Did you hear about..

I was speaking to a Pastor this morning who has recently resigned (a large church) and he is now working a secular job, because he just decided the struggle of the moment was to hard to bear…. the shortest version is….this certain group of about 6 people jumped the gun, and judged him to be a liar and dishonest; (wounded and emotional, he stepped down..let me say, never make a decision when something first shows up… breath, pray and stand before you move) 

this group began to meet with others privately without this mans knowledge, and when they finally came to him, they had him tried and found him guilty in their pathetic little, on the phone kangaroo court. Now months later ALL of the truth has come out, and they have judged this man wrongly… he is definitely not perfect (which of us are) but he is now out of the ministry God anointed him for…. check this, of the ones who were a part of the group of 6, this pastor was responsible for their son getting off of drugs, and now this son is about to graduate from college (he met with them countless hours, hours that wasn’t during business hours, taking him away from his family) another had a marriage restored and yet another he wrote a letter to get one of these their dream job (which they still have)…. 

A few weeks back I learned that a friend of mine who has been in the Army for 11 years has also just gone through a similar situation. He was even reprimanded by his supervisor and commander. When all the dust settled, it was found that he did nothing wrong and has been cleared, but the problem is people don’t share as quickly when someone is exonerated as when they are accused; it’s human nature to share the pain in someone’s life, but we are not as quick to share it when the pain turns around. If you do not believe this just turn the news on…. maybe it can be explained like this…Take a feather pillow and cut it open, then drive around town shaking out several of the feathers here in there on a windy day; When the pillow is empty, drive back around town and try to pick up all of the feathers that you dropped out and put them back in the pillow. It’s impossible to recover all the feathers and put them back. The only way to ensure all of the feathers is to NEVER cut the pillow in the first place. I’m praying my friend in the military doesn’t make a permanent decision because of a temporary situation…. I’m praying for my pastor friend and his family as well… he has a wife and 4 children…

I’m not saying to ignore wrong doing, but what about learning ALL the facts first, (if it’s even our business anyway) whatever happened to standing with those who have always stood with you…or at the very least, don’t promote and hold private jury sessions, and certainly we shouldn’t repeat negative information. (even if it’s true)…. in every area of life, be careful when you know only partial truths about a situation, a marriage, a disagreement, a decision (even if you THINK you have the facts, you probably never do) and then you begin determining who is right and who is wrong…remember, everyone tells “their” side and their version of the story… I don’t even have to get into the biblical instruction on standing against God’s anointed or being on the wrong side of justice and then not making it right… why can’t we just be NICE!!! If it’s not your monkey, it’s not your circus…

Even if it’s more work to believe the good about someone, shouldn’t we work a little harder… now, I know not every story or situation will be turned around… People will do wrong, and people in leadership will make bad decisions and fail you… not every situation will end with the happily ever after, but we don’t have to be part of the drama that causes more hurt. Let’s be better, let’s love people better. I promise I’m ending with this…. at Fort Dix New Jersey, our graduation run was long, hot and fast!! Here was the catch, if everyone did not finish the race, we all failed… maybe instead of running on and leaving the hurt and wounded laying on the side of the road, let’s help them back to their feet….cheer them on as they run this race beside us. Let’s finish this race, let’s finish this race together! Find someone today that you know who is hurting and try to restore them and ease their pain.

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2 am talks..

It was 1997, I was in the USAF, stationed state side, and my mom came to visit me for a few days (I was her favorite child, my siblings know this deep down:) we stayed up one night till nearly 2 am talking about all sorts of things. How to honor people who pour into your life, how to treat people who do you badly, how to make jalapeño cornbread dressing 🙌🏽 what ministry has meant to her and so on… she left the next day while I was at work, and when I got home that evening she had left me a note, really a list, here is what she had written… her dressing recipe, to be sure your bathroom is clean because most of your company will see that part of your house 🤔 love when you don’t feel like it, Jesus is coming soon you better know that you’re ready, and when you’re making a decision on giving up on someone because of a wrong you think they’ve done to you, make a list of all they have done FOR you (actually write it down) include everything you can possibly think of from buying your coffee every time, to spotting you a few dollars till payday, sitting through funerals with you when it cost them to be there, defending you when you’re not there, forgiving you your mistakes, getting you or giving you a job when no one else would, telling you, you look better in blue than red:)… then right beside all of that list the reasons you’re frustrated with them to make a comparison, see which is the longer list before you use “a” moment to nullify the many moments…she wrote, too many marriages/ relationships end because of 10% bad in the relationship when they are walking away from 90% good in the relationship. The last thing she said was pray every night before bed and call your dad more, let him know you appreciate him; he seems like it doesn’t matter but John Wesley, it does. Honor your dad every chance you get… I was blessed with amazing parents, not perfect but 90% perfect at least… last thoughts, take lots of pictures, the only ones you will regret are the ones you didn’t take, and never ever throw notes away like the one I just shared; one day they will be priceless.

