So far the Road back to ministry has been hard. prior to becoming a pastor, I worked full time, went to school part time, did ministry part time and raised a family. I did this for 7 years. In my twenties it was no big deal I took it like a champ. I'll be forty this year and never thought I would have to repeat that schedule, nor had any desire too. I'm really struggling.
I'm working 60 hours a week, have a pregnant wife, doing home groups, mens group, and serving on sunday. I'm so tired. yet people are still getting saved and being ministered too. God says, he wont give you more than you can handle. I just don't know how much I can take. My heart burns within me to serve Jesus every waking hour and I can't seem to shake the desire. My circumstances, however, Are so far away from that reality and I sometimes lose hope.
It would be easy to say I'll just step back from serving and just focus on raising a family. If I were to do that, I know what would happen. I'd be haunted daily, wondering why God has given me specific ministering abilities, years of experience, and a burning desire, if he didn't want me to use it. Maybe God just wants you to take a break and rest? I did, for almost 2 years. Now doors keep opening and desires keep growing. I miss my passion! I'm sitting here stuck in a brake shop right now writing this.....
I'm praying to get back home soon. The road back home has been hard.....
Every morning I run over to wells fargo to make my bank deposits and before I can even get out of my car, I'm assaulted by solicitors. Ironically, I'm heavily tattooed and not the nicest looking person around, so why me? I seem to be a solicitors magnet! I park my car, open the door and I hear, "TAMALES!, QUERES TAMALES!". NOOO! Yo no querotamales! I just want to yell back... but then i start feeling bad cuz this poor guy is just trying to make a living, so i just smile and say, "no gracias". After calming myself down from that i get to the front door of the store and eencounter a table with an old guy sitting there yeilding huge signs that say, "help the homeless". I immediately grab my cell phone and pretend to text, but i can feel his gaze burning into my soul awaiting to here the words, " excuse me sir, help the homeless". Before the words come out of his mouth I look up and say, "hey buddy how are you today?, hoping he gets the hint". Inside I'm thinking, "dude he sees me here every morning, does he still expect me to give?". So uncomfortable.
So my question is, were do you draw the line between caring for the unfortunate, and getting irritated? I have decided since i'm there every morning, I'm going to befriend them. This will allow me to no longer be a potential buyer or giver. I'm just a man like them trying to make a living making his bank deposit, who sees them every day.
The picture doesn't do the experience any justice...
So every thursday night we have church at my house. When jesus says, "were 2 or 3 are gathered there Iam in the midst ", He wasn't kidding. Every week God does something cool!
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that demands so much time and focus. 90% of the time we're so wrapped up in the things of the world that when God does something cool, we miss it. People even wonder, "is God still around"? Well, of course he is, but when Jesus says, knock and the door will be open, seek and you will find, again He wasn't kidding. You have to make a conscious decision to devote time to what means a lot to him.
Jesus was very adamant about his family meeting together in an intimate setting. In fact in the bible when the believers met in his name, it says that many wonders were happening and the church was added to daily. People were getting saved! How do you know if they are saved! When people got saved in the Bible they did what Jesus asked them to do.... they got Baptized! But baptism doesn't save you! Soooo what! If you wanna give your life to Christ, be baptized!
Why do we have to complicate things. Jesus said, "Go into all the world and make disciples... baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey my commands", Period!!!
Last night as we gathered around, the opening prayer was, "Lord speak through every believer in this group tonight". As we began to discuss the idea of grace, the Lord led us to various passages and deep discussions. In the middle of the discussion, Someone exclaimed, "I dont know if I'm saved".
Its amazing what happens when you trust Jesus to lead the group. The man who said this was a friend of Stevies whom he met at an NA meeting. Jesse had been going to church seeking God for months, yet never had the opportunity to open up to express his insecurty. Immediately, we began to minister to him concerning salavation. As we discussed, I metioned baptism as a solid way of anchoring the assurance of salvation. Just then, Dave speaks up and says, "there is a pool out back, why not tonight".
