The Pondering Pastor

These "Ponderings" originally appeared as articles in our church newsletter or bulletin or just as the musings of one bald pastor. I place them here to encourage you, my fellow blogite and maybe to help us all in our pondering.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

AT WHAT COST?

ON JULY FOURTH I PLAN TO RUN in the annual Santa Cruz Firecracker 10k that starts at Harvey West Park and climbs through Pogonip and back again. There is a pretty good elevation gain at the mid-point of the race and so I have been running (OK, plodding) up some local hills to get ready for the Pogonip climb. It would be much easier for me to stay on the level paths, but come race day that 400ft. + climb would be my undoing. I would like to run this race faster than I have in the past, and the only one to make that happen (besides God giving me wings) is I, so uphill I go.
     To accomplish anything greater or even different, than what we are presently doing and used to, demands that we change the way we are doing that thing. For example, if we are constantly wearing our tires down because we are not keeping them properly inflated means we need to change the way we do things, or in this case, not doing things, like keeping our tires properly inflated. If we merely stay the course, then we can only expect much of the same results. If we want things to be different we need do things differently, and sometimes that difference-making comes at a high cost.
Cover of
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     One of the books that I have had my nose in recently is entitled, Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading (Linsky & Heifetz.) The authors write about the cost, even that of one’s life, involved in bringing about the needed, and often radical, change required to bring about a different outcome than that which regularly occurs. Some changes, like keeping your tires inflated, can come about with little cost, but other changes like getting out of debt, or changing the disciplines of your life may demand a higher cost and sadly it is a cost we often are not willing to incur.
     The church in America is in a place of needed change.  I believe we need to take a hard look at how we can consistently and confidently build God’s Kingdom within a culture that certainly does not pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” (Matthew 6:10) How can we as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:16-21) communicate the grace and love of God to a community that does not believe in the One, nor see the need of the grace and love He offers?
     Part of the answer is to be found in our willingness to not only count the cost, but also to be willing to pay it. Will we be content to do church to the exclusion of being the church?   
     Why is it we can shout “GOD’S NOT DEAD!!!” with arms lifted in a show of grand assurance of that fact during Vacation Bible School, and we can barely raise our voices and surely not our arms, when we sing that same grand truth on Sunday morning? Is it because we fear the thoughts of the one next to us, rather than the heartfelt praise to our Redeemer? Is it because we seek to worship decorum rather than the Divinity? Is it because we are more concerned about self than the Sovereign God? I pray that none of those are true for me.
     What is the cost we must pay? I am not sure. Are we willing to pay it once it is made clear? I am not sure of that either. Is our God worthy and worth whatever the cost? Of that I am sure! The road before us is steep and rough and strewn with rocks, but it is a hill that this church must climb if you want to finish the race. We may not be able to run up that hill with reckless abandon, but climb it we must! Our legs will strain, our lungs will gasp for air and sweat will pour from our pores, yet as we near the top of that hill there will be One there yelling, “You’re almost there! The road is easy from here.” So, dear church, let us run the race that is set before us, not to gain a crown that fades, but one we can present to Him who is truly worthy. (Hebrews 12:1-3) The race was His to win, we must follow His course.
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