PASTOR WANTED: “Treatusall Like Bay Bees Church” is looking for a Pastor. We would like someone who has a doctorate degree but doesn’t act like it. The candidate should be in his 30s but have 50 years experience. It is our desire that he be white but preach like a black man. We have 100 attendees and expect that the pastor visit all 100 attendees weekly plus relatives, ex-relatives, etc. We want him to earn his keep. Our desire would be that our new pastor knock on every door within a five-mile radius within his first month. While we expect him to work around the clock, we expect him to have a perfect family who would never resent him for doing all that we want him to do. Because we do not see witnessing as our responsibility, the pastor should witness to our entire community and state as often as possible. He should attend every meeting possible (rest assured that the deacon chairman will keep him aware of all meetings). We would like for the pastor to preach, be at our beck and call, but not bring any change to our church or our personal lives. If he does not meet our desires, the Bellyache family will be sure to start a petition (as provision is made in our bylaws), have the pastor ousted instantaneously, and his belongings removed from the parsonage before he can blink an eye. If interested, please send your resume to Deacon Sourpuss, 666 Thorninyourside Drive, Hades, (state of choice) 66666.
Month July 2016
In our class at church tonight, our pastor was sharing about how he tagged certain leaders within the church although they were not 100% ready for the task. It took me back to when I was a pastor and church staff member. I tried to put people in leadership who had not served before. Many churches have the same rotation of leaders in place every year. I went after new families who were eager and had the ability.
The thought that inspired this post was the limitations placed on me by some churches. Some churches required that they had to be a member for a certain time period and had to meet preferences of the church leadership. We were letting some prime candidates for leadership slip through our fingers.
Future leaders are worth the investment. Don’t wait until they are gone. Seize the moment and mentor these people. If you choose to let them go, don’t wonder why they quit coming to church.
Poor, Pitiful Me
Over the last few decades, a false idea has been spread as truth and many have fallen into its trap. “Matthew, what are you talking about?” You know I’m going to tell you 😀. It is the idea that you won’t have any problems as a Christian. What do we do when these problems come? We play the victim card.
Today, everyone is a victim. We are victims of the food industry because we are overweight or underweight. We are victims of spousal abuse because we don’t get everything we want from that person. We are victims because we don’t make enough money and bill collectors love us, or victims of having too much money because too many people want “a piece of the pie”. If you want an excuse, you can be a victim.
Christians have also fallen prey to a “cousin” to the false teaching that no Christians have problems – the idea that all your problems will be resolved VERY soon. I can personally tell you that I am still waiting for the “fairy tale ending” in some areas of my life. Someone reminded me that the “happily ever after” in this life isn’t always a reality. Life has consequences. If your consequences are results of poor choices, please burn that victim card. I’m preaching to myself too.
If you are a Christian, is there such a thing as “poor, pitiful me”? Not when you value richness from God’s perspective. Many early believers die a martyr’s death. Why should we be any different? Jesus suffered unjustly to provide salvation for all who would receive it. With that in mind, let’s take our focus off self and turn it toward Jesus.
What Not to Say to Hurting People
Two and a half years ago, I went through the darkest time of my life. My faithful blog readers know I went through a divorce and resigned the pastorate during that time. I was blown away by what people said to me. I want to suggest to you not to say these things.
- “I understand what you’re going through.” Don’t you dare say that if you haven’t lost your family and ministry/career at the same time. Don’t say that to someone who lost a child when you haven’t. Please think before you speak.
- “All things work together for good…” You might think I’m unspiritual for not wanting to hear that, but that is not the time for the super spiritual to show off.
- “You must have sin in your life.” I won’t even go there!
- Don’t say anything to try to fix me! Only God can fix me!
- Don’t come comparing your problems with mine so mine look smaller! It isn’t a contest.
What you should do:
- “Weep with those who weep”, as it says in Romans 12.
- Don’t say anything! Just be there! Your presence means more than your words.
- A hug meant the world to me from people who really cared.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you try to do anything to “help” the situation. That makes all the difference in the world.
“Fake-ianity”: Who are we trying to convince?
About 20 years ago, I was exposed to the British comedy “Keeping Up Appearances”. The main character, Hyacinth, went to great lengths to impress people and portray a life that far from resembled reality. This is what many aspiring ministers were taught in Bible colleges and seminaries – don’t reveal your humanity; don’t show any signs of weakness; carry yourself in such a way as to cover all your sins so the people at church put you on this pedestal.
The truth is that this generation is not impressed with this pompous air that Bible colleges and seminaries instilled into the next generation of ministers. They want to relate to their pastor. The sad part is that many professing Christians began to imitate the facade that their pastors presented. The result is churches full of people who fake it at church and drive 45 miles to an ABC store so nobody they know will catch them.
