Thursday, January 26, 2012

someone is turning 60!!

This will be a bit different from my usual...well I am not even sure what the usual or normal even is.  Anyway I am going to spend some time here talking about someone wife Barb.  She turns 60 in a couple of days and I thought I would reminisce about our life together. We will have been married for 40 years this coming June...40 YEARS!!! Most of my church was not even born yet!  OK I am over that...When we began dating I was not a fact I was very lost...and her dad was a pastor...a Baptist pastor at that.  He was a hell fire and brimstone preacher...a screamer...a sweater(not clothing, he sweat a lot)...and I had never even been to church before.  Talk about jumping from the fire to the pan..or the pan to the fire, however that goes. (I am 60 you know) Anyway to shorten that part of the story, I gave my life to Jesus in that little church and things have never been the same. The kind of cool thing is it was right in the middle if the Jesus Movement and God was doing cool stuff all over the place... we came to Jesus in a country, blue grass, singing church filled with people from Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia, and other parts south.  Not really hip or cool...but it was good.
The thing is this was the real beginning of our journey with God together...we did every job known to man and, hopefully God, in the church.  Ran a bus ministry, taught Sunday school, lead youth group and so much more.  I even led a choir at one time in our lives...I could not read music..was just beginning to sing myself...but we did it.  That is the thing...we did it.  Many times I got the recognition but we did know the old saying, “Behind every good man is a great woman” but for us it has always been side by side...well when I could keep up!  I can remember one time sleeping on the couch and waking up with her hand on my chest praying for be open to the things of the Spirit of God.  She was hungry for all that God had and would never leave me behind...and wanted me to lead our family in these things.
Another funny but also sad thing was on a couple of occasions I had pastors of churches we were in, come to me in secret and ask me what was I going to about her? Could I control her? I asked what was the problem? They both said something to the effect that she was just so passionate and kind of vocal.  She was not or did not appear to be the quiet, submissive woman who only spoke when I gave her permission. Well, they were right about that I guess...but I always wondered how you could not want a passionate, fully in love with Jesus person in your church body?  She was not a gossiper or complainer...she was not trying to be in charge...she just wanted Jesus and everything He wanted for her.  Now was she perfect? Of course not but believe me she was never a problem...unless you were intimidated by someone who wanted Jesus over religion or going through the motions.  If that intimidated you...then it was a problem...but honestly she was not the problem.
So we have walked together doing Jesus stuff for 40 years...I would like to say it has been easy...well it has been pretty easy really.  She is an extrovert...I am an introvert.  She processes out loud...really loud with her hearing loss...and I process myself...quietly.  So we have the normal, you married someone opposite of you things going on, but the one thing we have had in common from the beginning is our love for Jesus and His Church...serving His Church...serving together...for 40 years.  The last 17, well almost 18, have been in the roles of being pastors and while there have been some difficult times it also has been the most fun we have ever had in the Church.  I can honestly say today...though I have not always felt this way but through some healing I have received recently, we were made to do this...together.  Being pastors was never really on our radar...well I suppose on a couple of occasions we felt the twinge of a call...but it was not a goal out there to be grasped, it was just a call we surrendered to together.  And really we surrendered to this call as a family...I can remember asking the kids how they felt about planting a church...they had been through enough church stuff in their lives without us adding more stuff to them.  They both said yes and I can remember Stacy saying, “What else are we going to do?”  (great kids too) 
Anyway lots more could be said...but I was right when I questioned what the other pastors were thinking...why wouldn’t you want someone like Barb in your church?  The passion and the love for Jesus is bigger than ever...I am still trying to keep up on many occasions...but we do this thing together...and it is fun!
Happy Birthday will love being 60!  Many great discounts...and naps are expected!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What a ride!

