One or Two more today….this has been life changing

I say this has been life changing but the truth is it has NOT been life changing for me, it’s opened my eyes to how much my life has changed. The Spirit is revealing some new things to me, showing me how far off I was for so many years and in that I see the GREATEST LOVE in the world, the LOVE that the Father has for me and for the world is beyond amazing!! I can also see the opportunities missed in my life and ministry. Being a pastor is not about ME at any level, it’s ALL ABOUT HIM and how he uses me to touch people, show them the LOVE OF THE FATHER, show them the compassion, touch, healing, holiness of who God is. It’s not easy looking at my life and the mistakes I’ve made but it sure is comforting to know He still loves me and has not given up on me!!

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11. Must not love money –   This is the one that I’ve dreaded coming to but here is is…. probably one of the biggest struggles in my life, even to this day. My entire life has been ruled by this one thing.. MONEY! There have been seasons in my life that it’s been good and under control, that I’ve honored God, my wife in our money but even with that said they have been short seasons.

As a pastor I have failed horribly in this area. I could not control it in my personal life there was NO way to control it in ministry life, running the church, helping others with financial issues in life, teaching and preaching on tithing and the list goes on and on. I failed. It’s so much more than “managing money” when it comes to ministry. It’s a spiritual principle that goes deep and is one of the MAJOR principles in our Christian walk.

The Bible the says “the LOVE OF MONEY is the ……” Also speaks of God owning everything in this world, God gives and takes away, it is a trust issue.  The bottom line I did not trust God when it came to my finances. Why? Because I’m selfish, I covet, I want, I desire, I must have things that I want. And for the most part in my life I would find a way to get what I wanted even if it cost me in deep ways. In relationships, in integrity, my job, my family etc…..

A Pastor/Elder must be about to lead in this, have a testimony in this, trust God and have total integrity in this. Be able to run the financial affairs of his home, his family and the ministry. If he can’t manage his own finances how in the world can he manage ministries that sometimes take in millions of dollars. If you can’t be trusted with the small how can you ever be trusted with the larger? There is also the matter of people give their hard earned money to support a church/ministry, they trust that the church will be a good steward with what they give! I was horrible!!!

This is an area of my life I struggle with to this day, BUT….I go to Him every morning with it, when something arises in me that I want or feel I need to have I take it to him and lay it down. It’s far more important to me to have a trusting and open relationship with Jesus and my wife than to find ways to get what I want. I could make you a list of things I would like to have………but that list now sits at the foot of the cross and I do not plan on picking it back up.

So, how is one tested in this. If the credential board would have asked my wife point blank how I handle our personal finances 15 or 20 years ago, the light would have come on. If they ran a credit check, or looked at my bank account records. Am I saying they should? I really don’t know, are there more men and woman out there like me in ministry today? YES YES YES I’ve seen it over and over again, men and woman falling out of ministry because of money issues etc…. and EVERY TIME the family or wife would admit they hid it.

In the corporate world most companies run your credit before they hire you….why? It shows your character when it comes to how you manage your life. In ministry I’ve always preached, read, heard that our money is always the hardest and the last area of our lives we hand over to God completely.

With all this said, I do believe that there are FAR MORE good and honest men and women in ministry than ones that have flaws they hide. IF someone has nothing to hide they will take NO offense when they are checked out, question or asked to provide things that prove who they are on the inside.

I have come a long way over the last year and I’m VERY Thankful………still growing and changing…….I will until the day I die.

Enough– not liking this one too much… makes me sick to think of how I was in this area f my life.                                                                

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One or two more on the Qualifications of an Elder….

I have been in this for a couple weeks now, have just a few more to go. I really thought it would be easy to get through this, you know a few that I had to deal with but for the most part I was OK! Well, I have found that thought to be totally wrong. Each one of these I had flaws, but the truth is in each one that there was a flaw it was through deception, hiding it, trying to fool people, myself, and even God. I don’t think I always did it on purpose and that probably makes no sense I know, but I didn’t. I would have moments that I knew if anyone knew the real me they would probably hate me…….but I was able to brush them aside and move forward.

