What To Do When You Realize You Married the Wrong Person

We  know the divorce rate stats.  Marriage is a 50/50 proposition.  As a caterer and a preacher I probably attend more weddings in a year than anyone attends in a lifetime.  I can tell you this:  no one looks worried about the divorce rate at a wedding.  No one.  Worried about the cake falling over, yes.  Worried about a wrinkle on a tablecloth, yes.  Worried about whether or not the mash potatoes on the buffet are good enough, yes.  But no one is worried about divorce.  I’ve never seen a bride huddled with her girls stressing over whether or not the groom is the right one.  I’ve never seen the groom with his boys wistfully looking over the women in the room and wishing one of them was in the white dress instead of his bride.  But I sure have heard a lot of people saying they married the wrong person a year or two or ten down the road.  This is supposed to make IMG_0027everything better.  It is a magic formula pronounced over a struggling marriage.  It absolves the speaker of guilt.  It is the equivalent of saying “I’m not really broken.  I’m marriageable.  I can do marriage.  I just needed the right partner and this one isn’t it.”   This seems to overlook at least one crucial fact: even if you did get the wrong partner for marriage, it was you who chose them – it was your judgment call.  What makes you think your judgment is good enough to go out and find the right partner?  And, more immediately, if you have such poor judgment about one of the most critical decisions of life, what makes you think you are qualified to judge the true state of your marriage?  No matter how bad the marriage looks at the moment (and no marriage looks good all the time), it is wise to remember that your discernment got you here, and the worse the marriage looks, the less you should trust your own ability to see it clearly.  You got fooled.  Maybe you should take time to figure out how that happened.

Ask yourself if it is possible that the problem is not who you married, but that you don’t understand what marriage is.  What if marriage doesn’t create your problems but reveals them.  What if the purpose of marriage is to create a situation where the real fatal flaws in us are exposed so the opportunity exists to get them repaired?

If these things are deep enough there may be no way to get them to the surface other than a committed relationship with another human being who never goes away.  We all wear a success suit for the world and we hop around in it all the time like rabbits.  It covers up the things inside we don’t want to show others, the pain, the scars, the shortcomings, the fear.  Hop, hop, hop.  But marriage is there all the time, and sooner or later we can’t keep hopping.  We unzip the suit and let it all out.  It was always there underneath.  We didn’t show it to anyone especially not someone we were hoping would marry us.  Most of us don’t do this on purpose.  We don’t set out to deceive anyone.  We may not even realize where those flaws are, their roots and their fruits.

Divorce

If the Christian story of the world is true, and if the Christian concept of marriage is real, this is precisely how the gospel works its way into us and helps us.  Marriage is a means through which grace is pushed deeper into our lives than we would on our own.  Marriage is a means to get at the deep deceptions that dwell in us because of our God-loss.  And a key component of this view of marriage is that this grace comes to us in any kind of marriage.  Bad or good.  Fulfilling or unfulfilling.  This grace is the realization that Jesus Christ is a spouse that marries the wrong person on purpose.  He marries people who are not lovely, but he loves them into loveliness.  Finding out you married the wrong person may be the only way you can figure out how much you need to accept Christ’s marriage proposal to you.

Purchase Ron’s Book; The Elephant in the Bar:  How the Sexual Revolution Broke Sex & Marriage and How to Keep It From Breaking You

Heaven is for Real…if You Earn It: Bloomberg Shows a Way

At the close of an interview with the New York Times this week, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg had this to say about heaven:

Mr. Bloomberg was introspective as he spoke, and seemed both restless and wistful. When he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at 72. And he admitted he was a bit taken aback by how many of his former classmates had been appearing in the “in memoriam” pages of his school newsletter.

But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

Before you become too critical of Bloomberg, take a moment to consider whether or not you share his religion.  Dr. David Martin Lloyd-Jones, the British pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, used a very simple diagnostic question to determine if people understood and embraced Christianity or were adherents to religion.  Jones would ask a person “Are you a Christian?”  If they answered with, “I’m trying,” or “I’m doing the best I can to be Christian,” or “I hope so,” he knew the person did not understand what Christianity is.  What Bloomberg said, and what many many people BLOOMBERG-master675believe, is that the power to get into heaven, or to be pleasing to God, rests with us.  It is our job to be good; to do good, and it is God’s job to call balls and strikes.  And in the end we expect God will give us all a very generous strike zone because He is kind and generous and loving.  Is that what you believe?  Is it up to you to keep the Ten Commandments or follow the Golden Rule or to be generous with your stuff?  If so, then you shouldn’t be too critical of the Mayor because he is only telling your story with more confidence than most of us can muster.  He is sure his life will measure up.  He is so sure that his record is acceptable that he doesn’t even think it needs double checking at heaven’s gate.

