I have had several questions about the title of this blog. People seem confused that I am pastor at Homer Christian Church and yet it is entitled “Second Chance Pastor.” Please let me explain. I chose the name of this blog because I have found in life that everyone makes huge mistakes and then they want a chance to start over and do it right. I believe that this second chance is called grace and it is found in Jesus Christ. No matter what Church I serve, I will always be a pastor of grace. I live in that reality and celebrate it daily.
As a result I am always looking for ideas and illustrations of second chances. Recently I was watching a horrible movie and I heard a song in the background. I looked it up and found a Paul Simon’s song called “Rewrite” from his latest CD. Here is the opening line:
I’m workin’ on my rewrite, that’s right
Gonna change the ending
A song about a man trying to rewrite his life. That is the sound of a second chance.
This week I have been sharing some of the lessons I have learned in the last 6 months. Another relationship lesson that I have learned lately is what I call the “similar demographic myth.” The myth is that for us to build a relationship with someone, they need to be in a similar demographic as me. If I am single, it is best for me to build relationships with singles. If I am part of young married couple, it is best for me to have relationships with young married couples. The same goes for divorced people, elderly people, handicapped, etc. I have seen this myth played out in every Church I have served. Someone visits the Church or even starts attending regularly and then they leave because there is “no one in their age group to connect with.”
I will admit it can be much easier to build relationships with people of similar demographics. You already have something in common and you share common experiences. It can be easier to jump right in and start talking. But here is what I know about life – anything easy is usually not the best.
Lately God is showing me that some of my best relationships are with people outside my demographic. I am learning that these people help me grow because they are from a different place in life. They have the naive outlook of a young person or they have the wisdom brought about by years of life. I am learning to stretch myself and become friends with teenagers, with young marrieds and with older singles. These people enrich my life and give me fresh perspective that is helping me to grow as a person and as a Christian.
Don’t believe the myth just get out there and spend time with people. You will be amazed what you real friends might look like.
One of the biggest struggles and lessons I have had lately is about consistency. With summer here, I have this strong desire to skip out on some of my daily routines. I want to read the Bible sporadically or pray when I have more time or write my blog when I have nothing else to do. The truth is, doing things sporadically rarely has a great result. Exercising once a week is of less benefit than exercising once a day. The people who accomplish much in this life (for the Lord or otherwise) usually do it through the discipline of daily work.
My commitment for the summer is not to become sporadic in my walk with God but to live consistently.
HERE is a great article I ran across about specific compliments to give your wife.
As I head into summer my mind is filled with all kinds of lessons that I have learned this past spring. I am also reflecting on all the lessons he is currently teach me. Here are just a few of the things God is teaching me:
1. The Power of Relationships – All of our lives are deeply connected to other people. Our lives are affected by our parents, our children, our friends, our teachers and almost everyone we come in contact with. The interesting side note is that very few of us get any instruction on how to relate to other people. The people who teach us how to live in relationships are teaching us the greatest lessons in our life.
2. My Greatest Ministry May Take Place in My Own Family – I have often dreamed of leading numerous people into a saving relationship with Jesus. I have dreamed of leading a large Church. I have dreamed of the American definition of success for a minister. Lately, I realize those dreams will probably never come true for me. Now I am beginning to see the unlimited potential in my children. If I can influence their lives and teach them the truth about God then my life is not a waste. It will have an impact far beyond anything else I can do. If I only have four true converts in my life, that is great, if they are my children.
3. All Long Term Relationships Are Hard Work – Everyone understands that having a long and loving marriage is hard work, but I am seeing that it is true in any relationship…even with other Church people.
Those are just a sampling. Maybe I will post more this week. What lesson is God teaching you?
I had a friend in college who used to say, “Some things in life are like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you get tired, you quit when the gorilla gets tired.”
We have arrived at Memorial Day weekend and this will be my last post until next Tuesday. I ran across a Memorial Day weekend prayer and I have made a couple additions. Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading and God Bless.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We remember this weekend those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy every day. We thank you for the price they paid for the freedoms we enjoy. We thank you that we are able to worship you freely and may we never use our freedom as a cover up for evil.
As we remember this freedom we ask that you would hold our servicemen and women in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and your presence as they stand in the gap for our protection.
We also remember the families of our troops. We ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes, and we pray your peace, provision, and strength will fill their lives.
