Thursday, October 17, 2013



I have always been partial to rain. I have been nuisanced by it, but rarely. Attribute it to a rural rearing where crops and cow pastures were dependent on it or the fifteen years we spend in west Texas that averaged less than 15 inches a year, I like rain. I probably picked up early a subdued communication from my parents and other farmer-families around us how important it was for our livelihood. By the prayers at church, the great attention given to meteorologists Dale Milford and Harold Taft morning, noon, and night, longing looks to the sky, the furtive hopes on mumbling lips, rain signaled its importance. So early on I learned to tolerate its cold, its muddy remnants, its washing out fences and its occasional poor timing with hay bales on the ground or crops ready to be harvested. Rain was a blessing.

There were times it seemed to be a greater blessing than others--nearly anytime in July, after a long, hot summer, a few days after planting, and after the harvested crops had been plowed- it was as if the farmers who held their breath, breathed again. So did their wives. I think even the land exhaled and breathed deeply its own aroma. Rain was a blessing.

Rains seems to have their own personalities at times. There are violent rains with angry winds. There are incessant rains bent on washing and filling everything, everywhere. There are rains that fall hard and fast with hateful drops you swear are hail and there are sneaky rains that in their unrelenting-ness wear you and your defences down 'til you find you are in trouble. They can be drippy, drizzly. They can be steady, controlled. They can be schizophrenic having several personalities in one storm. Some rains are good for napping, sleeping. They signal a time to rest, to receive a blessing. Some rains pound you like an Old Testament prophet bent on scrubbing you until you repent, and you do. Some rains show the fallenness of the world, some show grace and refreshment.

The Bible uses its word for "rain" and its relatives about a hundred times. In looking forward to Jesus the Psalmist says "He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth." (72:6) A king's favor is described "like a rain cloud in spring."( Prov. 16:15) The bible speaks of its destructive force (Is 28:2; Matt.7:25), its blessing (Is. 30:23; 44:14), it likens God's word and teaching to "showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants (Deut. 32:2).  The lack of rain corresponds to a parched soul neither knowing nor obeying God (Ezekiel 22:24; Jude 1:12). The lack of rain can even speak to judgement showing men what their lives are like without God (Ezek 11:11-13; Jeremiah 14:4).

Our area was blessed with a good, soaking, gentle rain over the past few days. The air is scrubbed. The ground is full. The plants soak in its luxuriance. It was a blessing. I slept well. There remains a rain that has fallen but not noted very well. It is a horror to miss a good, rain, a needed rain. It happens daily and not just in our lands but in our souls. Hear how Isaiah tells of this life giving rain: "You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord , have created it. (45:8) Weather patterns and fickle winds cause us to miss earthly rains. There is no reason to miss this rain of righteousness. All you have to do is ask the Son and let Him reign in your life.

That reign is a blessing.

BTW: If someone were to describe you as a rain storm, how would your presence in their life be described?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

God's Office

I got to thinking about the offices I've had in my ministry. I've had some nice offices. The first church I had out of seminary had a nice office. It was a big, albeit plain office in a very small church. It was at the end of a long hall and had another door that led straight out to the worship center. On Sundays, all the deacons would gather in my office and we would pray and then I would led them in procession out to worship. I'm not sure if a procession of 4 was very impressive but we did it. Most days it was three because the little church only had three deacons and one missed a lot. Good office though...

The next church had no office for the pastor in the church buildings. The pastor's office was in the parsonage. It was small but nice. I had little kids. Off icing in a parsonage with little kids didn't work well. So they built me an office in an old Sunday school room. It was big, paneled, new bookshelves, blue carpet and my own private entrance. The only problem was the new private entrance to my office was the old public entrance with a covered back door. Little old ladies would come into church through my office on bad weather days. I had to keep an open door policy on rainy, windy, snowy, and freezing days. A little awkward, but we made  it work.

The next churches were mission start-ups and we didn't really have buildings at first so I had to use the garage for the books and the kitchen table for a desk. I learned a lot, mainly how spoiled I was. The church mission in Weatherford built a nice first building and I had a nice office but it was small, so I wrote with small letters and used an 8 font. It worked out okay. Then came the big move to the big county seat First church. Big, corner office with rich paneling, four windows (and two of them worked!), private entrance, private escape hatch and lots and lots of bookshelves. I wrote bigger and used a 14 font. Then after ten years of big sermons, big paneled articles from a big mahogany desk I went to a new church. The office had three shelves that were three feet long each. I went from 180 running feet of shelves to 9. What was this church trying to say? What was  I thinking?

My current office is nice, too. Corner with three nice windows, a couch and chair,( it use to have two chairs but the associate pastor felt called of God to take mine and give me just one) nice shelves, pretty art works, big desk for big piles, and lots of pictures of grand kids. That alone makes this my favorite office. It is situated to see people who come in to the church in the morning so I can visit if we want or need to. It is quiet in the afternoon for the most part so I can sleep  study, pray, and think of why I am sitting the office when I should be playing golf. Great and deep thoughts are thought here. They sometimes lose something in the translation to paper and word apparently. But I do get to use a 12 font.

Here's what I've learned in all these offices: I've learned a lot in all of them. I should have learned more. Most of the important stuff doesn't happen in my office. It happens over lunches, in living rooms, on Bible study tables,  in golf carts, and driving down the road. Now what happens in those places with real people is impacted by what happens in the office, but without the living rooms, lunch tables, cart questions and car confessions, what happens in the office is only academic, theory, one-dimensional.

The apostle Paul had a traveling office. It was in a borrowed room, a rocking ship, a prison cell, a house where he was imprisoned. He wrote "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:12-13) Wherever he was, he went to work on leading the lost to faith in Christ and leading Christians to a deeper walk in Christ. The world was his office.

Do you ever wonder if God has an office? I mean, where does He go to work? I suppose anywhere He wants to but I can't help but wonder if there is room in my heart for Him to work. How big a font can He use there?