Sunday, May 17, 2009

"You're such a character!"

Sunday. Today my husband and I are together in church for a whole service. W teaches at various area churches, and this is my first Sunday to join him in a few months. We sat around the dinner table yesterday with our kids, talking theology, politics, and history. It was like old times. Watching W light up, talking with his children about application of scripture to life and work, makes our hearts glad. We also talked about personality and character, and how sometimes those get muddled during conflicts. Attacking character because of personality issues can create confusion.

W's dad went to college to finish his education years ago, something Jono and Kirsten hadn't known. Dad K was influential in sending W here after a year's study in Germany. At that time, this school was the only semi-local college where students in ministry could finish a BA. W's dad passed to W his passion to know and teach.

Dad K was called to ministry as a youngster and raised in a ministerial family who founded many Canadian congregations. Until he was 41, he was blocked by his pastor from obtaining ministry credentials. He may have waited nearly a decade, as I remember. The pastor refused to sign off on Dad's papers. He insisted Dad 'was not ready,' though he preached, led worship and the choir, visited the sick, and carried much of the burden of pastoral care, along with another full-time job. Other ministers would discuss the injustice of it when they came through our home. But the pastor was dead set against Dad's ordination and influential and vocal in his circle of presbyters.

My father-in-law persisted and did not give up. Ironically, he became interim pastor when the other fellow left that church - and of course he was ordained. Then Dad K moved on, becoming a pastor to several hurting congregations. He knew how to reconcile people to each other and God. His experiences made him a compassionate advocate for the powerless and weak. He pastored with an intimate understanding of deep hurts inflicted by "a brother" and the patient, painful process of doing God's will.

Those years gave all of us an insider view of church politics and hierarchy. "It is God's Church. It belongs to no man. Each one is responsible to God for how we obey and love him, " Dad K said over and over again. "They will stand before God also, but I am not responsible for them. I must love and shepherd the sheep in my care."

W's mom was here for Friday's wedding, and her visit gave us time to reflect on the legacy of a family that has loved and known God. Our children have a long heritage of faith and ministry, dating back to medieval times. Still, they must traverse the path of serving God in their own generation. They must overcome their own brokenness and flaws, and perhaps fulfill their calling over the objections of those with other ideas. But if they have the moral backbone and spiritual stamina to follow the gentle example of their Opa, we will be very happy indeed.

Read more:
*The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident." Psalm 27: 1-3 NLT

*He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations.... Psalm 105: 7-8 NLT

*In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 6:26-28 NIV

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