I’m taking some time off this week, so I’ve tried to take a little bit of a lighter approach this week. Here are 10 random thoughts about me.
1. I was born in Savannah, GA and lived there for about six months.
2. I will be married 21 years when my anniversary rolls around this year.
3. I will turn 45 this year on my birthday.
4. I learned to read by reading the Sunday comic strips and comic books. I still have my first comic book, a Justice League of America that my mom bought me in 1973.
5. I’m still a comic book geek. I just watch them on film now and geek out over every comic book related movie that comes out.
6. My daughter just graduated high school.
7. I like almost every style of music, but I really like Americana and Bluegrass the best.
8. I have watched the Tour de France every year since back in the mid 80′s.
9. I love to watch the French Open and Wimbledon.
10. I have only had about six months of not having a job since I was 16 years old.
This is a weekly series of fiction. You can find the other chapters HERE at my fiction page.
Everyone looked up as the door to the meeting room opened. Dale Adkins stood in the doorway. They all looked at him and smiled. David stood up and walked toward the door, offering his hand to the man he only spoken to on the phone. They shook hands for a second and then walked to the meeting table.
“Dale, let me introduce you to everyone. To your left is Teresa Smith. Beside her is Tom Davis. At the other end of the table from you Bill Johnson. Beside me, here, is Fred McGinley.”
“Good to meet all of you and good to be here today.” Dale sat relaxed and ready to go. Interviews of any sort were a necessary evil.
David spoke first. “Let’s start out with an easy one. When did you come to know the Lord?”
Dale licked his lips. He was just a little dry and wished he had some water. He kind of grinned and gave the answer he always gave, the one that caused more than one person to scratch their heads. “I feel like I’ve always known Him. I’ve been in church all my life and always loved it. I was a good boy and never gave my parents any trouble. I think most people just assumed I was saved. Then, I was sitting in church one Sunday. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the thought that I was as lost as anyone. I prayed to the Lord and repented. I didn’t really need anyone to walk me through it. I knew what to do. Then I went down at the invitation and made it public.”
Tom had a perplexed look on his face. “You mean no one led you to the Lord?” Tom scratched his chin as he asked the question.
“Well, Tom…it’s Tom, right? I would say that hundreds of people led me to the Lord. Hundreds of sermons and Sunday school lessons. Years of VBS. I didn’t really need anyone to walk me through it. I knew that. But most of all, I would say that the Lord led me to the Lord.”
Tom frowned. “I’m not sure what that means.’
Dale grinned and chuckled a bit. “Tom, some days I don’t either.” Everyone else, including Tom, chuckled along with Dale.
Teresa spoke up. “Tell us about your family.”
Dale sat up a little straighter. “I’ve been married to Melissa for almost ten years. We have two boys and daughter. The boys are Ben and Caleb. Our daughter is Leah, but she is much prettier than the one that was married to Jacob.”
Fred McGinley snorted and worked hard to hold to keep from laughing out loud. He decided that he would ask the next question.
“How did you get into the ministry?”
Dale paused for just a second. Sometimes he asked himself this same question.
“After I came to know the Lord, everything went about the way it was going, except for one thing. I studied the Bible more and I saw things that I hadn’t before. I was always a leader in the youth group, but, for some reason, became even more of one. When it came time for Youth Sunday, I was asked to speak. I prepared a sermon that I thought would take me about thirty minutes to give. It took about ten minutes, but I loved it. I kept getting asked to speak and lead Bible studies. Somewhere along the way I realized that I wanted nothing more than to proclaim the word of God.”
“College was a great time of growth. I majored in Religion, though I hate the name of that major. I interned in a couple of churches. I took a couple of summer mission trips and preached every chance I got. There just wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. After college, I went to seminary. I pastored a church while there. I went ahead and got my doctorate. For the past four or five years, I’ve taught at Covenant and preached when I had the opportunity.”
Dale noticed that Teresa was taking notes on everything. Tom wrote a few things down. Fred nodded and smiled a lot. David watched everyone else’s reaction. He was puzzled by Bill Johnson. He sat there with his hands behind his head and looked at the ceiling.
