January, 2015

Passing the word

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Rosemary and I spent Thursday afternoon delivering copies of the February issue of Covenant Spotlight. It was a great time of fellowship for us and exercise for me, much in and out of the car and carrying of boxes. Rose mostly supervised. ūüôā Magazines are heavy, especially when boxed 100 at a time.

It also was a reminder to me of Jesus command to “Go” and spread the good news and make disciples. I have done a blog for years and had the opportunity of teaching on many occasions, but there is something different and special about “going.” I remember learning years ago that “going” implies a change of place. That was certainly true as we travelled from Crowley, though Rayne and Duson, down into Milton and Maurice, Youngsville and Broussard and, finally, this morning to New Iberia. ¬†There was much “going” involved.

I was also reminded of the parable of the Sower and the Seeds. At some locations, all the magazines we left last month were gone. At others, almost all the ones we left were still there. It was a great reminder of how the Spirit of God works. The magazines were not always grabbed up at the places you would suspect.

It was great to meet and chat with people. Almost everyone seemed excited to be getting the new issue. The business folks involved don’t get a direct benefit from having Covenant Spotlight in their places of business. For most it’s just a chance to share.

As Christians we do a lot of talking. Our sharing, however, is usually¬†principally on Facebook or Twitter. We shouldn’t lose touch with the value and blessing of “going.” Give it a try sometime soon.

facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Jesus is Enough for Me

Last time we considered how God is indescribable. When Jesus came in human form, we saw God as fully human. A form we had some chance of understanding. It’s important that we realize Jesus isn’t a lesser form of God. He is as fully divine as he is fully human. If we spent every moment of our lives, getting to know Him, we would still fall short of complete knowledge. That’s why heaven will not be boring. It will take us full eternity to have any real knowledge of God.

We should not miss the opportunity to know Jesus in this life. Our knowledge is principally based on our experience. In my life I have known Him as provider. He has healed me of a damaged knee and of the pain of a lossed child. He has revealed Himself to me in the beauty of His creation and in the move of His Spirit among the lost, particularly those in prison.

I have learned of Him through the experiences of others. I have seen addictions melt away. I have seen lives of complete self-centeredness become useful instruments of His love. I have been blessed to witness the power of forgiveness, not just to the forgiven, but also to those who dare to forgive.

I have seen the scriptures open up with wonderful revelation where before there were only clouds and confusion. I have seen grumpy, gloomy personalities become lights to a struggling world.

I can’t describe God to you, not in anything approaching completeness. I can introduce you to Jesus who is God in the flesh and that’s been enough for me.

 

facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Come To Prison With Me

In March I will be doing another Kairos Retreat weekend at Angola State Prison. I am really looking forward to it. I thoroughly enjoy each of these retreats for many reasons.

1 It’s a chance to see God work. I’ve never attended one of these without seeing a great move of God.

2 It’s a chance to visit those in prison. That’s one of the things that separates the goats from the sheep. Me, I would prefer to be a sheep.

3 It’s a chance to be with friends. Some of my closest friends are the volunteers in Kairos and the prisoners at Angola who have gone through Kairos weekends in the past.

4 It’s a chance to minister with the whole church. Kairos draws its volunteers from different denominations and races. It’s a chance to act as the church as God intended, universally.

5 It’s a chance to minister. Sadly, Christianity is too often a spectator sport. Kairos allows us to actually minister, one-0n-one. The great commission isn’t just to pray for the ministry of others or to write checks. It’s a call TO GO.

Why not join me Saturday? We have our first training in Baton Rouge. You can ride with me and check it out. If it’s not for you, there’s no obligation. Call or text me (337-205-2353) if you are interested.

Here’s the schedule of training and the weekend.

Training will begin on January 31st and will continue February 7th, February 21st, February 28th and March 7th. ¬†Those are all Saturdays. We are back in Lafayette for supper. ¬†All training will be held at First United Methodist Church, room 104 in the lower level.¬† Our Kairos retreat is March 12th ‚Äď 15th. That’ a Thursday through Sunday. If you would like more info, you can also check out the website:¬†https://angolakairos.wordpress.com/

Why not come to prison with me?

facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Our Indescribable God

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 31:34

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9

Jeremiah’s prophecy that one day we would all know God has not been perfectly fulfilled. It’s not possible now to know God completely and therefore accurately describe our God. If you need a reminder, watch Louie Giglio’s video.¬†Or listen to Chris Tomlin’s song.

