Month: November 2014

Is there a heaven for introverts?

I never want to talk to another human again.

Last year at this time, I was glowing. I was broken. It was also before I knew more about how I worked.

Since then, I’ve gone through a lot of counseling, and I’ve learned some things about myself. For instance, after spending time with people, I need time by myself. This isn’t a matter of preference; spending time with people depletes my energy. If I continue being around others, my ability to process decreases at an incredible rate. I stop being able to function. I start saying things that I really ought not say.

If this keeps up for days, I fall into my depressed state. The only way to fix it is time alone. Not necessarily time not working, mind you. I can work on sermons, write Bible studies, and even do emails and IM’ing. But the more time I spend in a crowd, the more time I need away. (It’s strange that I can handle IM’ing, but texting tends to deplete my energy. No idea why that is.)

And this is just another way I’m broken. (more…)

How Long?

The church was nearly empty this morning. So few people. So few come to worship the Savior. So few honor the one who died for them. So few desire to grow in grace.

I expected worship to be quiet. Subdued. After all, last week was our centennial. The congregation had nearly tripled in size for that service. We had special music and a special order of worship and special… well, last week was big on bombast. I designed this week’s worship to be simple, knowing the congregation would be hungering for “normal” after the business of the last few weeks.

But so few.

A stalwart of the congregation pulls me over before worship. “Pastor, where is everyone?”

I shrug. “Wherever two or three gather together…”

“Oh, I know!” And she smiles at me.

I wish my heart reflected the confidence of my words. So few. (more…)

Two Funerals, an Anniversary, and a Wedding

A funeral on Tuesday. She was baptized in this congregation when it was six years old; on Sunday we mark our centennial. I remember holding her hand, her smile, and her sorrow at leaving her home when her health made it necessary for her to move into an assisted living facility.

On Tuesday, I tell the family the good news: Yes, she was a sinner. Yes, the wages of her sin was death. And yet, Jesus loved her enough to die for her. Despite what you see in the casket, she is rejoicing in heaven. In other words, I preach Gospel in the face of death itself, clinging to Jesus’s promises. I’ll see this old woman again. I’ll hold her hand again. And even more, we’ll do it while rejoicing around the Throne in heaven.

Tuesday evening. I’m about to teach teen Bible study when I get a phone call from my mother-in-law’s number. I figure it’s either something fairly quick and frivolous – “Hey, I’m shopping. Do you have this movie yet?” – or it’s something serious. I decide to answer.

It’s my brother-in-law on the other side. “Hey. Um, dad’s dead.”

I think he’s joking.

He’s not. (more…)

The things pastors stress about…

Pastors shouldn’t stress out about whether or not they are going to commune on any given Sunday, but for the last six months I have.

My congregation and church body practices “close communion” (also called closed communion, depending which aspect you want to stress). Basically, God tells us that all those who commune should be “one loaf” – not just in word, but in fact. He writes that communion can actually be detrimental if taken in the wrong way (I Corinthians 10 and 11). He also tells us to mark those who teach differently and to keep away from such people (Romans 16:17). For those reasons, we invite only members of our church body to commune with us. It’s not a snobby thing; we do it because we don’t want to hurt anyone, even by accident.

I announce close communion and explain it every single week we have communion. If someone comes up and I know they’re not in fellowship with us, I withhold the bread and wine. I’ve announced what we do; if someone chooses to ignore that, it’s on them. (Incidentally, if I don’t know and they come up, I will commune them.)

Now all that is out of the way, I can get back to the story. (more…)