With that said I would say I was sincere in my love for people, my love for pastoring, preaching, the Word…….it’s mixed up and crazy. Looking back and the way I see Him today and I know how He sees me, it is a different life and would be a different ministry. I can’t change the past but I can allow my past to help me see truth, change and grow. God cares about my heart, my spirit and my tomorrow. The PAST IS DEAD!! I believe with all I have that God exposed me to save me!! Not to punish me or humiliate me. Not to hurt me, my family, my church, but to SAVE ME!

I am trying to be very open and honest with all of these things, they are giving me a window into my past, my thoughts, my motives, my desires…..I know that not many read these words I write and it doesn’t really matter………it’s good for me!! So let’s go on to the next one…

 10. Must not be quarrelsome – When I see this I think of this verse out of 2Timothy – 2 Timothy 2:22-25
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.”

I know as we all know people who just love to argue scriptures, or argue anything for that matter. And we all know that with some people you just can’t win an argument. They have an opinion and NOTHING will sway them. It’s a waste of time and before long the argument turns personal, you are this and they are that junk. I had a good friend who always wanted to debate (the way he put it) but if I didn’t bend to his way of thinking all of a sudden I was arrogant, nasty, and hard headed……he would say he would leave the church blah blah blah — this is exactly why Paul writes this to the body of Christ in 2Timothy and even more pointed to those called to be a pastor or elder. Why as a leader is it even more important?

We are called to speak the truth, not opinions, not opinions of other men, preachers, teachers, elders….etc…. There is NO need to “convince” people through arguments of the truth… put it out there and it’s up to them to accept it or not. The Holy Spirit will give light on the truth if they are able and open to hear Him. 

I have spoken on the “spiritual” side of this, what about the personal side of this. Issues that are not about the Word, God, Spiritual issues, etc….it says “Must not be quarrelsome” this means in your life, personal and ministry. A man or woman who is quarrelsome is full of PRIDE, it’s always about them, about being right in just about any situation you are involved in. In ministry I do not think I was quarrelsome but in my private life I was very quarrelsome, with my wife and anyone else that would challenge me. Bottom line is a prideful thing. It was not about “truth” or how the Spirit would be leading me it would be ALL FLESH and ALL ME!!

So, today I am learning to rest in HIM every minute of every day. I look to the Holy Spirit to guide me in my conversations, when my wife challenges me, my counselor challenges me, a family member or a friend……it’s hard at times, the old flesh wants to rise up and “be right” at any cost. But when you enter into His Rest the Holy Spirit will let you get away with NOTHING!!! It may take me some time to get there, but every day it gets better.

Again here, how do you test a man if he is quarrelsome or not? How do you sit before him and ask? If he is, he is prideful and will probably never admit it! At the end of all of this I will address this in depth….I have touched on it with just about everyone of these….. family!!

To my family — I am so very sorry for being such a prideful man all of my life. I had to be right or I would just ignore you or we would not talk about it. Because of my pride I’ve made everything we talked about shallow. I told you what kind of man I was, I told you how the Lord was directing me, I told you what I was doing, thinking all based on what I wanted you to hear. This was my way of not being Quarrelsome with you. It was a man full of pride trying to be something I was not. I am so very sorry. I am now trying to live my life as an open book, looking to be the best I can be as a husband, father, grandfather. It’s a long road and it’s very difficult……but it’s going to be worth it!!

I am far from being all I am designed to be…….but moving forward. 

That’s It for today…..getting through this little by little

Just a couple thoughts…..

My car has been acting up, I drive about 80 miles or more a day so I put a lot of miles on a car. My car now is pushing right at 120K and it’s just a cheap little commuter car. So the other day I’m driving home and not sure if I’m going to make it or not, there is an electrical problem and it’s cutting in and out. As I’m driving home and I’m thinking I’m going to get stuck miles from home on a dark country road I started thinking about all the blog’s I’ve been writing, about self-control, anger, violent temper etc……I made the choice at that moment to accept what is going on and not get upset by it……if I break down then I break down it’s not the end of the world! I made it home and told Diane I would have to take her car the next day because mine is pretty sick.

