Saturday, September 13, 2008

Finding Lost Treasure – Number 2

Okay – Okay – sometimes I am too honest. Some of my pastor friends that read what I write say, “Right on! That is exactly true!” Some of my layman friends gently say, “Pastor how could you feel that way?” Each is right from their place in life. Each has a different perspective.

Yesterday I revealed one of my responders in church, on any given Sunday, that crossed her arms and shook her head when I preached. She seemed to react in most situations in a scowling way. I stated that after reflection I was glad that I was not married to her. (You should have caught my tongue in cheek statement on that one.) My comment was to state that I was feeling free of the kind of reaction. She was a sideline.

The intent anyway, was to describe My Freedom. However the reaction is not always the same. Some that attend the church where I preached will wonder which one of the older ladies was scowling. Others were concerned for my mental health. Yikes.

Yesterday a story was shared with me after a long phone call. I was talking to another pastor. We know each other well. In our conversation he told me that our mutual friend had left the ministry at the end of August.

He left broken, frightened and without any support. He and his wife’s health is poor – both have to take medication which were covered under a health care program pastors have while in the leadership of the churches they are leading. Now that support was gone.

As my friend told me more about our mutual friend I gulped. His situation is a parallel to mine. We were both in our last year of ministry when we had to leave the leadership ministry that we had. Mine was somewhat different than his.

In my case with the loss of income at the church we could no longer pay the salaries. I understood perfectly. With the attendance dropping and the giving dropping as well there was little that any of us could do – except let the entire staff go – a complete lay off. It just made sense.

In his case, a year ago, the board had to cut his salary in half in an attempt to save his ministry at the church. Lack of giving and maybe holding back of giving on the part of angry people had deeply affected the church’s offerings.

Now the man and his wife are living a long ways from their last home. They had to sell everything and move with almost nothing to begin again. My heart hurt as I heard the account. I promised the pastor that I was speaking to that I would get in touch with our mutual friend.

It seems that there was more than one older lady with her arms crossed and scowling. There were a number of people that had chosen to react in a favorite way and resist anything or everything that this man did or said. The nightmares that he would have on Monday mornings would be almost impossible to imagine.

My pastor friend made a comment about our mutual friend. He said, “I think that “John” died in the church a year ago and then didn’t leave.” I agreed that it was possible to happen. But I added, “Maybe they killed him a year ago, and he was so broken he couldn’t move away?” He agreed heartily.

I pause here…
My non Christian, non church going friends read this Blog often. I realize that you may well be wondering that some of this happens in church – a place they talk so much about love and helping each other. Well we wonder about it too. And we wonder why you don’t attend church with us – until we look in a mirror.

Am I airing dirty laundry… yep… I am. Just like my grandmother did a longtime ago… every Monday morning she washed clothes and hung it on the line to dry. Hanging clean, freshly washed laundry on a line to dry was a statement that Emma, my grandmother, was up and able to do her work(that is what she felt)… and it was also a loud statement about the amount of dirty laundry there was in her house before she began to wash.

I had a comical thought one day. What if the church had to have a license to be open in our community? What if they were like a Hotel or a Restaurant? What if their license was granted on the basis that they did what they said they were intending to do when they opened? Would some churches have to be closed – because they would lose their license? They were not doing what they said they would do.

My friend Dan Haley, our community chaplain, tells a story of his upbringing in a “Closed Church”. The church prides itself on the fact that no one is allowed to join. No kidding it really happens (even in Peterborough)!

The leadership of the church stood with Dan’s father as he beat his son regularly. It was what he had to do to make sure that Dan accepted all that they said. It was so Dan would rise up as a leader some day and beat the living daylights out of his own children – so that the church’s way would be preserved. It was so that the anger that was resident in the group would be covered and no one would ever know.

The problem was that Dan escaped the nightmares that he lived under that leadership.

Not long ago Dan stopped to see his aging mother. He mustered enough courage to drive to his home and knock on his door. His mother came to the door, looked at him and his car sitting in her driveway. She came out to ask what he wanted. He had not seen her for well over 27 years… no kidding! She asked him to move his car away from her house in case someone saw his car there.

Dan stood in the driveway for over an hour talking with his mom. Driveway you ask? Yes – because of the power of the teaching of that church, the power of her reactions to the teaching and reactions to her friends in the church – he had to stand outside.

Dan found out that day that his father had died a few years back. No one was allowed to call Dan – not even his mother because of the FEAR that was ordered against Dan.

Now at this point – you are allowed to be angry and question a lot – and thank God that the church is CLOSED.

We need also to be looking for Love in every pew in church. We need to be looking for the “Perfect Peace that passes all understanding”.

A further testimony about “our church” – the one that I no longer pastor – that is still “our home church” – it is amazing. They are together and they are working at being a place that shows the Love of God. They Love us… unlike my Pastor Friend that is completely broken and moved far away.

We are finding the lost treasure of Peace and Love. Oh it is good!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article.
First, Concerning Dan's parents. I would question that they were Christians [true believers] "He who says he abides in HIm ought himself also to walk just as He walked" 1 John 2:6
Secondly, small correction concerning your pastor's experience. He didn't loose half of his wages. But he did loose $500.00 per month as well as two others. It is also important to note that the Pastor had to work through issues himself. We can can bitter or better and this Pastor choose the ladder. We are born to adversity scripture teaches us. With God's help we can respond as Christ did. Jesus, promised us a comforter [helper]. We often sing the chorus. "Turn your eyes on Jesus and the things of earth will grow strangely dim"
This is what the Pastor had to do and did and found forgiveness and grace to move on. Remember, we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities. Eph 6

Let the readers know that their will always be conflicts in the Church because the minute I walk into a Church it is imperfect. Jesus reminds us, the student is not greater than the teacher, what they have done to the teacher they will do to us who walk as He did.

Yes, we need one another. God has made it that we learn from one another.

Let us also remember that it is God who has institude the Church [a body of believers]. Where Christ is at work so is the enemy of our soul. That is why he is known as the adversary, liar, the cause of division etc.

Let us seek to obey the scripture
Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”£ 10 Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Romans 13:8-10 Living Translation.