Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Leave a comment

Pandemic Perspective – Part 3 Essential Worth

It’s the weekend which is easy to forget in our current crisis. You see for many of us we split our week into two parts, the work week and the weekend. As I have mentioned in previous blogs there are several blessings that have come out of this pandemic, like the reminder that my security is not in the shifting sands of stuff but in my Savior and the discovery that my hurried heart is the result of sinking my heart beat to the pace of the world instead of the peace of Jesus. But I wonder if the greatest lesson as I have read the headlines and resulting Facebook posts about non-essential workers is still to be learned. A lesson we need to pay attention to because school is still in session even if it is physically closed. We should never stop learning and if we don’t learn this lesson then humanity is doomed to repeat the same mistakes. What will destroy the world is not tied to our economy but to our empathy. Many of us non-essential workers have been ordered to stay home, our work what consumes most of our day has changed. As a result, many are asking do we need sport stars or musicians, yet the same could be asked of teachers they are also part of the non-essential workers now! But in my heart, I know the answer to that, without a doubt we need teachers, for me personally they have forever shaped my life. You see I am dyslexic and while my dyslectic Mom in her day was diagnosed by the educational community as stupid, I had a teacher who believed in me and regularly told me that he did. Thank you, Mr. Ashine for believing in me, your short influence in my life before you were tragically killed forever changed the course of my life. I went on to do all the things you said I could that everyone else said I couldn’t. My kids were raised by a confident and caring father instead of an angry beat up and bitter one. So yes, I believe we need teachers, but I also believe we need everyone. Right now, our essential worth is being based on a virus, as a result some are deemed more critical than others. But when the virus passes, and it will, we will need teachers and lawyers, butchers and bus drivers. When this is over, we will relish that music concert or sporting event, we need entertainment as much as we need education and economics. The tough lesson we can’t seem to learn is this, that we need each other. Why is this lesson so hard for humanity to learn? That our value and worth is not based in our work and what we do but in God’s Word and what He says about us. Do the disabled or the retired who no longer work not have worth? In Ephesians 1:4-5 God says this, Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” I bring my Creator great pleasure not because of what I do but because of what He has done. Before the foundation of the world, before I was born, before I could contribute a single thing, God’s Word spoke worth over me. So why have we tied our worth to our work? Because a paycheck seems more tangible than God’s personal proclamation about me. I can deposit a paycheck, I can cash and spend a paycheck, I can buy food and shelter with my paycheck. But if I am not careful my paycheck may become the source of my worth more than God’s Word. And now that our paychecks are threatened so is our worth. For many of us our worth has become more tied to our work than what God’s Word says about us. So now that us non-essential workers are side lined do, we have any worth? Well we need to talk about that  paycheck. How we value people’s contribution is often seen it what we pay them. Look at what we pay a teacher compared to a doctor and one could argue but we pay doctors more because they can save lives, they are more essential. But then why does a sports star get paid millions of dollars a year when their contribution kicking a ball or running fast? What we need to understand is what we get paid often has little to do with what we can contribute and more to do with how much money others can make off of us. We can’t make as much off a teacher as we can a doctor and we can’t make as much off a doctor as we can a sports star. While there is a lot a paycheck can bring us one thing it can’t is real lasting worth. If we keep tying our worth to our work, then it will lead not only to a life striving instead of thriving but one of valuing those we see as successful while we look down on those we don’t. We need to stop valuing people based on their paycheck and start valuing them as a person. When I travel is the guy who cleans the bathrooms in the airport less important that the pilot? Or is it the size of their paycheck or what they do what matters most? So, go ahead and applauded those who right now are deemed essential workers, I am thankful for them, but let’s stop this devaluing of those who are deemed not as essential. As long as we do the real VIRUS the hole in the human heart that causes us to value people based on their work instead of their worth will be what destroys us. I wonder if maybe we are worried about the wrong virus, because while Covid-19 is serious it will pass, but the hate in our heart will not if we don’t get serious about eliminating its spread. Both Genesis 1:27 and James 3:9 remind us that we have been created in the image of God, all of us. Until we see everyone through God’s eyes, as valuable we will be a people in a state of perpetual pandemic. A diseased people who esteem or despise others based on a position instead of as a person. What if we started valuing people’s worth based on God’s Word and not their work? It breaks my heart to see people on social media putting some people up while putting others down based simply on how essential they seem right now. Let’s stop valuing people based on their work and instead love them based on their worth.  No parent says I hope my kid grows up to be a truck driver but right now without them we would all die. We see their valuable contribution to society in the midst of a pandemic, but will we still see their worth when this is over? We won’t if we keep seeing them only as a truck driver instead of as a person. My fear is that the virus that invades the heart will cause us to go back to tying their worth to their work.  Maybe the greatest blessing of this pandemic is the reminder of where our real worth comes from. What if this pandemic has the power to reset our hearts and not just our heads so that we value empathy more than economy? I believe that the greatest tragedy would be an economy recovery void of an empathetic one. Where we have more money but not more mercy. Where we are once again economically stable but emotionally unavailable.



