Affairs of the Heart

Spoiler alert!

If you have never seen the movie Seven Pounds with Will Smith and you may want to see it someday, I’m giving fair warning—it’s a tear-jerker.

The story revolves around a wealthy engineer who causes a tragic car accident. In an instant, seven lives are lost, including his fiancé. He is the only survivor.

Smith won’t talk about it, and he won’t think about it. He can’t live with himself so he spends the rest of his life trying to punish himself for his sin. He prepares an elaborate plan to help seven people before he dies. Eventually it takes his life, and he knows this.

Last night I woke thinking about his sad situation. Am I not like him? Don’t I find myself struggling in my life to be worthy of living? Are you like me, and work at being good, forgetting that it makes no difference to God? Don’t you get tired of trying and failing?

He loves no matter what.

2016 is upon us, and though I don’t make resolutions, I make a new list of goals for the year. Last year I did well on my goal list, but the most important goal I did not accomplish. It was the biggest goal and the hardest goal. I looked at the list and was mostly pleased I kept “on task”, but the major goal sat like a lead balloon. I was deflated, defeated, even though the rest of my list was met.

Did I think my whole year was a waste because of that?

Should I bother with a goal list?

Even as I write this I wonder about this years blog subjects. Yesterday my yearly “stats” from Word Press showed up in my email. I have “staying power”, but I wonder if it is worth it. My life is so small that I think I may dry up, and have nothing to say.

Am I making the best use of my time?

Things that are truth about our works are:

  • We can never do enough good works to please God.
  • We can’t work our way to heaven.
  • God made a plan because of these facts.
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The Father’s love can be found anywhere.

It’s really very simple: Adam and Eve failed in the garden and God made a temporary substitute—animal sacrifice. Since that whole ritual was outlined in detail in the Old Testament, we look at it and wonder–how could they (we) keep all those laws?

Christ left his deity behind, and became a man with all its vulnerability. He changed that hard-to-do law into freedom. Christ brought grace and new life. No longer would we work endlessly to hope to attain God’s pleasure, but we would receive it freely. At that moment we are made new, whole, and free from law!

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Will Smith was tortured by what he did. He couldn’t live with this, so Smith spent the rest of his life finding the people most worthy of helping. He was single-minded in his search. Smith gave his physical life to save others, just as Christ did. But sadly, the character Will Smith played didn’t think he was worthy of living.

I have included hearts in nature on my blog in the past. I find them everywhere. It reminds me that no matter what the circumstance, God loves me. He loves all of us. He always loves us. Even when we sin, he still loves us.

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Things NOT to Do to Your Pastor (Written by a former pastor’s wife)

 

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Church photos from Google

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I wrote an essay a few months ago for my family. I contrasted a ten-year experience in a warm and caring church that was followed by a much shorter time in another church that frustrated and damaged our family. That ‘short time’ affected us greatly for many years, especially my husband. One point I would like to make is that this happened to us twenty-five years ago, and for fifteen of those years I could not deal with it. It would not go away. It haunted me.

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Having always been a writer, you would think that I would have written the essay years ago, but I never did.  Suddenly it became something I should do.  I began to write about it.

When I was invited to the Wisconsin writer’s workshop I had just finished the raw, unedited essay—for us. Knowing our instructor and two of the women, I knew this would be safe to share in our group. When our group of twelve was formed, we all sent our essay to each other to read ahead.

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I thought about sharing some things here, but possibly they are too personal, so I have decided to generalize this into a list. Generalizing my essay changed it from raw emotion to a rather clinical nature, but I think it is best.

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I hope it helps for those who have never been in the pastor’s shoes, or his family’s for that matter.

 

  1. Don’t put him on a pedestal and idolize him because of his charismatic personality or great preaching.
  2. Don’t expect him to be perfect or never make mistakes; he’s no holier than the next guy. That goes for his family also.
  3. Don’t expect the pastor’s wife to be the pianist, a public speaker, fill in anywhere there is a gap, and still run her house like the military.
  4. Don’t expect the pastor’s teenagers to be without doubts, or to not act like teenagers.
  5. Don’t expect him to be at every meeting at the church; remember he has a family, too.
  6. Don’t gossip. If you have a problem with your pastor, be honest and talk with him in a loving way.
  7. Don’t think your pastor can get along financially with less because you have provided him a parsonage.
  8. Don’t expect your pastor to be a financial expert.
  9. Don’t begrudge your pastor and his family a vacation each year.
  10. Don’t expect your pastor to know if you’ve gone to the hospital and are dealing with a crisis. Have someone call him.

 

This is just a short list, and these ten reasons are not necessarily all things that we dealt with. Yet, I have not shared some of the hardest things. Over the years I’ve seen pastors not only leave the ministry, but be so angry with God they never returned to church. I have seen pastor’s children leave the faith because they had their eyes on people instead of Christ. I know my husband and I were so busy trying to keep all things moving smoothly at church, and the school, that our children were lost in the shuffle. Our teens were off in one direction and my husband in another. More times than not we were so busy at church we didn’t eat together as a family. This was very important to me, being raised in a traditional home.

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Somehow we lost our way at that church in the very beginning. We found ourselves terribly naïve and that put us in a position of being pushed around and controlled.

My husband was exhausted just trying to keep up with meetings, the school, and preaching. There were endless programs in church and school. During basketball he took the school team in our van, travelling hours away to play another school.

Where was the rest?

When did we seek God?

Where was the peace?

 

It is interesting who asked Jesus about the greatest commandment…it was the Pharisees…the doers…the works people.

What does God ask of us? What did Jesus repeat to those around him?

 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. …

Matthew 22:36-40

 

This is the gospel in its simplest form.

Love God…

Love your neighbor…

 

“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 

It sounds easy, but far from it. I can dwell on how much I should love God and spend time with him and don’t…its laughable.

It’s sad.

It reveals my weakness…my humanness. But it also reveals the overwhelming love and faithfulness of my God…our God. I know I am nothing without him. He gives all life…and peace when I rest in him.

Rest…not works.

The more we do for God, does not impress him or give us brownie points in heaven.

He wants our love!