One problem is trying to describe the eternal with natural words. For example, we call Him, Father, but we are limited by our own, sometimes negative, experiences with fatherhood.  Jesus told His disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. Jesus is Divine, but packaged in human form so that we might in some small way be able to comprehend and to relate. Since Jesus, we can know God like never before, but still not perfectly.

Our God is indescribable. Our experiences of Him are spiritual and incredibly personal. We can best, and only, describe Him as He has affected us, as we have experienced Him.

Because of our limited ability to describe Him, we need to do so with great humility and with the understanding that our description, like our understanding, is limited. We also need to listen with open minds and respect to the description and understanding of who He is to others.

It’s why Jesus is so important. While understandings and experiences of God are personal and varied. Jesus is the same. He is the standard. ¬†Any claimed experience of God, which is inconsistent with the person of Jesus, must be rejected.

The vastness and complexity of God should keep us humble and open to new perspectives about him, and more thankful than ever of the glimpse of divinity we get through Jesus Christ.
facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

The Great Divide

 

I recently wrote an article on unity for an upcoming issue of Covenant Spotlight. It made me think about unity and division. The church is, in many ways, greatly divided. We have thousands of denominations and differ with each other on many theological points. I don’t think any of that reflects our most serious divide.

I think the Great Divide in Christ’s church is the divide between clergy/laity, full-time/part-time, paid/unpaid, staff/congregation. This divide exists and is a problem in every fellowship. Don’t get me wrong. I love pastors. I especially love my pastors. I even think they, and all of our staff, are grossly underpaid. If we are going to have paid ministers, I think they should be adequately paid. ¬†I just don’t think that was part of the original plan. It’s one of the many man-made elements of modern church.

We are¬†in the era of the priesthood of the believer. We are all called to follow and serve. The great divide does not foster that. When we have paid ministers, the rest of us expect them to do the ministry. After all, isn’t that what they get paid for? The paid feel an obligation to do most of the ministry for the same reason.

The paid/unpaid system makes some of the paid perform duties they are not well suited for and keeps gifted unpaids from serving where they would have the most impact.

I read an article this morning addressed to pastors encouraging them to be willing to preach more discomforting sermons. Is that realistic? Can we expect employees to fuss at those who pay their salaries? I know many good pastors who do, but their discomfort in doing so is clear.

The paid system puts the paid in a place where the only way to better themselves financially is to grow their church or move on to bigger, better paying congregations. They are pushed to play a quantity rather than quality game. It’s a lot easier to grow a church by tickling ears than by challenging life styles.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect a sudden end to the paid/unpaid divide. Perhaps we will have to be satisfied by doing the best we can under the circumstances. Here’s how:

Pay the paid as much as we can, not based on how much they do, but on how much they train the unpaid to do. We should look at church more like a team and the paid more like coaches. A team is judged by how the team performs, not how the coaches perform.

Promote “lay” ministry in the church. This will require the paid to allow the unpaid to serve in all elements of ministry. Most lay ministry now takes place in groups that function outside of individual churches. In my experience, Kairos and Covenant Spotlight are both ministries that are lay led, in which most work is done by the unpaid, with the support of the paid.

Promote “joint outreach” ministry. There are simply not enough places to minister in churches that are inward focused. There is plenty of work on the inside; but plenty more “out there.” What really works are joint efforts by separate congregations in which the world can see Christians united to make a difference.

Pastors, I know it’s often easier to do something yourself and not raise up, train and motivate others to do it. ¬†I believe you know that you are not called to be everything to everyone in your church. You are called to train everyone to minister in their gifts to everyone in your church and beyond in the community, and in the world.

It’s not easy, but it’s why you should be getting the big bucks.

facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Roles

It’s amazing to me how many roles we play in life; how they change through the years. We have spouse roles and child roles, parent roles, friend roles, and job roles. We are customers, fans, users and gamers.

