Just got off the phone with a broken hearted pastor friend of mine going through a brutal beating right now. (I got his permission to blog on this). He's a great man of God. I find myself extremely Blessed to never have been through what he's going through, but broken hearted for what he is going through. After all, he's a friend. Real friends feel for one another, good and bad. Don't get me wrong. I've had my disappointments, my hurts, my pains. I've felt as abandoned as the next pastor who poured himself into people, only to be hated for his decision/opinion/council.
But nothing like my friend is going through. He feels brutally betrayed. I've known him long enough to know his character and have 0 reason to NOT believe him. He's led a godly lifestyle and from a insane point of humility. He puts Christ first and his calling at a very high level. He's a servant/pastor to the core. He just feels betrayed. He feels forgotten, he feels abandoned.
If people are FUNNY, then people mixed with ministry is HYSTERICAL. The servant/pastor type can struggle with this as my friend is right now. It's amazing how you can literally be a hero one day, and totally despised and forgotten the next. I listened to my friends story and felt for him. I've talked to a lot of pastors who have gone through this. If my friends church really stopped to think of how much he loves, has sacrificed, and would do (and has done) anything for them, they would probably be embarrassed by their actions. They've forgotten his heart for them (haven't we all done this to someone at some point?). They don't like one thing, and they've let that one (non-essential thing) to define their relationship now. It's the sin of immaturity, and it can tear churches, but more importantly people apart.
I scrambled my brain for scripture as he was unloading his story on me. I couldn't think of anything! I couldn't think of one story, one Psalm, even Solomon abandoned me. So I listened, I encouraged, we prayed, and the only thing I could think of to tell him was the thing that should comfort us all when we feel we've invested and then feel abandoned.
3 powerful words.
Now that it's roughly a couple months later, and I have licked my wounds. I am brought to the scripture in the
New Living Translation. It's Proverbs 24:16 "The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked".
The way it's worded here to me removes the option of living a spirit-filled life and giving into failures. It's impossible. Which means through our failures, we MUST not only GET UP, but GET STRONGER.
So I am getting back up. As a practical exercise I began writing what I learned through this whole thing, as to not allow this to "overthrow" me.
-I learned it's wiser to stop something if it's not health, even if it works on paper
-I learned that the God inside me, is MUCH bigger then the i ever proclaimed him to be.
-I listened everytime my wife reminded me where I am weak, HE is strong.
-I realized that the a strong spirit is only really able to achieve full strength, once it is broken.
-Concentrated focus and prayer take you through the questions more then you know.
-A love for a community you know nothing about is impossible to develop unless you infuse yourself in that community.
-A love for a community should be the FIRST place you start, not a building.
-People will buy tickets to watch you fail
-I realized concentrated focus makes people uncomfortable
-I learned "unless the Lord builds it, the builders labor in vain" in more ways then one.
-I saw relationships develop around mission
-I saw the good and bad sides of character
-I truly realized you can plan all you want, but when you realease to God's leading, your plans are NEVER AS GOOD.
-I watched the greatest person around children I've ever met, step up and become a inspiration to me for her sheer dedication.
-I saw a couple leave comfortability, to serve the community they live in
-I learned the church has a 2 sided people. One of beauty, one of contradictions
-I learned sacrifice will take everything out of you
-I learned to not fear what others deem as failure, and to learn from my failures
-To mention that, I learned not to be afraid to say I failed. I failed! But I am definitely getting back up
-I learned people hurt when you fail
-I learned that's big
You haven't seen more scandalous drama at a chicken coop since Gus was peddling the blue stuff at Los Pollos Hermanos (only breaking bad fans will get that reference). So Chick-fil-A picked a fight! But with who? Only logical foe is free speech, right? The past 72 hours have been exhausting (keep in mind, I am NOT super-political. I usually stay out of political rantings). But for the past 3 days I've been more annoyed at the radicals who hate, disappointed by the leaders of the church who remained silent (cause they normally love talking), and just plain tired of hearing from the "RELEVANT" christian voice. Because what do they really stand for anyway? I have read thoughts and articles that have made me want to puke (probably because what I was reading was regurgitated trash anyway. 1 article by Matthew Paul Turner said "5 ways the church failed" in the ChIck-Fil-A. (YAWN) I'm sure he's a nice enough guy with a great heart, but this whole "Jesus is love and would be fine with us the way we are" is really played out.
What I know is this. It's America, we are allowed our freedom. Speech is granted to ALL, and Christians are included. We are Christians, and indeed we are called to love. Love all, no matter who they are (judge not).
I also know this. I drove my 3 kids to a Chick-fil-A in Jersey yesterday to teach them these things and more.
I wanted to teach my kids a lesson. When we ended up (in Jersey) I began to tell them what a great country we have. That people can freely speaktheir minds, live their lives, and have their faith. I taught them that the standard for their lives should always be the Bible first, and they should never apologize for that. EVER.
I taught them that Jesus told us to love, and not just love those who agree with us, or believe what we believe. But true love...no strings attached. I told them that all people should be treated with dignity and respect. I taught them they should stand strong behind truth when asked and never water it down due to criticism, pressure, or persecution.
I taught them all this over a chicken sandwich....or 2...