Lately it seems I’ve had several folks asking me if I’ve been tweeting or posting about them, or that they are concerned about my tweets/posts. And they are serious. Am I angry with them?? With a group?? Have I lost my mind?? Did I leave the iron on??? Stuff like that. Well, here goes:
Honestly, when I submit a post on Twitter or on my blog, it is usually coming straight from the heart and mind. (That also explains typos and grammatical problems!!) Maybe that’s not always the best thing to do. But I want my blog posts and tweets to be honest, with only necessary filters. Maybe I’m wrong in this, but that is my personal thought about social media.
I have been more careful lately and am trying to filter a little more, but I don’t want to remove the personal glimpse. I hope that’s ok with everyone. If I’m not going to be honest with it (within the limits of what my ministry will allow) then I probably need to stop doing it!!
With all of that said, if you read my previous blog post, you will see that I’m making a commitment in every aspect of my life to NOT GIVE the devil ROOM TO WORK IN ANYTHING THAT I SAY OR DO. I hope you’ll join me in that … Even in what we say or do behind closed doors!!!!
I believe Satan is real. I believe he is on the prowl at Ebenezer, because there is revival in the air!! I believe he wants to tear this church to shreds and would do ANYTHING to stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God. And I believe I could help him do this if I’m not careful.
WHATTTTT?????? Did the Senior Pastor of Ebenezer just write that??? Yes I did. Not that I am an agent of the devil or anything, but I know that I must be careful. Because he is looking for a weakness to work in. And I don’t want to be that weakness.
I write this to tell you the best way we can ALL make sure he is not at work at our church (or ANY church) is to make sure I’m not giving him any room in my life to maneuver. To make sure I’m not saying or doing things that open any doors for him to work. And why do I have to guard against this?? Because, like you, I am HUMAN. I make mistakes. The best thing I can do for ME, for EBENEZER, and for the KINGDOM OF GOD is make sure EVERYTHING I DO and SAY is Spirit-led!!! (And THAT is easier said than done!)
And that is the best thing YOU can do, too!! If we are ALL on our guard to live Spirit-filled lives, the enemy won’t have any room to maneuver. And he will have to move on. But, we must be vigilant about being Spirit-filled, because Satan never really leaves us alone for long …
Have you Ebenezerites ever stopped to realize that I did my first funeral last week since before March 3 (the day that will live in infamy)?! In other words, we, a church with close to 1,400 members didn’t have a death in our church family for OVER FIVE MONTHS!!!!!
Why?? (Insert your own speculations here)
I believe it is because God has watched over us during my injury and recovery. I really believe this was not luck or coincidence … God watched over us giving me time to recover. And I always believe we should give credit where credit is due, so here goes: GOD, YOU ARE AWESOME!!! ALL THE TIME!!!
(I did have my visit with a new friend from New Jersey today. He was at the beach with his family and stumbled on the tennis court and injured BOTH of his elbows the way I injured my left. His name is Kenneth. Pray for him as he has a long hard road ahead of him!!! And I thank God I could go in and talk to him about this in a way that perhaps no other minister could … God DOES take the bad things that happen to us and use them for GOOD, for HIS purposes!!!!)
I went back to Dr. Mezzanotte yesterday for a check-up. Everything went fine. He said the x-rays looked good and the progress did, too. He hasn’t talked about joint replacement in the last few visits. Told me I am in maintenance mode and perhaps he will go in a year or two into my elbow to clean things out. We’ve made progress beyond what we expected and therapy is still making progress. It was a good visit.
As he finished, he told me again that my elbow was pretty messed up. He doesn’t see them like that too often. And, ironically, he has a patient right now who has TWO elbows as messed up as my left was. Understanding HIPPA laws, I asked if he could get permission for me to go see the guy. He’s having a hard time dealing with this. Honestly, I never expected to hear back. But I did!!
Today when I do my hospital visits, I’ll get to go see this man. And I don’t know what God has in store for this, but maybe this is God making something good come out of something really bad that happened to me over five months ago …
Riding in to work this morning, I saw a sign … A church sign that read something like this: “Your pain touches God’s heart.” WOW!! True, and it sparked my thought process a little …
What pain do I really have??? I’d been thinking about this earlier this morning. The pain a pastor feels is very unique. And all across the spectrum. Walking through the pain of death with church families you love. Counseling through the pain of broken relationships. Feeling sharp pain for a close friend who is in the crosshairs. The pain of disease and suffering. The list could go on. (NOW, there is also GREAT JOY in this calling, too!!! But the joy doesn’t leave scars)
And then, add to it the fact I’m a middle child. So I have this massive fault in that I want everyone to be happy. And, in a Southern Baptist church, that AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN. I feel this pain for my family, who walk through my pain with me and can do NOTHING about it because I handcuff them. I pray everyday that none of this will scar my children, that they will grow up to be vibrant, active KINGDOM BUILDERS for GOD!! It’s most unfair for my wife. She is the perfect partner for me, and she feels my pain like no one else.
And just when I think I could go buy a cake for this pity party, God steps in and reminds me:
- HE LOVES ME
- HE WILL NEVER FORSAKE ME
- LIFE IS FULL OF PAIN FOR EVERYONE, NOT ONLY PASTORS
- OUR FIGHT IS NOT WITH FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT WITH THE POWERS OF DARKNESS IN THIS WORLD
- IF I TRUST THE HOLY SPIRIT, I WILL KNOW HE IS ALREADY AT WORK FOR ME INTERCEDING ON MY BEHALF AT GOD’S VERY THRONE
So my pain, be it ever so vain or prideful, really does touch the heart of God. And so does yours!!