Leave a comment

Pandemic Perspective – Part 2 A Hurried Heart

I had not intended to write today but two seemingly unrelated events that occurred yesterday caused me to stop and ponder what I believe could be the greatest gift given to us through this pandemic, the gift of time. The first event was a friend who called to ask for prayer for the families who had just lost loved ones in a terrible vehicle collision. I was reminded that this pandemic while serious is probably not what is going to kill many of us, but we are all going to die and our time here on this earth is short. The second event happened at the grocery store where many people are still panic buying, their carts overflowing with things they probably wouldn’t normally buy and complaining because someone else got the last roll of toilet paper!  I only had a few items and the guy ahead of me only had one but the lady in front of both of us had a cart overflowing with stuff. It looked like we were going to be there waiting in line a while. But then a strange thing happened she let the man behind her go ahead of her as he only had one item. When he got done, she turned to me and said, “you can go ahead of me also, you see I’m not in a hurry.” The truth is neither was I, I mean right now very few of us are in a hurry. But here is the strange part, even though I had no place I needed to be the thought of having to stand in line and wait while the cashier rang up her cart full of stuff frustrated me. But why did this secretly bother me when I had no place to be? Why did it feel like I had been released from prison when she so graciously let me go ahead of her? Because even though my life is no longer hurried my heart still is. While my life has been forced to slowed down because of this pandemic my heart hasn’t. You see just a few days ago we were all busy, rushing around living these hurried lives. In fact, busy is how many of us define ourselves. When people say how are you doing, we usually respond I’m so busy. Being busy in our culture is like a badge of honor. But what were we so busy doing? Well life of cause, I had meetings and deadlines. But this pandemic has changed that for most of us and the truth is we don’t know what to do with all this extra time on our hands. It’s not like we don’t still have work but it’s different working from home. That woman’s kind gesture revealed something in my life I needed to take a look at, something below the surface that many of us never slow down long enough to look at and listen to, our hearts. I have a hurried heart, a heart that I have allowed the world to speed up and rush along at a frantic pace. Jesus was busy but he was never hurried so why am I? I have allowed my heart to beat to the pace of this world instead of Him. Dallas Willard once called hurry the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. And said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from you life.” What am I missing because my heart is not willing to wait? The second thing this kind woman’s actions forced me to face is time. We all have a limited amount of time and her gift of letting me go ahead of her didn’t actually buy me more time it just allowed me to spend the time on something other than waiting in line. But what was I going to do with this gift of time? Like the woman in the grocery store this pandemic has gifted us a different perspective on life. What are you going to do with the time you now have on your hands? When you look back 30 or 60 days from now what will you have done with your time? Most of us don’t really know what to do with it so we scroll through social media looking to see what everyone else is doing with it. The Bible tells us In Ephesians 5:15-16 to be careful how we live so that we redeem the time because the days are evil. Am I making the best use of my time? What about those 15 minuets I was gifted in the grocery story what would I do with those? As we face these uncertain days, we have a choice in how we are going to live. We can live like prisoners just doing time or we can redeem the time. But before I can redeem the time, I have to restore the heart. You see a hurried heart is not a healthy heart therefore it is not a happy heart. I would encourage you to get out a piece of paper and at the top write the word TIME. Then under it write out what you are going to do with this gift called time, not next week but today. I believe when we are asked what is the most important thing in our life, many of us would say our family and friends, relationships not riches. But is that where we invest our time? What if we used this pandemic as a paradigm shift to get us back to the true values of our heart, loving people. Right now, you have been gifted time with loved ones in a unique way, use it don’t lose it. Enjoy your kids being home have fun together. Go for that walk with your spouse even if it’s around the house, hold their hand more and your phone less. Write a letter to a love one, not an email an actual letter. I don’t know about you, but I needed this perspective shift. The truth is I don’t have any more time now than I did a week ago, I just have a different perspective on life and the chance for different priorities. It’s not that I don’t have things to do I just have a different heart with which to do them. So, thank you to the lady at the grocery store for more than just a get out of line free card but a life changing one.