Eeyore and Grace!

Do you have any Eeyore’s in your life?

The message God gave me for this past Sunday was on grace. I am a pastor for those who may not be aware. We are studying our way through the book of James on Sunday mornings at RC4SQ Church and had come to chapter four, verse six where James writes, “But He (God) gives greater grace.”

The definition of “greater” means that there is nothing better; nothing bigger; nothing grander; no-thing at all greater than the grace God gives to you or me. Grace is not a concept either; it is a Person, the Person Jesus Christ!

As I was putting together my notes and power-point during the week I had run across this posting on Facebook…

“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to be happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind, or ask him to change.”  (I added the picture)

eeyoreHaving been, and sometimes still feeling like Eeyore, I thought this statement was fantastic especially when looking at grace as the Person of Christ. You see, Jesus is that friend who invites me along for all the adventures and shenanigans. YES! It is OK to have shenanigans as a Christian, just within reason!

However, Jesus does not ask me to pretend to be something I am not, happy or otherwise. He does not leave me behind. He loves me anyway. As for change, He does that in and through me as He sees I am ready for it, then it is called growth and maturity.

I used Eeyore as my illustration because most everyone can relate to his situation. Tails fall off and we need help putting them back. Dark clouds do sometimes follow us around. People come into our lives that need help and have nowhere else to turn.

God even brought an Eeyore right through the front door of the church as some of us were still hanging around in fellowship. This Eeyore was in a mess. We helped how we were able. Did a follow-up this morning but cannot find the person.

What do we do? We stay available for the next time that tail falls off and we pray for God’s safety to be around and with this person. In short, we love this person anyway.

Look for the Eeyore’s in your life, love them anyway.

Oh, and did you notice…Eeyore does not where socks!

Some pain never leaves you.

image

Pain is an interesting monster. Without it we don’t know we’re hurt. Pain from a cut finger or a broken bone can be mended.
Then there is the chronic pain of disease. I have a dear friend who suffers from the effects of MS. She is in pain, often excruciating, most of the time now. Through her faith in God, she seems to motor through. I know its not easy for her.
My own wife suffers from chronic pain from injuries years ago, she does not allow herself to be sidelined by them though. Again, an attribute of her faith in God.
Last night I heard a woman’s name mentioned at our Bible study and found out today that last week she succumbed to the pain she has had since her son died in a car accident a year or more ago.
That seems to be  a pain many people just can not motor through.
This woman could no longer face another day and ended her life.
Suicide is not the answer.
Now there are many people who are feeling a great pain in their hearts for this rather young and once vibrant woman. Pain that can not be healed without the proper medicine.
Let’s face it; death of a loved one, early in life, is not something anyone cares to face, especially the death of a child. But there are better alternatives than answering death with death.
I know first hand what it is like to face the darkness that surrounds suicide!
As a pastor, I have a duty to share the hope that is found in Christ Jesus. You may not be one who has a strong pull to know the love that Jesus has for you. You may be hiding behind pain that you believe no one else can understand.
Stop hiding, begin living!
Trust. Surrender. Believe.
Its not about a religion, its about a relationship.
A relationship that can heal every hurt and pain you face!
Believe that God really does have a plan and that He wants you to be part of the beauty He has established.
The Bible tells us that we can take the ashes of our lives and bring them
to God. He will then take those ashes and turn them into a beautiful thing!
No one else is able to do that; only God, through Jesus Christ can heal the pain you face today, or give you the hope to motor through.
Please, take a moment and give Him a chance to heal your pain!

Thanks for checking in.
Today is definitely a no socks day!
Shalom!

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!

Mile Markers

Isn’t it interesting how we are given natural “mile markers” in our lives? Most call them birthdays, a time to reflect on where we are in our lives.

A friend of mine turns 50 today. As I was speaking with her yesterday about what bothers us about birthdays – my issue being that others make such a big deal out of them, to which she retorted, “Just wait till you turn 50!” Yeah, I’ve got a couple years for that, we’ll see. Another friend of ours said 50 and 60 didn’t bother him, but now he claims, “It’s OVER!!!” I think I will still be amazed that I made it that far!