As I wander along the pathway, I often wonder how much ownership we take of God’s church?? How much should we take?? Should there be a delicate balance?? Do we really own part of it?
We sure act like we do. Nothing will get Baptists more bent out of shape than feeling uncomfortable in their own church. That is a blessing and a curse. I believe a large part of our problem is in ownership …
Baptists traditionally are autonomous. Most Southern Baptist churches are democratically governed, with popular vote making decisions. I have dared to say in years past we’d better NOT be a democracy, but we should be a THEOCRACY, each one of us voting how God leads us to vote. Honestly, I’ve been chastised for saying that. I still believe it’s true today.
I live in a world where the average tenure of a full-time Southern Baptist minister is LESS THAN 18 MONTHS. Less than a year and a half. And all it takes is saying something that offends the wrong person, and the politicking machine cranks up and a pastor finds himself without a job. And there is something wrong with that.
1. Sometimes pastors make mistakes. You better believe that every word that comes out of my mouth is not perfect. And I don’t know any of my fellow pastors who are perfect, either … (I know a couple that believe they are, but that is another blog for another day)
2. What if God lead that pastor to say something that offended?? What if that offense was actually the conviction of the Holy Spirit?? Are we really so shallow that we would go after someone because they spoke the truth?? Sadly, in many cases the answer to that last question is “yes.”
Before you jump to conclusions … To my knowledge, I’m not in trouble with anyone. I mean, sure, there are always people who don’t like their pastor. But I am not writing this in self-defense. It’s just something that is on my heart. But here is the crux of it all: ANY CHURCH … EVERY CHRISTIAN CHURCH BELONGS TO GOD.
We should have enough sense to treat it accordingly.
This morning I realized it was 20 years ago this week that I left my job in computer programming to pursue God’s call into full-time ministry. Krissy was 9 months old when I returned to school to finish my bachelor’s degree, first at North Greenville College and then at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. That was a scary time for Diana & me. God promised to look out for us, and even THIS WEEK He still makes good on His promise!!! As I look back I see His hand in it all!!! And I will always be thankful and grateful!!!
I could write about this for days … And when I think about it, I already have. That’s what this blog is all about!!!!
I was in an impromptu discussion of something yesterday and I heard the words … Words I never want to hear again. ”How will we keep the floors clean (if we do that)??” The scar was more tender than I ever thought it would be twenty years later …
April, 1991, was a painful time in my life. I witnessed a vibrant ministry of my home church shut down in it’s prime. The Christian school that had been open for over 20 years was suddenly closed by a new pastor in my home church. When I went and asked him why, his answer was “we can’t have all those kids running around in our halls and dirtying up the floors. We’ve got to make ourselves attractive to ‘church shoppers.’” (That is an EXACT QUOTE. I will never forget it.)
When I finally answered God’s call, part of what the Holy Spirit put on my heart was to NEVER be that pastor. I could almost verbally hear God say “I’ve got plenty of men like that. I need one like YOU.” In hindsight, that was actually a good thing for me to hear because it revealed his true character to me.
Long story shortened, I think we’ve worked through the questions of yesterday. And, as long as we have mops and I have one good arm, I will fight to keep viable ministries going. Even if I have to mop it myself with my one good arm!!!!
God knows everything … He knows the past, present, and future. He knows what is on our hearts and our minds. So, with all that in mind, what’s the point of telling Him that we love Him anyway???
WOW!!! Really?? In what universe could we possibly believe that? God desires a RELATIONSHIP with you. By definition, that implies two-way communication. I believe He wants us to tell Him without reservation!! Words and expressions from our hearts about this warms His heart!!
I also believe the natural fruit of the spirit will rise to the top when we worship Him. If our hearts are leaning towards Him, we won’t be able to stop His love from rising out of our lives and writing itself all over our faces. He is our Mighty God, our Rock and our Salvation. Surely if we don’t worship Him with our all, the rocks WILL cry out for Him!!
The following was forwarded to me by one of my friends, with credit at the end. Made me laugh! Hope you do too!
HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR PREACHER
Not long ago a well-meaning group of laymen came from a neighboring church to see me. They wanted me to advise them on
some convenient and painless method of getting rid of their pastor. I’m afraid, however, that I wasn’t much help to them.
At the time I had not had the occasion to give the matter serious thought. But since then I have pondered the matter a great deal,
and the next time anyone comes for advice on how to get rid of a pastor, here’s what I’ll tell him:
1. Look the pastor straight in the eye while he’s preaching and say “Amen” once in a while and he’ll preach himself to death.
2. Pat him on the back and brag on His good points and he’ll probably work himself to death.
3. Rededicate your life to Christ and ask the preacher for some job to do, preferably some lost person you could win to Christ, and
he’ll die of heart failure.
4. Get the church to unite in prayer for the preacher and he’ll soon become so effective that some larger church will take him off your
Quoted in You and Your Pastor, Radio Bible Class, J. Reed, The Pastor as a Theologian, in Walvoord: A Tribute, Donald
Campbell, ed., Moody, 1982, p. 273.