Tom decided that it was his turn to ask a question. He had been trying to come up with a question for several days. He thought he had come up with the perfect one.
“Are you a Calvinist?”
Dale looked at Tom, framing his response. “Tom, I hope that I don’t answer this in a way that blows my chances here. Let me ask you what you mean by that question. What do you think a Calvinist is?”
Tom turned just a little bit red. “Well, you know, you believe in predestination and stuff.”
“Well, Tom, if you’re asking me if I believe that those God foreknew, He predestined, then yes, I believe that. If you are asking me if I believe that He predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ, then yes, I believe that. I believe the Bible. “
“If you’re asking me if I believe anything because of a systematic theology that is followed by others, then no. If you’re asking me if I have ever tried to convert anyone to follow John Calvin, then no. I follow Christ and try to point people to Christ and Him only. I want Him to glorified through the preaching of the Gospel. I’m not sure if I answered your question, though.”
Tom looked down at his pad and then back up. “I think you answered it fine.”
Bill Johnson chuckled a bit. “I guess it’s my turn to ask a question. What would you tell a guy who has helped cause a lot of problems in this church and just found out that he has a brain tumor?”
Dale close his eyes for just a second. Finally a question that wasn’t normal. He was prepared for all of the normal, churchy questions. This one caused him to pause for just a second.
“Bill, the first thing I would do is find out where that man was in his relationship with the Lord. I would pray with him and hope that he was right with the Lord. Then I would encourage him to go before the church and confess it. Seek forgiveness among the church. Then I would gather the elders and pray over him and anoint him with oil. Finally, I would talk to him and ask him what the prognosis from the doctors was.”
Bill looked at him. “The elders? Don’t you mean the deacons?”
“No, Bill, I believe that there is a huge difference between the elders and deacons. I’m not saying that the deacons can’t be a part of it. But I’m talking about the spiritual leaders of the church.”
“You don’t think the deacons are the spiritual leaders of the church?”
“No, I don’t think that’s their specific role. I think elders are responsible for the spiritual direction of a church. And I think there should be a team of those to work with the pastor. The deacons have their own vitally important role to play. They should be working on the physical needs of the church. Who is taking care of the widows? Who is taking care of the needy? Who is making sure people are doing ok?”
David finally spoke up. “Let’s take a short break. We all may need something to drink. We’ll come back to some more questions and you may have some for us.”
This is a post from a couple of years ago. Twitterific Thursday used to be a one of my favorite posts each week.
It’s Twitterific Thursday where I attempt to write 140 words or less about a subject.
Two things I love are satire and hyperbole. Satire is using sarcasm or irony to basically poke fun at something in an effort to expose it. Jon Acuff is great at it over at his Stuff Christians Like blog. He uses satire to poke fun at a lot of the stuff we do in the Church. He even wrote a recent blog post about how to do it.
Hyperbole is making a huge, obvious exaggeration. Something along the lines of “I drove 120 miles an hour to get here” when you only drove 80. That’s hyperbole.
You have to be careful about the use of these things. Why? They have potential to not be understood by anyone else. Who is to blame? Yourself. Get someone to read your satire and hyperbole. They may be able to catch potential hazards for you.
Do you enjoy satire and hyperbole?
This is a weekly series of fiction. You can find other chapters HERE at my Fiction page.
Dale Adkins looked at the church before getting out of his car. He wasn’t sure what emotion he was feeling. He had not interviewed with a church search committee in over a decade, only having interviewed for a couple of teaching positions since leaving the pulpit. Academic committees were a bit different from those from a church. He was nervous, for sure.
However, there was a sense of excitement as well. Doug had been right. He loved to teach, but he had missed being in the pulpit regularly. He missed pastoring the people of a church. He had tried to satisfy that desire by investing in the lives of his students. He had probably gone far beyond the scope of most professors. Maybe that was why he was rated highly in the annual surveys sent to the students by the college.
