Archive for the ‘church’ Category

I was hungry and you formed committees.

I was thirsty and you preached sermons.

I was naked and you said, “That’ not in the budget.”

I was sick and you sang another chorus while internally debating traditional verse contemporary style of worship.

I was lonely and you rushed to the restaurant to get the best booth.

I was in prison an you held another congregational meeting.

I tell you the truth: whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.

It began like any other Sunday. I clocked out at work at 6:00 AM and drove home to try to get some sleep before it was time to leave for worship. We were running late and by the time we checked the kids into their classes, we had missed a couple of songs. A video played discussing mission work in Cyprus, but there was a technical glitch and it kept stopping and starting. When it was decided the video would not play, the band came back up to lead us in a few songs.

In all honesty, my mind was wandering all over the place.  I was thinking about being late and how I hate being late. I was thinking about my day and how I did not have enough sleep. I was wondering what was wrong with the video and why it wasn’t playing.  I was distracted.  I said a silent prayer to God asking Him to let me focus.

Josh (our worship leader) introduced the next song and I was immediately brought back into focus. The song was Chris Tomlin’s Our God. It talks about how great our God is. He is greater, stronger, higher than any other. It then had the words “Our God is healer, awesome in power.” I began to think of healing. My mind first went to my dad, who had been in the hospital for a while and who was not doing well during that stay. He is now improving daily and I thanked God for being his healer. I then thought about my own life and the healing taking place. I had been bitter and guilty for quite some time after losing my last ministry job, I felt like such a failure. Tears were forming in my eyes as I sang about God being my healer. He is healing me more and more each day as I seek His will. He is healing my hurts; my pain; my brokenness.  He is is greater than my pain. He is stronger than my guilt. He is healer of my sorrows. He is Lord. By the time we got to the part of the song that reinforces if our God is for us, what can stand against us, I was so excited to be God’s child.

A little later in the worship time we sang the old hymn My Hope is Built on Nothing Less. The chorus states “on Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” I began to thank God for being the solid rock I can stand upon. I also wondered why so many times, I try to stand on ground that isn’t solid. I look at the sinking sand around me and think, “I can make it across before I start to sink.” That is not true. Every time I try to stand on anything other than Christ, I sink deep into the quick sand. The more I struggle to get free, the deeper I sink. Why do I keep trying to stand on anything but Jesus? He is the solid rock. He holds me up in a world of sinking sand. He heals my hurts, pains, sorrows, shame, guilt, and regrets.  I am so thankful for the way God answered my prayer Sunday morning. He used the songs to minister to me. He always knows just what I need and He is always ready to point me back to him if I am only willing to listen. I pray we can learn to put aside our distractions and listen to His still quiet voice as He so deeply longs to speak to us.

So much time has passed since I last posted. In fact, I do not know that I have updated my blog since just after the new year. So much has changed in my life and I have been trying to process it all. Life is like a roller coaster ride. It is filled with ups and downs and sudden twists that take you completely by surprise. Sometimes all we can do is hold on tight and trust we will make it through the ride safely and with a better appreciation for the calm moments.

It feels as though the last 10 months or so have been a giant roller coaster with sudden turns and corkscrews and loops with no area of straight track. It feels as though I am holding on tight and trying not to fall out. What I am learning is to trust the ride operator. God is guiding and leading and I am slowly learning to trust Him, loosen my grip on the safety bar, and enjoy the ride. In all honesty, it has been an incredibly painful  and emotional lesson, but I am thankful for what I am gaining from the ride.

Back in October, our then one-year-old son, Joshua was admitted into the hospital. We were told by the hospital staff and doctors that he was near death. We brought him in just in time. Our life was rocked. Nothing else mattered to us except making sure our baby was okay. We cried; we prayed; we worried; we stood strong; we struggled, but still trusted in God. After about a week in the hospital , he was released and doing well. This was one roller ride we did not want to experience again. We learned valuable faith lessons, but no parent wants to see their child suffer like that.

