Monthly Archives: July 2017

Goals and Dreams

I am not, by nature, a goal oriented type of guy.  I’m much more naturally a laid back, take-it-as-it-comes sort.  But over the years I’ve leaned to value and appreciate the power of goals and dreams in a person’s life, but I’ve also learned that it’s critical to keep those goals and dreams in proper perspective.  We need to learn to live with an eternal perspective.  Let me explain.

For years I had a dream to begin a retreat center specifically for pastors and other full-time ministry people who were struggling, wounded, burnt-out, or just needed some rest and refocus time.  My dream was that this retreat center would be structured around a small working ranch.  This was a dream and a passion that motivated and moved me.  Every experience and opportunity was evaluated against how it might prepare, equip, and move me towards fulfilling that dream.  In fact I began pastoring in large part because I could see how that would be another step leading me to that ministry center.

And it’s not as though this was something I wanted that God didn’t.  I am still certain that it was God who planted that dream, and it was with a sincere desire to serve God that I pursued it.  But through that process I have come to understand that there is a greater goal: Jesus himself.  And the ultimate fulfillment of the goal of knowing Jesus will be when he returns.  This is partly what Paul was speaking of in 1 Corinthians 15 where he speaks of the resurrection.  One person has paraphrased what he said in verse 32 this way.  “It’s resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live.”  An eternal perspective.

I’m no longer pursuing the dream of a ranch retreat center.  God used that to turn me to other dreams and goals.  Corrie ten Boom once said, “I’ve learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me!”  All my goals, even a basic as what I hope to accomplish today, I need to hold loosely before God knowing that as I do he will accomplish much greater things than I could even dream of that will be of eternal value.

Pursue your dreams passionately, but hold them loosely before God.


Leaning On My Own Understanding

I always loved going to my grandparents farm.  Some of my favorite childhood memories happened on that farm, both from when Grandpa and Grandma lived there and later when they moved to town and my uncle began farming it.

Still, not every memory from there is a sweet one, though most of the less pleasant events were of my own doing.  Like the time I was given one of my first real on-my-own farm responsibilities.  I was probably 12 and Uncle Dean had recently taken over the farm.  He had been cleaning up some of the junk that accumulates over the years and had given my younger siblings and me the job of loading it all onto the old grain truck.  The good part was that then I would get to drive the couple of miles North on the road allowance to dump it all into the pit that was used for that purpose.

We were to load the junk and then wait for Uncle Dean to come give me some instructions on driving the truck before we set off.  We finished loading and waited for I’m sure it was at least 10 minutes before my patience ran out and my eagerness to drive the truck took over.  I told the other kids to pile in certain that I knew how to drive the old standard and as long as I got the job done it would be fine.  It was easy to rationalize that there was work that needed to be done, and besides it wasn’t like I didn’t have permission to drive the truck.

I got there having stalled the truck only a couple of times, managed to back up to the pit and unload without incident, and was just beginning the journey back when we ran out of gas.  Not to worry, the truck had a slip tank. I could just fill the gas tank certain that no one would be the wiser.  I even filled the tank right to the top to make sure we had enough to get back.  What a conscientious kid!

But the truck wouldn’t start.  I tried and tried, first pumping the gas pedal then flooring it, then letting off altogether, all the while the engine turning over slower and slower, but to no avail.  I never gave up hope till I saw Uncle Dean’s pick-up coming across the field and then I knew I was in trouble.

Had I waited on directions I’d have learned there was diesel not gasoline in the slip tank.  Instead Uncle Dean had to drain a full tank of fuel, haul some gas out and boost the truck to get it back home (I had killed the battery trying to start it), all because I tried to do the job trusting in my own wisdom and ability.

While this illustration is certainly limited, too often we do God’s work like that.  Even the phrase “doing God’s work” is rather presumptuous because it is God who works in us giving us both the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13). But we can get so eager to do God’s work, and so preoccupied with what we assume his work to be that we don’t give him time or space to do the work that really matters to him.  All God wants for us to do is summed up in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Jesus never took a step or even spoke a word unless he had heard it from the Father first.  That’s the sort of connectedness and relationship God intends for us too.

Biker to the Bikers

A while back the mother of a young girl pointed me out to her daughter because they saw my picture in the local paper every week.  But when the little girl saw me she said, “But mommy, where’s his cowboy hat?”  I got a chuckle out of that, especially because a few years ago I never went anywhere without it.  In fact when I worked at Rafter Six Guest Ranch, just before I began pastoring, I wore the whole shebang every day.  I once walked into the Cochrane IGA with my spurs a–jingling not even realizing it till I noticed people looking at me a little funny.

That style suited my first church in South West Saskatchewan very well with all the ranch country down there.  It worked because I identified with the people in the church and community.  Most of my visitation involved some sort of ranch or farm activity.  I was at one of our folk’s ranch the one day and he introduced me to his neighbor who happened to be over.  “This is David. He’s the pastor from Golden Prairie.”  His neighbor responded, “Oh, what pasture do you manage?”  I laughed as I corrected him, especially because you could read the near panic in his eyes trying to remember if he’d said anything he now regretted.  Sunday mornings I wore my old fashioned riding britches, complete with leather suspenders, and the pant legs tucked into my buckaroo styled cowboy boots (much to Wendy’s chagrin).

When we moved to Falkland in the interior of BC I wrongly assumed it would be the same culture.  But it was different there and even though I came to realize that, I never made a real effort to identify with that culture.  Not that I didn’t get involved in the community, and I untucked my pant legs from my boots, but I still just kept trying to insert my own culture into theirs.  I never really identified myself with the local culture.

Paul said that when he was with the Greeks, he became Greek; when he was with the Jews he became Jewish.  He made the effort to identify with the local culture he was seeking to serve and express Jesus to.  In doing so he was saying, “You are worthwhile.  You are treasured.  You are worth knowing and understanding, and Jesus values you and wants a relationship with you too.”  Jesus doesn’t want to get rid of our cultural identity, he wants to transform it.

So now here in Benalto my hat is a helmet, my “horse” has two wheels, and I wear a Christian Motorcycle Association patched leather vest.  But wherever I’m at and whoever I’m with I try to make the effort to identify with that person because they are valuable.  As a Jesus follower how do you relate to your neighbors?