Pastor’s Desk January 20th

Scripture Passage:  “Strive not with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.”  Proverbs 3:30   “Her ways (Wisdom) are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”  Proverbs 3:17     “When you lie down, you shall not be afraid: yea, you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet.”   Proverbs 3:24

Dear Friends,

      I love when you read a passage of Scripture and it speaks directly to your heart.  It is like the Lord is saying, “This is for you.” “Sit up and take notice.”  “Listen!”  In preparing for this article, I had to read all of Proverbs Chapter 3.  The most quoted of all this chapter is verses 5-6.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”  This is a promise of God and filled with mountains of encouragement.  But that was not what the Lord focused on.  I have written about verse 27 before.  “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”  But that was not the focus either.  He zeroed in on the verses I listed in the Scripture passage.  Why?  Because he knew it struck home to events occurring in my life.  This may have been only for me.  (But I doubt it.)  Life is full of problems and the way we react and handle them says a lot about us. 
 

     Every person’s life is made up of many fragments. If the fragments fit together well, they make up a complete whole.   We have families, both close and extended, that present opportunities for conflict on an ongoing basis.  I come from a very close-nit family, but occasionally tempers flare, feelings get hurt, words are spoken, and apologies have to be made.  Patty and I also have each other’s families to maintain relationships with.  My in-laws have always felt like just another family to me, but at times they present a unique and different type of challenge. 

     Another part of this whole is our work relationships.  We actually spend more time with the people we work with than we do our immediate family.  People who spend forty to sixty hours a week together, often in a confined space, are going to have occasional conflict.  Some of these conflicts come from employer/employee relationships, but more often they come from boss/employee relationships.  I have served as a teacher under four different principals and as a minister under three other pastors and four different deacon boards.  When you mix in all the different personalities and egos represented you know you had potential for conflict.  Thankfully it was rare.  I must give all of them credit for being patient with me and allowing me to mature as an educator and a person.

      There is also a portion, or fragment, I would like to call entertainment.  Whether it is hunting, fishing, camping or sports, they all present opportunities for conflict.  I have seen and heard two people get into an argument over one of them getting too close to the other’s fishing hole.  If a person has a tree stand set up to deer hunt out of, he does not want any other person coming in and taking away a portion of his area.  I don’t know if I even want to talk about all I have seen and heard at ball fields and courts.  Good people can go absolutely crazy at a game where their kids are involved.  (Come to think of it, I have seen it just because it is their team.)  I have heard preachers cuss, deacon’s fight, and mommas become very un- lady like.  Sometimes the conflict has been settled and friendships restored, but most times they are destroyed for life. 

     The worst of all are church conflicts.  Now before I go any farther I want to present an admittance.  There is no one who has more flaws than me.  As much as I would like to think my opinion is always right, it is not.  There are many times I am called upon to make quick decisions.  In those times, I try to do what I believe is right and what would be pleasing to God.  When I have a longer period of time, I spend time in prayer seeking God’s guidance and direction.  Herein lies the problem.  How do I know EXACTLY what God wants MINUS all my opinions?  I know so much of what is being said and done behind the scenes it becomes very difficult not to be influenced, or at least aggravated, and my judgment become clouded and my actions questionable.  I am a very emotional person.  99% of the time, I keep them in check.  1% of the time I do not and the depraved human side of me comes out. When these times come I spend a lot of time soul searching.  I usually have to repent and ask forgiveness for something I said or did.  I also have to sort through it all for the truth.  God’s truth and my truth are not always the same.  That is the reason these Scriptures spoke so powerfully to me.  They are God’s truth.  To forgive and be forgiven are two of the greatest characteristics of a Christian. May they also be the characteristics that define our church. 

 

In Christ,

Pastor Johnny