May the members of our armed forces be supplied with courage to face each day and may they trust in the Lord’s mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Yesterday my children had their last day of school for the 2012-2013 school year. That has me reflecting on the school year and all of their events and learning experiences. It amazes me how much they grow, learn and change in just 9 months.
This also has me thinking about Jesus. In Luke 2:52 we see Jesus at the age of 12 going home with his parents and growing in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” I usually take this verse to be a complete description of how a child needs to develop. First they grow in wisdom. That is mental growth. They learn and add to their knowledge of the world. Second, they grow in stature. That is physical growth. My kids seem to grow and grow and grow. My job is to help them develop their body through sports and exercise Third is in favor with God. That is spiritual growth. Every year a child needs to be growing in knowledge and obedience to God. I firmly believe they need to learn what God’s word says and then how to apply it to their lives – and then they are to live it out daily. Finally, they are to grow in favor with man. That is social growth. I tell my children over and over that I estimate better than half of the problems in their adult life will be in relationship to others. Children need to learn how to relate to other children, to members of the opposite sex, to adults and to the elderly.
My wife and I have committed ourselves to helping our children develop as complete individuals as God designed them.
Honestly, I often see people neglect one or more of these areas. For example, they have smart kids who are socially awkward. Maybe they are very athletic and social but they have terrible grades. Maybe, just maybe, they are growing in their walk with God and have no social skills. And so on and so on…
I believe Jesus was the perfect man and he developed in a way that is a pattern for all children. My question is very simple, “I am helping my children to develop completely as adults?” What about you?
Minister and Church planter named Dan Kimball wrote a book called, “They like Jesus but not the Church.” Dan is a leader in the area of “Missional Churches.” “Missional Churches” are Churches that see their role in society, no matter where they are in the world, as missionaries of the gospel of Christ.
Chapter 2 is entitled “Why I escaped the Church office” and has a section he calls “The transformation from excited missionary into citizen of the bubble.” He describes how he views the steps most Christians take in their life of faith. Phase 1 is simply “We become Christians.” Phase 2 is “We become part of Church life.” Next he describes phase 3 as “We become part of the Christian bubble.” Now, I typed in this section and hope you understand and enjoy.
“Things really start changing in phase 3. As we slowly withdrawal from ongoing relationships with those outside the Church and focus on relationships with those inside the Church, something happens. Once, it was more natural and even exciting to share life with people at work or at school, with relatives, or with neighbors. But slowly we begin to see evangelism as something the Church does, primarily through events. We get more excited about going overseas to the mission field on summer trips than about the mission field we live in every day. We start to see evangelism as inviting people to go to a Church, where the pastor will do the evangelizing and explain Christianity, instead of spending time with people and talking with them and being the Church to them.
During this phase, we stop praying daily for those who don’t know Jesus and instead pray for our Church’s latest building project or latest program. Other than maybe at an office Christmas party that we have to go to, we rarely ever hang out with non-Christian friends or go to the movies with them. For the most part, only Christians are in our circle of peers. We begin buying little Christian stickers or put metal fish symbols on our cars, and we even have a few Christian T-shirts. We set our radios only to our favorite Christian radio shows, and most of the music we listen to is Christian. We make a trip to the amusement park that has the special Christian day each year featuring Christian bands. We find ourselves regularly using Christian words and phrases and clichés, such as backsliding, prayer warrior, fellowship, quiet time, traveling mercies, ‘I have a check in my spirit.’ The transformation is complete. We have become citizens of the bubble.”
—Page 44 of “They like Jesus but not the Church: insights from emerging generations” by Dan Kimball
Dan Kimball’s fear (and mine) is that too many Christians have taken up residence inside the “Christian Bubble.” We no longer have contact with people outside of Christianity. He ends this section of the book by saying that at Phase 4 “We become Jonah.” Not only do we no longer have contact with people outside of God, we really don’t care about them anymore. My question is, “Does any of this sound like my life?”
I heard another quote last night that went something like this: “We believe that everything will work out in the end. So, if everything is not working out, then it is simply not the end.”
I think that could be a quote that applies very well to my sermon last week. I talked about things “Not working out like I planned.” In that sermon I explained that God has a plan for our lives, but that plan may not always be easy to achieve or even understand. We may have to go through pain to get to God’s desired location.
Either way you express it – if life is hard then you are not where God wants you yet. That’s okay, it will work out in the end.