Joining a ministry family…part two…

In the first segment of this series I mentioned that in ministry we often ask the question, ‘What is God saying and what are we going to do about it?’

When we merged our church with the Family at Faith Community we joined something larger than just a local church family, we joined in with The Foursquare Movement. Founded as an interdenominational organization with the intent and focus of evangelism, this larger family has now brought us into the fold. As I had shared previously, I have been going through the licensing process. Last month was my interview and recommendation before the board of directors. On April 30th the board voted and approved me and today I received my official License to Preach…

Officially Certified!

Officially Certified!

The original plan was that I would get licensed and be installed as associate pastor with Faith Community. That was until that phone call back in January, the one from our divisional supervisor about a church nearby that was in need of a pastor. Well as it turns out the pastor who has been there for over fourteen years is retiring this month, he was supposed to retire last year but didn’t feel right about it plus this year his wife is retiring from nursing so they get to retire together.

The church in need of a new senior pastor is in the community of Ridgecrest California. A small city in the Mojave Desert with a Naval Weapons Base as the main employer. It just so happens that our oldest daughter and son-in-love have lived there for several years, and our middle daughter and son-in-love go over there for visits quite often. This is a bonus as we will get to see them all more often together.

Well if you figured it out by now (and I know you have because you are all rather intelligent people who read my stuff), I am now the new senior pastor of Ridgecrest Foursquare Church!
Chuch pic
A small church with a rich history, loving people, and a hunger for what God has in store for us and the community as we serve together to advance the Kingdom of God!

This journey has been like no other I’ve experienced with changing leadership in churches before. Most of the time it has been a long drawn out process of resumes and interviews, this however has been so chill that it just feels so natural and planned out ahead of me for years. That is how God works after-all!

So after just a few short months of planning and prayer, my Honey and I will be starting another season of life and ministry as of June 1st! Prayers are appreciated for us and our new church family as well as our extended family at Faith Community!

And yes, this journey will be done mostly without socks of course! Is there any better way to live?

Why did I wait ’til I’m forty-eight?

I hope that title is really making you wonder right now; Just what did he wait for?
 
Well, lets back up say thirty years to when I first did what I have waited for until now.
Have I got your attention? Good, it’s probably not what some of you are thinking.
 
Thirty years ago (almost thirty-one) was when I graduated high school. Now high school for me was anything but my favorite time, I struggled to even get by. I flourished in the classes I enjoyed, but it was those stinking required classes that were my downfall.
 
World Government was my worst, and we only had two choices in teachers. Both of whom were ultra conservative and used class time to “share” there political views. They would be surprised with me today to find out I now share some (not all) of their beliefs.
 
To the detriment of my senior year, I failed the class. I was also not allowed to walk in graduation even though I had already signed up to take the class during summer school with another teacher.
 
I managed to fly through the summer program, finishing in half the time scheduled. The teacher for that class just happened to be my drafting teacher whom I had for three classes my senior year, he was eager to get ride of me.
 
The following fall I enrolled in a junior college and began taking classes. It was far from my home town and friends. I was not enjoying my college experience. Plus I was living with my grandmother and her husband which was really not a good fit. So I dropped my classes and moved back home.
 
I had planned on re-entering academia but life got the better of me. I got married at eighteen, divorced by twenty with two amazing daughters. Re-married at twenty-three and life just kept on going.
 
In 1998 I did get an opportunity to take night classes through Golden Gate Seminary. The regional director came to our church and had asked the pastor to bring together a few men he thought would benefit from taking this new leadership program the seminary had launched. I was surprised at the invite and went to the meeting a bit apprehensive.
 
I took me until 2003 to complete my 24 units and earn a Diploma in Christian Ministry but I did it. In the fall of ’03, twenty years after finishing high school, I finally got to walk up and receive a diploma!
 
Now, eleven years later, I am pursuing furthering my education. First with completing my Associates with plans to move right into a Bachelors. Why did I wait until I’m forty-eight for this?
 
I really don’t know! I almost got discouraged just in choosing a school.
 
The trouble I have is that I want to take the classes that actually apply to my career choice of ministry. There will never be a time that I will use an algebraic equation during a sermon or counseling session…EVER!
 
I have found a Christian University that has just what I’m looking for. My paperwork is filled out, and my FASFA is complete! I’ll send in my paperwork and application fee on Monday.
 
So now its just a matter of being accepted and starting classes in June!
 
Life’s too short to wait for certain things, so don’t put something off that God may be asking you to do.
 
And remember…Life is also too short to wear socks every day!

I have the faith to jump out of the boat, but do I have enough to walk on the water?

Mat 14:25-29 “Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”  “Come!” He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.”

I admire Peter for his courage and faith to climb out of the boat in this situation. I too have been called by Christ to “Come!” into an area that seems to be very stormy and unsure right now.

Just over eleven weeks ago we sold our business to pursue the new calling God has placed in our hearts; Suicide Alertness and Intervention Training. My wife and I know this is what we are to be doing, we’ve heard the call and it has been confirmed. We’ve jumped out of the boat! OK, I jumped out of the boat and she has followed her crazy ‘dreamer’ husband once again!

