The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chloe Grace

Leigh Ann and I are pleased to announce to birth of our 3rd child and daughter Chloe Grace. She was born on August 23, 2006 weighing 7lb 13 oz. Chloe and Leigh Ann are doing great. Jordan and Karis love their new sister.

In each of our girls' room we have a Bible verse. In Chloe's room we have parts of Luke 18:16&17. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly i tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

The reason we picked these verses is that I heard Dallas Willard teach on this and he explained these verses in a way that i have never heard before. Willard said that a child is utterly dependant upon others for their existence. And for us to experience the kingdom of God to the fullest we have to have that same utter dependence upon Jesus. This really spoke to me. Am I utterly depended upon God? The utterly part is the problem. In the same way that Chloe is entirely dependant on my wife and I, we are to be just as dependant on God.

Something For Nothing?

On our recent youth mission trip the small group of teens that I got to work with spent 2 days building a wheel chair ramp. This was huge for me because of my ungiftedness in that area, i usually have to paint. While it was not pretty, it worked!! After 2 days of working on the ramp in the 100 heat we were done and very proud of ourselves. As we went in the house to tell the family that the wheel chair ramp was ready we got a less than enthusiastic response. You could sum it up by saying, "thanks and don't let the door hit you on the way out." Our emotions went from being pumped to being bummed to being angry in a matter of moments.
How often do we (or at least I) do something and expect something in return? I know I do this a lot. This something in return that you might expect could be a verbal thank you, a constant stream of praise the next several times you see this person or maybe some kind of equal action back. And if we don't get this "praise" it changes our opinion of the other person or persons.

Matthew 6:1-4 says "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

This speaks to what happened on our youth mission trip and it also speaks to one of my lingering sins and struggles; "the need to be praised by others."

The praise we should be worried about is not others, but God's. When we get this order mixed up we are committing idolatry and we stifle our relationship with God. I think pastor's (including myself) really struggle with this praise. We want to be liked, we want to have big churches so other pastors and people will like us and seek us out. It is so easy to shift our focus from Jesus to other people's approval. And this is not just true for pastors but for everyone.

I like what I've heard Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC say, "I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe and I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope." That statement describes me to a fault. Remember who you are doing it for. Help me Jesus!