Archives For maturity

stupid facebook ad

I had a rough day at work. I’m a claims adjuster, which is actually a very rewarding job – I help people who are hurting. Ususally their house has burned up or the water heater popped and flooded them out. I’m not bragging – I’m just telling you straight up if something like that happens to you, you want me as your adjuster. I will put you back the way you were before, quickly, efficiently. I’ll take the majority of the stress of it all completely off you. That’s what I do and I do it well.

My heart, though – it longs for something else. I don’t think about it much because it actually makes me sad when I do. I used to be a pastor. When I’m in a joking mood, I tell everyone I’m a claims adjuster, which is basically the same job as a pastor, it just pays more. I miss it. When I sit and think about it, I remember all the good times, all the people I’ve met and who have allowed me to be a part of their lives. I really miss it – even the hard stuff like funerals, hospitals, jails…I just miss it.

I was the same kind of pastor as I am a claims adjuster. That right there was the problem I think.

I came home tonight after a really long day, got out the computer and got on facebook and to the right where the ads are, I saw the picture above, with the caption, “47 and ready to be a pastor? Earn a degree at a Christian college!”

I already did. I already was a pastor. I did everything I could to bear everyone else’s heavy load, and I just about killed myself doing it. There’s a big difference between calling a local contractor crazy because he can’t add up his estimate right (or even spell most of the time) and being all things to all people all the time.

I was on 24/7. At one church I even lived right across the street from the church building. People just drop by, or someone can’t get in, or the alarm goes off, or so on and so forth.

For 15 years I was everything to everyone. I should have been pointing them to Jesus. I should have been teaching them to stand on their own. All I did for those years was tighten up training wheels, AKA enable codependency.

Yes, I preached, I taught, I led. Looking back, compared to what I know now, it was incomplete, immature. I can’t go back in time and teach myself what I didn’t know. But I can do it differently moving forward.

Believe it or not, I’ve learned a lot about people and ministry being a claims adjuster. A big part of my job is to take as much on myself as I can. That’s the job. But I always take time to educate people – here are your options, here’s what your policy says, this is what I need you to do for yourself.

I tell people exactly what to expect, and then with them make it happen. I don’t push it back on them – I empower them to do it – I give them permission to help themselves. It makes people feel good, too. I get great feedback and try to help the people around me at work see that they don’t have to, and really can’t, bear the whole thing on their own.

That’s what the church I am a member of has done for me. I am responsible for my own spiritual growth. Not my pastor, not my wife, not the teacher in a class I go to on a Wednesday night. That’s what I need to do for others going forward – make them see they are powerful children of God – they can have their very own relationship with him, they can pray, they can study his word, they can minister – all on their own.

Do I still want to be a pastor? Is water wet? Do bears bear? Do bees be? Uh, yeah! And I think when the time is right, I will be.

It Ain’t Me

October 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

That song really speaks to me sometimes. CCR has always been a favorite band. Love their sound, and their lyrics still hit home all these years later. Seems like we’re still fighting some of the same battles we have always fought. They just seem different because there’s different people involved, but really if you think about it, it may be a different generation, but the song is still the same.

I’m thinking about my own life while listening to this song, and some of the battles I’ve fought. Some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, and some I didn’t even need to fight.

Because of some of the things I’ve been through in life, I’ve always had some identity problems. I don’t know if all adopted children go through that, but I did, and do to this day. Who am I? Whose am I? Did I do something wrong all those years ago? Did I do something to make my birth parents do what they did?

I know the answer in my heart – NO! They were already adults, and they were who they were, and I didn’t do anything wrong. In my head, when it comes up, I still struggle with it. Most days I win, too. I know WHOSE I am! And on the days that my thinking gets the best of me, I resolve to give it to God and do better next time, through him.

Like I said, I don’t know if most/all adopted kids go through this, but I do know a lot of people in general deal with it. I talk to people at work almost every day who feel trapped, who think that life is passing them by, who don’t know who they are or what they were made for – what their purpose is. Most of them say the same thing that I feel and that is in this song – “It ain’t me!”

Thinking back to the cross…Jesus knew exactly who he was, and what he was here to do, and when the time came he did not hesitate to fulfill his mission. And because he did all those things – living, dying, living again, and all that that entails – because of that, we all have identity through him!

Romans 8:17 says that we are heirs of God and joint heirs¬†with Christ. Think about how huge this is! I think of the prodigal son, whose brother did not accept his return very gladly. The son had already taken his inheritance and squandered it, then came home with his proverbial prodigal tail between his legs. And the father accepted him gladly, running to him, throwing a huge party in his honor. The other son grumbled and complained and said, “you never let me have a party and I was here the whole time!”

That is not Christ’s attitude at all! He has everything, he is at the right hand of the Father, and he wants to share it all with us!¬† He wants to give it to all of us who have gone astray! Who are we? We are sons and daughters of the King, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit as the down payment of everything that is to come. We will inherit, and in fact have already inherited the Kingdom!

Crazy, right?

Who am I? I spend a lot of time saying, screaming, whimpering, whispering, thinking “It ain’t me.” God who am I? What do you want from me? What do I do with this life you have given me?

His reply is a still small voice – “Be my child. Just be. And as my Son said what he heard me saying, and did what he saw me doing, so you should say and do as well.”

