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The months of November and December were met with financial setbacks are almost every turn. In November, I had to take time off for my mom’s shoulder replacement. When I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Some people have the benefit of leave. Not I. In December, I missed time when my daughter was hospitalized. I also had to take time from my regular job for my interim role at church. Then, to close out December, I missed a week of work due to the flu. Just when I thought the financial gifts from Christmas would catch us up and get us slightly ahead, I was wrong.
Today, I felt like such a failure because I could not completely meet a financial obligation I had to someone. What is the truth? The truth is I’m not a failure. The devil would love me to feel paralyzed and defined by my current (and temporary) financial plight. My financial status has always mattered. I have wanted a comfortable lifestyle for years, but I have not experienced that since 2013. This is the most difficult area of contentment for me. While I won several contentment battles in 2019, I have yet to win this one. Once again, this current situation does not define me. God will meet the need, yet I feel so responsible.
You may be reading this today, and you feel like a failure in some area of your life. Don’t believe the lie! You may be struggling right now, but you are not the struggle. I am not the struggle! May you know you are not along in the struggle. You may be in the fiery furnace of affliction, but the Son of God is right there with you. Let that encourage your heart tonight!
I’m only 39 years old, but I like things a certain way. This year, I had to face some facts about myself and accept who I am – I had to accept who God wired me to be versus who I wanted to be. Some of you would do well to accept this reality; it’s quite liberating!
Please understand I’m not the guy in church who is constantly complaining about every little change. You know the kind – the ones who gripe about music, decorations, the type of pulpit, etc. On this side of ministry, I have tried to be the kind of person who is a blessing to the pastor and staff because I know what the opposite looks like.
As I was driving on Christmas Day (normally a 4-hour round trip to pick up my oldest kids), I began thinking about how some things have changed that I wish would have remained the same. Why would I want these things? They bring back memories of good days and times. Here’s a list of some of those things. These will indicate that I’m an old soul.
- I miss the days of Dick Clark being the host of the New Year’s program. He’s dead. Would I bring him back? No. But it’s a nice memory.
- I would have kept Darlene Zschech as Hillsong’s worship leader into her 90s. Please don’t go on a Hillsong rant. Her music touched my heart at a key time in my life. Brooke Ligertwood’s presence in Hillsong’s music has come close, but there’s something about Darlene. (I’m not crushing on her.)
- I miss the worship-leading church choir. I’m not talking about the choir that struggled to sing but the one who understood its biblical purpose and blew the roof off the worship service. You have no clue what I’m talking about until you’ve been in that kind of worship service. The last time I saw that was October 2014 at a church I previously served. The choir there no longer exists, but it once helped people encounter God’s presence. Does that mean I hate contemporary services with a few singers (worship team) on stage? No. That was my service of choice at our church before I was asked to lead the traditional service. Once again, the memory stirs the heart of powerful moments of worship in my life.
- I miss the days of enthusiastic preaching that was solid and demanded a response. Some say it is no longer wanted, necessary, or it just played on people’s emotions. There are still many great preachers today, but we have come to a time when either enthusiasm exists with no substance or vice versa.
Why did I share these? Because I’m a grumpy young man who wants to be the next Jack Lemmon or Walter Matthau (look up “Grumpy Old Men” if you need to). Seriously, the point is that memories are good, but make new ones. The past is great, but we’re not done creating the past. Let’s write a great history book so that people can continue to see progress for the glory of God!