The trouble is, many of us will find ourselves in the unhealthy guilt that really degrades and denies the grace of Christ in our lives as it is intended.
Our hearts are truly and terribly wicked. THey need to ALWAYS be focused and disciplined to obey, follow, and love God above all else. But because of the fact that our hearts just really are so so wicked (depraved) there simply is no room for comfortable apathy in this life. Every day my heart is drawn toward its own wickedness, and I have to intentionally focus my heart each and every day on Jesus Christ and the God who demands that I follow Him and obey Him.
My heart is so easily turned away; like terribly easy to be turned away. This depravity and wickedness angers me. I hate that my heart is aligned toward sin and terrible choices, but over and over again I see this in my life.
O God, my heart is so wicked and prone to wander, I am truly prone to leave the God I love and turn from you.
Here is my heart, LORD, take and seal it for thy courts above. Seal and cap my heart for you and your alone. O God, my heart is prone to wander. It is so easily turned from you. Seal my heart. I hate my wickedness. I hate that I am always turning from you if I am not remembering the grace you have given me in Christ. I desire to follow you and lead your people with a fear of you, but heart pulls me.
My heart is depraved and wicked. While I have been redeemed in the blood of Christ on the cross, I still feel prone to wander and leave the path of the God I love. I hate and despise that feeling.
I also realize if I am not intentionally focusing my wandering heart, I will be too easily turned. So seal my heart. Draw me close to you and I will obey you. I will follow you and honor you.
With Psalm 80 I pray, "O God, restore me, and cause your face to shine upon me and I will be saved."
My heat is truly wicked and prone to wander from you. When I do wander, I find brokenness at every turn. So I pray for restoration, and I pray this on a consistent repeat.
Restoration is a return to an original condition before wear and tear and brokenness began to set in.
Undergrad Graduation Day
Many pastors and ministers to be are thrilled to "go unto the world and preach the gospel". Chalk full of theology, exegesis, and confidence, and we are ready to reach the world for Jesus Christ.
Year Following Graduation
Work the backroom at American Eagle or make lattes for Starbucks while you apply for grad school or seminary.
Graduate School/Seminary Graduation
The joke that theologians are just people answering questions nobody is asking is not funny. More and more confidence abounds to will-be-pastors and ministers.
I was ready and prepared to do ministry now. I am pretty solid on where I stand doctrinally, theologically, and most importantly, I know where I fall on the T.U.L.I.P. scale.
First Month of Pastoral Ministry
I have no idea what to tell a student who comes to me fearing she may have contracted AIDS while doing missions work in Africa.
Where was THAT class?
Second Month of Pastoral Ministry
Random jibberish terms like: ministry budget, proposed budget, faith budget, overdrawn, fleeting resources, income not meeting spending, church mortgage, pay roll, etc.
"It was my understanding there would be no math."
Third Month of Pastoral Ministry
A call is made of an elderly man in the ICU who is not expected to live through the weekend. All he wants is to speak to a pastor.
You're a pastor! Your nicely framed diploma says so.
It turns out a man who has owned more cars than years you've been alive does not want to hear much from a young ministry graduate as he's preparing to meet Jesus face to face.
He asks nothing about total depravity. Too bad, I was prepared for that question.
Fourth Month of Pastoral Ministry
Another homeless addict has made his way through the doors wanting to speak to a pastor. Maybe he's in dire need! Maybe he's manipulating you for things he does not need that you do not have.
I don't remember learning about this anywhere.
Fifth Month of Pastoral Ministry
The congregation is already a bit upset with changes you have made when God continues to inspire you to new things. One person wants to talk about it WITH YOU (if you're lucky).
And it is not conflict about whether baptism should be sprinkle or immersion.
Conflict = YOU! You are the problem...always!
Where was my class about that?
Sixth Month of Pastoral Ministry
Start to wonder if your pastoral ministry degree and classes really gave you everything needed to be a pastor.