It’s also amazing how easily we forget that everyone has multiple roles. It’s easy to consider people only in the limited role they play in our lives. Our mailman has a family and a complex life outside of his job. Our physician’s sole focus in life is not our blood pressure, weight or cholesterol level. ¬† Obviously we can’t, and probably shouldn’t, be involved in every aspect of the lives of all the people we know. Boundaries are important and we are limited.

There should be exceptions. Shouldn’t we be aware of and appreciate all the roles our spouse has to play, for example. Even if we can’t fully participate, shouldn’t we be sympathetic to the struggles our spouse is going through as parent or employee or just as citizen of an increasingly confusing world? Shouldn’t we realize that there is more to our pastor than his Sunday sermon? Shouldn’t we consider that a grumpy word and sour face may come from someone under incredible stress?

Often folks are “failing” in the role they are playing in our lives, because some other role is absorbing their time and energy. It’s then that we can be Jesus to them by understanding and reaching out to them as complete people with issues and problems at least as complex as our own.

We have way too much information about some folks and not nearly enough about others. Let’s pray for the Spirit to guide us through lives that intersect with others who are stressed, struggling and seriously in need of some patience and understanding in some role in life that just isn’t working out right now.

facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Sin and Sin Residue

So you have shut up and shut out. Your heart is steady and your question to God is open-ended and limited to today. Still nothing. It’s as if the sky were made of lead. You are hearing nothing. Maybe your problem is sin and sin residue.

“Of course, that’s my problem. Isn’t it everyone’s problem?” You reply. Certainly, sin is the problem. Sin, however, doesn’t keep God from hearing us. It wasn’t God who hid Himself from Adam and Eve in the garden. They went to hide.

If we don’t feel forgiven, if we can’t seem to forgive others, it can block out our communication with God. He hears us fine. We just can hear Him. The essence of sin is self focus. Sin is all about us. Hearing from God is all about God. Sin is about our control. Hearing from God is about believing that He has a better plan and control in his hands is the best idea.

Even if we put sin aside, confess and accept forgiveness, sin can leave ear plug residue. Sin puts us off the path, damages our relationships, limits our potential. When I spend hours working outside, sitting down and resting is great. I still need to wash away the dirt and grime, I’ve collected.

Sin can leave us with the notion that we don’t deserve to hear from God, that He we have blown His plan for us, that He has given up on us. Sin can put us into patterns of self-control, self-focus and self-gratification. We can’t hear God’s instruction to crucify self, focus on others, carry out a mission. ¬†Sin can make us deaf to the word God is speaking, because it isn’t the word we want to hear.

Forgive and accept forgiveness. Believe that God still has a purpose for you. Then the still small voice may be just loud enough for  you and me to hear.

facebook-share-buttons

NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

An Answer for Today

We have food stored all over our house. We have drawers of canned goods, buckets of dry goods, and a closet full of sweet goods. We never seem to have anything to eat. We make daily trips to the store “for something for supper.” We say things like, “I’ll go find something to eat” as we head for the kitchen, like we were on an island. What’s wrong with us?

In the desert, Moses and his people got manna every day. It was only good for a day. It was all they needed.

When His disciples asked Him how to pray, Jesus said, “Pray today¬†for what you need today.” Bread is basic. It’s the bare essential to get through the day. Most of us don’t pray daily for our “daily bread” because it’s already been provided. It’s already in front of us. Instead of being thankful and enjoying it, we worry about tomorrow’s bread.

It’s as if we were blind to the fact that we have our provision for today. It’s right there in front of us. If you’ve tried to hear from God, don’t expect Him to come back with a 5 year plan. In my experience, He will give you guidance for today, just as He has provided your needs for today. That’s probably a good thing because 24 hours is about all we can handle. Just tell me what to do today. I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Guidance is much like bread. If God told us what to do today, tomorrow and next week. We probably wouldn’t get today’s work done because we would be worrying how we were going to do next week’s task.

God give us just what we can handle whether it’s troubles, or bread, or counsel. Can’t we just be happy with that?

1 of 2
12