I have been struggling for almost ten years with being a pastor. I want to be a pastor, not for the reasons you think. I don’t have any more of a clue about leading a church than any body else out there. I can’t “charge hell with a water pistol”. I don’t have the “next big thing” that the world needs to encounter. I will probably make more mistakes, than I will right moves. Of all of the people out there I am probably the least qualified. So why do I want to be a pastor?

People need Jesus! We are starting a new work called “In the Shadow”. In the Shadow is a fellowship of believers desiring to escape the “church sub culture” and learn to live in the shadow of the almighty as a family. We then seek to show a lost and hopeless world Jesus and the hope that he alone can bring! We believe that people don’t want or need another system to try to sort through and try to find Jesus. Our heart is to help people see the refuge of Jesus Christ!

Along the way we will mess up. Faith in community is a messing thing. We will seek to follow Christ in all things, creating a place where anyone on this journey of faith will find hope and community to live in. A place where they can find that Shadow for themselves and make the name of Jesus famous to others who are starting their own journey of Faith.

Why in the world would I want to be a pastor? Because people need Jesus.

Advertisements

I have not written in a while, but I need too. I had a good friend tell me once that it would do my heart good to get my feelings out on paper.  So here we go again. I am now back in the “established” church again. I came in with great hope for what I would see and how amazingly God would work. Unfortunately my heart held up certain standards for God to meet that at this point have lead to nothing but frustration.

I heard someone describe a committee as a donkey we call a horse. The church constitution is a document demanded by the government that church members use in leu of scripture to “run” the church for themselves. Cooperate worship has become a place of marketing for church growth rather than esteeming God as a Body. We seem to spend more time pacifying one or two people that make a lot of noise about what they don’t like than we do encouraging the saints in their relationship with Christ. We have saturated our time with God with man servicing activities. We respond to each other straight out of the American Phycological  and act as though we are just people of natural realm, not saints bought by the blood of Jesus. This my friends is the “Church of America”.

I understand that in the “Church of America” there is the Body of Christ. They function inside the ranks of the organization called the “church”. With in the “church” are a number of saints trying everything they can to follow Christ and rest in Him. There are also those who are trying with everything they have to please God through behavior. The biggest frustration is that I am not the Lord of the Harvest, I cannot separate the wheats and the tares. So here we are waiting for the change…………..(to be continued)

I have been up since 3:00 this morning. I can’t tell you why, but I know that work has been running through my head. I am having a hard time there because I have been asked to do something, that by my own boss’ confession is unfair and wrong, but here we are. In a couple of hours I will be on my way to my class room to deal with a child who yesterday sent a substitute to the doctor, and what did he get for his behavior? He went home with his mom because “he was having a rough day”. Now I get to turn my back on the students that need me so that I can dodge punches from a child who doesn’t want to be there.

He can’t seem to just let us be the teacher and he be the student. He questions everything we do and tries to tell us what we need to do differently. He thinks he knows better than we do about the proper path to education. The worst thing I think, is that he has a mother who feeds him all of this garbage and calls us into question in front of him at very turn. As a teacher, even a special education teacher, this is a heavy, wearisome task. I totally feel called to this profession and enjoy working with these students but can’t help but feel that sometimes this is how I am with God.

In Hebrews 3, the writer is tell the scattered nations of the children of Israel that they need to be very careful not to make the mistakes of their fathers. See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hardened by sin’s deceitfulness…..wow, what a statement. I think about the sin’s in my life and how I keep thinking “if I could only get this sin under control”, I think maybe that is ‘sin’s deceitfulness’. This is the thought that I made the mess, I can clean it up. Webster puts it like this : having a tendency or disposition to deceive. A disposition to deceive, not just a tendency or probability, but a disposition, or another word, a default.

Sin deceives, no doubt about it. Satan is called the father of lies and the deceiver, yet the “billboard” seems to blur as we fly by. If Satan deceives and sin deceives then there must be a connection. Jesus says “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life!” So when I sin, I am just living to the natural and trying to rest in myself. The key problem with this comes from Romans 14:23, “anything done outside of faith is sin”. So if I rest in myself then I do not hold fast to the truth that is planted with in me, it is not faith in Jesus Christ, it is sin and sin deceives. The other problem is that if I am resting in myself, then I am in rebellion to Christ because I have said that what he did on the cross was not enough. Romans 5 is very clear that we are found righteous because of what Christ did on the cross. If we find another way, truth or life, it is idolatry.