Then we took him to the book of Acts and explained to him the story of phillip and the eunuch. If you don't know the story read Acts chapter 8. After reading the story jesse said, "can i get baptized tonight"? Without hesitation me, Big E, and Stevie put on some shorts and head for the freezing cold water.
As were getting dressed my stepson says, what is baptism? After explaining to him, he also desides to get baptised. Big E was so exited, he did a cannon ball in the 42 degree pool. It was so cold in the water your body feels like its on fire. However, through the Holy Spirit it almost felt comforting....
Such an amazing night. Afterwards we all laughed and enjoyed each others fellowship. I can't stress enough, if you are faithful to the commands of Christ, he will bless you tremendously...
The year 2011 for me was oone of the worst years of my life. I've been through many struggles in my life. My parents divorced when i was five. i still remember the physical fighting and the sadness of a broken family. In my early twenties i went through the sadness of drug addiction, which landed me in prison. in my early thirties I endured being sidelined by a broken kneck, leading to anxiety and depression. all of these experiences were very difficult. However, in 2011 I had my worst experience yet.
For the first 7 years of my christian life i worked hard to become a full time servant of the gospel. I worked full time, went to school part time, did ministry part time, while raising a family. Those years were very hard, but I did well in school, ministry had always been fruitful, and my family was well takin care of. In 2002 I finally became a pastor and experienced some really great things. In 2007, I finally planted 777 church and all the hard work began to pay off.
Many people came to faith in christ. most of them unchurched. I've always had a passion to see God build a church upon new converts, rather than recycling unhappy christians from other churches. The experience was great! New believers transformed and growing in relationship with Christ and his family.
in 2010 my marraige began falling apart. I did everything possible to hold it together. From couseling, to stepping back more from ministry, to compromising some of my own convictions. But, in the end it was out of my control and the marraige ended in 2011.
The bummer is, I built my whole world upon the hope of the church. I opted out of social security under the assumption that if anything ever happend to me the church would provide. I was inelligable for unemployment, had no job and ended up losing everything. My home, my church community, my career as a pastor, my wife, my kids, my credit; and it seemed like everyone i loved deeply abandoned me.
Ironically in my despare the ones who came to my rescue were those in the world. I was given 20000 to start a tattoo business, but because i was so messed up i couldn't pull it off. I was then given a job laboring construction, by an m.c. president of the vagos. These people have not yet commited to christ, but they seem to get it more than those who can say, "bless you my sanctified brother". Was God trying to show me something? Has the love of the church grown cold? Did God just abandon me too? Of course not! Thats another day, another post or another book.
All that to say 2011 was hard. As the dust began to settle, I started seeing the hand of God working in the midths. Slowly but surely, everything I'd lost was being restored in more prestine condition. I'm now remarried to a wonderful women, i have an amazing place to live, a new baby on the way, An awesome new church family, a revised mission from God and I'm working on getting to spend half of the time with my kids.
I'm so amazed at Gods grace! He's taken me to another level of understanding and for that I'm thankful. The Apostle Paul said:
(phil.4:12-13), "I know how to be abased and know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things i have learned both to be full and to be hungry both to abound and to suffer need. i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I'm definately not there yet, but much closer than I've ever been and it's a great feeling.
Life can be scary at times. When you least expect it, your whole world can crumble. Just when you think you've found your comfort zone, BOOM! another let down or change of plans seems to drive a wedge in the little patch of comfort you thought you had.
The reality is, this side of heaven, we'll never reach a point in life were we're completely comfortable. Life is not certain. Jesus said, "in this world you will have trouble", and the more we fight to maintain comfort, control and certainty, the worse it is.
Within the last few years I've experienced what doctors now call generalized anxiety disorder. Basically, "I'm sick in the head". apparently through the years i've developed some bad patterns of thinking. I involuntarily find myself using terms like, "what if", or "i sure hope not". This kind of thinking is not only contrary to my christian life, but detrimental to my health and good will.
