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Choices

The man sat across from his pastor, grieving because his marriage was in shambles and his wife had told him that she was leaving him.

“What seems to be the problem?” asked the pastor, though he already knew what it was because the man’s wife had been to see him.  She had informed him of the circumstances of their marriage and that she was divorcing him.

The grieving man responded, “She says that I am addicted to pornography and that it is ruining our relationship.  I am addicted to pornography.  I just can’t help it.   I’ve tried to quit but I just can’t do it.  I am addicted and my addiction determines the choices I make in everything, including my marriage.”
The pastor responded, “No, my friend, it’s the other way around.  The addiction does not determine your choices.  The choices you make determine your addictions.  You have chosen pornography as part of your lifestyle and as a result, you have become addicted to it.  That choice has now resulted in the dissolution of your marriage. Don’t blame it on your addiction; blame your choice and yourself for choosing it.”

The marriage failed, largely in part because of his choosing to continue participating in his addiction to pornography, rather than seeking to be free of it.  Addictions are real and whether it is to pornography, drugs, alcohol, food, laziness, lust or whatever, a person can either choose to stay in it and live with the consequences, or choose to find help to be freed from the addiction and work toward experiencing a more healthy and productive lifestyle.

Jesus has the power to heal us of our addiction to whatever sin in which we may be involved.  His Spirit can guide us in making the right choice when we are faced by the recurring temptation to once again entertain that sin.  But, it is still our choice to follow his counsel or not.

Unlike the dog that naturally returns to its vomit [Proverbs 26:11] and the washed pig that returns to the mud-hole, [II Peter 2:22] Jesus tells us that we are persons who can be set free by his grace and his Spirit.  We can choose to return to the old, sinful ways that serve only to entrap us, destroying us and our relationships with others.  OR, we have the power to choose, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to live a clean life and do the things that lead us to it.

It all has to do with our choices!  We can choose to be a slave to sin - in whatever form, or a slave to righteousness.  It is far a better decision to choose to be addicted to doing the things that are right and good!  As our Lord God said, “Choose life!”
 

Words that Build Up or Words that Tear Down

     Language is a means for communicating.  It provides a way for persons to live in community and to express and exchange thoughts and ideas.  Language is a beautiful gift from God, who even gives us the ability to learn languages of other cultures so that members of the human family can relate across cultural boundaries.
     The words we use in communicating with each other have the power to be spoken in a way that blesses, encourages and edifies another person.  Words also have the power to belittle, degrade and curse the one who hears them.  We have the power to choose which it will accomplish – to bless or to curse; to build up or to tear down.
     My question is, with so many positive words available in the English language, with which to express ourselves to another, why is it necessary for some to continue using vulgar, sick and perverted words, especially the wrongful use of the name of Jesus or God our Father, in trying to emphasize what they are thinking?  Why are their sentences punctuated with four-letter swear words that spew filth on the one to whom they are speaking?  Are they trying to impress their companions with their “I’m being one of the ‘in’ crowd”, or, a desire to “need to shock the listener,” attitude, in order to show how really “cool” they are?  Their body language generally reflects their verbal language.
     In reality, the one who uses such crass and vulgar words in speaking to another, is revealing their ignorance.  More to the point, the person who uses such words is dumb.  Ignorant means that one simply does not yet know or understand the appropriate ways to communicate, or how to use appropriate words, and so, is willing to learn and is willing to be taught.  Dumb means that a person does not know, doesn’t want to know and has no desire to know or be taught another way to speak.  Their vocabulary in their native language is comprised of filthy cuss words.  It’s the only language they know.  They are not teachable!  They are dumb!
     Jesus made it very clear, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man [and woman] brings forth the good things out of the good stored up in him [and her], and the evil man [and woman] brings forth the evil things from the evil stored up in him [and her].  But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.”  [Matthew 12:34b-37]   God takes words seriously!
     People who are identified with Jesus Christ and who know they are a new creation, also learn a new language.  It is a language of love and kindness.   We endeavor to have the mind of Christ and to think and speak as he does.  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, what is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is praiseworthy, think about these things.” [Philippians 4:8] And speak accordingly; speaking the Truth in Love.
 

Worship

What a great and awesome blessing it is to gather with other people of Faith to worship him who is the Lord of Life and the Savior of our Souls.  Even upon entering the place that has been designated for worship – whether in a cathedral or sanctuary, a simple room or under a tree beside the lake, there is a sense of divine Presence.  Hearts become attuned to the heart of God in preparation for a time of lifting up our voices as we sing praises, offer our tithes and gifts, kneel at his holy altar and hear the life-transforming Word proclaimed.
 
