Squatters take while refusing to give. They ingest, but the only impartation they deposit is similar to that which can be found on my lawn!

Now if you’re young in your spiritual life you may not know any better. Like my neighbor’s kid.  When he was two or three and still potty training it wasn’t that big of deal.  But eventually time moves on and so should we.  At six the kid should know better and spiritually we should too.

There really is little excuse for prolonged immaturity. At its core it’s simply selfishness.  My neighbor’s kid doesn’t want to be inconvenienced to stop playing and go to his own house to use the bathroom.  He doesn’t want to pay that price.  Don’t let it be that way in your spiritual life.

Remember, while we are commanded to love everybody…nobody likes a squatter.