Categories
illustrations

What about daddy?

This is the best rice commercial in the history of the world.

Reminds me of this story. And I think it even sheds some illumination on the father in Luke’s story.

Yes, the son returned home. Yes, the son had done wrong.

But the father’s heart had changed, too.

It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone. It doesn’t matter what pig pen you’re eating from. It doesn’t matter what bed you find yourself sleeping in. The loving-kindness of your Dad is always ready to partner with you and start over.

You might not be able to go home to your real dad. But you can always come Home.

Categories
Church Leadership

What does restoration look like?

Here is our old youth pastor, Adam. Photo by Ann Larie Valentine via Flickr (Creative Commons)

My heart breaks for those hurt by the church. Specifically, for people called to full-time ministry, but gravely injured by the people they were called to serve.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t interact with a youth pastor or former youth pastor who was deeply wounded by their church.

The church treated them like a couch. One day they are the centerpiece of the metaphorical living room and the next day they were moved to the curb and left for the garbage truck to pick them up.

When you are called to a church you are applauded publicly. People pray for you. You are brought up front to acknowledge that the leadership feels you have been called to be a central figure in the church. But when they no longer need you? They basically kick you out of community, shame you, and write a small check for your private pain, and pretend you never existed.

While I recognize that there is always another side to their story– it nonetheless paints a vivid picture of what that church really believes.

  • You have to behave a certain way or perform to a certain expectation level or we will kick you out.
  • When we wrong someone, we cover it up with hush money, and we never ask for forgiveness, even when we are clearly wrong.
  • When we wrong someone, we never restore either them or the relationship privately or publicly.

It just leaves me to wonder about the state of the church. We reach less than 10% of the population on a weekly basis. And we don’t think our private institutional sins impact that at all!

It leaves me with three questions to ponder as I begin my work week:

  • What does it look like for the institution to seek forgiveness?
  • What would it look like if we restored people?
  • What do I need to do to seek forgiveness and restoration of both relationship and position in my life?

May we become a church who loves its staff as fellow men and women on the journey.

Categories
Christian Living

I’m a walking contradiction

My life in a Bible verse:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Romans 7:15-17

I’m a walking contradiction.

Outside of the sin world– and boy am I a sinner– this verse speaks into a lot of other areas of my life.

And in the gray areas of life, things where it isn’t abundantly clear it’s a sin issue, I’m literally a contradiction.

  • I love my kids, but boy do I love to spend time alone with Kristen.
  • I love spending time with the students in the youth group, but every Tuesday night I struggle to make time to go to youth group and hang with them.
  • I love my church, but I’m quick to wonder if we’re going to the right church.
  • I love the people of Haiti, but to live there? Not in this lifetime.
  • I hate big box stores, but when I need something in a pinch you’ll find me at Target, Home Depot, or Costco.
  • I hate disappointing my children, but I also know that if I give them whatever they want they won’t become the people we hope they become.
  • I hate discrimination against people, but if I’m honest I do it without thinking all the time.
  • I hate people who talk on their phones while driving… even with a headset on, but I do it all the time.

This is the problem I face every day. I want to be a person of integrity. I want to be a person who makes the right choice for the right reason every time. But life is full of so many contradictions that I’m often left feeling like a hypocrite. I intend to do everything based on my convictions… but I fail a whole lot.

I do the things I don’t want to do and I can’t stop myself. I even do the things I don’t want to do without thinking about if I want to do them or not. People say I’m a good person and I’m quick to say thank you. But when someone points out my faults I’m just as quick to try to justify myself.

What’s the moral of the story?

I’m no better than anyone else. I’m just as much a mess as the guy next door. I need to remind myself constantly that the Gospel is just as much for me as it is for my neighbor.

To take a stance that I’m somehow better or less a sinner only validates a position that I’m a hypocrite.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Through Christ, I’m a walking contradiction, forgiven purely by grace.