That gate may be somewhere, but it isn’t the gateway to heaven that any Christian is looking for.  The Christian gospel is not our record offered to God for his acceptance, it is Jesus’s record given to us.  Are you a Christian?  Yes or no is the only correct answer.  There is no earning it.  It is a gift.  The whole Bible shows this pattern.  Abram gets God’s promise of land and blessing and seed before he did anything notable.  Moses is a washed up shepherd who ran away from a murder rap when God chooses him.  God rescues all of Israel from slavery before he gives them the Ten Commandments, not after they obeyed them.

The God of the Bible consistently gives away his endorsement to people who don’t deserve it; to people who have not earned it.  The final and full expression of this is Jesus.  Jesus earns a perfect record with perfect performance of human life.  This is a whole other topic worth considering – that when you see Jesus its not that we are just looking at a sinless life (no mistakes or nothing that makes God angry) its that we are seeing what a completely full human life looks like.  This life earns Jesus a place before God like none other.  Jesus then gives away his record to anyone who asks for it.  Good people don’t get it.  Bad people are not excluded.  Anyone can have it.  The only thing you have to do is accept a complete record swap.  You have to take all his record and give up all your record.  None of our marks transfer.  None of our good marks – the ones we’re really proud of – come with us, and none of our bad marks – the ones we’re really ashamed of – come with us either.  Complete swap.  That is the gospel and that is Christianity.  Are you a Christian?  If the answer is yes, you can have Bloomberg-like confidence in your record.  No need to even think about getting into heaven.  You already know your record “works” to get into heaven because Jesus got in with the same record and now its yours.  Pretty simple.  Thats the gospel.  Thats why gospel means “good news,” for those of us who aren’t strong and sure we can work our way into heaven.  We are going to heaven the real old fashioned way…Jesus earned it.

Wakeup and Smell the Sin – The Bundy Ranch and the Abuse of Power

How far can a government go before its people push back?  What are the limits of governmental power and how do we keep it in check?  What recourse do we have when government abuses power and refuses to “play by the rules”?  The opening of the American Declaration of Independence recounts the profound nature of these questions saying:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

This was written by a people who were convinced their government was willing to use its power to further its own interests at any time and any way it chose.  They lost faith in their government because it chose to use its power over them randomly and without recourse.  Their government threatened them economically.  They responded through economic sanctions against the government’s interests.  Their government threatened them politically.  They responded by setting up extra-governmental congresses.  Finally their government threatened their very lives and liberty.  They responded by taking up arms and forcibly removing those who abused power.

None of this happened in an instant.  It happened over the course of many years.  When it did come to a crisis it wasn’t just the tea party or the Liberty or Death speech or “the shot heard round the world.”  These are historical contractions; ways to make sense of events after they happened.  Those living in the events didn’t always see how they connected with both the past and the future, nor did they all agree upon what to do about it.  There were loyalists and patriots and at the time each thought the other thoroughly “unpatriotic” one way or another.

It would be a mistake to think that “civil discourse” existed in the time of America’s founding.  To believe our forefathers treated each other better than we do today is to be ignorant of history.  There has never been such a thing as clean politics; not in America, not in any country with any form of government at any time in history.  Politics are messy, and there have always been people willing to do anything to accumulate and exercise power over others.  It is exceedingly rare to find an instance where people on either side of an issue are completely in the right, or completely in the wrong.  Both sides abuse power, or attempt to manipulate circumstances to their greatest advantage using questionable article-2603026-1D12BF1A00000578-37_634x437tactics.  The American revolution wasn’t carried out by perfect people with a perfect claim against England.  The standoff at the Bundy ranch isn’t a case of perfect people against an imperfect government either.  So we have a serious problem:  we need government to live well because without it we are on our own against individuals likely to exercise and abuse power over us, but once we form a government it is made up from those same individuals who are likely to exercise and abuse power over us.

The American form of government is not all that it could be.  There is plenty of room for improvement.  But the thing we’ve gotten right; the thing that led an obscure backwoods colony to become the most influential and powerful nation on earth in less than 200 years, is the dilution of power.  That sounds strange, but its true.  America became more powerful than any other nation because its political system prevents the accumulation of power by the few and spreads it out over the many.  This counterintuitive form of governing created both freedom and restraint in the highest ratio ever seen on the world stage.