Dale knew that there were problems that the people of a congregation experienced that college kids didn’t, but the opposite was true as well. He has always related well to those older than him when he had pastored. Teaching had helped him stay in touch with those who were younger than him.
Dale stopped himself for a moment. He was getting ahead of himself. He was just interviewing for an interim position. It was just going to be temporary, just a few months to help them through the transition to a new pastor. He would benefit as well. It would help him get back into the rhythm of the pastor’s life. He would be able to use that time to seek the Lord in whether he would got back into the pastorate full-time or if some sort of pulpit ministry would simply supplement his teaching career.
Dale came to the door and entered. He looked down the first hallway. It was dark as only church hallway in the middle of the week could be. He to this right and saw the path of light he would take. He walked down past empty room after empty room. It was like that in just about every church he had been in. Buildings that were used a small percentage of the time. Too often, church buildings were an inefficient use of real estate, used only a couple of days a week.
Dale came to the meeting room door. He could hear voice on the other side. He pause for a second to listen. He could hear laughter, which he gauged as a good sign. Too often these committees were composed of people who didn’t really mesh well. A group of folks who were having a good time bode well for a relaxed meeting.
A short fleeting thought to turn around and leave shot through Dale’s mind. Why bother with this? He had it good at the college. He was on track to gain more and more responsibility. He was publishing articles and was on track to write a book soon. He was able to preach as often as he wanted. His pastor buddies were always asking him to fill in. Did he really want to give that up?
Dale wasn’t going to walk away. He knew that. He was going into the interview. He would talk to these folks and see where it went. If the Lord led them both in this direction, then so be it. If not, then that was good too.
Dale prayed a short prayer and opened the door. Five head turned in his direction. Four men and a woman. All smiling. ”Well, here goes”, he thought.
A post from a couple of years ago.
Do you know how to juggle? I do, sort of. I taught myself how to juggle two and three balls around twenty-five years ago. It’s a neat parlor trick that I can pull out and impress some people from time to time, especially if I don’t drop the balls.
Have you ever seen clips from old variety shows where someone is spinning plates on a rod? They begin spinning plates and add additional plates as they go. Their goal is to keep all of the plates spinning. It’s impressive if they can.
What does that have to do with the normal topics you find here on Deuceology? We are all jugglers and plate spinners in our lives, aren’t we? Just like a real juggler, we figure out how to juggle a couple of things. Then we add another and pretty soon we are really juggling. We are performing. We put different plates up on the rods. We get them to spinning. We are really impressing people. And what happens?
Someone wants us to juggle another ball. Someone wants us to add another plate. What do we do? Too often we say ok. We try to take on another ball. We try to spin another plate. What happens? A ball falls. Balls fall. A plate falls. Plates fall. Why? Because we try to take on more than we are capable of doing well. Don’t mistake what I’m saying. We might be able to handle that first plate. We might be able to handle that first ball. But it will catch up to us. A ball will be added and we will drop them all. A plate will be added and we have broken plates.
It happens in our churches, doesn’t it? We have the balls we are juggling. We have these plates we are spinning. Someone asks us to do something else. Something good. Suddenly we are doing another good thing for God. There’s just one problem.
We not be doing anything GREAT for God. Someone is scratching their heads. Someone doesn’t get it. They are asking if it isn’t good enough to do good things for God. My answer? No!!!!
Jim Collins said that the enemy of great is good. We settle for good, when we could and should be doing something great.
So, what do I suggest? Quit trying to juggle all the balls. Juggle the number you can be great at. Quit trying to spin all of the plates. Spin the number you can be great at. Juggle for the glory of God. Spin for the glory of God. Lay some balls down. Put some plates away.
Be great at juggling some balls and spinning some plates for God’s glory.
Do you need to lay some balls and plates down so you can be great at some things to glorify God?
This is a weekly work of fiction. You can find other chapters by checking out my Fiction page.
Fred McGinley walked into the meeting room. Maybe it was just because he had been through this so many times. Maybe it was the hurdles and obstacles they had been facing lately. Maybe it was simply that Bill Johnson was the only member of the team that really didn’t want to work with the others. Regardless, it was getting harder to keep going. He wasn’t sure he could keep going. The thoughts of resigning and letting someone younger take his place had crossed his mind on more than one occasion.
