Friday, April 2, 2010

One More Year

Little Tony gave a good tribute to his father on his 70th birthday. He talked about the influence his dad has on him. So I am turning 64 today. Happy Birthday to me, right. Let me share some things that I have learned from the founding pastor of Living Hope Church: Jim Erickson. Another way to put this is: what are some things I have learned in 64 years of life? By the way, Tony, Jim loved to preach on the balanced life which you said your dad was a good example of.

A couple of verses from Proverbs about anger were often quoted by Jim. One was "A soft answer turns away anger." Another was like that: "A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when hurt." Wow! Those two keep resonating in my mind often. Anger can be a killer of relationships and a killer of testimonies. I want to keep growing in the truth of these wise scriptures. I don't want to be controlled by anger, do you? We are told by the Apostle James to be quick to listen, slow to speak and SLOW to become angry because anger brings the opposite of righteousness. Where are you in these verses, friend?

Jim used to say to me that if a lesson only costs me money, it is a cheap lesson. And I used to think, "Ya, that's easy for you to say." But how right he was and how true that is. I needed to take ownership of my mistakes. I have made some decisions in the past that were costly in dollars but how I responded to the results were the real test. Sometimes anger, sometimes discouragement, sometimes putting myself down. But I have and still continue to learn that God will use those times to teach me things that will save me in the long run, both in dollars and in the things that really count.

Another Jimism: Just because I call myself a pastor/leader doesn't mean that it is true. If no one follows my leadership than I am a leader/pastor in name only. Every morning when I get into my car and drive to the office, I wonder what I am doing. I feel often that I am not qualified to be a pastor. I think that I am in way over my head and my abilities fall so far short. And it is then God reminds that I am right. I don't have it in me but God does and since He has called me, He equips me and empowers me to do the ministry of a pastor. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He just calls for my availability and faithfulness. So it is always "To God Be The Glory, Great Things He Hath Done". Amen.

Another (and I could probably write a short book) one of the biggest and best is this: "Circumstances will make me a bitter or better person; it's my choice." Not much of a choice, right? And yet so many chose bitterness and thereby bring hurt and defilement upon themselves and others around them. I have to chose often not to let even a tiny root of bitterness get a foothold in my life. Those tiny roots can grow quickly into something very ugly. And it will ruin my witness and testimony. How can we do this? As the scripture says, it is not by might or by power but by God's Spirit. We (I) are without excuse. We must let the past things go and look forward to what God has for us. Truly the best is yet to come if we do it God's way.

Finally, how about this truth: If I fail at home and in my relationships with my family and others, then I fail no matter how much "success" I seem to enjoy in my work or other pursuits. I am not going to elaborate on this too much except to say this: Can the people around you (me) really be honest with you? Are you (am I) really open to honest criticism? If you are, then ask them to be honest with you in how you are doing in your relationship with them. If I don't let those who know me and love me be honest with me without getting defensive, then I will never grow in many critical areas that God wants me to grow in. How's that for meddling?

So Up North Wisdom says, Thank you, Pastor Jim for your wise counsel over the years. You are now enjoying your Heavenly reward and we will see each other again. I will by the Grace of God continue to try to stay true to your great legacy. Your example is the best birthday gift a person could receive.


  1. Happy Birthday! These things you express here where like words spoken in a language I did not understand at one time in my life. They now are truths I feel desperate to have, yet I struggle so often to live them out. While Pastor Jim was not a regular part of my life as far as relationship, he impacts me so often as those he loved and discipled pass on that same love, wisdom, and basic Christian living skills on to me. His impact on the LHC family is evident practically every time I step into the church building.
    Probably the biggest lesson for me out them all here, is that God has given us the church (each other) to live, grow and mature in these points of wisdom. I believe that is why the last truth you speak of maybe is the most important, with out the honest, loving, "meddling" that a family provides, the other truths may never be attained.
    They say the wisdom often comes with old age...happy birthday again...oh very wise one!! I love you and am thankful for you, what you have learned, and for your love.

  2. Happy Birthday Dad! I love you! You have always been the picture of wisdom to me. Your advice and counsel mean a great deal. You are also building a legacy just like Grandpa did. Although Grandpa was a serious and often intimidating figure to me as a child, I feel that I was given a real gift when I had the opportunity to help care for him in his later years. I was able to see a side of him that I never had before. Through all of his pain and suffering, he was almost always a positive person. He truly became "better" and not "bitter." I miss him. I miss the nuggets of wisdom he still had for me, even in his weakest moments, when I would talk to him about issues in my life. God's grace - it is so amazing! What a testimony of that grace Grandpa was and still is.

    And, let me know when you want some of that "meddling" as Tony called it! But, promise you won't get defensive! :)

  3. Happy Birthday! I know I am truly blessed to have you for my Pastor.

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  5. Ok I'm going out on a limb here...

    I know you and love you so I'll be honest with you and trust you won't get defensive, so then you will grow in this critical area that God (may) want you to grow in. How's that for meddling?


    Here goes...

    I respect the influence Pastor Jim had on you, the church, and many people in the church. But let me be frank (and I mean no disrespect);

    That was Interfaith Fellowship.

    That was back in the day; many moons ago.

    His truths still ring true, I'm not disputing that.

    But Living Hope is no longer Interfaith of days gone by. YOU ARE MY PASTOR. I love and apppreciate your leadership more than you will ever know.

    I did not know Pastor Jim, but I know YOU. Whatever you learned from him I am grateful for...but you lead us, guide us, educate us, consider us, watch over us, direct us, comfort us, rejoice with us and walk beside us as our pastor and friend.

    You do this in NOBODY'S shadow.

    The vast majority of your congregation only know YOU.

    I look to you and turn to you and depend on you as MY pastor. I don't hope you will recall everything Pastor Jim said and parrot it back to me. I want to hear from YOU, Pastor Jerry.

    (you da man)

  6. Maybe someday, you will remember some of the things I said and share them with others. I know I am the man I am in many ways because of how God used Pastor Jim in my life. But I hear and appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. It means so much. One thing I do know -- that for me and for our church -- The Best Is Yet To Come!! Now, we never heard that from Pastor Jim.

  7. It is interesting, because in my Bible study this week, Beth Moore talked about how God uses people in our lives to shape us. She asked us to name several people God has used to make the biggest investments on the servant we are becoming in Christ, and what we received from that person. Then, we were to write down several ways we are distinct from all of them. She said the sum total is a tiny glimpse of who we are. She said "your uniqueness as an earthen vessel of Christ in your generation will often result from having a couple of tablespoons of one person's influence in you, a fourth of a cup of another's, and a teaspoon of many."

  8. The name my have changed but if you look around the church you will see many people that Paster Jim had a impact on their lives. Me for one.
    Yes change is good but lets not forget our roots. Pastor Jerry, Pastor Don,
    Pastor Mike, Pastor Tracy, and Pastor James Have all impacted my life.
    As Pastor Jerry said The best is yet to come.

  9. Beth Moore can say things so well. I couldn't have expressed it better. Thanks for sharing that, Kristy. Dad