I am a son, I am a prince, I am a saint, and I am a priest! As my savior was before me, so I now am. My life is a message – everything about me is a song to the King. He loves me, he accepts me, he approves of me and he even likes me! I do not disappoint my Father, and nothing I do or say or think could ever change his love for me! Why? Because when he looks at me he sees Jesus!

And still in this life I will struggle. My spirit is connected to God. My physical body will die. My soul – my mind, will and emotions – I will need to submit to him every minute, every second of every day. When I do he renews my strength. When I don’t I worry, I wonder, I wither.

What do I do with this life he has given me? What do I do when I’m at work thinking, “This ain’t me. I was made for more than this. What about these dreams I have? What about these gifts you have given me? I feel like it’s all been wasted!” I give it to him, and I be his son, and I serve those around me. And I forget what I was whining about to begin with.

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? About who you are? About why you are alive? I bet he’s telling you the same things he just told me. You’re special! You’re loved! And God has a plan for you – to just be his!

Hey Man You Got 50 Cents?

September 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

YUMMY-TACOS

I must have uttered those words 5000 times during college. “Hey man you got 50 cents?” I was always in the mood for tacos, always broke, but there was a place right across from campus that sold crunchy beef tacos three for a dollar. I usually only had to hit up about five people before I had enough to get me some lunch.

It’s funny how that was like 25 years ago and I still don’t have the coin to buy tacos with. I was in the mood just now, and since this is my next to the last day of PTO and I don’t get paid until midnight, I’m flat broke. The cool thing is, in a house with four people, three of which have purses, I can always scrounge enough loose change to get me a few tacos. And I just did, and they were awesome!

It’s also funny how life imitates art sometimes. I am an artful scrounger, and when I was in college I might as well have had a cardboard sign, “Will work for tacos. But not really just give me 50 cents.” If I had to pay all those people back I would owe a lot of money.

Sometimes in life though, we feed off the scraps of others – we live vicariously though heroes on tv or the movies, we scour facebook or twitter for juicy updates on people from our past, we keep an eye out in the paper on the obits or court records pages to see if we’ve died or gotten divorced. And most of us go to church once a week or so “to get fed.”

It’s ok. I understand. I’m just as busy as you. Two growing kids, a house that always needs some kind of maintenance, a beautiful, loving, awesome wife, a job, and 47 other things all vie for my attention. Sometimes I forget that I’m all growed up and I’m able to feed myself.

I love my church. I could listen to my pastor talk all day long. His words are solid gold, life changing, straight from God. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard anything like it. Everything that goes on during worship resonates within my spirit and I reach out for God and long to be closer to him. Then I go home, and life starts up again.

Kids fighting, what’s for lunch, did we get on the plumber’s schedule and who is going to miss work to be here when he arrives? Did you make the kid’s lunch or do I need to do it? Don’t forget about Trinity’s dentist appointment, Zoey still needs her 5 year old shots and I have to go to the ATM to get tooth fairy money. The bathroom door is sticking, too. Might need to look at that.

We tend to overindulge on the Sunday milk and starve ourselves during the week.

Do you think that is what your pastor wants for you? To just rely on him for all of your spiritual needs? Where does that put God? The pastor received a great word, and shares it with you, but what do you do with it after that? If you’re like most people, you put your notes in your bible, put your bible on the shelf, and then when Sunday hits and you’re in a mad dash to get out the door to be at church on time, you forgot which shelf you put it on and you’re late anyway. Because you can’t go to church without your bible, now, can you?

You also can’t make it during the week without it. You can’t make it during the week without a constant, ongoing conversation with God. You can’t make it without your own word from him. You can’t make it unless you get off the bottle feeding and start taking in some heavy duty calories.

1 Peter 2:2 says we should long for the pure spiritual milk, and grow up in our salvation. Remember how important milk is for babies? But at some point they grow teeth and want some crunchy tacos. If they stayed on the milk, they’d never grow, never mature, never develop in the proper way, never be able to function as an adult.

What I’m saying is, grow up! You’ve got teeth, use them. Dig into the word, on your own. Do your own learning. Pray your own prayers. Talk to God like he’s a real person, and listen for an answer.

Hebrew 5:13-14 says, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” If you want to know how to live life, and live it the way God created you to live it, you’ll need to grow, you’ll need to learn to feed yourself! “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity” (Hebrew 6:1).

Who’s responsibility is it to tell you all about Jesus and lead you to him so that you can be saved? Other Christians, pastors, church leaders. Did you know the first person to share Christ with me was just some kid at school? He didn’t just unvite me to church, either. He told me all about Jesus and left me with a choice to make, which I eventually did – when my pastor led me to Christ.

Since then I’ve done the same thing for a lot of people – explained the basics, and left them with a choice. And once the choice was made, I taught them to stand on their own. There are a lot of people out there right now, living and growing and being who God created them to be. Is it easy? Nope. It takes time, patience, consistency. If you want it, you’ll have to work for it, and you’ll have to work for it every single day, even when you don’t feel like it. But it beats living off the scraps of others.

Be who God created you to be! Engage him in conversation, listen for his voice, grow to maturity in Christ, bear fruit!

The next time you’re scrounging up some taco money, remember this – You’re not a beggar at the table, you’re a chosen son or daughter of God, and he wants to know you!