Friday, August 26, 2011

Angry rant on telling the truth...and listening

OK this is an angry rant that I will share...maybe...if the language is clean.  I just spent about two hours on the phone (and you know I just love being on the phone) trying to straighten out our TV/internet bill.  I won’t tell you the company but the name has an “A” in it and two “T’s” just for a hint:)  The hard part is this whole ordeal came from a lie...I was lied make a sale...not unusual I guess. Sad.  I was quoted a price, a low price, to join this company for my internet service and TV.  Now Barb and I had gone for quite a while without TV and really were quite content but this was pretty sweet deal...I thought.  How could a guy come into my own home without me calling him and then just lie to me?  I know to make a sale...well he did.  Lying...again right in my own home to my face...with no conscious...well I can say for sure he was not a follower of Jesus from our discussion...but still.  
What is it inside of us that makes lying so it the sale..sure in this case, and you know it was a you a young guy with a family and he makes money from the sale...not making new friends?  I guess I struggle with the question, would I lie to make a sale?  To improve my stature in the eyes of others?  To move up the proverbial ladder?  I don’t think so...but...except for the grace of God maybe  I go there.  But the grace of God should empower us to say no to ungodliness, right? Paul says so in it is in the Bible.  This guy did not have the grace of God working on his behalf and I do it working?  Is God’s grace directing you away from ungodly acts?  
I know when I was on the phone I wanted to scream and swear (well not swear too much) and try to bully someone to at least recognize I had been lied to and by their company.  The first four people I talked to (that’s right four with one more to come) kept telling me, “Well according to your bill this is the correct amount.” And I kept saying, “Well according to what I was quoted it is wrong!” (See no swear words) Back and forth, from one person to the next the same line, “Your bill is correct.”  I realized later all I really wanted or needed really was a listening ear, someone to actually hear what I was saying and tell me I had been lied to and they were so sorry.  Finally the last person they put me in contact got on the line.  Now you know if I was him and could see I had already talked to four of his peers before him, I would have asked for a bathroom break or left sick...but he waded in.  And he listened to me...he heard me...he believed me...he worked with me...he knew I had been lied to.  Finally. And he worked with me...he did what he could with no promises he could not keep.  It was so refreshing to just be sense some empathy coming from the other end of the phone.  He had  the same pat answers available to him the others had and yet refused to use them.  Even if he came back and said there was nothing he could do it was huge knowing he understood and refused to fall back on cliches and systems in place to try to placate an angry customer.  
I wonder how often I have came across people that just needed an ear to hear, no answers or counseling, just to be heard.  Someone treated them unjustly...maybe even another leader in the church...maybe me.  How often have I slipped into my Christian mode and let fly with some cliche...I will pray for you...God will work good for you...or worse.  When just being heard could bring healing, empathy shown without trying to answer and make everything better. Listen.  
I despise being lied make a cover a promote themselves. I think one of the reasons politics leave me feeling so uncomfortable is all the promises being made with no intentions of being kept...isn’t that lying?  Feels like it to me.  And I have to say right beside being lied to is not being heard or listened to...just hear me out. I feel valued and honored if I am listened to and I suspect others do also.  Father I repent for times I quit listening maybe so I could say something that I thought would help.  You know as I think about prayer I realize God rarely interrupts, even the most selfish of prayers, but listens and hears...then maybe He responds...or maybe He just listens and you feel the silent nod that He understands...and is on our side.  
Well, this has been quite a ramble hasn’t it...cheaper than counseling. I am not is my blog and I can rant about whatever I want!  Don’t you ever wonder what life would be like if we just knew no one would ever lie to us? And that when I had a need or had been treated unjustly or poorly I could go to someone and they would hear?  The hard part is the church should be that place...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To tell the truth