I do not have the money to fix it right now and not sure what we will do yet, but I do know that my attitude on this is more important than it being fixed. What I noticed is it has not been a battle for me, it is what it is, it’s not anyone’s fault, it just is. So on Saturday I drove Diane’s car to work. She LOVES her little mustang for sure and I know this. On the way home I am driving along listening to a CD that Diane had in the car, it is a dark and winding road.

The song that came on was an old song we used to do at my church, it says “how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you…….” I LOVED that song and I started worshipping, the thought hit me right in the middle of that song…….nothing else really matters, what I drive, if my car is down or what, if I have food on my table, If my health is perfect or not, if people don’t like me or they do like me, if my job is perfect, if my PG&E bill is late…..nothing really matters, I have HIM – how can I stand on this earth and not be moved, not be happy, not be satisfied when after all I’ve done in my life, all the damage, hurt and pain I’ve caused in so many people and family members, HE STILL LOVES ME and is TEACHING ME!! I was very thankful at that moment……….I put that song on repeat and listened to it all the way home.

I get into Valley Springs about 1/2 mile from home cruising along and my heart was FULL, my Spirit was SOARING, my wife was waiting at home for me and I though WOW what a blessed man I am……..everything is good!!! And the out of nowhere a DEER much bigger than my car ran right in front of me and it scared the CRAP out of me and a second later while trying to catch my breath a second one jump and ran right into the front of Diane’s baby (mustang) and things went flying!! It was like hitting a brick wall, I looked back and the deer was running off the road… (I’m pretty sure) I was shocked and my heart was racing!! The car still ran and I had no idea of the damage until I got home.

I didn’t want to see it and more than that I didn’t want to let Diane see it – I got home and called her outside to show her the damage, my heart was still racing. She was pretty sad but thankful I was OK………but the look on her face 😦

As I laid my head down for bed last night I was asking God why? I could gently hear his speaking to me…..”there is no “why”, it’s part of the world, deer run they don’t know what a car is……” and almost chuckled and then remembered my worship as I drove home….”How can I stand here in front of you and not be moved by you…” and thanked him for an incredible day…….. I have a wife that loves me, a family that loves me a roof over my head, my health is good and a dog that makes me smile. 🙂

Sometimes in life we are just cruising along singing, skipping and full of joy and without a moments notice BAM everything changes……. good be financial, could be a death of a loved one, could be bad health, could be ANYTHING, it’s LIFE and life is REAL………but for the Christian if your life is IN HIM there is peace that goes beyond our human understanding…. I have Him if I lose everything else. I am learning at the young age of 61 how to LOVE and how to be THANKFUL.

It’s just a CAR

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1Timothy 3 — this never ends lol

Here is one more for today….

9. Must be gentle – 

1. kindly; amiable: a gentle manner.

2. not severe, rough, or violent; mild: a gentle wind; a gentle tap on the shoulder.

3. moderate: gentle heat.

4. gradual: a gentle slope.

5. of good birth or family; wellborn.

6. characteristic of good birth; honorable; respectable: a gentle upbringing.

7. easily handled or managed; tractable: a gentle animal.

8. soft or low: a gentle sound.

9. polite; refined: Consider, gentle reader, my terrible predicament at this juncture.

10. entitled to a coat of arms; armigerous.

11. Archaic. noble; chivalrous: a gentle knight.

A very interesting word, GENTLE. Here again this is one of the fruits of the Spirit. You are either gentle or you are not gentle, it is something you can’t fake. You may be able to hide it for a period of time but those who know you best will see the other side sooner or later. I think in my life for the most part I’m a gentle person but there are two definitions here that stands out over the rest. (for me)

“Of good birth or family, wellborn….and….Characteristic of good birth, honorable, respectable, a gentle upbringing”

This is the part you can’t fake – The Bible says in 2Cor 5:17 that “when we are born again we are NEW creatures, the old has passed away……” that means it does not matter where we came from in our natural – does not matter what our upbringing has been – does not matter what class of people we have been! Once we are born again and filled with the Spirit and BUILD the relationship with Jesus, enter His REST, he begins to transform us through the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us. If we grew up in violence, anger, deception, drugs or WHATEVER — The Holy Spirit begins to transform us into a new creation, born of Royalty, sons and daughters of the King, a new heritage and a new future. It does not come easy and it does not come without a price!! The price is dying to our self and allowing Him to renew our minds, thoughts, patterns, habits, dysfunctions! The REWARDS are the fruits of the spirit!!