So we know that resting in something other than Christ has destructive consequences.So why do we do it? Let’s go back to the boy in my class. He is selfish, just like us. He is willing to hurt the ones who try to help him, just like us. He tries to rest in the abilities and control that he thinks he possesses, just like me. He fights, hits, kicks and curses the ones that were sent to help him, just like us. One day, my payer is that he will learn to rest in the fact that we are there for his good and if he wants to be successful in school he has to trust us. My other prayer is that some day I will come to fully rest in the fact that Jesus Christ is all I need and I will stop struggling against Him in my own sinful stubbornness.

I came to a deep realization yesterday, maybe not deep, but freeing. I have certain defaults that kick in when I have a hard time trusting God in areas of my life. For instance, if I sin against God, my first response is to feel bad, make up for it (try too) and fix it for myself (HAHA). Then I hide it from the world hoping no one will find out that I am not perfect. If I am frustrated with someone, say my wife and kids, for instance, I go into “preacher” mode. I give them a list of things they do wrong, things I’ve done wrong and how they have adversely affected all of us. Or take work, if I sense some injustice in my department, I become the weeping prophet, taking on myself the “worst case scenario” to prove a point to those perpetrating the injustice.

“Feeling bad”, “pointing out the truth” and “fighting injustice” are not all bad things, but outside of faith, they are sin. Romans 14:23 says that anything done outside of Faith is sin, ANYTHING! That means if I teach a Bible study in my own power and with my own agenda, with out leaning on God for it’s results, it is sin. If I don’t do all things trust in God for direction, supply and control, it is sin. Jesus said in John 6:29, “this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent.” So instead of “making up” for sin or trusting in things and others. (I am not saying we don’t need each other, just that we are not God) The work of the God is to trust in Jesus! So I need to come to Jesus and confess my “defaults” and ask him to change those. I lean on him and trust that he forgives. and cleanses me. I spend time with him each day asking him to show me the sin in the way I approach things and cleanse me of that so that my default becomes his responses and not my own.

I am not sure how long this process will take, but I am pretty sure it won’t be done tomorrow. I will be taking “defaults” I have built for myself to God for the rest of my life, asking Him to change them till I look like his son. Then I will rest in him for all eternity, oh blessed day!

“1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

Wow! What deep words! This blog started because I was angry, angry at God, at myself and at others! I took at out on my family, my friends and the people called the church. Of these things I have had to repent. I had a portion of blog on here called “dysfunctional staff.com”. I was arrogant and angry. God is God and who he wants on staff is in His hands. I am not dealing with hard times in my life because someone has done wrong or because I am a terrible person, it is because God is so good that He won’t let me stay this way, He wants to conform me to the image of His Son! Romans 8:28-32 is so true, ALL these things God is working together to conform me to the image of His son.

The true miracle in my life is not that I was so dirty or that I am being changed into a better person. The true miracle is that my savior loves me and Jesus lives in me and has become my righteousness! God did not spare His own son but gave Him up for me. The world and it’s desires will pass away, I know it, I have seen it in my own life! God is faithful and He will remain! Oh the surpassing greatness of the love of God and His faithfulness!

I know that no one is probably reading this so I will just think out loud. In my last post, I shared some pretty deep feelings of despair. Since then I am secure in the fact that Jesus has saved me, not based on my merit, but on his love. Yes, looking at my life, his love for me makes no sense. What in this life that we really depend on makes sense. We breath, I can tell you all the scientific theories on that but still it boils down to a simple belief in air that exists around us. I believe, by the grace of God I believe. I can’t explain it and I am not good at it, but I believe! Thanks Jesus for your love, please show me more.

I am going to take a step out on, maybe a limb. Do you ever feel like you are stuck between belief and total despair? Do you ever sit in the silence of your room and just refuse to cry out to God in the fear that He won’t answer? Do you ever feel like living and dying are the same thing? Have you ever come to the place where all you ever believed seems cheap and made up? Have you ever looked at your life and wondered if the only “spiritual” walk you’ve ever had was just ministry jobs that helped you cope?

I am not sure what you are thinking about now. Maybe you’re thinking this guy has lost his mind and has totally fallen from grace. I must confess something, I wonder too. I am a religious man. I know it, others know it and now you know it. I know that God is sovereign, I know that Jesus died to save me but finding out why has lead me no where. I don’t desire God but I want him more than anything. I have got no answers, I just wanted to share.

Scripture tells us that it rains on the “Just” and the “unjust”. Jesus says that whether you build your house on sand or stone, the storms still come. The bottom line is life just “sucks” sometimes. The storms come. We go to our friends and in the depths of their desire to make it better, they say cheesy things like “hang in there” or “God knows what he’s doing”. They are right, but I love Jesus because when he sees someone beat by the storms of life he doesn’t give them some cheesy line to make them feel better. Instead he loves them. He gives them himself, he has compassion on them.

