I have no idea what just happened.

I’ve been gearing up for today’s meeting for months. When I’d brought up similar things with the council, I received anger. I honestly braced for certain members of the council to walk out of this meeting and not come back.

I think my friends are sick and tired of hearing how nervous I was about this meeting. I know, though, that many of them have been praying. And it humbles me. This morning a friend told me she was praying for me. I burst into tears.

Last night I told my Bride that I was done here. I love the people. I love this place. But… but I’m burning out. I can’t serve with leaders so often openly hostile – not for this long. Not when there are other churches crying out for pastors. The people…I love them, but they’re burning me out. I don’t know how much longer I can stay here. (more…)

Terror in a Text

Terror gripped my heart. My phone chirruped its little alert: I had a text.

In the last few weeks, I’ve ticked off more than a few people. Fires rage around my little congregation.

One member of the congregation threatened to physically assault another member of the congregation when they next saw each other. Oh, that happened to be at church the next Sunday. I called her on it. She’s refusing to speak to me or show up in church now. Because how dare I tell her that threatening assault is a sin?

I tried reaching her earlier today. She didn’t respond then. Could this be from her?

Grandma kicked out her daughter and grandson. Why? Well, because. And when I call her on that, she hangs up on me. (“You always take their side! And don’t you bring Christ into this!”)

Is this her grandson, against asking me what to do and ignoring me as he has for weeks?

Daughter that was kicked out tells me, “Don’t tell her we’re safe. I want her to suffer.” I call her on that. No, I will not intentionally deceive nor hurt another. Daughter is now mad at me.

Is this her texting back, raging again?

A woman in the congregation is so angry that I dared say, “God will not give you more than you can handle” is not in the Bible, and in fact is false theology. Lifelong member accusing me of trying to tear her away from God.

And now my phone chirrups again. Yes, I have a text. (more…)

The Last Enemy to be Defeated

Death brings out the best in people.

Or not.

As I feared last week, the family chose Saturday to hold the funeral. They would not be persuaded, and no other option was good enough. Why? Because they said so. It wasn’t a time that overlapped our evangelism event, but it was so close — most, if not all, of our evangelism people would also be at the funeral. Can you imagine coming to a church event and being welcomed with tears? Yeah. And again, refusal to move.

Then, I hear through the grapevine: If I mention that this woman who died was a sinner, her brother will punch me in the face. Heaven forbid I say what every single person knows. The woman who died knew her Savior, and her Savior knew her. I have no hesitation to say that she is in heaven. However, I must acknowledge that she was a sinner. She struggled in major ways. To not acknowledge this is to not only “simply” allow the popular funeral heresy of saying she was a good woman, but also to speak a lie that would offer no comfort.

Incidentally, this is no idle threat. This same man is known for his violence. (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…)

Why should I tear out (what little) hair I have?

I’m a bit of a hypocrite.

You see, here I am on a Tuesday night, attempting to write a post for the blog. I usually just post a sermon, but as I didn’t preach last Sunday, I have no sermon to post. Thus, a post to write.

I find myself a little distracted, though. We have an election right now. I’m watching the poll numbers. I’m thinking about what the next four years will bring. I’m biting my nails.

And it’s stupid. I tell my congregation all the time not to worry. Usually it’s applying to things like health or money. Sometimes it’s to tell them that they need to stop working and destroying their family lives. There’s all sorts of reasons not to worry, but the biggest is that God tells us: he’s got us covered. We have no reason to worry. In fact, when we worry, we’re telling God he’s not doing a good enough job taking care of ourselves, so we’re taking the job of taking care of us away from him.

So what am I doing? (more…)

Wait — God answers prayers?!

My prayer looks nowhere near as stylish.

Who would have thought?

You’d expect a pastor to know this already. You’d expect a pastor to get it. Silly, stupid, sinful me. God hears and answers prayers.

I’m not a fan of council meetings. They can get rather contentious here. There’s a lot of history that predates my time (even of life) here that makes for some heated gatherings. There are certain issues that need to be dealt with on a council level, and the men involved don’t always see eye-to-eye. It’s gotten to the point where I would rather knock on doors and ask people what they think of Jesus than have a council meeting — and I am so not an evangelist. I’d rather sit in church with my three children, running herd over them solo, than go to a council meeting. If there’s one thing guaranteed to bring up my stress level, it’s a council meeting.

And so I knew there was coming up. There wasn’t just one, not just two, but three contentious items on the agenda. Plus sundry other necessary items to discuss.  I was fairly certain we wouldn’t get through the first item, much less all the others.

So, I prayed. I prayed to God for wisdom for myself. I petitioned for patience. I begged for openness in the other men. Basically, this took up a lot of my prayer time.

And then… the meeting went smoothly. There were no outbursts of anger. Yes, there were most certainly disagreements. Yes, not everyone saw eye-to-eye. Yet, it was much closer to what I’d expect at this kind of gathering: discussion that focused on the blessings God has given and determining how best to use those to his glory. I’m not a fan of every decision reached. Thankfully, most of the decisions were made with the understanding that we can revisit them after a little bit.

But I was shocked at how easily it went. We even ended early, having discussed every single item on the agenda.

God answers prayers. Who knew?

…day off? What?

I have not done this since becoming a pastor. Yet.

So, I’ve got a bit of a problem. This past week, from Monday to Saturday, I worked 72 hours. I only count those hours that I specifically prusued some activity because of my call to be a pastor here; these hours don’t include things like helping my wife around the house or personal interests. Oh, and then I led worship and Bible study.

Normally, Sunday morning, I’ll come into the sanctuary before anyone else arrives and practice through the sermon one more time, making sure I know it well and that it hasn’t ballooned in length during my time practicing it. During that practice, though, I was hit with a wave of vertigo. After a period of intense dizziness and slight nausea, I was worn out. Exhausted. And church had not even begun. (more…)