Little wonder that the Word of God instructs us:  “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:25
 
Worship revitalizes our faith, feeds our spirits, strengthens our resolve and serves to encourage us as we face the various issues of life around us beyond the confines of the venue in which we gather.
 
Sometimes people can be heard to say, upon leaving a time of worship, “Wasn’t that a great worship service this morning?”  Others join in, “Yes, couldn’t you just feel the Spirit?”  Still others, “And the worship songs, weren’t they beautiful?  The worship team did an outstanding job.”  And others, “Yes, and Pastor preached a powerful message.”  Occasionally, one is heard to say, “Well, I wasn’t fed this morning.  I didn’t get anything out of it!”
 
Over all, though, the worshippers are pleased with the service and are glad that they came, for it made them feel so good and gave them some direction for the new week.  A video of the service is then posted on Face Book or Instagram, “what a great service of worship we had at Church of the Happy Hour this morning,” with a backdrop of changing light colors and occasional wisps of artificial fog to add to the visual tantalization.  Apparently it serves to add to the mystical, ethereal and supernatural atmosphere of the event, called worship.
 
Ultimately, however, the question must be asked, “Was God pleased with the worship this morning?  Was God impressed with the program?  Was the focus of the worship on the “Great and Glorious” God of Creation or the “Looking for Something to Make Me Feel Good” Human Heart.  Did God sense that the hearts of the people were in tune with his heart?  Did the singing and the sharing and the speaking bring honor and praise and glory and joy to the Heart of the One who was being worshipped?  After all, isn’t worship all about God?
 
When the hosts of heaven worship, they break forth with full attention on the One who is worthy of all worship:  “They fell down on their faces before the throne, saying “Amen! Praise and Glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Amen!” [Revelation 7:11, 12]
 
Perhaps when we gather for worship and realize that we stand in the very presence of THAT God, we may emulate the heavenly hosts and fall down on our faces with repentant and contrite hearts, realizing in whose Presence we are privileged to be and the condition of the lives that we bring into worship!
 
“Lord God, teach us how to worship. Jesus said that you are seeking people who will worship you in Spirit and in Truth.  Show us how to do that so that it will bring joy to your heart here, and prepare us to then join with the hosts of heaven to worship you eternally.  Amen.”
 

Scarred for Life

Virtually everyone has at least one scar.  Check to see if there is one on your body.  Somewhere in our normal daily activities we usually experience a cut, accidentally or intentionally.  For example, we may pick up a sharp knife and the blade slips through our hand or across a wrist as we drop it and the result is a serious cut.
 
And too, we may experience a broken bone or a tumor inside our body and it is then necessary for a physician to use a sharp surgical scalpel to cut into the body to repair the damage.  There are many ways by which we may have been cut or wounded.
 
Whatever the cause, or need, for a cut to happen to our bodies, there is designed within our bodies the God-created and God-given provision for healing to happen.  God has designed the body to heal itself.  The blood that is produced by the bone marrow has within it – with rare exception, the healing properties of an immune system to keep the body healthy.
 
Immediately following a cut, blood flows.  That blood cleanses the wound and at the same time the white cells rush to protect the body from the invasion of bacteria and possible infection.  The body then works to close the wound and form a scab to protect it so that healing can happen.  Natural healing is a basic part of God’s design and it is depended upon by all who are in the healing professions whose job it is to help the body heal when it cannot heal itself.
 
One of the end results of experiencing a cut, in addition to the healing that happens, is that there is often left a scar.  Depending on the seriousness of the cut, a scar can be barely visible or it can be very obvious and ugly.  It may have no impact on the rest of our lives, or, in some cases, it may have dramatic impact on how we can function.  Whether great or small, however, a scar is the sign of a healed wound.  We may be scarred for life, but the scar is evidence that we still have life.  We can live with scars.  We may be scarred, but life goes on, because life is more than the scars we wear.
 
The same principle is true with the unseen scars in our lives.  We may be emotionally wounded by experiencing a traumatic event.  It may be the death of a loved one or an unkind word spoken by a person who has no intention of wounding, but it does, nevertheless.  It may come as the result of watching one or more of our children choose a wrong lifestyle or of a friend betraying a confidence.  Wounds happen, sometimes leaving deep and unseen scars inside.
 
We may even be scarred for life by those inner wounds.  Scarred though we may be, life goes on!  We may be wounded, but we’re still alive.  Life is far more than the inner or outer scars we pick up as we go through life.
 
