Tuesday, June 24

Agape Service; our Tower of Babel.

"Although they shout in My ears, I will not listen to them," (Ezekiel 8:18 NIV)

refers to people who speak with their lips, but their motivation is for self-preservation and gain. "If God will, then I will." Or, "Since I have, God should fulfill His end of the bargain." We are a people, not that far removed from the sins of Adam and Eve in the Garden, who distrust the God of Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham to do what He wills in His way in a duration of His time. We want, and don't get even though we've asked because we are trying to coerce God to listen to us and give us what we feel we need.

"God cannot be trusted with the things that matter most," Dr. Larry Crabb states in his discussion of Chapter 8 of his book, Finding God. We are willing to jump through the hoops that God sets up for us to go through, with an expectation of reward when it's done. We attend church on Sunday, trusting God with the basic task of providing us with someone who is intelligent, well-dressed, and verbally pleasing to the ear to instruct us on the way of Christ. Then we throw our bibles in the backseat of the car and tool on off into the week that rapidly becomes stressful, complex, and uncooperative. Our prayers of supplication go unanswered, as if God only comes into contact with the world on Sunday mornings.

Preachers will tell us, you must've not asked right or you don't have the faith to realize His blessings. Or, the biggie you don't hear anymore (in voiced opinion, anyway), you've must be sinning. They speak their opinions and call it God's word.

Funny, you dig a bit deeper and face those places you fear to go; you find a tendency to distrust God, handed down through the generations.

God can be really frustrating, seeming to not notice our offerings, prayers, and tithing to Him. Isn't He supposed to at least give us an "atta-boy?" I heard the call to ministry, went directly to my Lead/Founding Pastor of the church I was attending, and was shoved off on someone else with a list of 'mentoring' books to read. Promises made to follow up were never fulfilled. And I struggled with the opinion of others in regards to whether I was suitable for ministry in the first place; after all, ministers are supposed to be 'on-top-of-their-game', right? Here was a mid-aged man who struggled to remember bible verses, has financial messes, and was working on being a godly husband, father, and man.....all without theological training. I am surprised that I didn't hear the laughter following me down the hall each time (twice)I met with the Pastor to discuss the Call. And I wasn't the only one bending the Pastor's ear, my mentor (who served as Associate Pastor), would always bring me or the topic of discipleship of leaders, at the meetings.

I struggle with this; obedience with expectation. I found a way into the ministry, working as a Senior Chaplain in the Meadowbrook Chapel. I've sat down with a financial advisor and struggled with a budget. I've dedicated myself to writing, studying, and stretching myself into avenues of thinking that are hard for me; I'm not an intellectual giant of a person. I have given myself fully to the Call, and faced constant rejection and rebuffing from those I am told to respect and to admire. And, there is nothing to show, at least in my limited view, for the 'work' I've done for the Lord.

I pastor no church, am on the staff of no evangelical movement or ministry, and have nothing to point to that I could say with certainty that those things are happening.....just around the next corner, over the next mountain top, or on the horizon barely in view. And, while my life has dramatically changed from where I was four years ago when I renewed my faith in many areas; theology, my view of God, my desire to see God glorified in all I do, and biblical study, so much more has happened that seems to be deliberately happening NOT to make me ministerial material in any one's eyes.

No longer do I go along to 'get along'. I hold the church to a higher standard than I hold anyone else, because the church is the major issue in the disintegration of the faithful largely because it has stepped away from a biblical doctrine and adopted a humanistic one draped in Christianized words.

My marriage, which I thought was God-ordained, is broken and is not going to be 'magically' restored. I am not seeking it, don't think that my wife is truly seeking it either, and I have already gone through the mourning process even before I had departed. I own what I own of the responsibility of the breakup and destruction, but I am not the sole reason. Not too many churches want divorced pastors, and especially don't want ones who are going through one.