Galatians 5:22-23 = New International Version (NIV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

So, it’s something you cannot hide. You may be able to fool some people for a period of time but the Lord will not be mocked, He is more concerned about our hearts than he is about our reputations!! He never exposes out of anger (I think) but out of 100% total love.

For me…..I claimed 2Cor 5:17 as my life verse for the last 20 years. I believe that it was, but I claimed it as a “BAM” experience and acted like the work was done!! I wanted to believe that in my life, and the truth is SO MUCH was done but I had things that I kept hidden, things that nobody saw……….My wife would see me as a not so gentle man, I’m sure my children saw glimpses of it and I knew. When alone driving I could cuss out the guy in my way in TOTAL ANGER as if it was nothing……….I could say things to strangers……..animals………blah blah blah — get the picture? I lived my life in public as a gentle man and in secret the opposite in many ways. There were people in our city that would never ever go to my church because they saw something in me not right……..I hated that and to justify it I would point back to them or say things like it’s because I’m a pastor, they will pay when they stand before God…. so so so so sick….. the bottom line? God sees all, knows all and I can’t hide from Him just as you can’t!

So an Elder/Pastor needs to be tested before he enters into ministry — not an easy job!! But again wife, children, etc…..they always know the truth!!!

Why does an Elder/Pastor need to be gentle – they are shepherds of the souls of the men and women the Lord brings to them…..when you are watching the souls of people it gets VERY NASTY – DIRTY – UGLY and if you do not have a gentle spirit, you will turn them away from the Lord rather than draw them in. I have SEEN some amazing things and some disgusting things in ministry, I have been blown away by the things that people have shared with me, I have walked through with people etc….it takes a SHEPERD to be able to draw them and to walk through life with them.

Jesus was as gentle as they come, the perfect example. The filth, dirt, dysfunction of the world didn’t throw him, it brought out a compassion and gentleness in him that most can’t even imagine. He loved, had compassion, helped, gave hope to, showed mercy to the dirty, hurting, sick, broken people of the world. The ONLY ones he got angry with and called them out was the ones who were full of pride, misused their positions, the religious leaders who lived by their rules and demanded honor and respect. HE LOVED the prostitutes, thief’s, broken hearted, adulterer’s, criminals, sick, and everyone else in the world. His LOVE had NO bounds………. and Elders/Pastors are called to minister JUST AS HE DID — be HIS HANDS and FEET.

Today, I wake every morning and tell him, I cannot be trusted with my life, I am full of sin, anger, bitterness, hate, jealousy, pride and well the list goes on and on……I need him in every situation, I need him to transform all these things within me. ENTER HIS REST and remain there every minute of every day!!!

Well, there is one more for today……..only 6 more to go.

1Timothy – a couple more today – Qualifications of an Elder

I am about half way through this list that Paul wrote to Timothy about the qualifications for an Elder/Pastor in the church. These are the very things that the church uses to “test” a man or a woman as Paul instructs. I am taking some time to go through each one and line up my “past” life with it and give my thoughts on these as I see them today, as I hear the Spirit speak…..

7. Not a heavy drinker *not drink too much wine – for me this has NOT ever been a problem while I was in ministry. I did not drink at all! This is a very tough subject and I want to try and touch it…….I guess from my perspective on this. We (the church) takes a stand to abstain from alcohol period……why?  Well it is obvious why………but again man takes things the extreme. This is a MAJOR problem in our world, heck my own mother died at 47 years of age from alcohol and it’s a very sad death.