Fast forward a few weeks. I sat in my office responding to emails and working on a children’s Christmas musical for the church. An elder approached me and said I was needed in the conference room. I sat down and listened as the elders asked me to resign as children’s minister. My heart sunk. I did not know how to respond. I was always told that I was a great teacher and the kids were learning so much, yet it was explained that because of my struggle to find teachers, I needed to resign my position. Every emotion imaginable overtook my spirit: anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, and even relief. It is hard to explain. I was quite bitter for a couple of months. I felt like such a failure. I was depressed.

I struggled to find any type of work at all. I applied at retail stores, restaurants, and even fast food places. With each rejection, I sank a little lower. I finally took a job cleaning a department store and probably wouldn’t have even found that job if my brother-in-law hadn’t recommended me. I wondered what was wrong with me. I wondered how I could have my ministry taken away from me. Nothing seemed to matter at that point. Rather, I didn’t think I mattered at that point. I felt so low; so useless; so powerless. I sat in the worship service not knowing what to do. I had always had some role to fill – preach the sermon, teach the class, lead the communion, be up front, share a word of wisdom – now I just sat there. Yes, I understand that one does not need to be up front to participate in the worship and life of the church, but that was all I had ever known. Now, I felt…insignificant. All I had ever worked for was gone.

I was one the roller coaster of life and it was making me sick. I became disoriented from all the turn and sudden drops. I cried the ride operator (Jesus) for help. He didn’t stop the ride, he didn’t even slow it down –  but  he did teach me how to learn from the ride and even enjoy some of the moments. I learned a very valuable lesson. My identity is found in being God’s child – nothing more, nothing less. My identity is not a title of minister, it is not a great sermon, or a good lesson. My identity is not found in being a good teacher. My identity is not wrapped up in my ability to organize. It is not found in being an introvert or an extrovert. My identity is found in Jesus. My identity is not others expectations of me. My identity is God’s son. I had never realized I viewed my identity in being a minister and having a title, but when that was taken away, I had never felt so insignificant. I have now learned my true identity. I am God’s and He is mine.

Do I miss doing full time ministry -yes, I miss parts of it. I miss teaching and preaching. But I will not trade the valuable lesson I have learned. It nearly cost me everything, but I have gained the only thing that mattered. I have gained an understanding of my true identity.

The roller coaster did not end there. You can read about Kellie’s job change and see that God is still trying to teach us something. Sometimes, I just want to scream out, “Okay God I get it. You can stop now.” But I am so thankful for this new-found identity. It was there all along, it just took a major wake up call to realize I was burying it somewhere and didn’t even realize it.

My life looks much different today than it did a year ago. I am now a forklift operator at a local warehouse. It is so different from what I am used to and I struggle to find my place there sometimes. I used to preach about staying faithful during the darkest times of life and now I am experiencing what that means. I once talked about freedom in Christ and now I am truly experiencing it. I am God’s child – nothing more, nothing less. Lord teach me to always find my identity in you.

There are people who have been a part of my life that have left a legacy for me. Their names have never been in bright lights. People are not surrounding them with cameras flashing asking for their autograph, yet they have left a legacy. They have made an impact in my life which I am forever grateful. It was often the small things they did that made the greatest impact. The 3rd grade teacher who gave me a Bible when I did not have one of my own. I do not remember her name or any of the classes she taught. I did not understand the words in the King James Bible she gave me, but I remember that she cared about me enough to take me to the church book store and buy me a Bible.

I recall the man who took me to the basketball games at Oklahoma Christian when I was in middle school. I don’t remember what class he taught at church, but I do remember the way he cared about me and it left a legacy for me to love others.

My parents have always cared for me and wanted the best for me. They have left a legacy for me. I do not remember all the words they have spoken, but I do know their love for me.

I want to ask you the question—what legacy are you leaving? How will you be remembered? I hope to be remembered as one who loves people. I want to live my life in such a way that all those who know me understand that I loved them. I like when people remember a sermon I preached. I love when kids remember an illustration I gave to explain a Bible point; but more than anything I want people to know I loved them and that God loves them. I want to leave a legacy. However, sometimes life gets in the way. I get so busy going from one task to the other and one activity to the other, that I fail to love. I fail to leave a legacy.

