Some Random Reflections 3.28.10

 
With the world of micro-blogging (a.k.a Twitter), it has been harder to write some of my thoughts down on my blog. Some people have said it is harder to write your thoughts with only 140 characters, but for some reason I find it easier. Maybe the thoughts are not as deep or profound, but it is definitely faster and more frequent.

But today, for some reason right after church, I got this strong urge to write down some random thoughts and reflections. So here are some thoughts on various things:

1) It is natural to live life with a works-based mentality, but to live in grace is out-of-this world. The Gospel is harder to grasp than one would like to admit. Maybe this is why there are so many people who “know” it in their heads, but it is hard to find people who really “know” it in their hearts. Now that is a whole different story. Ever since we were young, we have been conditioned with a works-based system. When we do good things, we are rewarded positively. When we do bad things, we are negatively punished. This carries over to our relationship with God. Therefore, when we do something good, we expect God to “do” something for us (reward us). In the same way, when we mess up we expect to receive His wrath or lose favor with Him. Maybe this is why whenever we experience grace and mercy, we are floored. Judgment, punishment and discipline are always expected, but grace has a way of surprising us – astonishing, astounding, and amazing.

2) Baptism is truly one of the best moments in a pastor’s yearly schedule.
As we are getting ready for our baptism service on Easter, I am just humbled at how God works in the lives of people. It is always at baptism, when I am reminded that God really is in the business of transformation. The best part is that God has given us the privilege of partnering with Him in helping people experience His love. Whether it is through the LIFE Group ministry, the sermons, the various gatherings or the personal counseling times, it is amazing how a person comes to a point where they want to publicly profess their trust in Christ. All the hardships and headaches of being a pastor seems to melt away, as I am reminded that it is truly worth it.

3) Life change happens best not in the context of the masses but rather during the one-on-one moments. As a preacher, the temptation is to believe that the more people I can influence through one sermon at one moment, the more impact I will make. But the reality is that it might take a lot of sermons and also, only a small handful of people might be impacted through my preaching. Recently, I have been reminded (again) that it is through a shared meal or even conversation over coffee where the most impact might be made. It demonstrates to people that they matter to God and it helps people to get to know the “real” you instead of the up-on-the-stage preacher. It is during these informal meetings where I can share a lot of my stories that relate to what the individual is going through. This makes things personal. It is also where I can get to know my sheep – hear their concerns, fears, anxieties, visions and dreams.

4) Time goes by so quickly. I am finding myself trying to slow down time. Not only because there is so much to do, but most of all because I see things moving so quickly. With the 3.5 months left here in Indonesia, I want it to extend for another 3 years. I see my kids growing up so quickly. Josiah is getting taller than Christina and it will be in a short time where he will exceed me in height. There are things that I want to do but I am not sure if there is enough time to either start or to finish. It is a fresh reminder that we need to prioritize every single day. We might not accomplish everything that we want to do but it is crucial that we do everything that we are called to do for that day.

5) God is the one that opens and closes doors. It is easy to think that due to our efforts things happen. But we can never forget that it is really the Lord that opens and closes doors. With this understanding, there is a certain level of responsibility that we need to embrace. First, when God opens a door, we need the faith to go through it. Sometimes we are too focused on ourselves (i.e. time, security, comfort, etc) that we delay in responding to God in obedience. In fact, there are times when we miss opportunities all together because of our unwillingness to go through open doors. Secondly, when God closes a door, we have to trust that God has something better. Closed doors are not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes God closes a door to protect us. He even uses closed doors to lead us in a different direction. This is why the Christian journey is a lot about trust and having faith in a Sovereign God.