Pastor’s Desk October 28th

Scripture Passage:  “Not that I speak in respect of want:  for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am; therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”      Philippians 4:11-13
Dear Friends,
“In your patience possess ye your souls.”  Luke 21:19   Truer words have never been spoken.
     The last year has brought intense challenges in the form of health issues concerning my girls.  Hospital stays and extended trips to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore were all part of the experience.  The suicide of a young man who was part of our church and the death of one of our young ladies on a mission trip filled in the time in between.  After all that my long-time friend and senior adult pastor resigned to take that position in another church.  The husband and wife team who has led our youth for the past six years stepped down from their position to pursue other ministries within the church and open up the opportunity to bring someone new in with fresh ideas and concepts. We are now in the process of receiving resumes and conducting interviews to fill those positions.  This past month my aging parents have both been in the hospital.  Dad has been in twice and the medical conditions he has usually continue to worsen rather than get better.  Mom had breast cancer and went through a mastectomy to remove the cancerous tumor.  She is doing much better but has been left weakened by the surgery and stress of caring for dad.  For me every day is lived in a whirlwind of activity.  Mix in preparations for three to five sermons a week, hospital visits, home visits, nursing home visits, SBA meetings, TBC meetings, SBC meetings, Sweetwater Ministerial Association meetings and mission trips and you have a person who follows a very busy schedule and lives an action packed lifestyle.  I am not accustomed to slow downs.  I do not like down times, but this last week brought everything to a screeching halt.
     As Patty and I left church last Sunday night, we received word that my dad had been taken to Kingsport and put in the hospital for respiratory failure and infection.  My brother and sister got all the paper work taken care of and took momma home for the night.  The next day I went to the office and got everything completed I needed to do and started the two and a half hour journey to the hospital.  In my rush to get to the hospital I failed to pack my books, ipad, and enough clothes and medicine to last several days.  I became the proverbial “duck out of water” because God took away the busyness and placed me in a hospital room with dad, mom, and my sister for four days with nothing to do. Dad doesn’t like the television on when he is in the hospital and I had nothing to read but the Kingsport paper which I completed in a half hour.  The rest of the time was spent talking, sleeping, and praying.  In the evenings I took momma home where my sister and I helped care for her and prepared for the next day’s hospital visit.  I tried to find Monday night football on the television, but eventually gave up and went to bed.
     Throughout the week, I began to unwind and slow down to the pace my momma and daddy have lived in for a good while now.  The pace of contentment.  They seem to match the pace that is needed for the day they are living.  If things are hectic, they buckle down and complete whatever needs to be done with precision and patience.  If things are slow, they call and check on friends and family and visit with whomever shows up throughout the day.  Momma starts every day reading her Bible and praying and then follows that up with meal preparations and housework.  Daddy still has days he does quite a bit when he feels good, but if he doesn’t he reads the paper, watches the news, and takes “nappy naps” in his recliner.  They both seem to live content with whatever state they find themselves in.  Jesus left this example for us to live by and the Apostle Paul lived it out while completing three missionary journeys and starting many churches.  Most of the busyness we live with is really unnecessary.  The time spent with my parents reminded me of this and I am thankful to God for putting me in a position where I had to be content.  Some lessons are hard learned though.
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny