“The desert and the dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. They will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Isaiah 35:1-2a, Common English Bible) Read all of Isaiah 35 here.
When was the last time you got impatient? Was it at the store, standing in that long check-out line? Or was it sitting in traffic, wondering why the light is green and nobody is moving? Maybe it was with your children, or with your parents?
This time of year we are more prone to get impatient.
We are rushing and hurrying along to get everything in order. There are presents to be bought, ordered and wrapped. Then, there are travel plans to be made and meals to be cooked. And on top of all that, vacation time is coming so our work load increases.
And when we finally have a few moments of rest, there is someone or something that beckons our attention. And impatience sets in.
Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3, Common English Bible)
Do you remember P. D. Eastman’s book Are You My Mother? The little bird hatches out of her egg and begins searching for her mother. She walks right past the mother bird because she does not recognize her or know what she looks like. She proceeds to ask different animals, “Are you my mother?”
We can identify with the little bird. There are times and moments in our lives when we search for Jesus. But, we don’t recognize him. We may walk right past him, not even knowing it is him.
In Matthew 11, John’s life has taken an unexpected turn. For John, he was imprisoned, and asks, “Are you my Jesus?” For us, we may be imprisoned in our need to be first or right. Or imprisoned in our fussing and complaning. Imprisoned in our busyness.
“When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.” (Luke 19:5-6, NRSV)
Do you remember learning the Zacchaeus song in church as a child? “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he.”
Just as Zacchaeus was short in stature, he was short in character. As a tax collector, he not only took money from his fellow Jews to give to the Romans, but he cheated them as well. He marked up their taxes so he could take some for himself. The fact that Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector only added to the disdain for a corrupt man.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. But one month out of twelve is not enough to show appreciation to pastors. And here’s why.
According to a Forbes article published in 2014, being a pastor or other religious leader is one of the most stressful jobs. Expectations that are placed on clergy are higher than on other professionals. As a result, clergy tend to feel isolated and depressed.
I’m the proud dad of two girls. Watching them grow from infancy to toddlerhood is a joy. Everyone says these are the best years. It is fascinating to watch them learn new things. When things “click” and they get it, they always have the proudest looks on their faces. The thing they were trying to do for so long, they finally did it!
This is especially seen when toddlers begin to learn how to walk. As I watched my 14-month old basically run around the house today, I pondered what lessons the church could learn from toddlers. Here are three.
1. You will Fall.
As toddlers begin to learn to stand, and then to walk, they often stumble and lose their footing. As churches revitalize, there is always a risk that something is not going to work. It is always possible that you will fall. But, you will not walk if you do not take that first step. And the first step often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones.
2. Get Back Up
Falling will happen. As toddlers are learning how to walk, the first fall does not hold them back. They get back up again and go. As churches revitalize we must be willing to get back up again. Failure is not final. With each stumble, fall, or faceplant we learn something new. And it is from those learnings that we evaulate what worked or what did not work. From there, we can stand up, and try again.
3. Rely on the Parent
Babies and toddlers always keep an eye out for their parents. They never go too far without the parent nearby. And, little ones know that if they need help, a parent will come running. Most often, the parents know to come because the toddler has cried out. As churches revitalize they need to keep an eye on the Parent. When we lose sight of what God is doing in our midst, we rely too much on ourselves. We need to rely on God. And we need to cry out to God to breakthrough and do a new thing.
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