In John 18 there is this discussion between Pilate and Jesus that really captures our culture today.  Pilate says, “ You are a king then!  Jesus answers, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”....”What is truth?” Pilate asked.  What is truth?  In the Church we claim to know what truth is...well really Who truth is...but do we? I discovered again today that telling the truth may be harder than knowing the truth.  Cannot fathom why we decide it is easier to live telling the same lie over and over again hoping, I guess it becomes least to the teller...and hopefully to the hearer.  We have watched sports heroes, our government officials, and also our spiritual leaders stand up and deny wrong doing, over and over and over only to finally come forward, with tears maybe, and say oh yeah I guess I did do that after all.  Sorry...sorry??  Does that really cover it?  Sorry...can we now get on with life?  Now I can handle this pretty well with athletes, movie stars, and even politicians somewhat...but I expect more from the family of God...the leaders...pastors.  
I have told you before I came to this role very reluctantly...I did not raise my hand, jump up and down asking Jesus to please pick me.  Really I kept my head down and avoided making eye contact hoping to remain anonymous...let me just retire from Ford and travel the land.  Part of the reluctance has been things I have seen over the years of  being in the church.  How many times have I heard leaders preach, “don’t touch God’s anointed,” misusing the scripture to avoid accountability when in reality when God calls a man or woman to be a pastor he does not do it because “they” are really “special”...He does it because He can.  Man I am rambling now...I guess I wonder, like Pilate...what is truth...or why is it so hard to tell?  Can there be anything more draining than going to bed at night knowing I have to get up tomorrow and tell the lie again all day long hopefully getting to bed before the truth comes!  What a way to live! In Eph.4 Paul gives instructions on living as children of light...v,25 “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”  Part of me wants to scream at Paul and say, “come on, of course we will speak the truth....we are Christians!”  Paul obviously knows much more than I do about human nature...Listen from the Message, “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth.  In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all.  When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” No more more pretense.  I think the biggest killer in the Church is trying to keep up some kind of facade to save face in front of a lie...looking good on the outside when in the inside you are dying.  Listen I understand the temptation to keep appearances up...hoping we will get our act together and no one will find out...what they don’t know won’t hurt them...really?  It might not hurt are right...but you are dying...inside...the weight of living a lie...keeping it hidden from others...maybe a spouse even.  Heavy.  I HATE RELIGIOUS PRETENSE...DESPISE IT...IT KILLS.  Jesus said He came to set the prisoners free...a part of that freedom He gave was freedom from living under a religious system that was more about how you looked than how your soul was.  One built on wearing robes and rings and having places of honor set up for you to sit at.  Pretense...not truth...everyone on His side, the side of Jesus listens to truth...listens to Jesus.  
A sinful woman breaks in on a “religious people only” party and falls at His feet and anoints His feet with her tears...pours an extremely expensive perfume on His head...and gets religious people...pretentious people.  If He were a prophet He would know what kind of woman she really was...this perfume could have been sold and the money given to the if they cared about the if they cared about if they knew truth.  The only person in the room who got is was the “sinful woman.”  I wonder how she got the money for the perfume?  Probably do not want to know, do I?  You know what??? She was the only person n the room who knew the truth...the truth was she had great sin in her life and was extremely excited to meet the One who could give her freedom.  Everyone else was content to live under the pretense of their religion...they were fine..they were righteous...they were...wrong.  Truth was in the room and they could not hear Him or see Him...they enjoyed the pretense of living in truth over the real thing.  
This past Sunday I had to confess to my friends at church that I had lost something...I lost the understanding of what it meant to say that God was good. A wrestling match was going on inside of understand His goodness...outside of my experiences. Since I had lost that I could not longer pretend to believe it by beginning our services by saying God is good, all the time, because that is His nature.  I could not pretend any longer...then I could not hide it from those I consider my friends...I want it back...I believed a lie over the truth...the truth of His word...I was not listening anymore.  I had to tell someone so that I could be free from the guilt of that and begin my journey to get it back again.  If I stand in front and lead the congregation to say this short declaration but in my heart I don’t really believe it, I am living a lie, living a pretense...cannot do it. I want to be on the side of truth...on Jesus side.
Hopefully others will want to go there with me...well really with Jesus...I am on this journey towards Jesus and I want to go there with many...but it could be just a be it...come Holy Spirit. What if we chose to live in the truth...knowing the truth...speaking the need of pretense...what if??  I want to find out...don’t you?  It won’t be easy at first but it will come...don’t you want to be free?? I do...I never signed up to join a religion...I signed up to follow Jesus...the Truth...the Way..the life...CHOOSE LIFE...Please choose life.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blowing in the wind???? Again....