Scars can serve as a constant reminder that God has brought me through.  I am a survivor.  Seen on the body, they are a visible reminder to me that I have a healed wound and I am alive.  Unseen within the body, they are still a reminder that, even though the issue and resulting wound may or may not be healed, it has not killed me.  I’m still alive to talk about it.
 
The Apostle Paul reminds us that we have this treasure [this light and life of God] in clay pots or “jars of clay.” [II Corinthians 4:7-10]  These fragile lives of ours can be hurt and even broken.  Regardless of what happens to these bodies and souls of ours, when we are in Jesus, we discover that the scars and wounds of our lives matter very little.  They do not determine the quality and value of our lives. 
 
What really matters is that, as Believers in Jesus, our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” [Colossians 3:3].  And our various scars, visible or not, are nothing compared to his.  Jesus was scarred when he hung on the cross – ugly, deep scars that disfigured his face and body, but his scars are a reminder to us that there is life after scars – even scars that result in death.  God’s word reminds us that “by his wounds, we are healed.” [I Peter 2:24]
 
Do you have physical and/or emotional scars in your life?  Check to see.  Then give praise to God!  You’re still alive!  He brought you through!  Even better, you’re alive in Jesus!  Because of his scars - and stripes and beatings and bleeding and dying and rising from the dead, you and I are alive – forever!  Compared to that, what’s a little wound in our emotions or a little scrape on our bodies?
 

WHEN HEAVEN JUMPS TO ITS FEET

     There is one thing, more than any other thing, that makes all of heaven jump to its feet in celebration.  One verse in Scripture declares what it is.  “There is more rejoicing in heaven over one [get that - ONE] sinner who repents than over ninety nine righteous people who do not need to repent.”  Luke 15:7
     With that statement, Jesus concludes his three parables that are related to the lost being found: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son – each of which was found and resulted in great rejoicing.  When the lost person is found, there is great rejoicing in heaven.  Actually, there is also little on earth to compare with seeing a lost person come to Jesus and realize that in him, they have come out of “lostness” into “foundness;” they have come out of darkness in to the Light; out of ignorance into understanding; out of death into life; out of sin into salvation; out of hell into heaven.  That also gives cause for rejoicing while we Believers in Christ are yet here on earth.
     What is that one thing, that one event that takes place that makes all of hell jump to its feet in celebration?  Is it possible that Satan rejoices when no one seeks the lost and they stay lost?  Does all hell jump to its feet when it sees the ninety nine righteous people go their merry way and pay no attention to the one weak, straggling, lost sheep that can be easily picked off?  Satan loves to ‘pick out’ and ‘pick off.’  Do the minions of hell celebrate when they see the ones called ‘Righteous’ fighting over doctrine as to who is right and who is wrong, while their neighbors are trapped in sin that leads to death? 
     Do demons tell each other to just be patient because many of the “Found” can’t seem to agree whether there even is a hell or that anyone is lost?  Just be patient!  Then we can celebrate!
     Jesus made it very clear that he “came to seek and save the lost.” [Luke 19:10]  He came to seek and save the lost so that they would not be lost forever.  He came to take away any reason for Satan and Hell to celebrate.  Perhaps that is one reason as to why he has called you and me to share the good news of God’s love for all people, so that the lost can be found, and all heaven – including us “Found ones” here on earth, can jump also to our feet in joyful celebration.
 

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Thank You for Giving Through GiveBIG

In spite of the media problems we experienced on Give BIG day, we received $13,609.34 doubled to $27,218.68 plus $774.00 from the stretch fund.  All together, we received $27,992.68. Some people accidentally donated double or triple amounts because the giving site (Kimbia) was timing out and experiencing difficulty handling the load.  If you are one of those people and would like to be reimbursed for your additional gifts please let us know.  We will refund the amounts you did not intend to give.  Thank you for your participation and patience.  God's blessings on each of you. --  Peg

Give Big 2015

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GiveBIG May 5, 2015

The Seattle Foundation has made it easy for you to make contribution to the community non profit organization of your choice. Wind of the Spirit has now been included as a organization to receive donations through this program. If you would like to make a donation to WOSM please click below.