My financial picture is bleak and continues to be a source of stress for me, especially now that I am surviving on one income...if you can say it is survival what I am doing. One blip on the radar and I'm in trouble. I cannot meet the bills I have with the income I bring in, the cost of living it seems is set against me. And the help that is there is not accessible. I need a second job, but that doesn't fit into the schedule I work, having kids, and keeping even this blog going. I am too overburdened with living. The last time I took a second job, I nearly killed myself falling asleep on the road between them.

The writing, while it seems to be growing in terms of ability, it isn't growing as a possible source of income or even an indicator of whether or not I am to be doing this for God at all. On faithwriters, where I post articles, people are reading them....anywhere from 50 to 800, are the counts on the articles. Even on this blog, over two thousand have visited since I posted the ticker on the bottom, but the four comments I've received are not pleasant indicators I'm doing something good, if you look at the opinions stated. I haven't found a publisher for my book; in fact I've been rejected by several. No one has 'picked me' up as a guest writer, etc. I continue to struggle with the time it takes.

Even in the journey through the darkest valley of my past; the wounds, the cuts, and the lies that I have believed from those, hasn't been as 'fruitful' as I would have requested it. There is more of this valley to journey through, more to realize painfully how I've lied to myself even and reacted from my past. I am definitely not the man I once was, but I am far from the man God intends me to be.

In this place; where my vehicle needs work on to run but there's no money to fix it up, I face the coming possibility of eviction because I can't pay my rent or other bills, where people who said they'd do the honorable thing sudden renege on giving me a deposit back, and the growing unease of being stagnant in the ministry call, here I cannot hide. My faith is forced to the fore, and it is either strong enough to pull a kicking and screaming man through these things or it isn't. I can either acknowledge God's blessings that exist daily or I can deny that God is more than worthy of praise from this broken, sinful man and declared Him not capable of being totally good given the amount of miracles that would have to happen to make everything work in my favor.

The fallen structure that is in place to stop me from finding God is creaking under the strain of opposing forces. And I want it to come down.

My Tower of Babel is offensive; standing in the way of my desire to know My God.

Not so that God will move in a way that I want, but that God can reveal His glory anew to me in such a way that I know Him. So I drop to my knees, I pray without ceasing, and I immerse myself in the Word, God's written words that speak to me in the troubling times.

God reveals Himself to those who seek Him earnestly and humbly. I trust Him to know what He is doing, that He knows far beyond my capability what is good for me to get me where He would have me go, because I don't have that talent. I am not that good, I am not that faithful, and by far, I am not that holy.

God is.

I'll trust Him with the steering wheel of the ship as I listen for His commands above the raging seas and harsh winds. I will do the work He asks, not for personal gain, but to honor Him, bless Him, and give Him His most heartfelt desire.

To be known by me.

So I believe in what I'm told within His word, not for gain (for I consider it loss for His glory), but to understand, know, and find my Father God:

When I feel its impossible, God tells me everything is possible through Him (Luke 18:27). When I'm afraid of what might happen, what is happening, and what may never happen, He tells me not to fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

When I feel lost in the midst of the storm, off course and certain to go to the watery depths, He quiets me and tells me that He, the Lord of the Storm and Creator of my being, will guide my steps (Proverbs 3:5-6). When the worry and the frustrations mount to a degree that's painful, He tells me to give them to Him (1 Peter 5:7).

Total reliance on Him, without expectation and demand. Thankful for the storms as well as the safe harbor.

Rain or shine.

I will follow Him, seeking to know and find the Father God.

Rather than looking to only heal my wounds, to restore my peace, and find my happiness I will lean on Him. I will heal through this journey; have the peace that defies the world's chaos, and a happiness that comes from a restored relationship with the Abba Father. Not as a reward for my service, my faith, my love, or even my death.

But because God has blessed me with the knowledge of the Son; I need not ask, or expect, more. My service to the King is not for sale.

I give it without expectation, because of the example set by His Son.

Will you seek without reward? Or is your faith more of the proverbial "cart before the horse" variety?

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