Sunday, June 25, 2017

Open Wounds and Blindness

  Ever have a cut and not know you are bleeding all over? I had that happen to me today at church. Sitting in the pew, I looked at my pants and saw a spot on them. I assumed that I had blopped on them the last time I had worn them and quickly tried to blot it off and seemingly being dry, it partially came off. Then, about ten minute later, I looked in the same spot and magically it had reappeared, only this time it was significantly larger. But how? My wife saw my reaction, and she asked me in a whisper, "Are you bleeding?"  I looked on my arm of the same side and it was covered in blood. A spot on my arm of skin about a 1/4" was missing and blood was slowly oozing out onto my shirt and pants. I got up and went to clean off and not knowing where a bandage was, asked a brother to help me. I had finally seen the offense.

  Sometimes men don't see offences. Usually, they don't see how they have offended another and the wound just sits there open and it bleeds until the offense has been fixed. My past two posts have expressed that. And today, when after I did my morning devotion, in retrospect, I saw this in the story of Joseph I had just read earlier.

  Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat is one of my favorite plays. The music and acting can be quite enthralling. I have seen it done many times. Every time, I have seen a man wronged by his brothers, spared death, but sold into something less than optimal, by brothers trying to soothe the wounds they inflicted upon themselves by their own evil. This is how I feel today, one year after the vote to remove the Deacon program in the LCMS.

  I feel like my brothers, equals in service, equals by birth, equals in the sight of God, throwing me and hundreds of other men down into a well, just because they did not like something God had given us, not them. In reality, of course, they had given it to us, but now, 30 years later, they deemed that a mistake, and we could no longer have it. Then, in order to soothe their own souls and make themselves feel better, they pulled some of us out of the well and offered us, some of us, but not all, a way to stay out of the well. Finally, some of the brothers accepted this band aid to stop the bleeding, but didn't know others were still in the well, still abandoned by the brothers who threw them there and still bleeding. For you see, the brothers in the well still didn't have a way out.

  The funny thing is, (not really) is that most of the brothers that originally threw them in the well, didn't notice the blood and didn't really care. That is the point of the story. Not knowing because of spiritual blindness is a way to bleed to death. That is what has happened in the LCMS. No one really cares. And men are still in the well.    

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hockey and weird dreams

  I haven't had dreams that I remember very often. Let me qualify that. Maybe more so in the past ten years, though. I have had some weird dreams that I have no idea what they mean. I have had one or two that are troubling, like the one of UN troops, tanks and cannons on the corner of Mack Hatcher and Hillsboro Roads, but I hope that does not come to pass. But, the one I had the other night really bothered me.

  I love hockey. Always have. After playing it every winter as a kid up until I graduated from HS, it was just part of life and I understood the dynamics of the game and the feelings you get while bashing the puck and your opponent on the ice. So, the vivid dream I had the other night just came to life to me.

  I was on the ice in an alb. White as could be, the alb was made to fit the occasion, not being too long to play hockey comfortably, I joined the other five players on the ice, not as first line, but second. All of the others had stoles on, in gold, which was odd, as the church does not use gold in the seasons. All of them, except me, and I was the lone player in just my alb. We skated towards the puck, which was in the other teams end, and the net was empty. I came up towards the others, there being no defense-men, and it would have been an easy empty net goal, but the others came up to me and took my stick! They made it impossible for me to hit the puck and make a goal! I was astonished and confused. The whole point of the game is to score a goal. The whole point of team play is to move your players to take a shot. I was dismayed. And then I woke up.

  I know what it means. It is truly evident to me that what I shared with you before carries on in this dream. The hurt I experienced in my life this past year and in this dream carries on. You just don't take a hockey stick from a fellow player. It's hard to score goals that way.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Broken Promises

  In February, I shared how I felt about the decision to eliminate the office of Deacon in the LCMS and how it hurt me as one that would be removed. I haven't posted an update to this since then, waiting to see how it would all turn out and if the men in charge of the program's demise would be wise enough to do it in a Godly manner. So, I ll now share it with you as my own personal trek is complete.

