Looking at my life in 2013 – How was this year for me?

I want to write about this past year. Why? Well, it’s good to do on a few levels. First of all to recognize the good the bad and the ugly in my life, did I move forward, back, have I been going the direction I said I wanted to go at the beginning of the year? Second is to give praise and thanks for any changes, victories, challenges that have taken place. Thirdly would be to say thank you to all in my life that have helped me, loved me and walked with me this year. I had some very personal goals at the start of 2013, first was my marriage, second was my family…. all of my family! Third was to get to a place where I could just function in life, be around people without crying and falling apart. And above all my relationship with the Lord…..open, honest, raw, and very humble. So, let’s take a look at how things have changed in my eyes anyways over the last year.

In 2013 both of my daughters Meghan and Rebecca got married…my son Noah and his wife Tiffany has a precious little baby … LIAM!!! Adam graduated and is in his first year of college…..been a year of change for our family. We are now empty nesters….it’s good, it’s different…it’s perfect for our lives….and yet I MISS the family dynamic we had.

 I want to start off with my job. It was very difficult going from full time ministry for many years to a full time job with office hours, a few bosses and all the drama that goes on at any place of employment. I am VERY thankful for my job. I am 61 years old and going into the job market is very scary and very hard. When I was hired one of their biggest fears was that I would be a pain because I was a pastor. Instead of worrying about if I could do the job or not the worry was would I preach to them and the customers. I had to assure them it would not be an issue. I found that having a background as a pastor is not the best in the world. LOL…. but they hired me and it’s BEEN a great relationship. They have treated me excellent with no problems at all. When the year began I was promoted to “internet Manager” and man I fought for this position. I wanted it bad, wanted off the sales floor and into an office dealing with people one-on-one. I found it to be a horrible job but I worked hard and tried hard after about the 6th month I was starting to hate my job and started looking for a new job….it was then that they took me out and asked me to stay and work on the sales floor. It was hard, it hurt, but it was the BEST thing that has happened at my job!!! I am happy, enjoying the job, and doing WELL!! Making a living and being the best employee I can be.

Everyday I wake and pray that I would be a light, be humble and be a great employee!! I can get caught up in the junk, talk, gossip and drama just like anyone else, but the Lord always reels me back in….HE has been so faithful. I really do love my job, I have opportunity to meet some GREAT people, witness, and even pray with some of my customers. I have had some call me for advice in their lives, I even had an older couple that are celebrating 50 years of marriage ask me if I would renew their vows at the celebration. I was invited to speak at a HUGE party for a woman who was celebrating her 106th birthday in Lodi…..I thank God that I have the chance and the opportunity to minister in His name still. I may not pastor a church any longer, but the Lord still uses me…..I remain in awe of Him, and very humbled as I enter into his rest daily. I am the old guy at work…..and I love it.

Next I want to look at our church. We settled in a new church this year. Burson Full Gospel Church. After being part of a community in Tracy for about 18 years leaving that behind and trying to find a new church was very emotional and difficult. We went to many churches and just couldn’t find the right one. We finally stepped into this church and decided to stay. Been there almost a year now and still we are not really plugged in fully, it may be us….not really sure. We love this church and the pastor. I have had opportunity to preach a couple times an that was AMAZING and made me realize how much I missed it. I could preach every day if given the chance! Diane and I gave our testimony and it was well received by everyone (as far as we know) this has been a great place for us to heal and start getting involved slowly. I am very thankful for Burson Church.

Some of my friends. Just about ALL of my friends were all connected to me as a pastor, so when all this went down a year and a half ago I lost just about all relationships. Most were by my doing. I know most do not understand what I went through and how devastated I was, I ashamed I was, how broken I was. After all it was ME that caused it all, so I do not expect anyone to understand. In fact I just stayed away from everyone, would not allow anyone in or close to me…..I just couldn’t. Many tried and I’m really sorry but it could not have been any other way. When I tried to explain what I was going through it appeared that I was trying to get sympathy and that is SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH!! I just couldn’t be around anyone. Some got offended and mad and just quit trying and some would not relent but gave me the space and time I needed. Diane played such a big part in all of this, standing between me and people. If you are reading this and think I just ran away, or I was feeling sorry for myself, or I just REJECTED you for no reason. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart!! Some just showed up, or set it up with Diane for us to meet. I have met with a few people, some showed up when we gave our testimony…..I am very thankful for everyone. I know I have hurt so many and I know that there are so many that probably get angry just at the thought of me or the mention of my name. I am trusting God for my future and long with the future of any relationships that used to be. For those that have loved me and allowed me to crawl through this year I want to say thank you!! Diane Nethaway you were amazing through it…… protecting me and helping others see me and understand me. I am so very grateful.