 

Give Big 2015: Wind of the Spirit Ministries

Turning the World Upside Down

Turning the World Upside Down
"These men who have turned the world upside down has come here also."  Acts 17:6
            We normally think of Jesus as a quiet, gentle and kind man who went about doing good things.  And it is true.  He was truly a gentle and kind man who blessed our human family with amazingly good things - like love, forgiveness and healing.
            In reality, however, Jesus was a revolutionist.  You do not get yourself crucified just because you are gentle and kind.  He turned his world upside down.  His disciples were revolutionists also.  At one point someone complained that Paul and his companions had been turning the world upside down and now they had come here [the town of Thessalonica] to do the same thing.  Something has to be done!  It was.  The townspeople started a riot.
            Jesus, and his message, was extremely popular with the common people, but extremely unpopular with some of the leading citizens, especially among those in the religious establishment.  In some cases, his popularity or lack of it hasn't changed with either of these two groups.
            What super-patriot could embrace the idea of loving your enemy and praying for those who persecute you?  This is treason.  Besides, if you did that, you wouldn't have anyone to blame for your own meanness, or you being the way you are.
            If Jesus were walking among us today, he would not be in favor with the morticians.  He never attended a funeral without raising the dead person back to life.  There goes the mortuary industry.
            Our current Labor Unions would organize strikes.  Whoever heard of paying to a man who works one hour the same wages you pay a man for working twelve hours?  What about "overtime" and "union scale" and "right to work" and all those benefits?
            Preachers might not feel too comfortable in his presence either, for degrees and office and world tours and scholarly achievements and praying in public or giving invocations at coronations never seemed to impress him too greatly.  At least his comments on these kinds of things didn't make him too popular with the Pharisees and Sadducees , who were the two-party political and religious establishment of that day.
            Jesus was, indeed, a revolutionist!  And Christianity is in revolution!  At least the Christianity that reflects the life of Jesus!  If you are going to follow Christ and his ways, it means revolting against the old, sinful, worn out ways of thinking and living.  There is no longer any room for hate and bitterness and prejudice, self-righteousness and entitlement.  One may even have to revolt against the "politically correct" ways of the society in which we live.
            This may not win a person many new friends.  In fact, one may become about as popular as a wart on the finger of a violinist.  But to people who have their hopes and their dreams pinned on that goal of perfect freedom in Christ for all humanity, popularity is not even an issue.  It means nothing!
            In this life, Christians are not engaged in a popularity contest.  Rather, we are fighting for our lives - and the lives of others, so that all of us together may become the kind of human family that God has in mind for us to be.
            In the midst of it all, the old world - and especially those entrenched in preferred places of leadership and entitlement, still complains, "These Christians are turning everything upside down!"
            May this always be the case until that time when everyone in this upside down world experiences a relationship with Him who makes everything right side up!
 

The Divorce Symdrom

THE DIVORCE SYNDROME
Rev. Larry L. Eddings
 
“I, John [Jane], take you Jane [John], to be my wedded wife [husband], to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as life shall last, according to God’s holy law.  And thereto, I pledge you my faith.”
 
And with those vows, John and Jane declare their covenant love for each other, become husband and wife and set out on an adventure that will carry them through times of joy and sorrow, change and growth, successes and defeats and years of learning more and more about each other.  They hope to share a lifetime together, perhaps have children, fulfill their professional dreams and enjoy the comforts of old age watching their grandchildren grow up.
 
Through courtship, marriage and honeymoon they begin the process of knowing each other relationally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Communication becomes essential, adjustments and compromises become a regular part of the process of getting to know each other.  Soon it becomes apparent that personality differences and personal likes and dislikes are realities with which to be reckoned.  There develops a new awareness of personality traits that have not been surfaced up to this point in the relationship.
 
A good, strong relationship is marked by the ability to communicate, listen and respond to each other and working on the issues until there is an agreed consensus and solution.  A relationship in danger is marked by anger, resentment and a strong emphasis on self and personal agendas.  Depending on John and Jane’s willingness to work on their own issues and problems, as well as recognize the strength in their spouse, the marriage will either experience fulfillment or end up with a divorce.
 
In the American Culture, divorce happens on the average of one in three marriages.  In some segments of society and areas of the nation, the rate is one divorce in every two marriages.  The breakup of the traditional American family is happening at an alarming rate.
 
At issue here is not so much the fact that the percentages of divorces are high, but that divorce is seen as the solution to problems that develop within the married relationship.  One has only to set in the courtroom where family issues are dealt with to discover that divorce is, in the vast majority of cases, the least desirable way in which to endeavor to solve marital difficulties.
 
Men and women who are seeking divorce are convinced that to put an end to their marriage is to put an end to the relationship.  To move out from under the same roof is equated with exiting each other’s life.  Divorce is often viewed as the ultimate way of getting rid of a very difficult part of a person’s life so that they will not have to deal with it any more.  This is deceptive thinking at best and destructive thinking at worst.  Circumstances prevent this from happening.
 