Now almost twelve weeks into this new journey, the waves and wind are looking rather ominous! There is doubt that I can stay walking on the water, so to speak.

Mat 14:30-31 “But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I know that God’s plan takes His timing, and I see the unfolding of that plan transpiring…

But with faith comes doubt, just like Peter, I feel that sinking feeling and am crying out!

Jesus is saying to me also…”You of little faith…”

It’s a matter of who I am doing this for, this new journey and all. My Honey wrote a great post about this who, read it here.

I just need to remember that God has called me to follow Him, even if it is through stormy and uncertain seas, because with Christ, things work out…

Mat 14:32-32 “When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!””

Men, there is a problem…cajones…got any!

Guys, yes, this is mainly for you today. Ladies, if you know a man, please share this with him.

There is an old saying…”The first step is admitting you have a problem.” It comes from the twelve step program.

For a person with thoughts of suicide or one who struggles with depression and anxiety, I believe (again, this is just my two cents here) the first step is getting the cajones (ie; nerve, ba**s) to ask for help in admitting there is a problem!

You may think this too harsh, especially coming from a pastor’s point of view. I’m supposed to be a loving, gentle and caring individual who sits with you and tells you stories of puppy dogs and butterflies and how everything will be alright, right?

WRONG!!!

Let’s look at it this way…

Your house is on fire…I’m standing in the street…you are unaware that there is imminent danger…do you want me to quietly and gently tell you from the street in my best “counseling” voice that you are in trouble? Or would you rather I jump to action, scream my butt off to get your attention and get you and those you love out safe?

Well, there is another imminent danger for men…

The largest percentage of completed suicides in our country right now are men ages 45-85!!!

Let me repeat that…

MEN AGES 45-85 ARE COMPLETING MORE SUICIDES THAN ANY OTHER AGE GROUP!!!

Anyone ready to admit there is a problem? Anyone ready to join in with jumping to action and getting others to safety?

I wasn’t…not just a few months ago. Then I did because my world was coming apart.

WHAT? A pastor with problems? Say it ain’t so!

SORRY…the problems and struggles that those in the pastorate have are causing between 1400-1700 servants to leave the ministry every month!

Most of those in ministry leadership are men. Men are fixers. Men don’t ask for help. I didn’t want to, but I did. (Check out my journey starting here.)

Seriously, we men don’t even like to ask for directions, the GPS has been the best invention in recent history!

Men, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, loneliness, or anything else like that, admit it and ask for help. Talk to your doctor or health care provider.

And don’t just think that a little pill for E.D. will help. That will only give you a temporary “fix” to a deeper issue! That’s not being a true man. Life is NOT like the commercials!

So guys…MAN UP…admit there is a problem…get help…get some cojones…you’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for coming by and hanging with this shepherd’s stance today and letting me rant!

Comfort Food; make sure God’s serving it!

Besides the need for hope, the need for comfort could be the greatest thing people desire. When we call certain foods “comfort food”, it’s an indicator of a deeper need to fill. Something food really can’t fill, but we try.

For a person having thoughts of suicide, food doesn’t even come close.

As a pastor I counsel with people a lot on the need for comfort through hard times. Often the question is asked, “Why am I going through this struggle?”

I’m a realist as well. I turn to passages like 2 Corinthians 1:4 when questions like this are posed to me.

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

He, being God, comforts us, literally calls us near to Him during our pressure and anguish. Not to take it away necessarily. Look at what the verse says…”so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction”

So that we can call near someone else who is going through a struggle! So we can relate to them and draw near to them; help them. This can only take place if we are ready, willing, and able to help. If we have compassion.

For the person having thoughts of suicide, the need for someone to take the time to understand is huge comfort. The signs are not always very visible, but that person is sending out “warning flags” for help, they want to talk about it.

Recently a well know pastors son completed a suicide. This young man had struggled for a long time with depression and other troubles. His family had gotten him help from some of the top experts in the country. Yet he still became another who could not overcome his thoughts of death.

When it comes to a viewpoint on this situation from “the church”, I can only offer my own humble and personal opinion.

It is sad that another life ended in this manner, any life. And yes, it can even happen in “the church”!

Guess what, we are human too! Any human can have suicidal thoughts and without help can succumb to those thoughts. For them, it actually brings the comfort they are desperately seeking, even when it happens in “the church”.

This is not a time for “the church” to be silent though. It is a time for us to take what the last part of that verse says…through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Give comfort to those who are hurting because we are receiving from God the comfort we need. Don’t hold onto it. Don’t circle the wagons and become protective.  Rather become proactive and share it.

We, those in “the church”, are the conduit of God’s comfort to others. Let that marinate in your noodle for a bit!

You mean we are to put aside our feelings and attitudes about certain things, even suicide, in order to help others?

REALLY, put others first? What kind of wack-job thinking is this???

It’s Christ’s way of thinking!

My Honey recently had an experience in promoting the book about her attempted suicide where I was very surprised at the response. Essentially the point was that the publishing house would not publish a book on suicide at this time or maybe never, because “the church” is hurting right now.

REALLY? Isn’t one of the things Jesus called His church to do is help those who are hurting?

More on that next time!

That’s one shepherd’s stance for today, peace out!