My counselor. Dr. D!!!! What an amazing, loving man that is in the perfect ministry!! When he showed up at our testimony I was moved so deeply. He really loved us and believed in us. I owe him so MUCH!! Thank you Dr. D

My Grandchldren. As of this year I now have 11 grandchildren. From babies to adults. This past year I finally realized what a horrible grandfather I was. Not as an excuse but I never had a grandfather, well I had one but did not know him, I think I met him once or twice but have NO idea what kind of a man he was and he sure did not know me. Now, in his defense, he lived in Michigan and I here in California. My father was not a good grandfather, he didn’t take the time to know any of my children. So it was never modeled to me. Like I said it’s not an excuse at all, it’s just how it was. For me my life was about ME………well those days are gone and now I want to try and build strong relationships with my grandchildren. It has been one of my goals this year and for 2014 it is one of my main goals. Again my wife Diane has played such a HUGE part of bridging the gap between us all. I can see the JOY and NEED in being a loving and strong grandfather!! I will say that the best model I have, who has shown me without even knowing it is my brother Cary. He is SO loved by his grandchildren, but HE SO LOVES THEM…………his life is about them!! He invests his time, love and finances into his family and I have learned a lot from him in this. Thank you Cary!!!

My Children: This has been a year of healing and restoration for all of us. My actions last year caused pain in each one of them, more for some than others. My reality is I know that I’ve caused the pain, I know that I’ve caused pain for many years. I have 9 children, 4 from my first marriage, 4 with Diane and 1 we adopted. With my first 4 I was not a good father at all, even after I was saved and my life changed so drastically I was not a good father. I tried to say the right words, but my actions did not match up. I poured myself into my life………I was a good father with my other children with Diane, I loved them, spent time with them, did things with them…….they loved and adored me. But I cared more about me than I did them…….I had secrets in my life that they had NO clue about and when all was exposed it devastated them,….. my first 4 have been through this before and when it hit again after they all thought I was a different man……….well that just about took them over the edge with me. So my life with all my children was pretty damaged.

In this past year, I realized that it was ME, I was the horrible father, I was a liar, and nothing GOOD will ever come out of that. Even in ministry I would gravitate toward anyone who thought I was all that…….and sucked it up….leaving my family out in the cold. It is completely and totally up to me to repair the damage that I’ve caused. With my children we have come a long way…. Meghan, Noah, Becky and Adam all forgave me and eventually Brandon did too, as they watched first hand their mother forgive me and walk in that forgiveness. They watched as we healed and they saw the brokenness in me, one by one they came to forgive me and our family is STRONGER than ever. We all rejoice now and have found that forgiveness is a powerful thing.

My children, Jenna, Misty, Shirley and Ryan are all on the road to healing. I get that it’s on me not them. Diane has played such a huge part in this area of my life, along with Misty. I believe healing is taking place as I begin to spend time with them, get to know them, who they are, what they think………as I try to be open with them in my life now. This year has been good and I’m looking forward to what 2014 holds for us.

I know that they are ALL incredible loving human beings, they all have GREAT families and I’m going to spend the rest of my days loving them, learning how to be a good father and grandfather. I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU all so very much – it’s never too late and I plan on ending my life LOVING MY FAMILY and making a difference.

My Wife Diane: I love her with all my heart. It’s been a long year but it’s been an incredible year! We were in deep counseling in January and by about May we were released by Dr. D….. so much has happened but today we have a good marriage and it’s on the grow. I am looking forward to growing old with my wife investing our lives into our children, grandchildren and probably in the near future great-grandchildren. (ouch)

Diane has played a huge role in restoration with my family and with her family. She is the CENTER of the entire picture. She has gone above and beyond considering that she was in the middle of her own pain, she still thought of ME, and our family.

I love you Diane so very much — you have all of me!!! Thank you for all you are and all you’ve done. Thank you for loving the Lord so much that it spilled over to me!!!

What will 2014 hold? I am not sure – in my life I know that the Lord’s call upon my life is NOT dead — but not sure what will happen, where we will end up, but I do know this…..I will do only what the Lord calls me to do and if He calls me to anything at all it will be a joint venture with my wife!!

So wherever you talk me Lord I will go and if I am to remain quiet and still, supporting others….I will

Happy New Year!!!!!

 

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It’s about time to dig into Chapter 3 of the bood of Mark

I am going verse by verse through the book of Mark, no study notes, no other input……just me and the Holy Spirit to open up the word …..

3 Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

I love love love the way Jesus does things. Is he defiant? Is he a rebel? Does he do this just to make them mad so the scriptures can be fulfilled with his death? I would say NO NO NO –

There are so many ways to read this, see this section of scripture. I’ve preached it, taught it and read it a million times. And I am sure I preached it with an attitude…….you know a defiant attitude using Jesus as an example. But today I need to ask what is the heart of Jesus, I mean He asked me to be like Him, to do what He did to carry on in this world what He started, to be a LIGHT, to be a man that points to redemption and grace and mercy. So, what it His heart in this story?