The presence of children, for example, negates any desire on the part of either party to not have to relate to the other party at anytime in the future.  Children necessitate the continuing relationship for the rest of the parents’ lives. 
 
Child custody, attempts at changing child custody; visitation rights, attempts to change visitation rights; child support, attempts at adjusting child support; property settlements, attempts at adjusting property settlements; child involvement in school and sporting events, graduations, honors, weddings, baptisms, promotions, anniversaries, holidays, vacations, illnesses, accidents, deaths and all the other usual life-experiences through which children go will automatically bring the parents and now former spouses in touch with each other.
 
Divorce does not necessarily separate two parties nor does it provide a positive solution to the issues with which the two parties must still contend.  Divorce means, in most cases, that two persons do not live together any more.  It does not mean that their lives are not involved with each other or that their decisions do not affect the other persons.
 
Likewise, divorce means that the two parties never work through their own personal problems nor do they learn how to relate to or communicate with persons with whom they differ.  In never dealing with these problems or seeking to have them resolved or healed, they are carried right over into any other relationship – including married relationships that may develop in the future. Unresolved anger, bitterness, resentment and hatred will be carried into other relationships only to be repeated in another environment.
 
Negative attitudes, a need to control, insensitivity, laziness, hyperactivity and other such personality traits are lifestyles that do not provide positive reinforcement in relationships.  These do not change with divorce; they are simply transferred to another setting and, in the process, often intensified.
 
Personal habits of alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual misconduct, infidelity and other destructive behavior patterns are not cured through divorce.  And, if professional help is not sought to overcome these, they continue into other relationships and achieve the same destructive results they have in the initial relationship.
 
Divorce is not a cure.  It is an undesirable attempt to solve very difficult and complicated relational problems in a marriage.  Divorce is an attitude and one that is pervasive in the American society.  It is a destructive syndrome that is systemic in this culture.
 
The divorce syndrome is not only true of marriages but it is also pervasive and systemic in the Church, and especially in the professional appointive system of The United Methodist Church.  Denominational and Para-churches that use other systems for the assignment or securing of pastoral leadership are not exempt from this struggle.  There is strength in the traditional appointive system. However, we must recognize and acknowledge some of its inherent weakness and endeavor to deal with them.
 
When the Bishop and Cabinet appoints a clergy person to a local church, he or she is appointed as Shepherd of the flock, Pastor to the people, Leader of the congregation and Overseer of the local Church Body.  He or she is authorized to preach the Word, administer the Sacraments and maintain the Order of the church.
 
In a very real way a covenant relationship – a type of marriage, is established between the newly appointed pastor and the people of the church.  They become united with a [hopefully] common vision, purpose, sense of mission and a desire to follow the mandate of Christ to preach the gospel, heal the sick and help people become disciples of Jesus Christ.  Generally, there is a “good marriage,” where the personality of the pastor and that of the congregation seem to match and things go well as they work together for the good of the church and community in which it exists.
 
After a “honeymoon” period, which is a time for getting to know each other relationally, emotionally, spiritually and being in each other’s physical presence, different facets of personalities begin to surface that may not have been evident at first.  Consultations, discussions, compromise and adjustments then become a part of the development of good relationships between pastor and people.
 
As with any relationship, differences are bound to happen.  Differing personality types and differing opinions can create times of tension and even turmoil.  Problems develop that necessitate careful listening and positive responses.  It is in those times of stress that it is exceedingly important for the parties involved to set together in dialogue and seek ways to work through their differences.  There may not be total consensus on every issue, but it is necessary to reach a place where all have opportunity to deal with the issue at hand and seek to find a common ground on which agreement can be reached so that the primary work of the church can proceed.
 
When a pastor is in a church for a longer period of time [perhaps seven years or even fifteen] he or she has opportunity to work through his or her own issues as well as help the congregation work through theirs.  Together they create the problems and together they must have opportunity to work them through.  If they do not, both the pastor and the local church will continue with the same inability to settle differences, work through disagreements to a positive conclusion and will not have learned to function in an atmosphere of diversity that is present in every church setting.
 
Any change in pastoral leadership at this point simply allows the pastor to carry his or her issues into the next church and also allows the local church to carry its same issues into the relationship with the new pastor it will receive.  In both cases the same unresolved issues would most likely impact the new relationships in the same way.
 
