Monday, December 13, 2004

November 26, 2004 - The Moment of Truth

I don't know what I have been waiting on. God is kicking me in the pants again, trying to wake me up. I have been waiting for Him over a year to open a door for another ministry and all this time He has actually been waiting on me.

I've known for some time now that I was leaving. I don't know the exact date but I've been floating, waiting for God to make it clear.
Well, it's never been clearer. He wants me to set a date. And soon.
I guess I have been waiting because I wanted to make sure that I wasn't leaving because of conflict or personal pride. That it wasn't something that I could help resolve on my own.

Today I read in my devotions from a little book, Devotions from Dead People. It was on Pharoah and his people and how they chased after the Israelites during the exodus.
“The moment of truth was near. When Moses and the people reached the Red Sea and wondered what in the world they were going to do, the Lord sent a pillar of fire to hold Pharaoh back. Pharaoh saw it and he saw the Red Sea part to let God’s people escape.”
I guess my moment of truth is near. God wants me to get out and I have been waiting on Him to part the Red sea first (Give me a place to go since I won't have a job). I will have to watch that miracle when I get to it.

November 24, 2004 - God's Timeline

This afternoon before church the preacher called me.

He said some people are upset over our recent activity (Video Scavenger hunt)
*He wouldn't tell me who was upset or why, just that he/they wanted to see the tape.
*The more I thought about it the more I realized this might not be the best thing to do, just turning it over. Who is going to watch it with him? My accusers? Should they watch it in private without having to face me? Surely it can't be this easy to get away with gossip and slander.
*I called him back. I don't feel comfortable just giving it to him. It's only on dvd anyway. I pressed him for more details. Someone (again no names) is upset because they heard (i.e. gossip) that we did something illegal. Apparently more was added to the story, that I may have allowed them to steal or use a fake credit card for something.
            *I assured the pastor nothing illegal was done. This didn't seem to restore my credibility.
*It looks like I am going to have to show the deacons (are they the ones who complained?) the video on Saturday.
*I am trying not to be emotional. I can certainly understand someone being upset over something they perceived we may have done. But that is for one of two reasons:

1. They think we would actually do something immoral or illegal.
2. They have allowed gossip to cloud their perception of the situation.

I think it's both. And now I have to prove my innocence of unfounded accusations. What if there wasn't a tape/dvd? What would I do then?

At the end of the conversation the preacher told me to have a good thanksgiving.

Yeah, two days until my trial on Saturday, it will be a memorable Thanksgiving. It looks like I'm the turkey and my neck is on the line. Unfortunately I have to wait two days for a verdict. Yeah, Happy thanksgiving.

Why does this stuff always happen on a Wednesday before church or before a holiday?

**Two of the deacons "dropped in" unannounced to youth meeting tonight. Everyone there was tense. I did not receive word from the preacher on why this happened or what they wanted. I am totally in the dark on what is going on. I think God wants me to set a date. I have certainly waited too long.

August 9, 2004 - My Joy has left, should I go next?

Things are getting harder to deal with at church. There seems to be a few people, particularly one family, that seems to have it out/in for me. It doesn't matter what I do or how I do it, they still oppose me. Nothing seems right or acceptable. What's worse, it seems that it's spreading. You know how it goes, one family gets upset, they talk to their relatives, who are also members of the church, are now against you also.

Everytime they get an opportunity, they oppose me, publicly, sometimes while in church conference. The latest outburst happened when I conveniently wasn't there to defend myself. There was no particular point to the accusations, but a blanket criticism of just about everything I do. It was probably better that I wasn't there. It might have gotten ugly.

I am a fighter, not a quitter. Sometimes that gets me in more trouble because there are times that you just have to hold your tongue. I have been holding my tongue for over a year and I'm getting to the point where I can't hold it much longer.

The tension at church is palpable. I have had many people console me since then, and I do get the impression that those who are unhappy with me, are in the minority.

Many think it's their job to be the church police and criticize everything they think is wrong with the world. Of course these people are less than faithful in service and example and never have any constructive suggestions nor do they seem willing to offer any kind of service as a solution. It's always about everyone else.

I am really struggling right now. For a few months now I have been pondering leaving this ministry. Not because of the problems, the burden came before the problems began. We just got a new pastor almost a year ago and I have had some good talks with him. He supports me, but I'm not sure how much support he has right now.

I don't want to leave. It is a big hassle. I have built relationships here and tried to build a ministry vision. My vision is being somewhat hindered but I think the decision to leave is about more than youth ministry. Even when things are going well, I still don't have a peace. I don't know if this is the work of satan or if God won't allow me to have peace until I step out on faith and make a decision.

I say it's not just a youth ministry decision because I get the feeling that my family is not happy either. In fact they have told me. My joy is gone. Their joy is gone. We don't look forward to church anymore. Moving churches is more than just youth ministry. It's also a life decision. As a regular church member, am I happy? Is my family happy where they are at? Can the problems we face be solved in the near future? I honestly have to answer No to all those questions. I don't see an improvement or an end in sight to this burden I feel. Every time I decide that I am going to stick it out, I get this nagging feeling that the decision is still not made, even though I feel I have already made it.

I had prepared my resume even before conflict surfaced, sent my resume to two churches a few weeks back and even interviewed with one pastor. All I need to do now is follow up. I had hoped that they would call me instead that way I would know that the Lord was leading me in that direction. But I guess He wants me to take the next step. I just want to make sure that I am doing the right thing for the right reasons. I know that leaving will appear that I am leaving because of conflict. That makes me want to stay in spite of that. I don't want to leave because of conflict and I don't want to leave before my ministry is completed here. There are always more things to be done. But I don't think there is any other option. I pray that there is.

May 26, 2004 - Seeking God

Today for my devotions I read Proverbs 26. I'm ashamed to admit that it's been a while since I've spent time with God. I mean truly spend time with Him. Too long. Sure, I've read the Bible but my heart wasn't in it. Many times when I go to God, it's not really me, I send a substitute. That imaginary person that we send to do things that we don't want to do. Like when we don't feel like going to church or spending time with that member that you're not really good friends with, we send the fake person. The nice person, not the real you. And though you're there physically, in reality, you're somewhere else. Somewhere else you'd rather be.

I'm trying to learn the importance of being there. And in that I've learned the importance of seeking God. Yeah, I know it sounds stupid and trite, but it seems like I never learn this lesson. One of the first verses we learn as a child, "Seek Ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." So why do I have such a problem with it?

Maybe I just like to wallow in my own self-pity. Recently things have been a little discouraging at church. I've been criticized, people stand in groups to talk about me and go out of their way to let me know I'm not someone they like or respect.

So what did I do? Did I seek God? Did I take comfort in His Word that I'm not alone? No, I wallowed in my own discouragement. I spent time doing other things to take my mind off of it. I did everything but seek Him, just like we all do.

Why? I think many times it's academic. Some people don't like to read. Reading anything, let alone the Bible, becomes a chore. Some people don't like to stop or sit still for too long. Impatient. It's hard to pray when you're like that. But doing that makes spending time with God a chore and not a relationship. Seeking Him isn't about fulfilling a to-do list. If you read His Word and pray and still walk away not any closer to Him, you haven't truly spent time with Him. You sent a substitute.

So for my devotions today is Proverbs 26. God answered my self-pity with a word about those who hate you.

Proverbs 26:24 - 26

He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself;
When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart;
Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before .

I put this verse on the back of Sunday's bulletin; I don't think anyone noticed.