David, Tom and Teresa were already sitting there chatting about various things as they waited. They all looked toward him as he entered the room. Teresa beamed at him. She had always seemed to love him and he did too. How many times had she spent the night with the girls when they were young? She was like another daughter to him.
Tom nodded at him. He hadn’t spent a lot of time with Tom, but he liked him. He seemed to be someone who really wanted to live out his faith. He had a good reputation around town. He had never heard anything bad about him at all.
Tom stood and warmly greeted him, shaking his hand. He let Fred sit down before he resumed talking.
“Fred, I was just telling Tom and Teresa that this meeting may be a little different from what we’ve been used to. At least, that’s my prayer. I don’t want to say too much until it’s over, but we may leave a little happier today.”
Fred just took that in and pondered on it for a moment. If it went like it had been he could just resign today. There were other things he could be doing rather than coming to contentious meetings. He wouldn’t hold his breath, but maybe David knew what he was talking about. He would just have to see.
They engaged in some chit-chat for a few minutes. They had all gotten there early. Fred valued arriving early. He always had. This was just another reason that Bill Johnson irritated him. He always wanted to make a grand entrance. He liked having all of the attention on himself. Plus, he didn’t seem to care to keep everyone else waiting.
The door opened and Fred looked up. Sure enough, Bill Johnson strolled in. He walked in quickly and sat down. Fred looked at him and something was different. He tried to place what it was and then it hit him. Bill wasn’t grinning like he normally was.
“Sorry I’m late, folks. I had some appointments earlier today and then had to get with Sharon. Have I missed anything?” Bill looked around at everyone.
Fred checked everyone’ reaction. It was still five minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start. Teresa was looking around at everyone with a slightly bewildered look. Tom seemed to be doing his best to remain stoic, but Fred could tell that he was puzzled by what Bill had said as well. Fred was curious about what was going on. He couldn’t process what was happening. Bill had to be pulling one on him, right? He expected the other shoe to drop at some point during the meeting.
David was the only one who didn’t seem to be surprised and he spoke up. “No problem, Bill. We were just chatting until you got here. Let’s go ahead and get started.”
“David, do you care if I start the meeting? I have something that I need to tell all of you.” Fred had dropped his eyes and was looking at the table. Fred really wondered what was going on now.
“Sure, that will be fine, Bill.”
“Folks, I know that I haven’t been the best team member since we started this thing. In fact, I haven’t been the best church member when it comes down to it. I just want to apologize to all of you for that. I have had something come up that has put all of this in perspective and I realize how wrong I’ve been. I just told Sharon, so you are the next to hear this.”
Fred could almost hear an audible gasp come from everyone. They all just had a blank look on their faces.
“I found out this morning that I have a brain tumor. I’ve had head aches for a while and that’s what has been causing them. I don’t really know much more than that. I have some more appointments scheduled and I’ll know more. But I’m just not sure if I can or should continue on this team.”
They all sat there stunned. Each one of them looked back and forth to each other. Finally, Fred spoke up.
“Bill, I can’t speak for everyone else. The way things have been going, I was thinking about resigning from this team myself today if things went like they had been. Instead, I want us to pause right now and pray for you. Do you mind?”
“Fred, I would appreciate it.” Bill looked up and there seemed to be some moistening around his eyes.
Fred prayed for Bill’s healing and that the Lord would be glorified through the entire situation. He seemed to already be getting praise in the meeting.
David spoke up next. “Bill, I understand you not knowing if you can continue. We have a possibility for an interim pastor that I want to talk to all of you about. If you can’t make it to all of the meetings about it, I understand, but I would love it if you would stay on the team and support it until we make a decision. I think we need to show unity to the church right now. The church isn’t very unified right now.
Bill looked at him. ”That’s my fault. I’ve been causing most of the disunity. Let me talk to Sharon and see if I can work it out to stay on for a while.”
