Posts Tagged ‘ christianity ’

5 Pastors: on my return to the local church

So the news has been posted. The world has been informed. I’m moving to Nashville. But that’s not the biggest news. Perhaps to some, the even bigger, earth rattling, ground shaking, proportionately epic news would be that I am also returning to the local church. I want to publicly thank 5 pastors, who perhaps without even knowing it, led me back to the local church.

5 Pastors.

5 Shepherds.

I have never served in their churches and with some, I’ve never even attended. Frankly, I’ve only heard 2 out of the 5 actually preach. But these 5 men were absolutely instrumental in my healing and in leading me back to the local church.

Pete Wilson (pastor at Crosspoint Community Church in Nashville) replied to a tweet long ago that I’d sent out announcing I’d just ordered his book Plan B. May seem small to some, but it was huge to me… A pastor who responded & seemed to be listening. Then of course there was his response to my post on Why I Don’t Follow Rick Warren. He encouraged my questions. He encouraged my hope. This was the first noted catalyst in my healing.

Francis Chan is a pastor that I paid attention to from afar for quite some time. I had heard the stories of his church practices and loved every one of them. I finally visited his church for the 1st time on the evening of his resignation. I was blown away. I left with hope for the church. I left with hope that one day, I may find acceptance and commonality in a church community. I later met him in an airport & he was more gracious than I’d even expected. Another catalyst in my healing.

Dave Gibbons (pastor at Newsong Church in Irvine) is just one of those pastors that will either scare you to death or set your heart at ease. Why? Because he’s open. So very very open. He’s open to the Holy Spirit. He’s open to God’s plan. He’s willing to shake things up and let go of church plans as God speaks and/or leads. This can be scary for some, but I found myself trusting quickly as he admitted he didn’t always know what was next for the church or how things would be done in the future. His church has been my go-to suggestion for friends in the area that were having trouble trusting the Church’s system. He is a shepherd, my Dr. Drew during Church Rehab and he was another catalyst in my healing.

Shaun King was the pastor of a large church in Atlanta. He walked away from all of that and moved to Southern California. As I watched this unfold via Twitter, I was in awe and filled with hope. A pastor that walked away from his title, his investment, his job, all because of his conviction & revelation? What the £@{%~€?!! Shaun is known to speak his convictions without apology on his blog and Twitter and Shaun was another catalyst in my healing.

Brent Hodge (campus pastor at Crosspoint Community Church in Hendersonville) has been a friend on Twitter for over a year. I have always been encouraged by his willingness to dialogue on taboo church topics. But the real amazingness came when I stayed with his beautiful family during my recent vacation to Nashville. He gave me the grand tour of the city, history lesson and all. He made space for me in his home and made me feel welcomed as a friend. He knows my story, and doesn’t appreciate me in spite of it, but all the more for it. Brent was another catalyst in my healing.

These snippets aren’t the whole story. There are many details that hit even deeper, but that is MY story, to be told at another time & perhaps in a less public way. The most important factor was always trust. I had lost trust. It didn’t matter whether the community was trust worthy, or the leaders were trust worthy, or even if the system was trust worthy. I just needed to see glimpses of pastors, who didn’t require my service to them or their dreams, that could be trusted. Not to be perfect, but to be life giving, hopeful, grace-filled, unapologetically pliable, and openly questioning the system that I have spent my entire life questioning.

Thank you sirs. Thank you for allowing God to use you to lead me back. Thank you for not giving up on Him and the things He’s taught you. And thank you for not giving up on me.

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Never Beyond: we all have a present

“we all have a past.” these words are offered to those that are repentant.

“we all have a past, but we are accepted.” these words are afforded to those hesitant in trusting forgiveness.

more and more people are sharing their stories these days, telling their dirty tales with redemptive endings.  more and more people are willing to present their past as an example of God’s goodness, His grace, and His miracle working power.

i have a friend. she got caught living out a shameful present. i asked her how she’d been received by the Church, how they were handling her reconciliation. she said they’d accepted her and encouraged her that we all have a past. i looked her dead in the eyes and asked her “did anyone tell you that they had a present? did anyone mention the sin they now carry and cover up? friend, there’s no doubt that i have a past, you know that. but admittedly i have a present. i can offer you grace today, because God offers me grace today”. this grace is fresh and potent, new everyday and most necessary for my survival. His grace is steady, ready, and able to cover our past, our present and our future.

The team at People of the Second Chance (POTSC) has begun the Never Beyond Poster Series and i am offering my blog space to engage conversation on the matters of Forgiveness and Grace. this week’s Poster is in the likeness of Casey Anthony. i know her name best from the flood of facebook statuses and twitter updates that came during her trial and of course the wild river of opinion that covered my feeds on the day of her verdict. i do not know the condition of  Ms. Anthony’s heart. i haven’t listened in on her prayers or noted her silence. so, from the stand point of not knowing, what then can i determine concerning her position and her standing with God? whether she be innocent, guilty, repentant or indifferent, one thing is obvious… she is still very much in her present.

and in her present, i ask YOU this, what then can WE offer her?

