Sunday, March 16, 2008

When the High Road is in a Flood Plain

We have a situation in our church. The senior pastor we hired two years ago with such great expectations turned out to be a snake- oil salesman. The problem is that the large majority of our members are completely unaware and the people in the know aren't talking. There is a mountain of evidence that the man has deceived us all, yet in the spirit of being Christ-like, Mt. Everest has been disguised as a benign molehill that can be remedied with some vague explanations and an overly generous severance package. The remaining staff members, as well as godly leaders in our church, are now bound by a self-imposed gag order while those who are uninformed cry out indignantly or shrug their shoulders indifferently. I am a huge believer in turning the other cheek, forgiving seventy times seven,and taking the "high road". However, at what point does the "high road" detour us from the truth? Our financially challenged church is committed to paying a man $55,000 for services that have not been nor will ever be rendered. The Uninformed think we asked for the pastor's resignation simply because he didn't visit people in the hospital. But most importantly, godly men are having their integrity questioned. In my opinion, the creek is rising and not even higher ground is safe from destruction.
However, God is Sovereign.
"Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. For I the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowlege that they are a people the Lord has blessed"
Isaiah 61:7-9

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Waste of Wood

"When it was built for an international exposition in the last century, the structure was called monstrous by the citizens of the city, who demanded it be torn down as soon as the exposition was over. Yet from the moment its architect first conceived it, he took pride in it and loyally defended it from those who wished to destroy it. He knew it was destined for greatness. Today it is one of the architectural wonders of the modern world and stands as the primary landmark of Paris, France. The architect, of course, was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. His famous tower was built in 1889. In the same way we are struck by Jesus’ loyalty to another structure—the church—which he entrusted to an unlikely band of disciples, whom he defended, prayed for, and prepared to spread the gospel. To outsiders they (and we) must seem like incapable blunderers. But Jesus, the architect of the church, knows this structure is destined for greatness when he
returns." - John Berstecher (source unknown)

A few months ago, my precious youngest daughter had to think of some ways to serve or help out at church for a discipleship class she was attending. As she made out her list, it included such things as "Pick up toys when you play at church" or "Help pick up toys even if you didn't get them out" "Be respectful to your teachers" "Respect the people that put their hard work into it" Pretty predictable for an 8 year old... However, there was one that really caught my attention. It said, "Don't ever call the church a waste of wood."

Admittedly, there are times when it is more of a chore than a joy to go to church; however, it is not a "waste of wood".

Times when I've walked out of a worship service feeling more discouraged than when I walked in. And yet, it is not a "waste of wood."

Times when I've been so disgusted that I feel as if I could leave and never return. But I am reminded by my youngest that the church is never a "waste of wood."

Our church is facing some tough times. Poor leadership, financial hardship, and self-interest factions appear to have taken their toll; however, the church is not a "waste of wood".

Feelings have been hurt, lives have been changed and our reputation has been tarnished; still, the church is not a "waste of wood".

For all its shortcomings, controversies and turmoil, Jesus loves His church fiercely; therefore, it is certainly not a "waste of wood".

Thanks for the reminder, Hal.