IMG_0039

I had a crappy day, nothing bad happened, just to much think time. I have never been into the power of positive thinking, I have always wanted more than that. I want the kind of healing that doesn’t make me feel better, but makes me look more like Jesus. The other beauty of Christ is that even he faced the storms of life and promised us we could face the same. I cried tonight for a little while because right now life just sucks! I know people who love me have the best intentions but I am here because it is where God promised me I would be. I know, sounds foolish.

When you do what is right and all goes to hell, what does it say? If you do what is right and others crucify you for it, what does that say? For me it says I am on the right road. But in the middle of the night when you are staring at dark walls, wondering if you are where you need to be, all you can do sometimes is cry. In the middle of that moment, when Jesus speaks softly too you, it doesn’t make life suck less.

When I was a kid I fell head long out of a tree. I landed on my head and split it wide open. My mom, in good motherly fashion, rushed me to the emergency clinic in my fathers arms. When we got there they said they needed to put forty stitches in my head. The placed me on a table and shined a light in my face. They then put a piece of material over my face to keep the blood out of my eyes. I was freaking out, as any kid would. I love my mom and am glad she was there, but that is not what calmed me down as they were stitching my head. My father held my hand and talked to me. All I saw was a bright light through a piece of material with blood on it. I felt them sewing my head, pulling thread through skin. In the depths of pain and fear, all I needed was to know my father was there.

My situation still sucks. It’s raining, raining hard. Just like when I was a kid, I’m in one heck of a storm. This is it, all I need is to hear my heavenly dad’s voice. It is OK to cry, as long as your dad is holding you.

For those of you who know me it is very apparent that I am a white boy to the bone. I simply can’t dance! The greatest problem with this statement is not that I can’t dance, it is the fact that I bought that “truth”. In my last blog, I talked about all of the men who failed me as “father figures”. I held them up to God, my picture of God, and let what they did determine God to me.

Psalms 10:14 says “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10). Ok, so my father forsook me. My father chose to make me fatherless. These words say that God takes his place and more! He takes me up, some versions say “He receives me.” When my dad chose to forsake me, this means my heavenly father caught me. David could have set his focus on the fact that Jessie never looked at him as a king but instead he focused on the grace of God that caught him up and not what his father never chose to do.

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3) Ever one who hopes in him purifies himself. This is not saying if you do, then you will. It is saying that when you trust in him you will be purified in him, trusting Him purifies us. Only a loving father would love his kids enough to purify them.

Hebrews 12 says “And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” He loves me enough not to leave me to the things that will destroy me.

So here is the rub, all I have is my father as an example is my dad and he failed miserably!  So someone said you learn from your father how to view God and thus my “dancing legs” where paralyzed. So I listened to my own music, I didn’t seek my Father’s grace or focus on him. I let my emotions determine if my Father loved me. Well no more! I am a father and if I can love my girls, even as messed up as I am, then my Heavenly Father can love me! He does and if my emotions don’t support that, then to hell with my emotions. I am choosing to trust my DAD! God I know you love me and I love you, help me live it! Help me dance!

How are you today? That’s the question I hear every Sunday and like clockwork I respond, “I am good thanks!” My pastor told a story today about his dad and how his father learned to love him and taught him to love. My first thought was “good for you!” My father stopped loving me and he never taught me to love. He chose his sin over me. He chose to stay away and never come home. My best friend in High school cared about me until his girlfriend came around and then it was my job to get out of there way. I had a youth minister that cared about me until I got in his way, then it was time to be invisible.  I had a step dad that loved me but when his real son came around I was kind of a second thought. My father-in-law loves me but when his real son comes around I feel like I am intruding. I was loved by churches until they “didn’t need me any more”, then I was ignored, turned on and treated as a stranger. Then you say God loves you? OK, I am going to be very transparent here and you can feel about me anything you want, I don’t care anymore.

I know at some level that Jesus died for me. I even accept that. I am not questioning my salvation, just the nature of the relationship. I know in my heart that Jesus died for me as part of the “us” but  to say that He loves me like a father, I don’t get it. Maybe your father sucked so bad that His love was overwhelming for you. Or maybe your father was so amazing that you can get God as father but I can’t. Just about everyone in my life had a condition for love or someone that they loved more than me and it was obvious. My pastors have always seemed to take me as a project or when they really got to know me I was not worth the time.

My pastor ask me the other day “when are you going to just believe that we like you?” I want to say that I love you man, I want to. I want to say that I know that Jesus loves me like a father but here I am. I know that there are no perfect people allowed. What about people who just don’t feel allowed? Perfect or not! What about people who have trusted, just to be pushed to the side and showed the love of God as a group policy! If everyone who is as flawed as me would push me to the side, then how can a God who is holy and perfect keep loving me as an individual?

So if you ask me if I am OK, I will say yes. I just wanted to share this. Thanks.