How about you? Do you find yourself so busy that you do not have time to love people? Do you find you do not have time to serve others? Maybe you are going through life staying busy and you even have your name in the paper and you make the headlines, but you are not leaving a lasting legacy—is it really worth it? We have a lot of kids at our church who need someone to leave a legacy for them. They need to know they are loved and cared for. Yet, in our busy way of life, we cannot find the time to love them. We cannot find the time share our hearts, to teach a class, to leave a legacy. What legacy are choosing to leave?

Okay, so I’m late with this post. Sorry. Our family recently attended the Tulsa International Soul Winning Workshop. This is always my favorite weekend of the year. It was a great time of renewal. It was so good to see friends that we have not seen in such a long time and make new friends. The theme was centered around prayer – specifically the Lord’s prayer. The speakers were great. Some of my favorites were Jeff Walling, Patrick Mead, Rick Atchley, Randy Harris, and Don McLaughlin.

One of the things about the Lord’s prayer is that it is active and contains many elements. The opening of Our Father carries a great realization to it. What if we were able to truly view God as the perfect Father? The great Abba? What if people could learn that God is a father that is unlike earthly fathers? He is a father who does not leave; does not neglect; does not fail. He is God an our Father.

Hallowed be Your name is a great term of praise. What if we truly learned how to praise God for His holiness? What would our world look like?

What I get excited about is the statement, “Your kingdom come and Your will be done…” A lot of different thoughts come to mind with the word kingdom. Some view the kingdom as already being established; others view it as something that is yet to come. My thought is I agree. The kingdom came when Jesus ushered it in, but we have yet to fully realize it.

In association with prayer, what if we learned to pray for the kingdom to come? How exciting for God’s kingdom to truly reign in the hearts of every man, woman, and child. I am learning to pray kingdom prayers. I have a long way to go, but I am learning. DO you have any thoughts concerning praying for the kingdom? What is your understanding of kingdom?

Community

Posted: January 30, 2008 in body life, christianity, church, community, spiritual

I believe one of the most important aspects of Christianity is community.I also believe it is the greatest means of outreach. Jesus prayed that His believers would be one. He said the world would know that we are His disciples when we love one another. So why is community so difficult? It is hard to live outside myself. I find it difficult to put others needs above myself. Sometimes I wonder if the reason is because I have been burned by people who claimed they were my friend or ally. We are a fallen people. I think that makes the need for community even greater. As Christians, we are the church and church is the body of Christ. We need each other. I need you and you need me. That is how the body of Christ should function. Let’s learn how to love one another and see that we need each other. That is when the world will look at us and see that we have something to offer that they are missing in life.

Seasons of Change

Posted: November 14, 2007 in change, church, family, life

It seems that life is all about change. Things change over the course of a lifetime. The shows I loved as a child no longer come on television. Those that do, I no longer enjoy like I did as a child. The music I used to love sounds cheesy – even the word cheesy is outdated. Remember how it it used to be cool to say words like “rad,” “dude,” and “narly.” Or is it Gnarly? Anyway, things change. society changes, culture changes, attitudes change, the status quoe changes. There have been many changes in our lives lately. Adopting Drew from Ethiopia was a major change in our life. We moved from Memphis to Sallisaw. Kellie and I both have new jobs. Drew and Timothy attend different schools. Things have changed over the last year. Even since we have been in Sallisaw things have changed. The church we are working with has changed from one traditional service to a traditional and an emerging service. I began coaching soccer. Soccer is now over. Things have changed. We have one more major change coming into our lives. We are expecting a baby. Kellie is due on May 27. Isn’t life fun! We are excited about the new addition to our family. We know that it will be a change, but we are excited about the change and look forward to all the exciting adventures that life has in store. Please pray for our family. These are positive changes, but there have been many in a short time and that adds extra stress to our lives. Thank you so much for your continued support.