Our Lectio Divina for today:
And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith. Overwhelming grace keep you! 1st Timothy 6: 20-21 (MsgB)
So dear pastor or ministry leader…over the next few weeks, I invite you to join me as we explore the kalós, the precious treasure we’ve all been given.
Oh yes, I know that many of you might have a very difficult time identifying your vocation of pastor as a “treasure.” I’ve been walking in pastoral ministry now for over 30 years, and to be totally honest with you, the work, at times, has worn me out! You see, making church happen over the last three decades has nearly killed me and my family at times. On many occasions, the work has been a weight heavier than I could bear.
If you’ve read any of my blog series in the past, you know some of my story. For those who are not familiar with it, let me give you a short review. About six or seven years ago, I found myself in deep doo-doo with my church and within myself. My wife, Sandy, and I had planted our Vineyard church in Cedar Rapids in 1998 and had experienced slow but constant growth over a ten-year period. It grew from five couples, meeting in our living room, to well over 350 people/2 services/meeting in a 10,000 square-foot building. We were tired but happy how God had taken our little vision of a Vineyard church in Cedar Rapids and grown it to what it had become.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was that Sandy and I were very tired on the inside. We looked, on the outside, as spiritually strong, but when tough times came, it really hit both of us hard. Looking back, I realized that I’d really bought into “the church never retreats” concept…it only “advances!”
As our church responded in 2008 with a massive flood relief effort in our city, I kept pushing myself and our church forward and upward, all the while not realizing the great need for Sabbath and rest, taking time as a church family to stop and take a deep breath. It’s about that time that our church hit an iceberg, and started to take in water. My ‘git-r-done’ personality type kicked into high gear and pushed me and my leaders harder and harder to “keep going.” As I look back now, I know that all the while, the Master was off to the side, waiting for me to stop and chat.
The situation reminds me a lot of the story about Jesus and the day He and His friends decide to cross the Sea of Galilee.
That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” Mark 4: 35-38 NIV
You see today, dear pastor or ministry leader, as we are here together, trying our best to “keep going on with Jesus,” there are raging waves all around us…a furious squall in very important parts of our lives. Maybe it’s about you and your call to ministry? Or maybe it’s about a serious issue with a family member? Possibly, it’s about your health? Your money? (or lack of it!) Or maybe it’s a strained relationship with someone in your church? Maybe it’s about politics? Your disdain for the left? Your dislike for the right? Or maybe the storm concerns your past? Or maybe your future?
In truth, your boat (and mine), somewhere and somehow, is taking in water today. So much so, that for some of you it’s hard to even concentrate on what I’m saying here because you’re ready to call Service Master to come over to start bailing out water! But today…rather than gearing up our ‘git-r-done’ attitude and our good-ole American red-white-n-blue work ethic, I believe Jesus has a different direction for us. A different response.
In one word, here it is.
Yes, my friends, as Paul encouraged a worn-out, burned out Timothy about guarding the kalós, the precious treasure, he had been given, he summarized his hope by praying this…
Overwhelming grace keep you!
So as we begin this journey together, recalling and re-applying Paul’s wise words to Timothy, his son in the faith, I encourage you to sit quietly in this moment and allow God’s overwhelming grace to flow over you, keeping you in His peace, calming the storm within, during these turbulent times in which you and I live and minister.
My prayer: Jesus, I know You’ve said that we’re all going over to the other side, but the storms, on many occasion, seem to be speaking much louder to me than Your voice. Forgive me when I respond in my desperation, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” Holy Spirit, flood me this day with Your overwhelming grace that keeps us all grounded in God the Father, Christ the Son, and You, Holy Spirit. May the Peace of Christ, which passes all understanding, keep us in Your grace. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: As I review my story of being in pastoral ministry, can I be gut honest with myself and embrace not only the good and fruitful times, but also own up, as well, to the difficulties, problems, and other assorted horrors that can accompany this call of serving the Master? Where, today, is my life and work taking in water, and what might it look like to allow God’s overwhelming grace to keep me safe till we reach the other side?
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