Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Open Letter to Pastors

Looking back I was a horrible church “member”. I held my previous pastors to a crazy lofty standard that is now embarrassing. I was such a Pharisee! I’m convinced that had I been alive when Jesus walked he wouldn’t have lived up to my standard either. I would have yelled from the crowd, “crucify him” without a hint of a second thought. And maybe even worse, I imposed my set of self-determined standards on their families as well.

It wasn’t until I was called to the ministry and started talking to people like my cousin who has his own church, friends whose families are in the ministry and finally experiencing it for myself that I realized what a high toll we and our families must pay. I say “must pay” because what we endure is exactly the treatment Jesus promised to the apostles as he attempted to prepare them prior to his leaving (John 15:18-25). Make no mistake my brothers and sisters, we will pay an earthly price each time we answer God’s call.

The majority of people will never know or care to know about our middle of the night phone calls, bombardment of opinionated emails and texts, impromptu counseling sessions, and the suggestion boxes that our spouses have become.

They will never know the people we cry for in the privacy of our bedrooms.

They will never know that we are not just on call Sundays, but we somehow became always on call.

They will never know the pressure we put on ourselves when we ponder the possible repercussions of the advice we give to many who see us as the last resort.

Brothers and sisters, we are in an elite group and by elite I don’t mean well-to-do, but rather a selected minority. We were called by God for this specific work!

God has not chosen us to be just a specialist in our areas of administration, missions, youth, kids, worship or whatever it is in your given church structure. No, he chose us to be pastors.

He has chosen us to make decision that impact the spiritual welfare of those who call our local church home and often those we reach to outside our doors.

He has chosen us to bear burdens for those that no one else will.

He has chosen us to make unpopular choices because sometimes it’s what’s best for the church body.

He has chosen us to change the perception of the word “Christian” in a country where the word is becoming less and less popular because of the people who have been hurt by those claiming to be one.

He has chosen us to breathe life into those who are just here to mark the Sunday attendance box and on the same day to those who are wondering if they are even worthy of life.

He has chosen us to lead people to be the light of the world when they are being told there is no light in this world.

He has chosen us because He sees something deep within each of us!

He has chosen us because He believes we can accomplish His mission with Him and through Him!

He has chosen us to be pastors!!

1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

Brothers and sisters I appreciate the sacrifice each and every one of you and your families make! And, "do not grow weary of doing good.”

Monday, October 8, 2012

Things I heard last week!

Thought this would be fun for a lighthearted change of pace!

So do you think kids will get a better education if they show up for school?
     -National news interview question to a public educator

The Boy Scout Law is to do a good turn daily.
     -Troop 13 Boy Scouts meeting

Sports Radio Personality: How fast do you think he is?
Sport Writer: I don’t know. Really fast?
Radio Personality: Yep, that’s what I think too…REALLY FAST.
     -Local sports talk radio

Deese is NO!
I – need – da - obruni! (which means white guy in Ghana)
     -Zoey’s words to Wyatt as he attempts to teach her how to play NBA Jams on the Wii

Life is not a snapshot, it’s a filmstrip.
     -Dave Ramsey in an interview speaking to our church

I'll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe I want to be the air for you
I'll be there for you
I'd live and I'd die for you
Steal the sun from the sky for you
Words can't say what a love can do
I'll be there for you
     -Jon Bon Jovi

Sports Radio Personality: I think they should run more. How do they do that?
Sports Writer: Hand the ball off more than they pass.
     -Local sports talk radio

You have to know that when you accept God’s calling there WILL be struggles. Jesus spent a great deal of time explaining this to the apostles before he left. He didn’t go into specifics on what the severity would be. The severity of the trial will be different for all of us but the fact is THERE WILL BE TRIALS AND STRUGGLES when we are obedient to God! What we must examine in ourselves is are we willing to accept His calling knowing we’ll face opposition every time we are obedient?
     -Wise counsel

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Choose Freedom!

A post from the Ordinary Man vault that I like to bring out every year around this time.

Ask my beautiful wife and she will tell you where my favorite place is in the fall. It’s Ada!!

Every year, when student come back to college and dorm parking lots are full and I can no longer roll through the stop sign where they cross going to class for fear of making a hood ornament out of bewildered freshman, when I can hear the Friday night bands warming up for the home football games, when there’s just enough nip in the morning air that I have to wear a jacket knowing I'll have to shed it by noon because only in Oklahoma can you scrape frost in the mornings and be in a royal blue mesh half shirt by noon, it excites me! I love Ada in the fall!

I've had a connection here since college. It’s where I graduated college, made lifelong friends and really grew into adulthood; it’s where I became the Jim Kelly of ECU intramural flag football (1 semifinal appearance and 3 championship appearances and never brought home the title). I love Ada in the fall!

It was here in the fall at college where I met this awesome girl I NEVER EVER thought I had a chance with. I remember the first day I saw her at the Pesagi Dorm lounge in an ECU Pom jacket and jeans faded down the back. NEVER WOULD I HAVE A CHANCE WITH THAT GIRL! Turns out she married me! That blows my mind every day!!

My favorite place to be in the fall is Ada!

And this morning as I pulled out of my drive at home I was reminded of this and so much more. You see where we live now, I believe, has one of the best views in Ada and in the fall the sun is at just right angle and I get this view every morning on my way to work (if I don’t oversleep).
This beautiful view reminded me that at this time two years ago (now 5 years) we had just moved into this house and I was struggling with overcoming some feelings of guilt in my life when one of my closest and dearest friend gave one of the greatest pieces of advise on this subject I’ve ever read. I think as Christ followers we all need to hear these words from time to time. Below is a summary of his email to me. Enjoy.

Recently, God gave me some insight on this issue. A few weeks ago, he impressed upon my heart to read through the Bible. Well, when I got to Exodus God really opened my eyes to how the Israelites were like me (and the rest of us). Here was a group of people who had just witnessed first hand incredible miracles (the plagues, the Red Sea parting, manna/quail, the cloud and the fire) yet they still grumbled and at one point after all they had observed they told Moses they wanted to go back to captivity and live again as slaves. Can you even imagine?!?

Although that seems crazy to us, we do the exact same thing ALL OF THE TIME! When we worry about things we don't have control over, when it seems impossible to break free from habitual sin, when we doubt God's love for us, when we feel overcome with guilt, etc., etc. we are CHOOSING captivity over freedom. My theme for the last few weeks has been: I'm not going back to captivity; I'm going to choose freedom.

Does God use feelings of guilt to convict us and expose sin? Absolutely.

But he also wants the best for us and he wants to bless us so that we can praise him and thank him and so our lives can be a testament to his goodness and grace.

I think what we have to settle in our own mind is whether our guilt is from our flesh, that part of our flesh feels naturally drawn back to captivity


whether our guilt may be the Holy Spirit convicting us over something in our life that needs to change.

If it's your flesh, get over it and choose freedom.

If it's conviction guilt, then make the changes God wants you to make, forgive yourself, and then move on.

This is something we have to get over if we are living in Christ. This is something the church has to STOP using as a submission tool!

"Why" you ask? Because a friend of ours named Jesus died for us and when he did, guilt died at the foot of the cross as well!! We are forgiven! I CHOOSE FREEDOM!!

Thank M! Don’t know what I would do without you brother!