His heart is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow….. LOVE, REDEMPTION, TRUTH….to see all redeemed!! I do not think for a second He was doing the things he did in anger or a way of taunting them. I think He truly wanted them to see the truth. He gave them opportunity to see and experience TRUTH and to be set free from this religious bondage that they were in………..and then He would deal with the HEART of each man through His actions. Just like He does with you and me today. HE SEES THE HEART OF MAN — our words mean NOTHING if they do not match the heart. And truth is ONLY GOD can see the heart. I mean usually over time the heart of a man will be exposed….but JESUS see’s and knows.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

Here it is…….Jesus looked them angrily and was DEEPLY SADDENED by their hard hearts. And then Jesus does what Jesus does. TRUTH, He does care or even worry about “how they feel….if he offended them or not” he didn’t care if he was politically correct or not…….. HE Wanted to teach them TRUTH and KILL the religious spirit that has them all in bondage!! It angered them so deeply that they wanted him DEAD!!!!

What do you think of these leaders? Anger? Hate? Do you think of how stupid they are? How God is right in front of them and they missed it? We would NEVER be so ignorant!!!

There are groups of people in our churches today that are just like this….if they don’t agree or like what the leaders are doing/saying/teaching/preaching they gossip, slander, and plan ways to kill them (spiritually) Same with other church members…..Same with “outsiders” when they come into our churches….and the list goes on and on. Here is the difference JESUS would never put up with it……..He would DO ALL HE COULD to show love and redemption, but once He knew the heart…..HE went head on to put them in their place. In the church today we cower down scared to offend, scared to lose a family or two over issues. Things are really no different today then it was when they wanted to kill Jesus.

Why do you think so many hate church? Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit — GOD!! JESUS!! To dwell within us, to guide us, to teach us, to empower us, to live our lives with Him in us and us in Him….. So are the leaders of our churches, are the congregations living in the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

Jesus is coming back for a Bride without spot or wrinkle!!! We are a LONG LONG way from that place. BUT with that said, I believe that in a very short time Jesus can shake the church so hard that it will cause a falling out and a revival like we have never seen before — the end result will be a church with JESUS as the Center without spot or wrinkle. If you look today you can see the beginning of it. The answer is not to just walk away from the church and then join back in when it all comes down….. the answer is found in joining in with the Spirit, with Jesus in intersession for nations. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us!!! JOIN IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AMAZING DAYS are ahead and I want to be a part of it!!!!

Mark 2 – Let’s finish up chapter 2

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[a] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

There is not much I can add to this…..I LOVE the way Jesus handles these guys!!! The thing is these guys really believed what they said, they didn’t know any better. They have been taught this, their entire life has been dedicated to protecting God and what they thought was truth. It’s so easy for me/us to read this and say “IDIOTS” how can they say this to Jesus?

I really don’t think Jesus did these things to shame them, anger them or embarrass them. I don’t think that is the heart of Jesus at all.  He knew their hearts, he knew how stubborn they were. He knew that the very heart of this “religion” was dead, corrupt and way off base. So I think He tried all he could do to show them that He was who He said He was!!! SHOCKING to them!!! How many heard him? How many were moved to throw tradition off and follow Him? How many in the still of the night wondered? And….how many hardened their hearts even more? This was one of the only area’s where Jesus showed anger — the stubborn hearts and Spirits of the religious leaders angered him!!

Are we any different today? Are the religious leaders any different today? Are our churches any different today?

Well the answer is YES and NO – I personally believe the Church as we know it is being shaken and soon it will not look the same. I believe that there will be a GREAT DIVIDE in our church world as we know it…..(this is a personal belief and will elaborate more in the future) We have all these denominations in our nation/world some are old and hanging on hard as they can, some are new and rising up, some are “steady and social” drawing people in……..I think you get the picture of what I’m saying. Jesus will return for a church that is pure, without spot or wrinkle, holy….. where is that church? (when I speak of church, I am speaking of the body of Christ) It is hard to even imagine Jesus returning now, isn’t it? BUT look how fast things are changing….. a radical church (movement)  will emerge that will NOT be politically correct where we will see for the first time in the USA persecution!!!!! The time is coming quickly I believe.

