Month: September 2013

I did this.

It’s not my fault.

I did this.

Two thoughts clawed at my conscience: one accusing, the other defending. One offering hollow comfort, the other using all the logic of the world.

For the first time in my life, I called child protective services. I reported abuse. In doing so, I have ruined a person’s life, possibly until death.

And it’s child abuse, you know? This should be open and shut. This should be so easy. Child abuse is wrong. Period. It’s that easy. Children should be protected. That’s a no-brainer. I shouldn’t be feeling bad at all; I did the right thing. Right?

…right? (more…)

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Pastor on Mute

So, I was useless this week. I canceled pretty much every appointment. I did half the work I set out for myself to do. In fact, I could only achieve about half my normal work. I was physically incapable of doing more.

No, I wasn’t flat on my back with an illness. And no, I didn’t get run over by a bus and get laid up in a hospital. I was in my office every day, working on office stuffs. But I couldn’t visit people… because I lost my voice.

Do you have any idea how much a pastor relies on his voice? It means I can’t communicate the Gospel easily. It’s near impossible to comfort another person. If the other person is susceptible to illness (such as someone who’s older or someone in the hospital) I can’t even visit them. Bible studies? Nope. Sermons? Nada. I can listen, sure! And that’s really important to do — but I also need to be able to clearly communicate what God has done to people. And I can’t do that without a voice, unless the other person knows sign language. (I know basics, so that would work…)

I actually lost it over a week ago, so Sunday morning was a struggle. I posted a bit on that last week. But then… I had to cancel almost all my meetings. I had a lot of evangelism visits lined up this week… all canceled. Instead, I languished in my office. I worked hard on the sermon (and honestly, this was a good week to spend extra time on the sermon). I prepared Bible studies. I still did lots of work, but spent very little time with people.

And you know what? It was frustrating! I got grumpy. I had little motivation to do the actual necessary office work. I wanted to nap a lot, and it wasn’t from the cold. It was just me being grumpy.

By the time my voice came back late Thursday, I was ready to go. I spent a good chunk of Saturday going out and visiting people, and my spirit soared. There is something about getting out and serving people that helped me. Sure, the interactions were generally positive. All but one visit were evangelism visits, as I stop by just to see how people are doing and remind them that hey, there’s a pastor and a church ready to serve them!

(It also helped immensely that one such family came to visit our congregation for the first time today!)

But I’ve learned this about me: If you take away my ability to serve the congregation, I get grumpy. Now, that doesn’t happen if I’m vacation or serving in a different capacity – say, at a pastor’s conference. But if I have a week straight of nothing but office work, I get cranky.

I guess I just need to serve.

And also get rid of the cough that’s returned. That can’t be a good thing.

Elephants in the Bible Study Room

Jesus knows how to take care of souls better than we do. Go figure; he created them. So why is it we insist on taking care of things our own way?

Bible study was more than a little interesting today. I lost my voice due to a combination of cold and being outdoors and shouting all day yesterday. So, I planned a video for Bible study. It was one that I thought should elicit a good amount of conversation. It’s a well-done video that you can find here:

 

And after the video, I asked: “What did he get right? What did he get wrong?” I expected a conversation following why we need to gather as Christians, condemning legalism, and the like. (And if you want a great response to the video, watch this:  )

 

OK, so I asked for responses. I got some of the expected basic answers: He was able to talk about the Gospel, how Jesus is the center, how we do nothing, how hypocrisy is bad… And one woman asked: “If we’re supposed to be full of grace… if we’re not supposed to judge… then how can we judge sin? Everyone sins! We shouldn’t be kicking people out of church just because they sin!” (more…)

Jesus talks to me.

Well, of course this would happen. God told me it would happen. Why would I expect anything else?

Today was the last of “Four Warnings” across four Sunday sermons in church. I generally use a pericope to make sure I don’t cherry-pick my favorite topics for sermons; what that means is that there’s a three-year cycle of lessons for Sunday mornings. I usually pick one lesson from there to preach on. The pericope for the last four weeks focused on four warnings Jesus gave to his believers. Which means, when I make it personal (which I should), the last four weeks were about four warnings Jesus gave me.

The last month has been hard. I wrote a little bit about that last Sunday; this week I experienced some fallout. That fallout is going to continue for a while, I suspect. Several people are very angry at me for standing on God’s Word.

A month ago, Jesus warned, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division” (Luke 12:51). He told me to be ready for this. You either stand with Jesus against the world, or with the world against Jesus.

I’ve found out that a lot of people are angry because of misinformation. I was forced to enact church discipline against a member who doggedly pursued sin. This member is now telling the family that it’s this person’s fault or that person’s, but of course not owning up to the real cause: That person’s own sin. This person refuses to be divided from their sin, so they’re being divided from Jesus. (more…)

It’s not my church.

I have an imagination. Sometimes that’s a blessing. I love making up stories. God has given me the ability to tell his stories in a way that people hear “story” and not “boring Sunday school,” and so they learn more about the Bible. Imagination is a good thing.

…and then it’s not.

This past week, I had two related meetings. Both of them were high stressors for me — to the point that I wasted two days this past week, not able to do any office work, not able to visit anyone, because my head was in those meetings and mentally preparing and bracing myself. I do not exaggerate when I say: If these meetings went badly, this congregation might not make it to the end of 2013. And my brain decided the best thing to do was to make that worst case scenario the most likely scenario.

And that’s when imagination is a bad thing.  (more…)