My current view…

Lord, that I might not take for granted, not even for a moment, the peace I’ve been granted, the stillness of this season, and the freedom that I’ve come to cherish.

Though my questions remain unanswered and my hopes remain in waiting, my heart is at rest in your sweet, sovereign hands.

And even when I wake early in the morning, moving about my day as if I had a clue, the truth is the only thing I know is you.

My insecurities like the tides, rising in the darkness and lowering in the light of day.
My hopes like the boats that dock in shallow water & set sail in the ocean’s depth.

You guide me in your silence, singing softly in the scenarios that leave me here wanting you.
You gently remind me, in the things ripped from my pit bull grip, that you are in control.

Lord, that I might not take for granted, not even for a moment, the peace I’ve been granted, the stillness of this season, and the freedom I’ve come to cherish.

on the road to Somewhere…*

i once had a friend ask me if i was jealous of the woman he’d chosen. he had been single for years, we’d been close, the answer was no. the women in his life, that he suspected of jealousy, were essentially mourning the moment of not being chosen. i didn’t want to be with him, but i was growing weary of singleness and becoming discouraged in the absence of my own partner.

this other fellow i know came in all casual and cool, slow in acknowledging our chemistry. we laughed, we dove into conversation, we always had a really great time. i saw his nervousness, his restraint, his curiosity, his adrenaline pumping when i was near, but i also witnessed the intoxication of his current state of comfort. i chose to let him in, give him a piece of my mind, and offer up a portion of my time. he decided to stay sedentary, watching me from the sidelines. i chose to keep on moving.

i walked through the church doors in hopes of meeting my match. casual handshakes, names exchanged, and “so glad to meet you, so very glad to meet you”. they watched me walk in, they watched me walk out, and rarely lifted their eyes to at least engage. all the printed signs spoke of a potential connection and a desire to know me, but it was taking too long… way too long. they also seemed sedentary, but they paid me no mind and didn’t even watch from the sidelines. i chose to keep on moving.

i do not hesitate to state that i have a deep desire to be chosen. it would be silly to claim otherwise. just as i’d hoped for him to be motivated by our connection enough to make a move, i desired them to be motivated by my decision to show up time & time again enough to let me in. but their hesitancy to choose has forced me to move. i continue in hope and not in desperation. i will one day find and also be found, i have no doubt. but these things take time… opportunity and action will one day align.

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation.

I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner.

Psalm 119:29-30


*Respost (still on sabbatical)

on the local Church… my fair weather friend*

i would like to include a chapter on “the Church: a fair weather friend” in my “one day to be released” book about the Insecure Church. [Don’t steal that!] i am not alone in my experiences. i am not a special case or a rarity. i’ve heard the stories of the sinners and the saints… all forgotten and some even discarded. in serving for over 15 years as a church leader, i’ve experienced both the process of leaving a local fellowship and being shunned by a local fellowship.

the Church likes to sell itself as a family, perhaps under obligation, but many haven’t experienced the follow through of that. whether we chose to or were unable to serve any longer at the local church, the once evident need for us was severed. the phone calls stopped. the invitations ceased. the holiday wishes were non-existent. it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s become par for the course. it can feel as though you were loved because you served them. you were appreciated because you assisted in their mission and vision. you were counted because you were a servant. you were included because you got the job done… for free in most cases. these statements may not be truth, but they are the honest struggle of many.

I’ve dealt with it and processed my emotion & frustration, but i wonder if the local church knows that this is her m.o. i am curious if she realizes that she is in direct violation when she instills in us the importance of fellowship and accountability and then ostracizes us without a single conversation.

it seems to me that family is family regardless of vicinity or effort.

fair weather family? it’s not possible.

the Church, to many, has been a fair weather friend.

*originally posted January 4, 2010

Group Blogging Project- James 2 (The Exclusive Church)

I am once again afforded the privilege of contributing to a group blogging project over at BibleDude.net This study series is on the epistle of James.

Check out my post on James 2: favoritism, exclusion, segregation & The Church.

http://bibledude.net/epistle-of-james-chapter-2/

have we considered that many of the same folks rejected by us have also been rejected by the world? it leaves me wondering… who else then will love them, welcome them, and truly see the worth and beauty within them?

these tears were meant to fall…

the tears of a woman can be like the soft and steady rains that wash away the dust.

this dust gathers from a lack of life, a lack of movement, a lack of care.

she longs for humidity, not humility.

she finds a cloud and sits beneath it, awaiting its moisture and its comfort.

these tears are not meant to be wiped.

that will only make a mess.

these tears are meant to fall.

and as her eyes begin to feel at ease & her lids become soft again,

the tears overflow and spill onto her cheeks and eventually hit her chest.

the dust of her neglect begins to loosen and drain along with the tears.

she will cry until she is cleansed.