10 02 2020


Let’s face it. We all have our issues which keeps the tissue company doing a lucrative business. It’s that and the fact that I am also allergic to just about everything but cats and dogs. But my article today wants to encourage each and every one of us that if you are feeling bad that life hasn’t turned out better, it’s not all your fault. Look at what we have to work with. This earth is only a hint of what it once was before Adam and Eve chose poorly in the Garden of Eden. We can exercise and be in great shape and still get hit by a drunk driver. We can love children beyond measure and still end up with more heartbreak than hallelujahs. Believers can be faithfully following Jesus and be hopelessly devoted to His word and way and still be the target of injustice, hatred and cheap shots. The craziest part about what I just shared is that many of the punches come from those who are supposed to be on the same team!

There is nothing worse than when someone finally has the courage to go for their dreams, they are met with words like, “That’ll never happen!” Teachers, Coaches, Pastors and Parents who deal with their own personal insecurities decide that the best that they can offer is to rain on a parade that hasn’t even gotten off the ground. No woman should ever have to be compared to another woman. I have two adult daughters and they are absolutely beautiful and the apple of their Daddy’s heart so if you mess with them, I am going to come to their defense. Men hear things like, “Big boys don’t cry!” “Real men don’t show emotion.” “Athletes don’t play music and Musicians don’t waste time pitching no-hitters!” I was someone who never fit in the stereotype of any one group. All my life I was told by Mom, Priests, Coaches and Christians that I wasn’t this enough or that enough and I wouldn’t amount to anything! My Preaching Professor in College gave me “D” Grades simply because I wouldn’t stand still when I gave a sermon. He was so put off by the package, he never took the time to appreciate the contents. Aren’t you glad that God is not looking for cathedrals to dwell in but simply those empty and cracked jars who will make room for Him to invade the space!

I’m 60 now and while random words still sting, I am also glad I got good at ignoring the crowd! The Lighthouse Church wouldn’t be on Route 9 if I listened to the self-appointed know-it-alls! Isn’t it ironic that those who talk the most usually do the least? What is easier? Is it to be the individual who writes the song, paints the picture, puts themselves out there and shares their talent or the one who sits in the bleachers yelling insult after insult while they never lift a finger unless it’s to stuff another hot dog into their mouths! By the way, in all of history, nobody has ever built a monument to a Critic. Only those who get up and go for it ever get there! I’m cheering you on! I hate that old “sticks and stones” chorus because it isn’t true! Words can hurt and when they come from those who are supposed to be nurturing you, they can cut very deep! It is not constructive criticism unless the end result is that somebody is built up after the encounter. Truth with grace shared in love plants promising seeds of faith and hopeful happenings and there is nothing more wonderful in a world that is so messy than seeing a beautiful garden growing in the concrete! God can use us to transform junkyards into art exhibits! Isn’t that what amazing grace is all about? Taking what was left to be trashed and transforming it into true eternal treasure.

So why is the church playing roles when the most powerful part we can share is being real? Jesus continually tried to get the religious rulers to loosen up when it came to relating to their flock. This has nothing to do with bad behavior and misusing God’s love as permission to get away with what is wrong. This has everything to do with pretending you are one thing when you are really another. We are all broken and messed up! Even as Christians, we are in process to make progress and while we should celebrate the steps of success, we can’t hide the dismal failures. I beg people not to put me on any pedestals. I don’t need anything new to fall off of. I take my responsibility and calling as a Pastor very seriously and I know that many people look to me to be an example. But let’s make it clear what I am an example of. I am a learning, active follower of Jesus who is still battling depression, anxiety and frustration. I am a recovering perfectionist who for so long actually believed that I could live like I was already in Heaven but that’s impossible in my present address. Jesus was heaven on earth but he didn’t build his kingdom here, at least, not yet! He was preparing us for the real deal. Why would I ever want to settle for make believe when God has promised true authenticity?

I talked to an old friend today. We have known each other for almost 40 years. He was at my wedding. I performed his. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time and yet it took no time at all to get beyond the niceties to the nitty gritty. There were no attempts to one upping each other. As a matter of fact, we both expressed quite clearly that life has not turned out as we both thought it would. But in the midst of all that went wrong, we also highlighted the moments that went very right. Our kids, our adventures, our faith and our friendship were true gifts worth valuing. Also, we remembered that we aren’t finished yet, and reminded one another to keep on trucking. It was what faith and community and family should be all about. We didn’t exchange empty flattery. We didn’t skirt reality. We continued to love each other knowing that neither one of us have arrived.

What does it take to be real? What needs to happen so the Body of Christ is open and honest and shares what we actually feel? Weekend Services are not events to attend. They are not places to practice anonymity. Nobody should be looking to sharpen their acting skills while intervening with the congregation. Come on Believers. We are not consumers. We are challenged to be the Lord’s disciples. Jesus knew full well who He was talking to when He bantered with the woman at the well, defended the lady caught in adultery and invited to dinner the dishonest tax collector who He knew was hiding up the tree. Jesus never condoned bad behavior but He didn’t condemn the honest and seeking heart. God won’t work with a façade. Stop playing games and let’s be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus amidst a world that desperately needs to taste the original recipe.



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