Deep wounds will heal as well

I just spoke to a resigning pastor a few weeks ago who is going back into the secular work force (going in to sales which so many do)… and I’m taking about from a very very successful church!!
he said he couldn’t continue to put his family through what they have had to endure… he further stated, “just because I didn’t get a chance to tell my side of the story doesn’t mean I dont have one. I chose to stay silent for the sake of peace. I have given my all to these very people for 10 years, provided for them when my family and I had to literally do without because of it, but I felt it was the right thing to do… i gave them money for food, medicine and rent only to have them accuse me of taking from the church or making too much money. I have forgiven and even covered up their failures, only to have them walk out and some without even as much as a goodbye, or some who have stayed around just to make themselves appear right or just…. Some even told information about me (that is not flattering) that I had asked them to help me pray about; they were my accountability partner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made mistakes, but all I ask was the same mercy I gave them and their children. I left my family and home all hours of the night and day to help them with their marriage difficulties, and most of them I was able (with Gods help) to see them restored; It’s like they don’t even remember I was there for them at their darkest. Where are they for me? I pulled them out of their darkest, they pushed me into mine…”
as you can imagine after our conversation, I was so broken hearted for he and his family.
I prayed with him at the end of our conversation, and he told me his marriage may not recover from the strain the last 10 years had put on it… he has 3 children from elementary to college age. His oldest refuses to go to church, said he’s had enough church…. I wasn’t sure how to help so he agreed to talk to a mutual friend, one of my mentors and spiritual fathers.. he called him to encourage him and his relationship with God, His response was, “God never was the problem bishop, it’s his people…”
I would never share my friends name (we aren’t connected to the same circle so stop guessing) and I have really thought about writing this or not, but I feel like I needed to… (he is no longer on social media anyway because of the passive and aggressive drama he has encountered online)
And to any pastor, wife, son or daughter who may read this and you feel alone, abandoned or broken, it might not mean that much, but I’m praying for you; in fact there are most likely several praying for you that you don’t even realize. Don’t give up! Not now, not ever! If you are out of church, go back this Sunday; go for the simple and true reason, to honor and worship the Lord. There are good AND “bad” people in every walk of life. Some of the greatest people I know are church folk. I worked at K-mart and we had so much drama, people talking about people and doing people wrong…I was in the military and we had so much drama, people talking about people and doing people wrong…I was in college and we had so much drama, people talking about people and doing people wrong… what I want you to see is this is just a part of life. Don’t let your mind or your adversary trick you into thinking hurts only occur in religious settings. Psalms 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted and tends to their wounds
…near the broken-hearted….
Maybe we could all take inventory of our actions to make sure we don’t cause someone to be broken and even give up. The truth is we are going to stand before the Lord one day and we can’t just crush people and wound people with our words and it not be recorded by God. When the Bible list all that would be judged with eternal death it lists murderers right beside people who killed with their words…
so lift someone up today. If you get brought into a conversation that is negative about someone, take up for that person. If you walk into a conversation that is bashing another person, I dare you to walk right up to them and say, but you know what they sure are hard working or some kind of positive thing. There is enough negative around, and enough tearing down, let’s build people and pick them up when they’re down. My dad once told me, anyone who will listen to you talk bad about someone is probably talking bad about you as soon as you walk away. I’ve also learned not to allow someone to make me think negatively about someone that I know very well and have known for a long time and I KNOW their integrity. If it’s hard to believe what someone is telling you about your friend or pastor or boss that you know really well, maybe you shouldn’t believe it. Maybe it’s at this very moment your friend needs you to stand up for them like they have you. If this very long post upsets you or ruffles your feathers, it’s probably for you. If it has broken your heart and causes you to pray for your brother or sister, it’s for you. If it makes you take inventory of your life, it’s for you. 1 Peter 4:8 says, Love covers a multitude of sin.. if you’re that PK, I get you, just don’t give up on God because of something he had nothing to do with…
father I ask you bring peace to them and let them know that just because it’s bad today doesn’t mean it will be bad tomorrow…in Jesus name..