This is another thought on “the wind” as it corresponds to motorcycle riding and then also in the church.  I won’t mention any names, but a friend of ours bought a motorcycle a few months ago.  He had ridden in his past so he was excited to get back on a bike again...his wife on the other hand was not real keen on the idea.  So he went through the process of getting his license by taking a class and was putting some time in on the bike getting acclimated to it again. Finally the day came when she climbed on the back for a went well and he was cautiously optimistic she would learn to like it.  
Now I am going to interject here, I have never recruited anyone to ride a motorcycle, never.  I know how fun it is and how much I enjoy it but I also know it can be seen as dangerous.  So I don’t recruit...period.  Barb on the other hand would want everyone to ride...and tells them so.  I have found we are like this with faith also, I am not a huge evangelist when it comes to my faith.  I mean I want everyone to know Jesus but I also think being a Christian is is so much more than going to church.  Jesus wants it all...and I am not always good at sharing that...He wants everything.  Now Barb goes for it because life is an adventure to be lived holding nothing back...dive in and enjoy the water! Sure He wants everything so just give it to Him!
So back to the story, we all went on a short ride this week end and something clicked for our friend...she is hooked!  She is ready to ride all the time...any time!  What changed for her?  The experience changed everything for her...she understands “the wind” thing now.  She said this, “ It's also----unobstructed vision---being able to see everything as it is, without any interference blocking the view.  (yet another analogy for life in the Spirit / clear vision.”  “Unobstructed vision” seeing clearly now that we cannot see normally...the KJV says in 1 Cor. 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly.”  One day we will see everything more clearly but now we have an obstructed view...we long for an unobstructed view...which I do believe the Spirit brings to us on occasion...maybe not in everything but in increasing portions.  
Now as we enjoy the wind together I am again reminded that even in church where most of us long for the wind of the Spirit to offends some.  Or at least messes with their theology.  It is difficult to invite or recruit others to ride can be dangerous and your hair will get messed up! (if you have any...I took care of that a long time ago)  It can even be difficult to invite people to come to church if we have to say, “Well we are not sure how this will go today...the wind is blowing and we make room for the wind to blow.” ( More common terms, “the Spirit is moving and we make room for Him to move.”) Not comfortable...can be messy...even dangerous I suppose.  Some will always choose to stay in the safe confines of their vehicles of choice...they can turn the air conditioning on when it is hot...heat on when it is cold.  They can stay dry if it rains...they can even roll the window down a little if they want to feel a little breeze.  They can choose. On a bike the choice is to ride or not...faster for more wind...slower for less...rain gear for rain...or pull over...either way you probably will get wet.  You will experience the elements...all of them...and you will have an unobstructed view.  The sky is all in view...the fields around you...the lake or the river beside you...trees and more.  All in view.  
We have decided to go for an unobstructed view in church do not get me wrong, obstructions come along for sure but when you have experienced an unobstructed view you know the difference...and you will move to a better spot to see.  I don’t understand all there is to know about life in the Spirit...but I can tell you when the wind is blowing...and how the wind makes all the difference in the worlds.  As our friends fall in love with riding, they really cannot get enough...they want to ride all the we fall in love with the Holy Spirit...we can never get enough...we want to be in His presence all the time.  As my friend Ray says when asked why he enjoys riding his motorcycle so much, “It’s the’s all about the wind.”  Why choose to go about church life like we do?  It’s the’s all about the wind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Broad shoulders

I was thinking today...well it is Wednesday and that is a good day to start thinking
on, don’t you think?  Anyway I have said on here that I came into being a pastor pretty reluctantly, truth be told.  I have always joked that I was a worship leader and everyone likes the worship person...not always the same with the pastor:)  Just my observation.  Anyway so I reluctantly say yes to God’s call but I will also say I have not stayed in reluctantly but love what I do.  I think as we put off the expectations of others and rested in God’s expectations it has become even more joyful.  
This week I have had a couple more “father” moments to think about.  One, our former college pastor is now at another local church body.  This week he announced the vision and plans for his new adventure with God and while it is fun hearing him dream and plan...part of me wrestles with hurt and even bit of jealousy maybe.  This is one of “my” kid not theirs...I am so proud of him and yet want him to be where I am not over there.  He has a new vision...for a huge group of people...but what about the one he had set the campus on fire for God?  Is it in there?  Oh well, I am 60 you know...I can feel a bit melancholy if I want to.  But I am SO PROUD OF then becomes clear this is just part of being a dad...growing them up and they leave to go out on their own...hopefully knowing I have his back.
Met another young leader today...just got back from overseas trip...doing amazing kingdom things.  I have heard Pastor Bill Johnson talk about building things in such a way in the church, that our ceilings, our high points are the floors the next group will work from. I don’t want our young leaders to have to start from the ground up, as we like to say.  I want them to begin in the highest place and go up from there...higher and higher...bigger and bigger...better and better.  The image Johnson gave was them standing on our shoulders to be able to see better, to get a better view.  These two are two of many God has brought across our path and I have such a hopeful outlook for the Church if Jesus tarries a bit will be in good will go forward and higher.
I am at a point of my life where many of my friends my age are transitioning out of leadership...I am just transitioning in while it is getting closer to pass the baton it is not time yet...I am still running...slower...gimpier...enjoying it more.  Go get ‘em kids...just know I am still running with you...maybe in the back of the pack...but still running...cheering you on to greater things...but not dropping out.