If they do work them through, they have a productive ministry.  Then, when a pastor who is involved in such a productive ministry feels that he or she is to serve in another place, or the Cabinet suggests such a move, it is made with positive feelings and a sense of celebration.  Both the pastor and local church celebrate the covenant they have shared and still share even as he or she goes to another appointment and they receive a new pastor.
 
And too, there are times when a pastor will enter into a covenant relationship with a particular church, knowing that in due process he or she will be appointed to a “larger and better one.”  This present appointment is simply a temporary stop on the way to bigger and better things.  It is somewhat like being married to one person while courting other possibilities.  Consequently there is never a total commitment to the congregation but only to personal agendas related to the part that congregation is presently playing in the pastor’s plan for his or her career.  Such attitudes do not provide for a healthy relationship between the pastor and congregation any more than it does between a husband and wife.  It amounts to emotional adultery.
 
Often when difficulties arise in a local church between pastor and congregation and they have to struggle to work out the differences, the Cabinet – either at the request of the pastor or the congregation, moves the pastor to another church at the next session of Annual Conference.  As a result, the covenant commitment is broken without the problems being faced or solved. 
 
The same thing is at issue here as in a marital divorce.  The principle is the same.  We believe that if we can separate the two parties and team them up with someone else then everyone can live happily ever after.
 
We appear to be looking for a combination of pastor/congregation that will work effectively with a minimum of conflict.  The difficulty with that reasoning is that it doesn’t work!  The pastor, who has had some responsibility in creating the tension in the relationship is allowed to leave it behind without facing up to that responsibility.  It is easy to go away blaming the congregation for his or her difficulties in that appointment.  Or, perhaps worse yet, he or she blames the previous pastor[s] for their troubles.  He or she then goes on to another congregation carrying with them the same attitudes and grievances, now further supported and validated by the most recent church experience.
 
Hence, there is no healing of the hurts, no forgiveness, no reconciliation and no positive feelings toward those with whom life has been shared for a period of time.  The Cabinet, in this instance, facilitates dysfunctional behavior by both the clergy and the local church.
 
Likewise, when a pastoral/congregational “divorce” is allowed to happen – or, in some cases forced to happen, that congregation never faces up to its part in the breakup of that relationship.  They simply receive a new pastor and repeat the same process that happened with the last one.  Never having or taking opportunity to explore why there is disunity in the body, why there is no common vision, why there is an endless jockeying for leadership, why there is disagreement with the pastoral leadership, why it has had a continuing history of inability to relate to its pastors, the local congregation carries with it the same destructive attitudes into the new relationship.  And, the whole dysfunctional process starts all over again.
 
One result of such attitudes in that local church is a series of short-term appointments with the congregation saying things like “Why can’t we get a pastor who will stay for more than two years?”  Or “Why can’t ‘they’ send us someone who is more qualified?”  Or “Why can’t we get a pastor who understands us?”
 
Inwardly they may not want a pastor for more than two years or more qualified or who understands them or else they may have to begin exploring answers as to why they are as they are.  Congregations have only to look back over their history, check to see how long their pastors stayed with them and ask themselves “why?” if they truly desire to discover an answer to their questions.  Long-term pastoral leadership can be seen as a threat to entrenched attitudes or power groups within that local church.
 
Local churches are just as guilty as the pastor and the Annual Conference Cabinet for using divorce as a solution to their problems.  Churches who constantly request the appointment of another pastor have the divorce syndrome.  “Maybe next time we can get a good match.”  Pastors who are constantly looking for another appointment have a divorce syndrome.  “Maybe I will get a better church.”  Cabinets who continually move pastors when problems arise in the local congregation have the divorce syndrome.  “Maybe this appointment will be a good one for both the pastor and the church.”
 
All are thinking the same thing: “The next appointment will work out better than this one.”  Perhaps so, but the problems still go begging for solutions.
 
The divorce syndrome is simply a symptom of a deeper sickness.  We are not willing to acknowledge our own weaknesses or imperfections as pastors or congregations, but only the other person’s weaknesses and imperfections.  We do not seek to forgive those who hurt us or seek forgiveness from those we hurt.  We are not open to the Scriptural admonition to be reconciled to one another.  Whether in the marriage relationship or the church, the sickness is “self” and what I want – not what is good for the whole Body and the covenant relationships within the Body.
 
Perhaps we should place more emphasis on making the appointment [marriage] work and seek ways to work through our differences so that we may become a “union” of people who demonstrate to the world that love works – even among those who may not agree and especially among those who believe that with God all things are possible.
 
 
 
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