21 days in

I can remember vividly the sound of explosions, the sand and debris flying all around… it was day 21 of ABGD training at ft Dix New Jersey. We were at what was loosely called “the beach”, but there was no water or beautiful sunsets. We were learning to “low crawl” (a battlefield technique to keep yourself low so you don’t wake up dead) among other skills, and the night before our cadre had warned us that if we do not hydrate we will not make it through the arduous day to come. So as we awakened sometime in the morning or night who knew, we gathered in our “fire teams” (teams of 4 men) and began training. I had definitely underestimated the difficulty of the beach. At some point in the early afternoon temperatures had risen tremendously (it was well over 100 degrees with heat index) I began to experience leg cramps to the point I was dragging my left leg because of  dehydration, but quitting was not an option. If you couldn’t complete a task during ABGD you were sent back to week 1 to begin again or worse washed out completely. I began to have clouded vision and hyperventilating yet I continued with the motivation of two members from my fire team (Joseph Rind and Wayne Fox) that I actually was in charge of….I could feel myself near falling into complete heat exhaustion, but was powerless to do anything about it. I know some are thinking to yourself, I know you had water on your LBE, (load baring equipment) but I had gone through all my canteens and resources. As I came to the end of one part of the course headed to the next, I saw black and began to fall. The next thing I remember is the feeling of drowning as water being forced down my throat and Fox’s squeaky voice saying, “you will not wash out and leave us here today, drink Jonesey”… they had caught me as I fell (I had become very slow on the course but they wouldn’t leave me) they dragged me into the edge of the woods unseen by our cadre and FORCIBLY  hydrated me (all military members understand this term) they gave me all of their water at the risk of becoming dehydrated themselves. They helped me up and “motivated” me and we all finished day 21, together. I was completely at fault, because I had not prepared for the day and I messed up. My mistake could have not only cost me but my guys as well. They had choices that day: 1. let me fall 2. tell the instructor I wasn’t prepared, 3. pick me up without anyone knowing, and helping me back to my feet. Thankfully, I had friends… no brothers who despite my failure picked me up, tended to me (if they had been caught we would all be washed out) and it was never held against me. In fact, the conversation that night was, “I’m glad we were there Jonesey”… they didn’t even judge me, and didn’t inform anyone else of my failure that day; they just helped me make it through day 21. Someone from another fire team said, “dont think I didn’t see what happened” Fox immediately got in his face and let him know it ends here, not to be mentioned again.  You know in life, there are plenty of opportunities to let someone fall. There are plenty of opportunities to tell other people about someone else’s failure, but we need to realize it could be us next. If you see someone make a mistake get them recovered and show them mercy….and if need be defend them, even if they were the one to mess up. People deal with enough than to have a friend abandon them when they need them the most. 21 days in, the only easy day was yesterday! You can make it, just don’t quit!!

Know His Voice

When I was in basic training, we were standing in formation waiting on everyone to finish their 60 second breakfast, and it was common for our drill instructor to come walking up about 100 yards away and yell, “flight, attention”…. even in the midst of several flights, we knew our instructor…we knew his voice and learned to respond to it. On this certain day we heard his voice from way off, flight, attention!! The only problem was it was not our drill instructors voice, but someone who could mimic him really well. We got in a lot of trouble and raised the sea level that day (push ups till we hurt) simply because we responded to the wrong voice. And likewise, I am afraid there are many people who think they are hearing “the Lord speak” to them but the voice isn’t Gods… be careful that you don’t step out of the will of God by listening to the wrong voice… remember when you say, “I’m hearing God” there are some absolutes:
1. It will always line up with His word (bible) if it doesn’t, it’s not HIS voice…
2. It will never lead you back into bondage..
3. It will never take you out of the place of His will!!
Sometimes as believers, I think we hide behind our desire to do something by saying, “I heard God”… this was just in my heart today… don’t get in a bad place by listening to your voice or your adversaries voice. I’ve learned we are most vulnerable to “hearing the wrong voice” just after a disheartening encounter or on the heals of a great victory… and lastly God’s will for your life doesn’t change simply because you had a falling out with someone or even you failed Him…He doesn’t change His mind. (Contrary to popular church folk opinion)
John 10:27 my sheep know my voice..