David smiled. ”That sounds great, Bill. Anyone else have anything to say?”
Fred spoke up. ”I do, David. Tell us about this potential interim.”
This is a blast from the past, from around two years ago.
Yesterday I wrote about dreaming. Let’s say that you have now decided to allow yourself to dream. You are pursuing God with all you have and you believe that God has given you a dream. Your dream is to hike the Appalachian Trail, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, run a marathon, or go on a mission trip. So you wait on the dream to happen. After all, God has given you the dream. He will make it happen for you, right? And you get frustrated because the dream isn’t happening. You begin questioning whether the dream is really what God wanted you to do after all. It just isn’t coming to fruition.
I understand this. I’ve been there. I’ve had this happen and had the frustrations. Why isn’t the dream happening? I think the answer is pretty obvious. God will give you the dream, but you have to do your part to realize the dream. If you want to hike the Appalachian Trail, you had better make a habit of knowing everything you can know about the AT. You had better prepare. You have to do a lot of hiking. You get the right gear for the trip. You do something everyday to make your dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail a reality. Same if you want to run a marathon. You run. You buy the right shoes. You might join a group that will encourage you. You do the small, daily things needed to run 26.2 miles.
In other words, you make your dream a habit. It’s ok to dream, but it’s not going anywhere if you don’t something about it. It will take some sacrifice. Jon Acuff says that you might have to get up at 5:00 am when the rest of your family is asleep. I agree. When you have a dream and want to make it real, you will do whatever you have to do to see it through.
And that ends up being the question, right? Is it really your dream or just something that you think would be nice. The difference is in what you do to make it happen.
What is your dream? Are you willing to do what it takes daily to make it happen?
I don’t know if you do a lot of confession when you pray. I hope you do. Confession is, they say, good for the soul. I wonder, though, what most of us do when we confess to the Lord.
I wonder if in our confession we simply tell God what we did. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely think we should do that. Sure, the Lord already knows about it, but we should tell him that we know we have sinned.
But is there more? Do we just nonchalantly advise Him of the sin we have committed? Or do we really take it seriously?
Are we contrite? Do we really think that what we did was wrong? Do we really believe that we have sinned against our Creator? Do we wonder if there will be any consequences to our sin? Or do we simply say that we are forgiven, we can’t lose our salvation, and move on?
Are we grief-stricken? Do we wonder how we could have sinned instead of walking in the Spirit? Do we question why we aren’t filled with the Spirit in that moment? Are we devastated that what we did was not the fruit of the Spirit?
Do we repent? Not just say that we will never do it again, but do we really turn one hundred eighty degrees from the direction we have taken?
I know that I have spent too little time in my life thinking like this. What would happen if this was our attitude? We might find ourselves in fewer situations needing to be contrite, grief-stricken repent.
What does your confession look like?
This is a work of fiction. For the other chapters of this story, check out my Fiction page.
Tom drove the twenty some miles to the airport in silence. Since being named to the search committee everything seemed so loud and noisy. He wasn’t used to that in his life. He needed some extra quiet time in his life, so he left the radio off for a change. He enjoyed the quiet hum of the drive and used the time to pray about what was going on.
The previous meeting didn’t go as well as anyone hoped. In fact, it hadn’t gone well at all and they really hadn’t accomplished much at all. He supposed that he could have been a little more tactful, but all of the nonsense Bill Johnson was bringing to the table was beginning to get on his nerves a bit. Tom tended to say whatever was on his mind and it had gotten him in trouble before. It sure seemed to explode a bit this time. He just couldn’t help but wonder about Bill’s relationship with the Lord.
Bill smelled the aroma of barbecue. He looked over at the former gas station. It was now a drive-in barbecue joint. He thought that might be the place for supper after he picked Allison up. He hadn’t seen her in a few months and usually only got to see her a time or two each year. He probably wouldn’t see her again until Christmas after this trip.
Allison was his little sister. She worked for a government agency in some fashion. She couldn’t talk much about what she did, but he knew that she traveled a lot. He imagined that she was like Jennifer Garner’s character from the show Alias, but more likely she had a boring desk job. She was visiting for a couple of days. Their mother hadn’t been doing very well lately.