  This week I told my pastor and another pastor in my circuit that I would not be pursuing an option that was open to me as a certified deacon. At the last minute, they invented an option for some of the 250 men that were left out of the equation of possibilities for ordination to become "roaming" serving pastors. Kind of like a circuit rider of old, these men would fill pulpits when necessary, but be called or attached to one single congregation without any financial commitment. I struggled with that. It was an attempt to come up with something that they shouldn't have. It made it look like they were grasping and the only one it made look bad was the deacon wanting to serve. But, I digress.

  What I talked about last time was how I felt and now that it is done for me, I will address that again. Ever have someone make a commitment to you if you did as they asked? If they broke that "deal" how did you feel? Were you mad? Did you demand that they live up to the deal? In this world, that would only be right. Even more so in the world of the church a commitment should be honored. A spiritual commitment is a much bigger deal, for it is with a brother in Christ you will have to live with for eternity. So if a brother renigs on a commitment that you have invested 20 years into, how do you react?  Even if he feels you are not adequate is it the fault of the the one being dumped that that is the situation? Did they train themselves or was it the one that trained them? But more seriously, it is not about training nor the competency, it is about the original commitment. One does not break oaths with fellow brethren if the demands have all been met. If it happens on a Synodical level, it is a sin. It is a grevious sin.

  Why? Not only does it remove ministry, but it destroys people. If one's own church does this to you, what will it do to others? New believers? Old brethren? Can it be trusted? Will it destroy more because it feels it is right? Is it right- to a fault? Most assuredly, it is.

  There was not enough thought put into this process of destruction. There was not enough thought put into the synodical vote. Shame on them. Each and every man should be talked to about future ministry on a individual level. Then, each and every man should be apologized to and begged for forgiveness.

  But, I'm just a layman that knows nothing...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dealing with a Big Hurt

  Last summer, I was dumped. Told I was not good enough. I'm still hurt by it, even though I've been told to "deal with it", by the ordained and by laymen, because I just shouldn't feel that way. Their attitude disturbed me almost as much as the fact that I was told I couldn't serve anymore in the capacity I had been serving since 1998. That's a lot of commitment down the tubes.

  It's tough being a Christian these days. The statistics show that 85% of the world's Christian churches have no trained clergy and yet, the church in other countries is growing so fast, they can't keep up with it. So why is this happening?

  There, in other lands, I would be considered a rock star, so to speak. I have a BA in history and a minor in Philosophy. I have taken two languages, Greek and German. I took numerous classes concerning Christianity, comparative religions and Islam, even the history of Islam. Of course, I have taken Philosophy classes out the proverbial butt. I've taken the History of Christianity, OT and NT, and then, from our own denomination, ten specific courses on theology and yet, I am not good enough. Not in their eyes. I have served 5 congregations during vacancies, one with Word and Sacrament, the others in Word ministry. I have led many boards and Bible studies. I've served as an elder for 25 years. I served a nursing home ministry for seven years, weekly, with a service and Bible Study each week, but that doesn't count. Experience does not count. None of it counts. I am no one.

  So, you see why I am hurt. I can no longer serve. In fact, my own pastor told me I may not longer use my deacon's stoles if he does allow me to serve, when he needs me. Am I bitter? No, just extremely disappointed in them. As a Biblical historian, they have made severe mistakes in their opinions due to lack of knowledge and misguided hearts. Not only that, they care nothing about how we (all 650 that have been affected by the ruling) feel about any of this. Some have been able to be converted into pastors, but very few. Most of us and I, am told to get over it. It's going to take a long time. It's going to take patience. It's going to be a road of forgiveness only the Lord can bring into my heart, for I am weak and He is strong.

  And I come back to my original question, "Why is this happening?" Sin. The devil uses "divide and conquer" all of the time. Men, out of pride, unwilling to share what they consider rightfully theirs by "taking up their cross and following" are unwilling to admit that if they let someone else help them bear the load, they would get more done. Their ministries would be easier. Their ministries would grow. But we aren't good enough. I'm not good enough.

  Dealing with a big hurt sometimes takes more time than one thinks. So I look to Him. It's not all about me, this I know. But it still hurts.