All Weather Friends

I’m probably about to be way too transparent…but I just want to say thank you to everyone who calls me friend and who have stuck with me in this learning process we call life. To the ones who have stuck with me when I was far from perfect in my “performance” rather in daily life, being a pastor or in the pulpit, husband, dad or friend, because the truth is we all have good days and bad days, but a true friend doesn’t determine rather they will be your friend based on how well you perform, they love you for YOU, mistakes and all. If someone walks out because you didn’t do according to what they think you should do (even if you did make a mistake) let them walk you are probably not losing very much. In my time as a pastor I quite often meet people out of necessity (at all hours of the night and day) who have struggled in life or should I say their performance was at an all time low… what I have learned is just love them right where they are, mistakes and all…And then daily walk with them until they can begin to walk out of whatever it may have been that brought them to that low. There will be times they stumble, but I’m not going to write them off just because they didn’t act in a way I thought they should, and hopefully they will not write me off when I don’t act in the way they think that I should. I guess if we error, let it be on the side of mercy. When they get it right 8 times out of 10, love them the other 2 as well, because the truth is they probably need you more during the 2 than the 8…So to everyone who has been with me through my 8’s and stayed with me during my 2’s, thank you. It would be a great thing for you to find someone today who thinks that their mistake was final, you should tell them that God already equated their failure into the future, and your not giving up on them just because they didn’t meet your expectations. Love them through it and stick it out! People deal with enough every single day and they don’t need to have to deal with another unspoken goodbye… and I probably need to say I am not telling you to enable someone or to be abused by someone, but in most cases just show mercy and stick with them… thank you to my all weather friends, you have had a huge part in getting me to where I am.

It’s a learning process

After 16 years of being lead pastor with my 16th anniversary a few days ago and 1 year of being “gofor” pastor (go for this and go for that)  I have learned so much with each passing year…
1.) I am learning every single day and I am not even close to “having arrived”…
2.) I have learned, never submit your resignation on Monday:) Don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary circumstance.
3.) Don’t criticize something you do not know anything (enough) about. Some get caught up in publicly criticizing other ministries that we have no idea why they actually do what they do. Because when you are looking from the outside in you can’t understand the direction or reasoning for decisions that they have made. I was a church member longer than I have been a pastor.
I have never left a church unless to move to a different state, and although I was close to my pastor (very close, at his house weekly) I still didn’t know enough to criticize him (although I would have never) I realized that if I did not hear it out of his mouth it didn’t weigh very much with me. I think this is a pretty good rule… Rumors always grow with every person. So if it starts off he makes $300 too much a week by the time it gets around to everyone he is making $160,000 a year:) (which he actually deserved having to put up with some he had to put up with…😳) most second hand information is from a position of being on the outside looking in… also don’t allow church members to beat up on your subordinate ministry leaders. Most of them are volunteers (for me anyway) and are doing their very best.  Always coach them up but never tear them down.  I know at the moment it’s hard to tell which is which for the person being coached..
4.) I have learned if someone tells me so and so said this… I Don’t take the word of the person that brought me the information, but go to the person who supposedly said it and ask them. Chances are they didn’t say that thing that was said, and if there was something said with negative connotation, try to work out the disagreement agreeably. The pastor is not always right and the member is not always wrong and  Vice a versa
5.) I have learned don’t take too much stock in a down Sunday or invest too much emotion in a big Sunday. A church breathes in and a church breathes out. There will always be some coming, and  there will always be some leaving.
6.) I have learned you can’t do the work that God called you to do by yourself. You have to find Jesus for yourself, but you shouldn’t serve him by yourself.
7.) I am learning don’t let a few people change your opinion of most people. There are amazing people in church, And there are mean people at church. And I have learned there are times a sweet person can be mean, and there are times that a mean person can be sweet:) I would also put pastors under the same category. After all we are all human with the same emotions and shortcomings.
8.) Lastly, I have learned when God has you at a certain place don’t ever leave out of frustration and get out of the will of God; also don’t overstay your season. If and when you do leave, do it the right way. And always remember it’s not a business that you are trying to build, it’s the kingdom of God…..Your Personal study, worship and prayer time will keep you in the right perspective.

 

I still consider myself a novice and I know every situation is different, but each year if I remain teachable I’ll learn more and more.
Oh yeah and you always need a mentor into your life that can rebuke you when your wrong… i’m sure there are tons of things that could be added to this, and probably some that could be removed… just my perspective..