God’s design is not for us to act holy to impress others. While we can often fool others, we cannot fool God. He knows those who are His. You can’t straddle the fence. God wants all of you. He wants to use the weak parts as well as the parts HE has strengthened.
There is so much fake that it’s difficult to distinguish the real deal. Release yourself from the bondage of having to be someone you’re not. Your aim should be to daily walk with Jesus and allow Him to change you, but you can’t fake what God can do in you.
Do you want reality? Are you tired of pretending to be perfect so people at church won’t talk about you? The journey might begin by you getting out of that toxic church to which you belong. Find a real church with real people who have real struggles who help each other grow in Christ. There is a major difference between religion and a real relationship with Christ. I want the latter.
Since I began to study the Bible for myself rather than drink the koolaid I was being served, my theological and political views took a conservative slant. I could not arrive to these conclusions simply because this was what a church or Christian school endorsed. I had to discover that God set forth these principles in Scripture.
The problem with many conservatives is a superior attitude about them being right and you being wrong. Then comes the judgmentalism and condemnation. I found myself in that camp for a while, but I discovered that there is a balance between being bold in your stance yet loving in your presentation.
Ephesians 4:15 commands us to speak the truth in love. The forceful, Bible-thumping, hell-fire approach has turned many off. Romans 2 says the goodness of God leads people to repentance. I Corinthians 13 says that ministry done without love is worthless. God obviously puts a premium on love.
Jesus went to the cross because He loves us all. Love was His motivation and should be ours as we are His ambassadors. When my life is over, I want people to say that I ministered with love and pointed them to a loving Savior who can forgive anyone who will call upon Him.
If your approach has been mean and forceful, I encourage you to rethink your presentation. Let love drive what you do and how you do it. What if someone disagrees with you? Continue to love them. Pray for them. Maintain a good relationship. Disagree agreeably.
Liberals are the ones who are presented as the loving ones. Why? Because conservatives have been hatefully delivering their message for years. It’s time that Bible-believers reclaim their status of loving like Jesus. Are you with me?
Before you blatantly disagree…
After the latest news on Perry Noble, founding pastor of NewSpring Church, and his addiction to alcohol, I am reminded of how ANY OF US could be in the same boat. Your addiction could be gambling, porn, food, sex, etc. The reality is that addiction is addiction. I want to share some words of caution because we are all weak. I know some of you are thinking, “I can hold my liquor.” My response is, “You can hold it in your left hand or your right.” It could easily hold you. Too many people have told me later how they thought they had things under control until they had dug their hole too deep.
I have many friends who drink every now and then. I am not being critical. Many people know when to stop. I understand my human weakness and choose to abstain. I’m not bragging on my abstinence. I’m bragging on my propensity to addictive behavior (and that’s nothing to brag about).
I write this as a word of warning to people because I want God’s best for you. If you are a friend of mine who falls prey to an addiction, I will still love you and be here for you. But I want you to see the warning signs and take action before things are out of control. As I said, I realize this could be me. The bottom line is that none of us should point the finger because we could be on the other side.
Always in Need
In the day of self-help and related schools of thought, I realize that I am always in need. I’m not talking about financially (although who of us couldn’t use a few extra dollars?) or physically. God has provided all I need. But there is a realization that I cannot operate without the power of God on my life.
I think about this as I prepare to officiate in the memorial service for my wife’s uncle on Saturday. It doesn’t matter what I do as a minister. I know I cannot do it without the power of God. I never want to be some ego-inflated somebody who forgets that I need the power of the Holy Spirit.
The same goes for anyone who reads this. When you go to work, you need God’s power. You need God’s power to be a good spouse, a good parent, or any role you fulfill.
As I close, I would ask for you to pray for me that I might deliver what God wants me to say on Saturday with a spirit of love, humility, and empathy. Most importantly, I want the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified.
Updated Blog Features
Since I started this blog, I have slowly turned it into a blog/ministry page. Under menu, you will find about (my brief bio), media (preaching, worship samples, and my social media links), ministries (types of ministry I provide), and recommendations by ministry leaders and members of churches I have served. In addition to what I do as a hospice chaplain and within my local church, I want to be an encouragement to your church as the Lord would allow. I hope the Lord will use me in some way to be of help to you.
How Long Does Forgiveness Take?
This will not be a traditional blog where I state information. This is YOUR turn to answer this question based on your life’s situations, especially when you have to face the person who hurt you or sinned against you on a regular basis. I encourage any of you to leave a comment on here. It’s easy! Maybe you have been fired from a job, cheated on, cheated financially, betrayed by a family member, etc. Our experiences can help each other. Now is your time to weigh in on something with which we all struggle.