Friday, May 27, 2011

limping along and running away!

OK I am back for a moment anyway...since I turned 60 I find I have really slowed down a one week!  I wrote a few weeks ago (I think it was a few weeks ago...might have been a couple of months) about a friend in the ministry who had fallen and how devastating it was to me.  As a a a follower of Jesus...Frustrated and confused...and I am not even that close to the situation.   Pray for the family and the church family...much closer...much more pain. In the whole thing I can honestly say it did two things to me, maybe more.  One it brings a Holy fear that I am just as capable as anyone in this world to fall so hard...and it makes me angry.  WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE WE (the church) DOING
One morning this week I was sitting and reading and found this in 1 Timothy chapter 6.  Paul is writing a young pastor named Timothy (you already knew that, sorry) and is giving him some tips on leading the church where he was at. In verse 6 he says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  I think this is worth pausing and rereading if you have a moment...Paul is alluding back to and forward to some words on money and the love of money and he says, having God and being content with Him is really fulfilling...The Message reads this way, “ A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.”  Being yourself before God...not playacting...not pretending...just being yourself with God.  I can only imagine what Adam and Eve had in the beginning...walking with God...talking with God...naked before God...and comfortable and...content.  
Why do we pretend so often?  Why do we pretend do be what we are not?  How do we stand in front of people and be be be???  Religion does that, I think, not relationship with God...not being myself before God.  No playacting allowed!  Then later Paul give Timothy some great advice, advice we all should heed. Verse 11, “ But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”   Medical studies tell us our brains will, in danger or if we feel like we may be in harms way, send us the signal to either fight or run.  Either dig in to protect or get the heck out of the situation.  Paul is saying in certain situations we need to flee, to run away from whatever it is that is pulling us in the wrong direction.  I wonder why so often we are like the frog in the put a frog in a pan of warm water and then you continue raise the heat until he is cooked...and the frog does not realize it until it is too late.  Why don’t we man up or woman up and flee??? Run away as fast as you can and...pursue righteousness, godliness, endurance, faith, love, and after God.  Run after the things of God.  Run away from the things that will drag us away from God.  James says, “ Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed.”  Good words, “dragged away” when we could have run away, to fight again another day...with God, not against Him.
Recently my knee has begun to hurt and I cannot run (not that I really want to) or walk up stairs right and definitely hard to dance with.  The pain reminds me that I walk with a limp, the limp on some days is more noticeable than reminds me I am aging...that is have run races...played games...had reminds me I am  not God...I am His creation.  It is good, really.  People who become infallible fall...people who have to keep up appearances will forget their lines and be found out...religious people wear out and grow tired and just cannot do it anymore.  Hopefully as they reach the end they find God waiting with His arms wide open, to walk with them, in the garden, naked and not caring...being their self before God.  It has to be has to be the right has to be the only way.
So hear this o man and woman of God...flee, run away from the things that will entangle you and pursue...God...with everything...with wonder and awe...and fear.  As a leader with a noticeable limp please do not read this as one who judges and is feeling pretty righteous but rather as one who weeps for the church and flees for himself, his family, his church family. Knowing what awful things I am capable of.  Leading slowly, reluctantly, and with a great limp.  Thank you Jesus for the limp.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

dad is in the house!

I think most of you know this bit of information I am about to share but some of you won’ you know I am turning 60 this month?  It is a joke with the staff now I have talked about it so much.  Just this past week end I was talking with someone and Ali, our children’s Pastor overheard me and she asked, “How old are you going to be, Bill?” knowing full well how old I am going to be!  Anyway I am going to be 60 and I am good with that, really good actually...I just wish my knee did  not hurt so much:)
About a year ago a friend of mine in our church family made a comment that is just now beginning to resonate inside of me.  We had been gone for a Sunday and she was kind enough to say her and her husband missed us.  On the following Sunday she and a few others were praying for me before the Sunday service and she something to me like this; “Everything went well last week but with you back here it is like the father of the family is back in the house.”  Now I do not have that in her exact words but that was the idea in what she was trying to tell me.  I heard her but then I think I really did not hear her, if you know what I mean.  
I try so hard to make sure to not make more of myself than I should I sometimes hear things like that and I do not know how to respond...I don’t want to take too much credit for anything or ever get in the way of what God is doing.  But what if that is what God is doing? Or saying?  Could it ever be a bad thing to have a fatherly figure around?  Why shouldn’t I embrace this stage of life and the anointing God has given me to be a father to a wonderful church family?  I loved being a father to my kids, it was a real honor to be their dad.  I have great kids and kids in-law!  I loved being a dad...I can remember as I was just beginning to wrestle with the idea of being a pastor and someone asked a friend of the family if they thought I could be a pastor.  He responded by saying, “Look at his kids...yes he can be a pastor...and a good one.”  
Last week we were in California for some vacation and a conference and I am not sure what happened but during the week it became very apparent to me that this is where I am at in my journey as a leader and a pastor...I am the father of the house.  Grandfather to some!  I like the thought of that to be real honest with you, the thought of having a real affect on many at this stage of my life and it can flow from a part of my life a I so love...being a dad.  We have so many wonderful younger leaders around and I am so excited to be able to hang out with them to watch them succeed and and fail, and to be there to encourage them along their journey.  I recently had one of our younger couples, who are extremely gifted and trained look at me a tell me, “All we ask or want is to be able to hang out with you and be around you, to learn from you.”  Really? Me?  A recovering factory worker?  The really cool thing is this...I want to learn from them also so it is a win/win situation for me.  God has surrounded me with bright and gifted and hungry people and what an honor that is.  Hmmm, I am afraid my white beard and nerdy glasses make me look much smarter than I really am.  
As I finish up this blog I am thinking that what I hope happens is that when we are not there on a Sunday we will be missed but things will not miss a beat because God is so faithful and we do have wonderful people serving all around us.  But then on the Sundays we are there I hope as people see us it will be the feeling of, “ Oh good, mom and dad are in the house today. The family is all together again.”  I may have been a reluctant leader...but I was never a reluctant dad.