Our Lectio Divina for today:
The special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! 2nd Timothy 1: 6 (MsgB)
Hi. I’m Marty Boller. I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Married with four children and seven grandchildren. As I write this, I’m 66 years old. My hair is getting a bit grayer, my waistline a bit rounder, and my skipping a bit slower. But all that does not stop me from the wanting to finish strong in the call that God has placed on my life.
You see, back when I was younger, Jesus of Nazareth started messing with my life. Here I was a typical Midwestern kid, growing up in a little town called Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. And like its name, life in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in Mt. Pleasant was…well…pleasant. I had a great mom and dad who loved me and an older brother who tolerated me. I had a Boston Terrier named Buster for my best friend, a parakeet named Sugar Poot for entertainment, and a handful of neighborhood friends who kept our parents praying.
I can’t tell you the exact day and hour when I first met Jesus of Nazareth. Or should I say when Jesus first introduced Himself to me? My grandmother Olive, would tell me stories about this kind and compassionate Jesus when I stayed overnight at her home. And I would also hear about Him, and other assorted biblical characters, at church on Sunday mornings. The Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa was a warm inviting place. I’d love to ponder on the purpose of those assorted sizes of salmon-colored organ pipes mounted on the wall behind pastor as he went on and on about this or that. I could never figure out how the lady playing the organ off to the side could make music come out of those massive pipes, but much like believing in Jesus, I couldn’t explain it…but I believed it to be true.
One of my earliest memories that I associate with my call from Jesus was when the neighborhood kids would occasionally gather in one of our bedrooms on late summer evenings to hash over all the exciting things we’d accomplished during the day. We’d laugh about some of our exploits, such as seeing who could toss a mud ball the highest on the siding of Tommy Trout’s house, or how deep our hole was getting in Scott McKenzie’s back yard as we were digging for dinosaur bones.
From time to time, the subject of Jesus, going to church, and end times would come up amongst us neighborhood kids. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 had scared us half to death and I recall several conversations with school mates about how we were going to respond when the evil Russians started dropping nuclear bombs on the Heartland. In the late 1950’s, President Eisenhower had approved an interstate highway system to help Americans stay mobile in case of war, and now President Kennedy was talking to all of us from the Oval Office about how the Russians were building nukes in our backyard, on a little island run by a Communist thug named Castro.
I recall telling my neighborhood friends, in those late-night huddles, all I knew about the kind and compassionate Jesus my grandmother had told me about. I recall feeling a strange, warm presence inside me as I shared my simple trust in this man from Nazareth who had promised to take care of me and my family whatever happened. I also shared other interesting tidbits about Jesus I had learned from watching Billy Graham on television. My parents loved Billy Graham and truthfully, I can’t tell you the number of times I gave my heart to Him whenever Billy asked the crowd to get up out of their seats and come make a decision for Christ.
So as I look back now, some 50+ years later, I realize that my kalós story, my call of Jesus on my life, was birthed at an early age. What about you, dear pastoral friend of mine? When did you first feel the gentle hand of God meddling in your life? When did you first feel the warmth of His embrace, not only inviting you to follow Him, but also to serve Him as a man or woman of the cloth?
This week, we start a 26-session blog series that is devoted completely to the study of the kalós, the good work of pastoral ministry, as defined by Paul’s two pastoral letters to Timothy. Over the next few weeks, I invite you to join me as we ponder anew the biblical groundings found within these two short books of the New Testament. If you’re not a pastor, please don’t feel excluded from the journey. It just might be that you are called as well, but maybe have not recognized it for some reason or another.
Through it all, my hope will be to stir us, as Paul stirred his young son, Timothy, to keep at our work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as Christ, Himself set it out for us. Keep in mind that this work of God in us is as sound as the day we first heard it…so, my friends, we must guard the kalós, this precious treasure, placed in our custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.
My prayer: Jesus, thank You for the reminders of how the kalós, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry, first was stirred in me so long ago. Holy Spirit, I thank You for Your work back then and invite You into this present moment, re-firing within me the reasons for, and purpose of, this unique call of God, the Father, on my life. Keep me strong. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: While we cannot sit at this moment face to face and hear one another’s story, I’d invite you to take time to go back this week and review the earliest memories that are associated with your “call” to minister to others in the name of Jesus. Ask these questions of yourself: What was going on in my life when I first felt Jesus moving in my heart? What feelings are associated with those earliest stirrings from God? How might I define the “good work” Jesus has asked me to do with my life?
Might I suggest that you also journal a bit on these stories of your early encounters with Jesus, pondering on these questions: What’s standing out for me as I sit with these stories? Jesus, what holy purposes are You desiring to illuminate for me through these meditations?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14