Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is the ministry a vocation?

Most of us think of a "vocation" meaning a job, or at least a field of interest. An age-old complaint from church members is that their pastor treats the ministry as a job, not a calling. But the word "vocation" comes from the Latin verb "vocare", meaning "to call out".

How ironic! Not only that, but we tend to view "vocational schools" as ones not leading to a profession. A job hopefully, but not a profession. Professionals go to college, right?

We'd do well to remember the Latin root and realize that the "vocation" or "job" of the ministry is indeed a calling. On the other hand, we do expect ministers to do their best to see beyond the daily grind and to give their vocation a more spiritual emphasis than we congregatiuon members do. It's not fair, perhaps, but we do seem to expect that. You might say that we expect members of the clergy to make us think that their vocation is not a job. What?

Vocation -- job -- calling -- profession.  It's all quite confusing once we stir the colloquial pot, mix up their use, and ignore their root meaning.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spiritual Velocity

This is the first of an intermittent series of notes on sermons I hear.

Why intermittent? I don't always get to be at my home church every week, some sermons don't seem to lend themselves to my note-taking, and sometimes, I confess, I "drift". What do I mean by "notes"?  Summaries, a few bullet points, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

These will not be complete sermon outlines -- I'd have to pay way too much attention for that. As it is, I worry about missing a good point as I jot down my notes. My hope is that as I force myself to take sermon notes, not only will I pay better attention, but I'll also have more "take home" nuggets of spiritual wisdom. I post them here for both you and me.


Many people think of velocity as how fast you are going.  But that's speed. Velocity is both the speed of an object plus the direction in which it's headed.


Spiritual velocity

A few related thoughts:
  • Where are you on the line from Sinner to Saint?
  • Are you headed in the right direction?
  • How fast are you progressing?
  • Are you even moving?
Mark Twain once said, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just stand there."

Saul was not headed in the right direction, but when he experienced the "intervention" on the road to Damascus, he "saw the light". He made strong change in spiritual velocity. He was blinded but he finally "saw". Physically he was still heading to Damascus, but spiritually he had done a "180" and would rush onward in the right direction, changing both his name and his outlook. The fervor he once spent in persecuting followers of Jesus he now channeled into boldly proclaiming the good news of Christ's resurrection.

Looking at the ministry of Jesus, his Passion, his crucifixion, and the resurrection, we can see his high spiritual velocity ... moving strongly and in the right direction.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Spiritual drought

"Spiritual dry times accompany many and diverse situations. Sometimes those droughts have nothing to do with us. A dust bowl descends, and all we can do is remain faithful, waiting upon God. At other times, however, spiritual dryness can be traced back to something for which we are responsible.

Sometimes sheer soul-neglect is to blame. Perhaps we have let the busyness of life or the blur of entertainment squeeze out margins for quiet reflection, regular prayer, and Bible study. Whether out of fear or laziness, pride or sin, we squander our best on lesser things."