I must of picked up this desease thinking along the way of growing up. I have to be honest, its one of the worst feelings in the world to become overwhelmed with anxiety. I can hardly describe the feelings. if you have ever gotten lost in the mall as a child you know the feeling. You began to feel as if you're outside of reality, your heart is racing, cold sweats, you feel as if at any moment you will loose control, die and/or go insane. Not fun!
Ironically, if you were to go see a Doctor he would tell you its all in your head and he's right. Its amazing how your mind can completely alter your physical well being. You literally feel sick. there have been days were i can barely get out of bed I'm so jacked up. The good news is that is very curable. I can actually cure myself and I'm getting there.
The Bible says in philippians 4,
, "8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
This verse has began to help heal and transform my thinking. Its a daily battle, but I'm determined to allow God's word to transform my mind, for the scripture also says,
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Recently I've noticed how patient I'm becoming with people. for example, a customer calls me saying, "I have a complaint!, You sold me lifetime brakes and there making noise!" Rather than telling the guy, "quite being hard on your brakes idiot!, its not our fault!" I quietly said, "I'm sorry sir, we will look at it right away for you". Amazing how his attitude changed. Just like the proverb says, "a soft answer turns away wrath". Have i been transformed? Cuz back in the day he would have got an ear full.
So I think to myself, wow your a pretty patient guy. However, just when i think i've got this patience thing down, i wake up in the morning and have to spend another day working on cars. Uggghhh....
Years ago i left the brake and alignment industry to pursue my calling to do ministry. For 7 years i worked hard to live my life for the gospel alone. i worked 6 days a week, went to school part time, raised a family, and did ministry part time. The day I became a pastor full time was one of the greatest moments of my life. I didn't care what i had to go through, as long as i could spend my days living for the gospel.
For the next 7 years i devoted myself to serving God full time, while raising a family. there were so many things to accomplish, so many places to go, so much to do. I never thought in a million years i would ever go back to square one.
Unfortunately that all changed the day my x wife filed for divorce. No more spending hours studying the word, long nights in bible study, hospital visits, the many quit times with God, and most of all the freedom to go when God says go.
Now its 10 hours a day, six days a week explaining to people why they need brakes and how much. I am thankful for a job, don't get me wrong, but i so miss serving Christ. Oh i know the cliche thing to say is, "your a minister wherever you are"...huh, I'm sorry but that doesn't seem to help much. The bible tells us, whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. My boss probably wouldn't appreciate me evangelizing on his dollar, but of course i break the rules here and there. I am dedicated to my job, but my heart is somewhere else. I just pray God will use me again to teach his word.
I suppose this pot hole in the road that has me sidelined is meant to accomplish many things. I am definitely learning to overcome anxiety and learning more about patience. I Have been given a second chance for love. My new wife is the most amazing women ever. I know God will open the door again. So many lives hang in the balance between heaven and hell. It's torture not being able to spend my days fighting for the souls of salvation. Hopefully soon......
Anyone familiar with american culture knows that january 1st is a time for new resolutions. whether it be losing weight, quiting a nasty habit, or simply making a commitment to move in a different direction, we all desire positive change.
This year I have decided its time for me to write. I' ve had so much drama in my life, it would be insanity for me to continue keeping all these emotions inside. When i say insanity, I'm not figuratively speaking. I feel at times I could literally go insane with some of the injustices and frustrations I've experienced in my life. Ironically my wife would say, "your just being dramatic", hahaa, I really love her for that, because in some respects i know its true. However, part of my frustration is not being able to overcome my dramatic thinking. The truth is though, no matter how dramatic I may be, my frustrations and injustices are reality and i need to deal with them.
In the past 2 years i have experienced some of the greatest successes, while at the same time dealing with some 0f the worst failures. I've also learned more about Jesus Christ within this time period then ever before. this next year i hope to share some of these experiences with you in hopes that, one, it will help to heal my heart, and two, it may resinate with someone else to help them in time of struggle. To God alone be the honor for his faithfulness. I know His promises are true and He will complete the work that He started.
Have you ever been removed from the friends list? I have been removed so many times and every time the person has not had the decency to confront me or let me know why they do not want to be friends anymore. Boy technology has made it so much easier to be spineless.