  "Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood." # 425 TLH

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thought of the Day- Leaf stomping

  Actually, I've thought about this for a few days now, people posting beautiful pictures of the trees and leaves of all kinds. I truly enjoy the maples from up north. Sure miss that, but it is the fallen leaves that bring about this thought. Yes, the fallen, much like men at the end of life; crumpled and used up, spent and dried to the core.
  You know they (scientists) say that there are about as many people alive today, as the total of people that ever walked the earth- combined. It reminded me of the leaves all over the ground, each one a soul let loose to go to which it came. The piles of them in my yard almost seems like billions and I have not raked them as yet and I may not, because this dried out old man hurts too much to rake.
  But to get to the point, the other day as I drove home from work on a country road in the county, a man's tire fell off his trailer and he was stopped in the middle of the road, trailer sitting on the pavement. He didn't know that his tire had gone into the ditch and the hot metal that accompanied it there. Unfortunately, it had started a fire in the leaves under the trees. It has been dry here, and the conditions for fire are high. The man driving in front of me went past the guy and his trailer and so did I, because we both saw the fire. He pulled ahead and stopped in the road and I pulled to the side. Neither of us had a shovel or fire extinguishers. We had our- feet. He took one side of the fire and I the other, and we stomped the best we could, but after a couple of minutes he pulled out his phone and called the fire department. It was a hopeless situation. We could not put out the fire and the wind started to blow.
  It was after I got home that I began to think of all of those leaves, like dead men scattered to the side of life, unable to get out of the way of the path of the fire. Lost and doomed. Billions of them unable to be saved. I went to my Bible and did a word study after that on leaves. Not much there except one verse that mentions or compares us and our efforts to dry leaves- Isa. 64:6. I even got out my long lost Strong's concordance, but found the same thing. We as men, unless saved from the fires that we put ourselves into, have just one result to expect if we try to save ourselves- to be burned up like billions of others that have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  I place myself into the fire like that only to share with you today. I came home with burn holes in my tennis shoes and the stench of fire in my clothes. I'm just a man. Give yourselves to God; the One that can save you.
  By the way, the firefighter, yes, one single man with a truck properly equipped to save, got the fire out in less than an hour. Think on that today. Peace to you all.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thought of the Day- Calvin and Hobbs

  I sat on the deck in the partial shade this morning, after throwing the ball for the dog, and listening to my friend Roland Wells preach about the rules according to Calvin and Hobbs. (Excellent sermon and I can relate.) 

  I'm sick and the mild breeze felt good. But while I sat there in the peacefulness watching the leaves fall to the ground and join their brittle brethren, I was at rest, away from the rules of this life, basking in the light of the throne of grace, and relying only on faith, apart from the law. It is the essence of the Reformation. I'll rely on that instead of silly games created by boys and tigers. And when I get to eternity, I'll ask the Lord if I can watch leaves fall for maybe 15,000 years, but not in a row, so I can break it up and be in the garden with Him- alone.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Thought of the day- Round Square?

  For the last couple of days, I've been working in Fayetteville out in the sticks. The roads have funny names out there, like the one I'm working on "Possum Hollow Road". Today, I think I found one that suits me greatly- Round Square Road. Funny at first thought isn't it? But after I pondered it a while, I thought I'd explain how I felt about such a name.

  I've felt like a round square for quite some time. Changes in my life bring that about easily. Most of them major changes. When the recession hit and we lost our house was a big one. When I went on Social Security was another. (I think it stinks I can only make so much to collect it. What are they thinking?) Wearing different vocational hats is a big one, especially since last summer when that changed, too, and I was told I wasn't good enough to fill one of those roles anymore. Sigh. Wanting to move back to Wyoming is a big one for me, but I can't talk the wife into that. And what about the fact that I just can't seem to finish my next book or get an agent for the previous six!?

  The reason I say that I have only felt like a round square is because the above are only symptoms of being one. The only way to be a round square, is to make yourself one. I'm working on that. How about you? Do you feel like a round square? Do you feel just "not right" and flirt with being a round square?

  This doesn't even mention all of the things that are going on in the world that make you feel "just not right". So ponder this thought, "Are we all round squares?" Are we on the road to being one?