My youngest daughter just turned 22 the other day. When I was her age I was in the midst of living life in a haze. Drugs and alcohol consumed my life at that time. Sure, I remained functional, I had two young daughters to take care of, they helped keep me going. One of those little girls who kept me going turns 29 today. I am very proud of her, she has always seemed to have her life in order. Some would look at it and call it OCD, while others just see a driven woman raising her young family. Either way, she has always had a plan. She knew from early on what she wanted and how to get it. And she did! At 29 I was just getting my life back in order.

Even though I don’t have a birthday till late fall, I still find myself reflecting on mile stones. Having all of my children now over the legal drinking age; the oldest, our son, already closing in on 31; our middle daughter carrying our fifth grand child; our business of ten years being up for sale; this journey through depression…

All mile markers, maybe not your typical ones, but still mile markers. After all, its not how long you’ve been on the road that matters, its how far you have gone that does!

That’s this shepherd’s stance for today!
Well – Good Day!

Some random thoughts on Leadership.

Leadership is a tough task in general, when you are on a journey through depression it can be even more challenging. Some of you caught my re-blog yesterday of a great 4+ minute video called “I had a black dog, his name was depression”, I was impressed at how it just nailed it. I am learning more and more from many blogs about this journey I’m on. I thank you all for your words and your openness. When it comes to spiritual leadership, I glean a lot from my buddy Karl Vaters.

He had a guest blogger today and the topic was right on par for me. Check it out here.
This is the part that really pulled the topic together for me…
“It’s not that spiritual leaders have it all together. On the contrary, we realize we are at least as messed up as these folks we have been tasked to lead.”
Thank Lee Fruh (pronounced Free) for your transparency.

I know I’m just as (or even more) messed up than a lot of folks I minister to. I have found that many people in ministry are feeling the same. It leads to feelings of inadequacy, which leads to 1500 ministry leaders leaving the ministry monthly. The cause for these feelings stem from the fact that most people don’t understand that someone in a spiritual leadership position CAN be messed up.

I have always told people, “Don’t you dare put me on a pedestal! If I have not disappointed you, surprised you, or pissed you off, just wait, I’m human, it’s bound to happen eventually!”
Then it gets thrown in our faces when people realize we are just as human as they are. My Honey posted on this earlier this week, check out her blog here, it’s the article about big girl panties.

So where am I headed with this you may be asking?
It’s a matter of relinquishing my abilities and troubles in order to help someone else. I MUST fully rely on God for this ability, if I don’t I’ll just crawl into a dark place and hide for a while. My therapist says that it is the hurt people who can help the hurting.

That is so true! I have always told the folks in our fellowship that we can not look into someone else’s eyes and truly say, “I know how you feel, or what you are going through” unless you have actually lived it yourself.

We leaders also need the fellowship of others in order to refresh. This is not always easy to do. Many ministry/pastor groups are not always the best place to get this. Some of them even turn into “comparison” bouts. ‘How’s your church doing?’ is code for how many people do you have now and how are your finances. As a Small Church Pastor, I don’t worry about “butts in the seats and bucks in the plate” (Thanks Karl!) But still, it is hard for spiritual leaders to find a place to just be real!

My church family is pretty good at this though. The guys in my monthly group know I’m human, and accept me for this ‘flaw’. I can even minister to one who is troubled, or should I say “fudged up” something, while dealing with my own issues.

Yesterday I got that chance. As I was out on a bike ride to get some exercise and “teach my black dog some new tricks” (watch the video), a friend in the fellowship was struggling with coming to a Men’s Day tomorrow. I was able to tell him that all of us had been in his position, and not to worry, call so-n-so for a ride and be there. His non-presence would not be good for the whole group.

He thanked me for helping him get back on track to which I answered, “Well, that’s what we do here at ‘Knuckle Heads r Us’ aka He Cares, just try to get through it together.”

Leaders lead, they don’t gather. Even in the hard times, especially through the “journey’s”.

Looking forward to the fellowship, meat, and shooting of clay pigeons tomorrow, this leader needs it!

Thanks for checking out this shepherd’s stance for today.