Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pushing Thirty: Happy to be Humbled, Part 1

If you'll allow me, I'd like to temporarily hijack my dear husband's blog to spew a few of my own reflections on a topic often on my mind of late: turning 30.  With questions from my 5-year-old son like "Mom, are you a grandma yet?", I can't help but be often reminded of the fact that I am getting older. (Yes, he actually asked me that yesterday.)  And there is nothing like the thirtieth birthday to make a gal take stock of her life, asking questions such as "What does it mean to get older?" and "Is my life even heading in the right direction?"

I think I'll take some of my musings in small chunks, so this will be the first in a series of posts.  And the theme as I have watched it unfold seems to be that this has been a humbling year for me.  At this particular time and place in history, it seems that we don't really care to be humbled.  It is, in one sense, humiliating.  It reveals weakness and places us at the mercy of others.  And its opposite, pride, though classically thought of as a sin, is revered.  Phrases like "You should feel very proud of yourself" and "Stand tall, be proud" are common elements of pep talks on ball fields, in living rooms, and in classrooms.  I'm pushing 30, and I have had a humbling year.  I can say with all sincerity that I believe this to be a good thing, and in fact, maybe to be the best thing.

How can that be, you ask?  I think aging as I currently understand it has a lot to do with the loss of things formerly valued and with the increasing recognition of personal limits and inadequacies.  This either leads to humility or depression (or denial, in those strange cases of individuals who act like 20 at age 60...no, the midriff-baring shirt is not appropriate, grandma). I'll take humility over depression and denial any day, thanks.  Humility has a way of putting me in a place of dependence on God which leads to worship.  The way I picture it is that, as we age, we are gradually humbled before God. (He already knows our limits and our weakness, but we acknowledge them increasingly as we age.)  Little by little, we bow, then we kneel, then we lay - faces to the ground - before the strength and power of the great God of the universe.  And there we are, unencumbered by the illusion of our own competence, power, self-sufficiency, and we are able to worship Him.  We've finally forgotten ourselves.

This is the best place to be, because God is completely trustworthy and all my hopes and desires will certainly be satisfied in Him.  Not in myself.  And so I find myself happy to be humbled.  More snapshots of my humbling year to come...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First day of school!!

Yesterday was Samuel's first day of school ever.  He's in a junior kindergarten class (formerly known as alternative kindergarten) which meets in the morning for 5 days a week.  Very exciting!  He's been really looking forward to school and we've loved seeing him grow in independence.  We're praying he'll be a light for Christ among his classmates.  And, no, I did not bawl my eyes out when I dropped him off. Got a little choked up, maybe, but no actual tears.  Caleb, on the other hand, was really distraught about leaving Samuel "alone" at school and thought maybe we should go to his classroom with him. The sadness wore off when he realized he could look forward to 3 hours of not sharing his toys with anyone!! :)

Here are a few pics from the morning...
He's a little giddy about going to school!

Indulging Mom with a "nice" photo

All three boys on the playground...Elias was apparently a bit distracted...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Food for Thought...the Christian Church Goes Back to Adam

It is a mistake to suppose that the Church thus instituted by Christ was a new Church. The Church of ancient Israel was a Christian Church. It had no reason for existence except in its loyalty to the expected Christ. 

Adam was a Christian; Abraham was a Christian; Moses was a Christian; David was a Christian ; all true Jews were Christians, because they cherished the Hope of Israel and were saved by faith in Christ, precisely as believers are saved in these days. The Jews were " chosen " to transmit the Messianic hope to succeeding ages. In the course of time, however, the great multitude, while keeping up the outward forms of devotion, so far lost the true conception of their Messiah that when He came they were ready to put Him to an ignominious death. But there was always " a remnant" that continued to cherish the Hope.... 

The purpose of Christ was now to reorganise and reanimate this remnant as the true Israel of God, He originated nothing on this occasion. The Christ who presided over this assembly was the Messiah of the Jews. No new creed was formulated, no new code of ethics ; no new plan of salvation ; nothing new. It was a revival of Judaism pure and simple; a renaissance of the Church as originally constituted, the Church of Messiah, the only-begotten Son of God.

