One Thing

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

(Psalm 27:4)

In case you haven’t noticed, I have taken a bit of a hiatus from this Midweek Message. I guess it has been over a month since I last posted a message.  As you may already know, there’s been a lot going on in my life: a transfer to a new denomination (from the PCUSA to PCA), finishing one pastoral call and beginning another, selling and buying a home, helping shepherd my family through the emotional roller coaster of moving, and – oh yeah – leading the church through the observance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. I didn’t intend to take four weeks off from writing this post, it just got lost in the shuffle.

It feels a little odd here in the office this week, my books are all packed, the desk is cleared off, and there only a couple days remaining before I will have officially left the PCUCA for a new call. What then do I say?

I want to say that I have been truly blessed to serve as the pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Cherokee.  Over the past 9 years, this congregation has walked along side of me, helping me to become a better pastor, a more effective communicator (the last few weeks notwithstanding), and showing tremendous patience and love along the way. You have heard some sermons that would have been better had they never been preached, some prayers that went a little too long, and some jokes that forgot to be funny. My hope and prayer is that you were ultimately blessed by faithful preaching and teaching, that you will remember my time here as one of encouragement and growth, and that God would be pleased in His Church.

There is one last thing I want to leave you with.  For some reason, as I write this, I keep hearing Jack Palance as Curly saying – “Just One Thing!”

one thing

Well… in the movie, Curly tells Mitch that everyone has to figure out what that “one thing” is for themselves.  I get that, but if we take that to its logical end, we end up with chaos as everyone pursues that thing that makes them happy regardless of what that means to anyone else.

No, there is “One Thing” that is the greatest thing for each and every one of us, the “One Thing” we must pursue, the “One Thing” we must know.  This “One Thing” is the source of our greatest joy and happiness, the foundation of our peace and security.  This “One Thing” brings meaning to life, hope in the midst of despair, comfort in times of trouble.  This “One Thing” is the same “One Thing” for you and for me, and has been the “One and Only Thing” yesterday, today, and forever.  Have I given it away?

Here’s the One Thing – “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead… as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim 2:8). I hope that in time I will be remembered at Memorial Presbyterian as a good preacher and pastor and a loving and devoted father. I hope that my activity in the Cherokee Community Theater will be remembered well. I would like to think that I have made a lasting impression here, and that I will be remembered after I am gone.

More than all of that, though, I hope and pray that you will remember Christ, our risen Lord. I have labored to make Him known, to proclaim His Gospel, to make His grace and mercy known, to magnify His goodness, to draw all people to Him. Even if I am forgotten, even if my exploits and endeavors fade into oblivion, remember Jesus Christ.

Remember Christ.  When discouraged because life is difficult and the burden is heavy: remember Christ whose “yoke is easy, and whose burden is light.” When pressured to compromise on your faith and your values in order to fit in with the world: remember Christ who has come to “bring salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” as we await His appearing (Titus 2:11-13). When you stand for your faith and feel alone in this world: remember Christ, who has promised that He would be with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

I am truly grateful for the time that I have had at Memorial Presbyterian as your pastor. I pray that God will continue to strengthen and encourage this congregation. And I hope and pray that in everything you will continue to hold fast to this One Thing – Remember Jesus Christ, Risen from the Dead!


One Thing

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life”
(Psalm 27:4)

What’s your “One Thing?”

The world is filled with so many good things that it’s hard to really focus on the “One Thing” that really brings meaning and satisfaction to life.  We are so busy chasing after straight A’s, first place, the corner office, the tidy home – all really good things – that we often end up missing the One really great thing.  At the end of the story, we find that we’ve been majoring in the minors, and minoring in the majors; we’ve never really found the “One Thing.”

So what is that “One Thing?”  What brings meaning, purpose, and direction to our lives?  Well, if you remember City Slickers, Curly never told Mitch what that One Thing was, only that that’s what YOU have to figure out for yourself.  So according to that theory, your One Thing may be completely different from my One Thing.  If that’s the case, then our individual pursuit of the One Thing will lead us all in different, and often competing, directions.  If finding my One Thing, my happiness, my security, means trampling on your One Thing, well… that’s just how it goes.

I’m reminded of the song My One Thing, by Rich Mullins:

Everybody I know says they need just one thing
And what they really mean is that they need just one thing more
And everybody seems to think they’ve got it coming

Interestingly, Scripture does tell us, so much clearer that Curly ever would, what the One Thing really is.  If you want to know that inner peace, to find meaning and satisfaction in this life, to be secure even in the life to come, there is only One Thing you need: You Need to Know and Walk with Christ.

The rich young ruler, who in his estimation had kept the law without fail, asked Jesus what he needed to do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus told him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).  This young man had everything he could ask for: he was financially set; he had lived a good and moral life; what more could he need?  He only lacked One Thing: following Christ.

Martha served Jesus faithfully; she even had the opportunity to host Him in her home.  She, no doubt, laid out the finest linens, served the most exquisite meal, and worked tirelessly to make sure that no detail was left out in the care of her Lord.  Yet there was her sister, Martha, sitting idly by at the feet of Jesus.  “Lord, couldn’t you tell Martha to get up and help out?”  Mary pleaded.  But Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).  All of Martha’s service and attention to detail was good, but she had neglected the One Thing she really needed – to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Even the Psalmist joins in this witness, telling us where to find the One Thing our hearts desire.  In Psalm 27:4 we read, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”  Dwelling in the house of the Lord, abiding in His presence – that is the One Thing.

The apostle Paul said something similar, when he writes, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  Paul’s birth rite, upbringing and education, his righteousness and service – all of these “good things” were actually hindering him from knowing the One Thing he really needed, and so he gladly laid them aside that he might know Christ.  Christ Jesus is the One Thing we need more than any other.

What are the many things you are anxious over?  What are the many things that you chase after, only to find yourself wanting more once you’ve got them?  Are you running yourself ragged trying to maintain the all-so-many good things at the cost of having the One Thing; at the cost of the daily, quiet, sweet-communion with Jesus, the friend of sinners, the captain of your salvation?

Let all of these things go that you might follow Him.  Settle yourself at His feet that you might learn from Him.  “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” – let this be your One Thing – “and all these things will be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

Rich Mullin’s song continues:

Save me from those things that might distract me
Please take them away and purify my heart
I don’t want to lose the eternal for the things that are passing
‘Cause what will I have when the world is gone
If it isn’t for the love that goes on and on with

My one thing
You’re my one thing
And the pure in heart shall see God