Have you ever had one of those Aha! moments?  One where you realize something is different...or you finally understand what your spouse is saying...well that is kind of big, but you get the drift.  A time where something becomes clearer to you or you are just kind of stopped in your tracks as you see something that, even though you have seen it many times before, it seems brand new.  Got it yet?  Well, I kind of had one last week, and you would think at 60 you might not have those moments again. With God all things are possible.
Anyway Barb and I were at some formational prayer training classes and in one of the small group activities I had an Aha! moment...kind of.  We were doing this exercise where we draw an outline of our bodies (that is not the me...think Michelin tire man:) on paper and then we stand in front of the form and write on the paper things said about us that have left a mark, or dysfunctional behaviors we might be involved in...then we write false beliefs we have about ourselves...then over all of that we write what Jesus would say about all of that stuff.  We did this last spring at a retreat we were at and it was kind of painful and emotional at the time...but this time what I noticed was much different this time.  I had to work at remembering things that hurt and false beliefs about myself...they were there for sure but not with the same intensity as in the past. As I pondered what was going on I realized...I am not the same guy was last year at this time.  Oh I look the same for sure...still miss my hair...still need to lose weight...but inside much different.  
Why would I share this?  To encourage anyone out there who feels like there is not much hope out there for them.  That there are some things that will never change...we are doomed to be this way until Jesus comes back. I have to believe if God can rewire me He can rewire others also...but I wonder how often we give up right before our healing comes.  Many times I felt like giving up in any pursuit of wholeness...Now I am not trying to tell you I am now going to challenge  Bill Hybels or John Maxwell and begin writing books on leadership...but I do feel comfortable in my own skin.  Barb will ask, “Why don’t you write a book?” and I will just shake my head and ask, “Who would ever read it?”  So am I going to write a book?  Not sure but now I have this sense of why not me? So we will see.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we are a new creation...old things things come to us.  I knew this...I know this...and I am knowing this...I have always believed that as long as we follow Jesus, we keep being changed, we keep growing in is a journey not a sprint. I love this journey.  I am so blessed to be a part of a local church that has never expected perfection from me...but they deserve to have me continue to grow and experience God...and to pass that along.  
I have always questioned God why He called me to be a pastor...what was He thinking...why me?  Now I can say...why not me?  It is about Him not me...I would laugh and say, “He used a donkey, He surely can use me.”  Now I can see how He used fishermen and tax collectors to change the if I surrender all to Him, He can use a factory worker to change the world too.  What a ride! What a thrill! How thankful! How grateful! If you are not having fun chasing after Jesus...sorry.  I am having a blast...hope you will join me on this amazing journey.

Friday, January 6, 2012

what in the Church is going on?

In our small group the other night we were reading in Luke and Jesus sermon on the plain...(or the mount) We came across verse 37 of chapter 6 which reads, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do  not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.”  You know trying to figure out what is considered to be judging can be kind of difficult...that day, earlier, I had written another blog and had it ready to post and then quit.  Something said, don’t do see I had written about some stuff I had read online about a famous TV preacher taking over another church...former pastors ex-wife suing church...(so much would have been funny if it was not so sad)  Another article about a churches “gay” nativity scene being vandalized...hate crime? And more...
Now I can honesty say that most of it was just embarrassing and it does make me crazy when I read these things...because I do love the church...the whole church.  I don’t think I am always right and they are so wrong...I am concerned about the health of the church in the U.S. We are celebrity driven...people look for churches like they look for restaurants...or a consumer...and we, as leaders, have bought into that on so many levels.  What can we do better...cooler...newer...shorter...etc?  Can we make God look good??? 

Back to my problem...yes I was frustrated...(I only gave you a small, brief sampling) and I have to say, deep down it probably does make me feel better about myself...I may not lead a mega-church, be on TV, and all that other stuff...but I am still married...I truly love the church God has graced me to lead. I was trying to write from a humorous perspective but I found making fun of such hurtful situations did not feel very humorous. So I had to stop and think a moment...or two.  Then I had to repent for such prideful thinking...yes I truly dislike what some do in the name of the expense of His church...but it is not my job to condemn or judge. Now if they would ask me my opinion I would love to give it:) but they did not. 
So I heard the Spirit take something Jesus said and spin it around on me a bit...He said one time, “Why be anxious about has enough stuff to worry about.”  I heard the whisper, “Why worry about their got enough stuff of your own.” it. 
I will ask this of any of you reading this...and you are an elite group for sure:)  Pray for the church...the whole church...Bill Hybels says, “The church is the hope of the world,” and when I read this other stuff, I feel bad for the world, really.  Are we bringing hope?  Are we showing hope?  And then as we read the soap opera in some of the US church...we also read about the rest of the world...people dying in Nigeria...because they follow Jesus. North Korea has the worst record of all in the way followers of Jesus are persecuted...Islamic extremist are taking over many governments and Christians are being persecuted.  So we need to pray...pray...and pray.  My heart is broken for the church and it is not my job to mock and make fun of judge and is to pray.
I repent for my prideful attitude...and cry for His people...His leaders...of which I am one.