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Archive for August, 2007

The serpent attacked!!!

OK, it wasn’t Satan. It was a real snake. It was hiding in an underground box that houses an irrigation control for a zone around the missionary apartments. It is dark and cool and they can stay there and wait for frogs and spiders to fall in. We killed it. We shouldn’t have. It was a black racer, not a cottonmouth, but I just wasn’t sure.
I’m sure I can come up with a spiritual point to the story, but I’m kinda tired right now.

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Can God be too kind?

I forgot to write on Friday. As soon as I showed up to work on Friday morning, I got criticized again. Before I even had a chance to start work! It was one of those lose-lose type of situations. The funny thing is, the day before, I had a sense that something was going to be pointed out when I showed up to work on Friday. So, is God being too kind by giving me advanced warning or is it just a simple case of experience? I had a good day on Friday, if only because I could see God’s kindness. I still believe God has taken me through these last five and one-half years to teach me wisdom and to show me that I lack courage. The last three days at work were tests and reminders to keep learning from God.
I say I had a good day on Friday, but there was also part of me that felt stupid and that everything I had done in the past 16 years of ministry was not worth much. In the past, those thoughts would have crushed me for days, weeks, months. Now, I see them and I know where they come from. Again, God is too kind to me and I hope I can praise him by thinking his thoughts and behaving in a manner that is acceptable to him.
By the way, the other day I read a comment posted to my blog about how some of my experiences can be explained by little people trying to make themselves big by knocking others down. I should have thought of that because it makes perfect sense and so thank you for the reminder. You are absolutely correct.

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It happened again

So, I had a good day today. I went to bed a little after 9. I didn’t eat dinner. The thoughts of yesterday started plaguing me as soon as I awoke and kept harrasing me until about 8:30am or so. I kept repeating to myself, “Set your minds on things above, not on things of earth.” Plus, the staff devotions this morning were about God allowing things to happen so we may seek him. It went along with yesterdays Proverbs 8 reading.
Anyway, the day was going well with only a few moments of negative thoughts. Then at the end of the day, a gentleman pulled me away from the work he instructed me to do and asked me to go work with another gentleman on another part of the property which I had not been asked to help on. He wanted to know what I had been doing (I was working exactly where he asked me to) and when I told him, he shook his head and said, “You better step it up.”
I don’t know why he said that and I’ve been racking my brain trying to understand what I did “wrong.” He tried to explain what I was supposed to do (even though I was doing what he asked and had to stop to move to another locatation which, by the time I got over there he and the other worker were done. So, I had to go back and finish what I left and didn’t leave work until 45 minutes after I was supposed to).
So, while the work is physically demanding, that part is a joy. I’m taking care of myself and putting in quality, conscientious work. But, now, my confidence is gone and I am mentally tossed about. Today, however, I didn’t dwell. I’ve asked God to search my conscience and so far it is clear. I know I am not a great listener, but I am being treated like I am stupid. I don’t think I’m stupid. I know it is not rebellion. I can’t work in a place where I have no confidence and peace to do things I have been doing for 20-plus years.

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"The Day" has arrived

In any endevour, there has to be a day like today. Today was a bad day for me. Day 7 of my new job and I changed dramatically from the previous six days. It started with a co-worker treating me like I was dumb (About 7:30 am). I shouldn’t be surprised. I have seen and heard him treat others the same and so I had to make the list sometime. So, my confidence fell apart and I spent the whole day dwelling on “When is someone going to come complain about something I am doing and what will they complain about?” The bad news is, from past experience, once my mind starts going down that thought path, I can’t get my heart back into the job. Today was the first day I couldn’t wait to leave. But, here is where I see God.
About 5 minutes after the incedents, I began to smile and laugh at what had happened because the thought came to me with clarity – Jim, this is a test. I want to see what you do with the same situations you struggled with in the past. If I am going to use you in the ministry again, I need to see if you understand what is happening and if you are going to crawl in a hole again or maintain a healthy fighting spirit.
So, in order to further train me, God had to put me in this job for certain things to happen so I can have more wisdom and more courage. It is a lack of courage that has cost me my last two ministry positions. Proverbs 8 was my lunch reading for today and it speaks of wisdom calling out to the unwise to come and learn. That is what happened to me today. Wisdom called out.
I know I am not dumb (I was doing exactly what my boss had me do the day before, but this other guy wouldn’t let me do what I did yesterday. If my ideas were used today, work would have gone faster. Instead, three of use had to stand around while one person worked in an inefficient manner; the other thing I got criticized for was a good decision on my part, based on instruction from my boss the day before. The plan was changed but I was not told – hello! I’m the new guy! Don’t assume!). I know I work hard, and God knows I want to do the best I can to not be a burden to my boss and team. So, my conscience is at rest and I will fight for courage this time.
I do feel bad, though, for my boss. I get the sense that he is memo-ed to death about really dumb things and it is frustrating for him. The organization is expecting the remaining three of us to handle 200 acres, in detail, on our own and in their time. It is impossible. Only an insensitive person cannot see that.
So, I had a very bad day today, but now I have a clearer vision for which to work by. God wants me to be wise and have courage. I wish my life were easier, but, like my job site has weeds that need to go, God’s property has weeds that need to go.
God, I am ashamed, embarrassed and feel like everything I do is wrong. Only wisdom and courage will help me thrive. Only time invested in Scripture and listening to you will give me wisdom and courage. As I finish typing, here is the song that has started playing —
Holy words, long preserved, for our walk in this world, they resound with God’s own heart, oh let the ancient words impart. Words of life, words of hope, give us strength, help us cope, in this world, wherere we roam, ancient words will guide us home. Ancient words ever true, changing me and changing you, we have come with open hearts, oh let the ancient words impart. Holy words of our faith handed down to this age, came to us through sacrifice, oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

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My new job

I got a job! I am working on a grounds and landscapping crew. I started Tuesday. The day goes by so fast. When the summer help leaves, there will be three of us working a 200 acre property. Yikes!
Spent 17 wonderful days in Massachusetts this summer. One day, for example, I went to Narraganset Beach on an overcast 77 degree day. Invested about an hour walking up and down the beach picking up shells and stones. Spent most of the time before that digging in the sand with 5 children. What an amzing day! It was as if the world disappeared for awhile.

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