Tom sat waiting for the light to turn green. He looked around and thought about the difference between this town and the big city where Allison lived. He didn’t regret once not moving away. He had his chances, he supposed, but small town life was more for him.
A weird feeling struck Tom and he looked in his mirrors. Nothing seemed unusual, but he got the distinct feeling that he was being watched. He looked at the vehicles behind him, but none of them stuck out. He just shook his head and thought that the tension of the recent meeting was getting to him.
The light finally turned green and Tom continued his journey. He drove the next three miles and saw the airport on his left. He watched a plane land as pulled around to the parking garage. He took his time pulling into the parking garage. Looking at the clock, he still had about twenty or thirty minutes before her plane would touch down. He pulled into a parking spake and got out of the car. As he walked to the terminal the feeling struck him again. Tom felt like someone was watching him. He looked around and saw nothing unusual. He continued into the terminal.
Tom saw that Allison’s flight still had a bit to go, so he walked into the gift shop. Allison would text as soon as she could and then he would make his way to meet her. He glanced at some magazines and books. He didn’t see anything that interested him. He pulled out his phone and check Twitter and Facebook. Nothing was really going on that he could tell. Finally, he saw that Allison’s plane had landed. He waited a couple of minutes and, sure enough, Allison texted him. He made his way to the exit and waited. Soon enough, he saw Allison walking down the ramp toward him. She walked up to him and, without saying anything, hugged him.
“Hey!!!”, Allison finally said to him.
“Hey yourself, kiddo!”, Tom replied.
They chatted a bit as they walked to get her luggage. Her first bag came around and Tom grabbed it. As the second one came around, that strange feeling came across him again. He grabbed the bag and looked around, shaking his head.
“Oh nothing. I’ve just had this feeling for the past hour that someone has been watching me. I felt it on the drive over and a couple of times in here.” Tom just grinned shaking his head.
“Do you think it’s that guy over there behind the paper in the ball cap?”, Allison asked, nodding her head to point him out.
Tom turned around and was shocked. Standing there was Tom Jennings trying to look inconspicuous. He guessed that he was doing a fairly good job since he hadn’t noticed him.
“No wonder I felt like I was being watched. I really am being watched.” Tom just shook his head. ” I wonder what he will do when he realizes that I’ve seen him.”
Tom just stared at Tom Jennings for a second. Finally, they made eye contact. Tom Jennings began to act nervously and almost ran out of the terminal.
“Why would someone be following you to the airport, Tom?” Allison looked at him in an almost protective, yet suspicious manner.
“Oh, that guy is harmless. Let’s get to the car and I’ll tell you all about what’s been going on at church lately.”
Today is the last day of Deuceology as you know it. Everything that you have known over the last couple of years is changing after today. I am scaling back to three regular posts each week, with Saturday remaining the day that I post fiction.
Let me explain. I am in the midst of what you might call a slight shift in theology. At one time I would have considered it a major shift, but as I have sat back and examined it, it’s not really that major. Perhaps I’ll even write about it in more detail soon, but I would describe it like this: Sovereign Spirit-Filled Satisfaction. Regardless if anyone else thinks that it is a shift or not, I am experiencing some change as a result of this.
Obviously we have changed churches. I have come to realize that my lack of involvement in a local church enabled me to crank out a daily dose of Deuceology. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I want to be more involved in our new church. Something has to give if I do that and writing six blog posts each week has to be one of them.
There are a couple of other things that I am interested in doing as well. I have been piddling around with writing a book. I have some of it written. I want to spend a bit more time doing that in the near future. I also have ideas for a novel or two. I want to write those things as well.
So, yes, change is in the air, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’ve changed before. I used to have Two-For-Tuesday. Twitterific Thursday used to be one of my regular posts. I have changed each time these have gone away.
What I want to happen is for my posts to be of greater quality. I hope that less quantity will bring that.
Pray with me as I head in this new direction.