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Archive for May, 2013

Hi-LARRY-ity #1: 5 Ways To Tell You’re Interviewing The Wrong Pastor

Welcome to the first Hi-LARRY-ity post.  Future editions will be determined by my own warped sense of humor.

I was on pastor search team a few years ago.  Actually, it was more than a few years ago.  Looking back, I was probably even a bit too  young to be doing such important work.  What did I really know about searching for a pastor.  I had barely lived life at all.

I was even on the flip-side once, being interviewed by a search committee.

What I do think now, a decade to nearly two decades later, is that I know how to tell you’re interviewing the wrong pastoral candidate.  Here are some ways.

1.  Your candidate learned Klingon during seminary rather than Greek.  Does he want to boldly go where no pastor has gone before?

2.  Your candidate’s opinion of  Calvinism is that he always loved that comic strip

3.  Your candidate’s response when asked if he is King James only is that he like Dwayne Wade too.

4.  You ask him to describe how the Lord called him into the ministry and he says by text.

5.  When asked to describe the hours he expects, he says that he will need weekends off.

Those are just five ways to tell that you are interviewing the wrong pastor.

How might you know that you are interviewing the wrong pastor?

How To Make A Mid-Life Crisis Positive

I had a friend tell me recently that his wife is having a mid-life crisis. She feels smothered and isn’t sure what she wants anymore. For obvious reasons this is causing some problems in their marriage.

I can empathize with both of them. I can’t imagine what he is going through, yet I’ve been there like her as well. I had my own mid-life crisis, so to speak.

No, I wasn’t smothered by my marriage or parenthood. Me? I thought the Lord called me into the ministry and decided to go to seminary.

*****

Here’s the thing. I don’t think my friend’s wife is unique. Or me. Yes, even those who follow and seek after the Lord get them. Something triggered in each of our lives and we needed to make a drastic change in our lives. I don’t even thing those feelings are a bad thing. The problem is that too often we express them in ways that aren’t good for our lives.

Instead of them becoming a negative situation, we need to make a mid-life crisis positive.

We need to channel them and focus them into something positive.

Maybe we have been wanting to get into better physical shape. Perhaps we need to begin running, cycling or some other physical activity. Hiking may be a great viable option.

How about doing one thing that we have always wanted to do, but have put off. Maybe a simple trip somewhere you have never been before.

Maybe it will take a job change. Maybe we have a dream that we have never realized. It might take getting up at 5 a.m. and hustling a bit, but that might be what we need to do.

Maybe we have had the same job for years in church. Maybe we need to find another way to exercise our spiritual gifts.

It might take a mission trip. Visiting somewhere where we can be around others who are less fortunate than us, who don’t have the benefit of a life that affords them the opportunity to have a mid-life crisis. This might be what the doctor ordered. Or, better yet, the Great Physician.

Maybe we need to pray about it and turn it over to the Lord. Give him our mid-life crisis. Ask Him to use it to glorify Himself.

Whatever option, the key is to recognize that we are going through it. That’s the hard part. Once we do, we need to make the experience a positive one that will not disrupt those who share our lives with.

Have you ever had a mid-life crisis?

We’re In Beta

I’m taking this week off.  My daughter is graduating and I’m taking some time off work.  This is a post that I wrote some time back and never found a spot to publish it.  

It’s easy to beat yourself up.  Believe me.  Trust me.  I’ve done it plenty of times in my life.  Chances are you have too.  It’s really easy to look at any circumstance in life and critique yourself to death.  We do it, often, in much harsher ways than anyone else does.

Stop it.

Stop it right now.

Yes, I know that’s easier said than done.  It’s even easier to type it and put it in a blog post.  However, we must strive to do it.

Why?

Because we are in beta.

In software release cycles, there are different cycles of development and release.  A company may begin with an alpha test.  The software is designed and tested within the company.  General release is a ways off.  Flaws are still evident.  The software team is, in simple terms, trying to get the product to work as it is designed to.

We might say that before Christ we are in alpha.  We were designed a certain way, but we have a fatal flaw called sin.  When we come to know Christ, the flaw is corrected to the point that it isn’t fatal any longer.  Sin’s penalty of death is banished.

What’s next?

We move to beta.  In the software cycle, people outside of the company that designed the software are able to use the product.  There may still be flaws, but they are considered minor enough to allow beta testers to use it.  This enables the company to work more bugs out before a general release.

So, this is where we are.  We’re in beta.  We have come to know Christ.  We are in test stage and we’re definitely being tested.  We are preparing for general release.  Will we be perfect?  No, but most of the time are able to overcome the bugs that still exists within our system.