For a minister — I sure get this. People look to their pastor, leader, edlers to be above reproach as we talked about earlier in these post. IF I am your pastor and guiding you through a problem with drinking, or someone you live about the abuse of alcohol and then you see me drinking, that can really trip up a man/woman/teen….so in my opinion it’s best for the elders to just “NOT” touch it. I DO NOT, let me repeat I DO NOT have a problem with alcohol, with drinking a glass of wine, or a toast at a wedding etc…. but I must admit there were times while I was pastoring I would get judgmental with those who would partake in drinking, I think I got to a place where I thought how can someone love Jesus and still drink? I was WRONG, there is a HUGE difference between someone having a glass of wine or a beer and an alcoholic!

We did not drink in our home, my children NEVER had a problem as teens with drinking or drugs, I do believe there is a connection with this….. When I grew up both my parents drank DAILY and my mother was an alcoholic big time, most of us kids had major drinking and drug problems…..

So, I agree with Paul 100% and would even go a step further, if a pastor/elder DO NOT DRINK for it may trip up others around you.

8. Must not be violent – Here is another one I thought was a “breeze by” for me. I am not and was not a violent man! But what does it mean to be violent? Well once again the “testing” of a man is to see the inside as well as the outside. As I spoke before if you want to know the “inside” of a man go to his wife and children they will give you a glimpse of who they are. It is said we are who we are in our private life not our public life. MAN oh MAN this is so true.

I was never violent as in hitting someone, or screaming, cussing at people. But I did have a tempter that nobody ever saw, except my wife and my kids when they pushed me over the edge………lol even my dog could get the best of me at times. I must admit and confess my private life and my public DID NOT match up in this area. 😦

There are many things I could use as an example of this over the years and I’m sure if you ask my wife and my kids they could tell you many but there is ONE memory that sticks out to me and has haunted me over the years from time to time. I want to share as an example of what I’m talking about. In public we are able to put on the man people want to see, but in private can be totally different and if anyone ever saw it they would be horrified! Usually it’s within the family and family “love” hides so many things and protects the person from others knowing the truth. Is it done on purpose? I don’t think so, I think it’s just the natural way of a family. What should separate this would be when a man or woman steps into public roles….in this case entering into ministry full time as a pastor….. the church needs to find a way to open up with the families to really “test” a man. How would this look?  I DO NOT KNOW lol — but it is the answer I believe. I have had pastors in my life, I have been friends with many pastor’s in my lifetime that have fallen because of a violent temper, or an act that is “out of the ordinary” for who we thought they were. When in fact the wife or family will ALWAYS tell you that behind closed doors it was different than it appeared.

For me I have a memory of my son Ryan, he is a grown man now with his own family and a FINE young man with a heart of GOLD!! When he was a young teen maybe 13 or 14 his mother asked if I would take Ryan and allow him to live with me. I left my wife when Ryan was only 2 years old and I was a horrible father at the time, we really had a very shallow relationship, but I now was getting my life together and thought it would be good. My oldest daughter Jenna came when she was 15 and it worked out pretty good. Although looking back now it had nothing to do with me, Diane did all the hard work, I was the fun dad and really didn’t take a role in her life as a loving father that would guide her along. Anyway, Ryan now comes to live with us and it’s pretty much a blur for me. The one memory that hangs with me is one day I come home from work and Diane tells me that Ryan has not come home from school yet and had no idea where he was. She was upset and so I ended up getting mad, when Ryan came home I asked where he was in ANGER and things just escaladed from there, I DO NOT remember the conversation at all but I do remember pinning Ryan down on the floor with my fist in the air screaming at him………I was FURIOUS and I’m sure he was scared ….. he really didn’t know me and here I was acting like a maniac threating to beat the crap out of this young boy. Writing this makes me cry today, I was his father at the most important time of his life, suppose to be a man teaching him how to be a man, how to grow up, control his thoughts, anger, emotions, how to LOVE and how to walk in victory. And my VIOLENT tempter is what I remember……..I wonder what he remembers? I am SO SORRY for this.

This is just one example of what Paul is talking about……if Diane was interviewed and Ryan was interviewed before the credentials board before I was ever ordained they could have seen if my private life matched my public life! It either does or doesn’t’ period!!! One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control………if you do not have this sooner or later it will come out and when it does it is NOT good for the body of Christ at any level.

Enough for today — I am a wreck