While our government has changed and grown, this core of diluting power so that freedom and restraint stay in balance has remained.  But the core of the core is our current problem.  There was a reason our forefathers feared the accumulation of power, and it wasn’t because they hated a particular king exercising it over them.  Our forefathers, and the majority of every generation of Americans until the last one, believed human beings were flawed and couldn’t be trusted with power.  We did not have illusions about our fundamental goodness.  We believed in a thing that sounds very old fashioned now:  sin.  Because sin was a fact and sin infected everyone, we knew instinctively that fewer people with greater power was a recipe for disaster.  This lesson was forcefully driven home to us by two world wars ignited by totalitarian egos, and a cold war driven along by the same thing.  But now we are a half generation removed from the fall of Soviet style communism, and a generation and a half past world war, and we no longer believe in sin.  You can tell by the way our leaders talk.  The Russian invasion of the Crimea elicited this response from our Secretary of State:

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped up pre-text.”

Our leaders don’t see that sinful people have always and will always make up pretexts for abusing power.  We are not getting less sinful because we have the internet, the best understanding of science, or the highest educational standards in history.  If anything history shows us that the more we advance technologically the more we will use that technology to abuse and exploit each other.  The ignorance of history and the loss of the language of sin leaves us in danger because it fosters an environment in which our natural suspicion of individuals who accumulate power is stunted.  We can’t believe the President of Russia would actually invade a country because he can and he wants to.  We can’t believe the President of the United States will ignore the Constitution because he can and he wants to.  We can’t believe these leaders are sinners.  There was a time when calling these men “sinners” whose every action deserved our careful scrutiny, would have been nothing more than an agreed upon fact.  We would not want to destroy them because they were sinners, we would just not allow them to act without restraint, without recognizing they were capable both of error and of deliberate abuse of power.  We would know this because when we looked inside ourselves we would see the same flaw. Now we are defenseless against sin because “sin” doesn’t exist; it died along with God.

Not only are we victims of the mythology of a sin-less world, but a godless world too.  We blindly trust government to act in our best interests all the time.  In other words, government now occupies the place of God in our culture.  It is both sinless and all powerful.  Questioning government activity is like questioning church doctrine.  Worshipping other gods above government is increasingly dangerous.  Appealing to another source other than government for freedom and protection is discouraged.

The only kind of people who can provide real and lasting help for the situation facing America today are those who know themselves to be sinners and the whole world to be broken by sinfulness.  These will be the only people with both the awareness and the humility to work together to solve our real practical problems.  These will be the only people with the guts to say no to the accumulation of power by sinful people and the self awareness to keep from grabbing it for themselves.  This is how our forefathers founded our nation; taking power from the powerful but dispersing it among the many.  The cowboys at Bundy had the guts to stand up to sin and the abuse of power.  If they act like Americans of old they will not abuse the victory and they will share power with others like themselves.  If I am not mistaken this kind of courage and restraint are going to become more and more necessary day by day if we are going to remain both a free and a powerful nation which is a force for good in a sinful world.

 

 

 

This Sexual Revolution Thing is Working Out Great… if You’re a Man

“When we examine simple connections between recent and lifetime sexual partnering, frequency of sex, and a variety of emotional-health indicators—including depression scales, self-reported episodic crying, life satisfaction, depression diagnoses, and current use of prescription antidepressants—it quickly becomes apparent that having more numerous sexual partners is associated with poorer emotional states in women,
but not men.”
Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying by Mark Regnerus, Jeremy Uecker)

A good thirty years into the sexual revolution, the throwing off of “traditional” views of sex along with how we view gender roles, is working out great; if you are a man.  Men who used to pay a much higher price in terms of commitment and stability in order to gain access to sex, can now have sex for little or no commitment.  Women, who were encouraged to view their sexual decisions in a “liberated” way (ie to have sex when they wanted with whoever they wanted) are not faring so well by putting that into practice.  In the traditional view of sex, women were the gatekeepers who could demand relational security in exchange for sex, and men were the pursuers exploring the market for the price they had to pay for sex, and trying to have as much of it as they could get for the lowest cost.  As more women adopted these liberal attitudes toward sex, the market slowly started to flood with lower cost sex in terms of commitment to the point where a woman who withholds sex from a man is no longer an obstacle for him – he has plenty of options readily available.  Now men can have sex for next to nothing with many partners – literally a school boy’s dream, and they are doing it with abandon, and, evidently without causing themselves much long term damage.  Women on the other hand, are not faring so well.