So, stop beating yourself up.  You weren’t expected to be perfect when you reached beta stage.  You make a mistake?  You hurt someone?  You sin?  Make it right with the Lord and with others.  That’s what beta is for.

Do you know Christ?  Are you in Beta now?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , ,

Why I Get Sleepy In Church

The other day I was sitting there in church.  It was getting late in the service.  Our pastor was preaching a good sermon.  I was enjoying it. Then it happened.

I got sleepy.

My eyes closed a little.  I wasn’t completely nodding off, but I could feel my head just begin to lean forward.  My daughter kind of tapped my shoe and causing to join everyone back in paying attention.

I really didn’t want to end up like Eutychus from the book of Acts.  It would have been embarrassing to have fallen out of my chair right there in front of everyone.  Fortunately, we are on a single level, so I think I would have survived the fall.

The big question is why was I so sleepy.

Was it because I had just  had a hard week at work?  This is true and may have contributed, but it wasn’t the total truth.

Was the sermon boring?  No.  I already said it was a good one.

Had I worked so hard on Saturday that I was still tuckered out from so much exertion?  Uhhhh….no.

I’m going to let you in on the secret.  It’s why you might have hard time staying awake.  It might explain why you have drifted off during the message.  Are you ready?

You didn’t go to bed early enough.

That’s it.  Simple enough.

If you don’t want to get sleepy in church, go to bed earlier.  SNL isn’t worth it worth it.

Do you ever struggle to stay awake during church? 

Categories: Christianity, Church, Faith Tags: , ,

How I Got Laryngitis And Lived To Blog About It

I recently moved to a new team where I work.  It’s a great team of people, many of whom I have worked with before.

One of my seniors on the team went on vacation a couple of weeks ago.  On the day she was supposed to come back, she called in sick.  Well, calling in is not quite the truth.  She texted in.  The problem?

Besides a fever, she had laryngitis.

*****

I’ve been wondering what has been going on with my blog lately.  If you have followed me for a while, you might remember that I’ve been on a journey for the past couple of years.

Two years ago, I was in a miserable church experience.  I left that church.  We went through a church search.  We settled on one, only to realize that we couldn’t get as active as we wanted due to distance.

Finally, we found a church home where we feel welcome and loved.  It has everything that we have wanted in church for years.

And it might have affected my blog.

I was happier than I have been in years in my church life.  I just had one problem.

Suddenly, I struggled to know what to write.  Not to say that I missed any posts, but I’ve struggled to put my thoughts to the keys of my laptop.

I didn’t know what to write about anymore.  I strained to meet my deadlines.

I had lost my voice.  I had developed “writer’s laryngitis.”  And I lived to blog about it.

*****

Maybe I had blocked myself.  Perhaps, I wasn’t being true to who I am as a writer and blogger.  I might have lost my passion for a while.

Hopefully, I’m coming out of it.  I feel like my mojo is coming back.  I’m enjoying it again.

You might not have even noticed this about me here in Deuceology Land.  I hope to put out better product than I have in a while going forward.

I got laryngitis and lived to blog about it.

Have you every gotten “laryngitis” and lost your voice?

Preserving The Gospel

As we continue our journey through Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, we move to chapter two this week.  Paul has spent his time in the first chapter doing three basic things:

  1. Defending his apostolic authority
  2. Defending the gospel he is called to proclaim
  3. Defending the mission he is called to

Chapter two brings Paul to a different focus.  Whereas he was trying to establish his independence from the other apostles in the first chapter, now he attempts to show his unity with them.  Why?  For the sake of preserving the gospel.

After Paul had previously gone to Jerusalem, he spent an interval of fourteen years away on missionary journeys proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.  He, Barnabas and Titus went up to Jerusalem.  Why?  Because of a revelation.  While at Antioch, some false brethren came from Jerusalem teaching that one had to be circumcised as well as have faith in Christ to be in the Church.  The brethren decided to send Paul and Barnabas, prompted by the Holy Spirit it seems, to Jerusalem to settle the matter.  That is how important this issue was.  They took Titus along, who was a Gentile, as evidence of the results of the gospel work they were doing.

Paul met with those who were of reputation.  He submitted to them the gospel that he preached.  Notice how he did this.  He did this in private.  Why?  For fear that the work he had been doing was in vain.  Paul wanted unity in the gospel, so he was afraid that his gospel and the other apostle’s were not in unity.