From: Burrell, David James, 1844-1926. In the Upper Room : A Practical Exposition of John XIII-XVII 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer vacation

We went to Rapid City, SD, this month for a family vacation.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of our day up at Mt. Rushmore (which happened to be on Samuel's birthday) or with extended family, or with me, for that matter.  But I'll share the best of what we did capture.

Dinosaur park - all four of the Proctor guys, although Elias is hiding. :)

Senior picture pose, three-year-old style.

Brothers

Elias is travelling in style on this trip!

Riding the train at Storybook Island. Caleb enjoyed it more than it seems from this expression.

This picture captures the personality of these two perfectly.  Nuff said.

The Proctor boys turn 5, 3 and 1!

Caleb really liked the sticker book from Great-Grandma Betty. Need  I say more?

Elias' first dessert - lego cake before the attack of the one-year-old.

Hmm...what IS this?

I don't know if I like it...

Yep, this sugar stuff is awesome!!

Hats made by Mama Carrie, and Sam with his new yo-yo!


Who can resist that smile??

Monday, August 13, 2012

Things Learned By Year 2 of My Senior Pastorate

Top Ten Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Senior Pastor:

10) My preaching did not bring in all the people everyone else's preaching seemed to miss.

9) Being in a key position of leadership does not give me free reign to change "church" to match my preferences. Much of what occurs in churches (though seemingly traditional or useless or thoughtless) actually occurs because it is ministering to many. We must bear with one another. All good change usually comes slowly (despite professional critics demanding immediate change).

8) People do not want leaders; they want shepherds. Great shepherds know the Great Shepherd.

7) People really listen to what I say. A loose and thoughtless tongue has ramifications for many lives.

6) Rest, exercise, rhythm, and Sabbath enrich ministry. Working overtime, missing sleep, and neglecting personal well-bring wreaks havoc on ministry and family.

5) The priesthood of all believers is a doctrine to be believed and practiced. Decisions made and ministries conducted by the pastor alone or even an elder board alone, without congregation involvement, reject the efforts of the Protestant Reformation to release all God's people in Gospel ministry. (All that to say, God's people should submit to their leaders after giving input and follow willingly unless the leaders are acting ungodly.) So too, as a pastor I need priests in my life. I need brothers in Christ to walk with me, mentors to encourage me, friends to speak truth to me, and a flock to love me.

4) Criticism is normal. Pastors need thick skin, soft hearts, and discerning minds. Pastors need to be open to criticism. People who become professional critics, however, should not have easy access to the pastor. Pastors must set up their own safeguards, as well as, pray that other lay leaders stand up to help protect the pastor from constant criticism.

3) Any sermon that fails to proclaim Christ and make known the glorious Gospel of God the Son is worthy of the trash heap. Thus, sermon preparation needs to go deep so that sermon delivery doesn't skip off the surface of human souls. We must not neglect the ministry of the Word and Prayer...(see #2).

2) My greatest preparation for daily ministry and Sunday worship is found in personal prayer, corporate prayer, and in enlisting others to pray for me, my family, and Christ's flock.

1) I need the Gospel daily. I have failed and will fail as a pastor. I have sinned and will sin as a pastor. I am a saved sinner through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. I am forgiven, accepted, redeemed, and loved by God Most High. I am a son of the Father. I am a Spirit-filled servant of the King. My identity is based on Christ's life and work, not based on my life and work. Blessed am I because the LORD is my God.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Books Finished in July 2012

The Return of the King (Tolkien) - All is not right until the King defeats the enemies and rules from His throne. Sound familiar?
The Knowledge of the Holy (Tozer) - A short but powerful treatise on God's manifold perfections.

I'm in the middle of several long books that I'm having a tough time slogging through...
Atlas Shrugged (Rand)
The Deep Things of God (Sanders)
Praying Circles Around Your Children (Batterson)
A Queer Thing Happened to America (Brown)
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Scazzero)
The Three Musketeers (Dumas) - my read aloud book with Carrie