Here is a good point when it comes to things being the same today as it was when this was written — I was part of a denomination for many years. I was there by CHOICE and I LOVE this church – I believe I was called to this church for a purpose…..it ended horrible because of my own sin!!! But that is not the point. This body held so tight to the belief that speaking in tongues was of the devil that if anyone did they were asked to leave the church, if a pastor did he was stripped of his credentials and removed from the pulpit. NOW HEAR ME!!!! This writing is not about if tongues is of the Lord or not!!! GOT IT????? It’s about the “tight jaw attitude” on it! When a man or woman had an experience with the Lord and they spoke in tongues it was an attitude just like ” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” the same!!!!!!! NO DIFFERENT!!!!! Here is an example of a great Church where they did so much good for the world, missions, people, disaster aid, and the list goes on and on……..they really cared for the people of this world, they spent millions on helping others. They truly wanted to see people saved etc….. but when it went outside of what “they thought to be right” it was OVER!!!! NO MERCY — NO LOVE —

I am not writing this in anger at all, I have no regrets, I would do it all over again if the Lord asked me to. There are thousands of churches out there like this……denominations like this…….and at the same time there are millions of people out there that are becoming CHRISTLIKE!!! That are preparing the way of the Lord, preparing for the WEDDING!!!!!

I really pray that if you read this you see my heart it in.

12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

What a way to end chapter 2 — WHEN GOD DOES SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE — JUMP UP and MOVE!!!! STUN the people around you!!! Even if it seems dumb, or impossible……….STUN THE WORLD………STUN YOUR CHURCH!!!!!

Mark Chapter 2 —

It’s been so busy for me with people and work I have been slow at moving along in this. The temptation is to just let it go and not press in to finish what the Lord started with me. SO………here we go….

2 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

Man I can’t tell you how many times I’ve preached this section of Scripture, how many book I’ve read, how many devotions I’ve read, how many small group talks, Sunday school lessons and the list goes on and on. There are so many stories within this very short story, I have been trying to look at these scriptures through the eyes of my life, my past and the church.

As individuals when Jesus is alive within us….when we are resting in Him…….when there is a vessel that has clean hands and a clean heart……you will ALWAYS attract people, maybe at work, at school, in the neighborhood, at the store, wherever you step your foot you are stepping onto holy ground…..you don’t even have to say a word, people know!!! So much “religion” is forced, faked, and screamed to attract people, to “be the man or woman” of God. It’s either real or it’s not……..pretty simple. When it’s real you will draw people to you. If you take this in the context of a church…..well it holds true….a pastor, the leaders and the congregation that is humble, full of the Holy Spirit there Jesus is…….it is that place the Holy Spirit moves in amazing ways. People make up the body of Christ (the church) and it is the people that will draw crowds.

I have been a pastor for over 16 years……..I wanted so desperately to draw people in…….wanted the Holy Spirit to move mightily in our midst. I believed that if we would just preach Him, HIS WORD this would take place………but it is so easy to get caught up in the “church” thing………the latest movements, the latest book, seminar, teaching, preaching, kids ministries, small group ministry, men’s and women’s ministry and the list goes on and on. We end up trying this and that to “grow the church” and why? I must say there is a GREAT deal of pride that goes into that. We want the church that the community is talking about, we want the biggest, nicest, most exciting church in the city, we want to be recognized by our peers, by the community etc etc. I think I’ve made my point.

There are thousands of pastor’s that are doing GREAT work in their churches that nobody will ever hear of. I don’t think that any pastor, leader wants to be this way, it’s the culture of church though……….well in USA it is, I’m not so sure about rest of the world. We fall into these traps. For me, it was a disaster, it ended up becoming all about me……I created this false bubble that I was doing this great work and becoming known in my community…..it happens so slowly you don’t even recognize it happening.  In the end God exposed me and I become very well known in my community and beyond. ….. GOD WILL NOT BE MOCKED!!!!

I am convinced that when people find the “real” thing……….they will spend every penny they have to attain it….go to any means and do what ever it takes to reach where Jesus is!!! Even go to the extreme of tearing off a roof top to get to Him. Jesus did not heal the sick man because of his faith it was because of the faith of the men who brought him.

There is so much wrong with the church in our land………but with that said I want to say I LOVE THE CHURCH (body of Christ) Jesus died for her and is coming back for her!!! It’s just so full of “man” but we must never forget we are men, we are not God, so until He comes back the church will be flawed. NOW, I do believe that he will shake the church, change the church, and separate the wheat from the tares before his return……..the church in the near future will NOT look like it does today!!! I am very sick of “Christians” always bad mouthing the church, the doings of the church, the mistakes of the church……..and the movement to “not be a part of the church” is dead wrong………what the church needs is people like me and like you to be filled with the spirit, walking in the Spirit, and teaching the WORD OF GOD!!! Like I’ve said many times, not about the word of God, not about how to raise your children, how to be successful, how to make more money in the name of Jesus, how to name it and claim it, how to live a better life or how to be a better you!!! What people need to know and learn is GOD’S WORD!!!

There church has a PURPOSE in the big picture of this world — it’s all about the Return of Jesus preparing the Wedding!!!

I don’t know if I’ll ever have a chance again or not but if I do my plan is very simple……..

1. Love the Lord with all my heart

2. Love my neighbor

3. Teach God’s WORD……..and God’s word ONLY