Paul goes on to state that those who were of high reputation contributed nothing to him.  Why is Paul saying this way to the Galatians.  He has already described the apostle’s as being reputation.  There must be significance to this.  We must remember that the false brethren, the Judaizers, came in throwing the apostles from Jerusalem names around.  Paul is simply bringing them down a notch from the loftier status they had been placed.  They did nothing to add to the gospel Paul preached.  Instead, they saw that Paul had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.  The same God and the same Christ who worked through Peter worked through Paul.

What were the results of this meeting?  They gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.  Unity was preserved.  Most of all, the gospel was preserved.  The apostles and Paul were on the same page.  They only thing they encouraged Paul was to remember the poor –  the very thing he wanted to do.

What can we learn through this set of events?

1.  Truth matters.  Paul believed in what he was doing.  He was willing to fight for it.  He was not willing to lay down or compromise with the false brethren.

2.  Handling conflict.  Paul handled the problems in a way that was biblical and practical.  How much better would our conflicts be if we approached them with someone in private first?

3.  Unity was maintained.  Unity within the church remained and the gospel flourished.

Resignation, Part 32

This is a weekly work of Fiction. You can find the other chapters at my Fiction page.

Everyone returned to the meeting room to resume the interview. A few of them had some drinks. Dale looked around and they seemed more relaxed. He looked forward to getting this interview done and moving forward.

David looked around and spoke up. “If no one had a burning question, I would like to start. Dale, what are the similarities and the differences between an interim pastor and a plain Jane pastor?”

Dale grinned slightly at this question. “Well, the main difference is that you are coming into each with different mindsets. Coming in as an interim, you know that it won’t be permanent. You won’t be “the guy”. You are only there until the man God calls as the pastor is called. You don’t really have any authority. You are just trying to help the church transition to a new pastor.”

Other than that, it’s really the same. You are going to love the people. You are going to visit the sick. You are going to check on the widows. Are there kids that need a father in their lives? It might not be you, but you try to mobilize men to reach out to those young ones. You are going to preach your heart. You seek God’s heart to share with the people.”

Bill looked up. “Why are looking at being an interim instead of a full-time pastor?”

Dale looked up at the ceiling. How would he answer this question? “I pastored for several years. Then I began teaching. I loved both. I continued to preach some even while teaching. I went on sabbatical a few months ago and my preaching engagements increased. I really began to fall back in love with preaching. I began to see movement among the folks in the churches I was preaching at. My wife and my good friend, Doug, both sensed that I was being led back to preach and pastor full-time. I wanted to try being an interim for a few months and then possibly pursue a full-time position.”

Tom looked around, then spoke up. “Will your wife and kids join you here if we select you?”

Dale looked at Tom and said, “No. I want to leave them at the church we are members at until we see what happens. I don’t want to drag them out of that church, then go back and then to another again. I want it to be as stable as possible for them. Of course, they will be here occasionally, though. Just not all of the time.”

Teresa decided it was her turn to ask the next question. “Do you anticipate any problems if you are the interim pastor?”

Dale smiled at Teresa. “Of course. There are always problems, where you are. I can’t anticipate exactly what those are, but someone won’t like what I’m doing. I can’t control those kind of things. The only thing I can do is love the people and preach the word of God. Everything else will take care of itself.”

They sat there in silence for a second. David looked at Fred. “You got anything Fred?”

“No, I”m good, David.”

David looked to Dale. “I think we’re good on questions. Do you have any for us?”

Dale looked at David and then around the table. “I have one question, really. Just from some of the questions, I have to guess there have been some problems here. That’s not unusual, but can you give me an idea of what has gone on?”

The team looked around at each other. Finally, Bill spoke up. “If everyone doesn’t mind, I’ll speak up. I led the charge to run our former pastor off. A group of friends and I decided we needed a change. We put enough pressure on Donald that he left. We should have been patient. He would have probably retired soon anyway, but we decided to hurry the process.”

Dale looked at Bill. “That’s pretty forthcoming of you, Bill. Why be so honest?”

Bill smiled. “Well, you would have figured it out anyway. I also just don’t have time to be that coy anymore. I have the brain tumor I mentioned earlier. I don’t have time to play those kind of games.”

“Have you and your friends stopped causing the trouble?”

“I know I have. But I’m not sure about the others. I’m afraid that they will continue, even if I’m not part of it any longer.”

Dale slowly nodded. “I appreciate it, Bill. I don’t think I have any more questions.”

David looked around and no one said anything.

“Let us get together and discuss this, Dale. We’ll decide what we want to do and let you know. How does that sound?”

Dale smiled. “Sounds good. I pray the Lord leads us all in the right direction.”

Everyone said, “Amen!” and got up to leave. A few hung around to shake hands with Dale. Bill and Tom left immediately, walking out together.