Sunday, June 25, 2017
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
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
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
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