Even getting married—deciding to settle down with only one sex partner for good—doesn’t erase the emotional challenges for women who’ve had numerous sex partners in their lifetime. While no association with depressive symptoms is apparent among now-married young women who’ve had up to four sex partners in their lifetime, problems appear among those who’ve had 5–10, and even more among those who’ve had more than 10 partners.  [Such] women display more intense emotional difficulties. Among those who’ve had more than 10 partners, 41 percent report being depressed at least some time in the past seven days. Just over 14 percent are actively taking antidepressants, and only 79 percent say they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their life. So while the security of a marital relationship can diminish sex-related emotional-health problems, it doesn’t often take them away.

It makes you wonder who’s idea the sexual revolution was in the first place, and what were they hoping to accomplish.  One name above all others attaches itself to this: Hugh Hefner.  Hefner is the living image of the beginning and shriveling up of the sexual revolution; a man of small physical and moral stature who lacks the generally valued masculine qualities which would attract and hold the attentions of a real woman.  A man who has everything to gain by tearing down the traditional sexual structures in order to gain access to what he wants.  It was all couched in such inclusive terms from the start – why shouldn’t we all stop feeling guilty about sex and relax?  Why shouldn’t women be able to have as much sex as men are having?  The truth was (and still is) that men were not having more sex than women; that single men always had (and still have) less and less satisfying sex than their married friends, and that women enjoyed sex much more when they had a greater power over the sexual market place by rejecting casual sex and waiting for sex in an emotionally stable relationship. What will happen in the next 30 years?  Given what I know about women’s character and ability, I predict they will tell their daughters and sons what a disaster the “sexual revolution” has been, and begin to teach them to reject it.  The generation raised by the victims of the sexual wars will raise a generation who will reassert sane and workable sexual practices that work for both genders.  When they do, many will be surprised at how “traditional” it looks.  I won’t, because to me it isn’t tradition, it is truth written into the fabric of the universe by our Creator, and rejecting it always wreaks havoc.  Maybe we can help get things started by putting posters of the original Playboy in every dorm room of America…

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Do You Have Doubts?

doubt-faith-copyI am a pretty skeptical person.  How about you?  Tend to believe everything you hear or tend to be doubtful until there’s proof?  Skepticism (brother-in-law to Cynicism) is a trait many of us take for granted as “right” and “sensible.”  But have you ever taken a moment to doubt your doubts?  If we are going to be consistent skeptics, shouldn’t we be skeptical about our own skepticism?  Why is it better to doubt everything and how do I know which doubts are healthy and which are unhealthy?  Skepticism actually turns out to be a faith system – ie I only believe what I see or what is proved, or at a deeper level of skepticism, I don’t believe that anything can be known at all.  Do you see the faith commitment it takes to be a skeptic?  You must believe nothing outside of what is proved to you is valid…and that itself can’t be proven, it can only be taken on faith.  The human heart has no way to function outside faith commitments.  Even our doubts are radical leaps of faith.

 

 

What bothers you…

It is a simple question I bet we could gather ready answers to.  What bothers you?  Can you fill out a quick top five list if asked?  Probably.  My follow up question is going to be harder though.  Here it is:  What are you doing about it?  What are you willing to do about it?  Does bullying bother you?  Are you doing anything about it?  Does it bother you that local businesses are going under?  Are you doing anything about it?  If our bothered-ness doesn’t translate into activity, we aren’t bothered enough to bother.  But if we actually get bothered enough, it can propel us to do great things…but only if we allow ourselves to move beyond irritation and into full blown bothered.  I actually think that if your bothers aren’t motivating you, they aren’t worth thinking about at all and you should just ditch them.  All they are if you don’t are “life sucks,” taking away our joy without producing anything.images (2)

Bill Maher’s Personal Relationship with God

I’ve never met Bill Maher, so I don’t know what kind of guy he is.  He does say plenty of things that irritate me, and lots of people, but he also says some pretty funny things that make me laugh. On par I’d say he’s probably a good guy with some strong opinions about some things I don’t share.  He hates religion, though, saying religion is a bureaucracy between God and man he doesn’t need.  I’m on his team for that one.  He calls himself an apatheist, saying he doesn’t know what happens when we die and he doesn’t care.  I can’t hang with him there.  Last week he got on a jag about the upcoming movie Noah and said something very interesting about God:

“It’s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and his name is God”

He also said that God “drowns babies.”  Now if you can get past the bravado and sarcasm and hear the basic question Maher is asking, it isn’t so easy to answer.  He wants to know how a good God not only allows suffering and pain, but how a good God inflicts suffering and pain.  Maher is not saying there is no God.  He repeatedly says he doesn’t have the answer to that question and is open to there being a God or gods, but that thehqdefault-37-460x260 God of the Old Testament, which is the same God Christians claim as their God, is not a good God.  Maher is saying he doesn’t like the Christian God and he presents his reasoning for not liking Him:  God is a mass murdering baby killer who wipes out everyone because He doesn’t like what a few of us are doing.  Bill Maher’s personal relationship with God (at least the Christian God) is enmity.  He doesn’t want to be friends with this God.

It makes sense to me.  If I thought the Christian God was a crazed baby killer who might go off on me at any moment and kill my family or my whole country because I wasn’t acting the way he wants me to act, I wouldn’t want to be his friend either.  Who needs friends like that?  But I am friends with the Christian God, so I have to take Maher’s accusations seriously and not just be irritated because he said “bad things” about my friend.  Christianity is not for lazy people or squeamish people.  It takes effort to be in a relationship with real people.  They do weird things.  They embarrass us.  Some times they need to be defended against false accusations.  Some times we need to hear an outside opinion of our loved ones because we are too close to see their flaws.

The problem with Bill Maher’s opinion about God is this:  we have no concept of a bad God.  The name “God” is itself derived from the word “good.”  God is simply good writ large.  The highest GOOD we can imagine is God.  When Maher calls God a psychotic murderer, he calls him “not God” = or = he says this God can’t be real; this God doesn’t exist.  So Maher contradicts himself when he says he doesn’t know or care if God or gods are out there and how he might or might not relate to them.  He very much does care about at least one God; the God of the Christians and the Jews, and he definitely doesn’t want to have a relationship with him.  But what about any other God?  How would Bill ever find a God he could agree with?  If the standard he sets for an acceptable level of God-ness is only what Bill Maher calls God or what Bill Maher can understand about God’s actions, how would he ever know he had a real God at all?  That would mean that Bill himself is perfect and judges perfectly any and all actions of the divine being.  It would mean in fact that Bill Maher would have to be that god.  And that is precisely what anyone in his position does have – a god of their own manufacture.  A God who never contradicts us or confounds us, but only agrees with us and acts in the exact way we think they should act is indistinguishable from our self.  A god like that is not worth much when we need help or advice.

I said that relationships with real people are hard, and they are.  The Christian God is a real person.  He does things that embarrass me.  He does things I don’t understand.  He does things that make no sense to me that I wish he didn’t do.  The problem for me is different though.  My problem is that knowing the extent of God’s goodness; his perfect love and wisdom, I can’t lay any fault at his feet for these things.  He is good and he doesn’t do bad things.  He is wise and he doesn’t make mistakes.  The lack of understanding is with me.  The misperception is mine.  This is not because I’m inferior or stupid or unimportant to God.  Its because if I’m going to have a God at all I’m going to have to have a God who is great enough to do things I can’t understand.  The Christian God doesn’t leave me without information, however.  The Christian God gives me plenty of confidence in his essential goodness.  He dies on a cross for me.  He enters into our suffering.  He is touched by my frailty.  In other words the Christian God gives me an overwhelming reason to trust that a God who would go to such lengths to have a real relationship with us would not randomly kill babies.  He is not psychotic.  He is not a mass murderer.  The cross contradicts me when I am angry at him for not acting in a way I find appropriate.  He did not withhold Christ from us; why should I believe he would withhold any good thing when he gave the highest thing so freely?  I don’t know why my God does what he does.  I don’t know why he chose the cross either, but I am sure my God cares and cared about every person ever born more than me or Bill Maher ever did.  And so I trust him.  He is my friend.

I Didn’t Ask to Be Rescued…

Man set to sue first responders who rescued him from his submerged car – that is a real headline from today’s news.  Not a joke or a parody of this scene from The Incredibles:

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Watching the interview of the man with his lawyer made me want to punch somebody in the neck – mainly the lawyer.  Some of his facial expressions are so… so… so… smug and condescending.  Now, now, don’t blame me for taking full advantage of any opportunity I find to exploit the system – that’s what his face screams.  Neck punch.  We are living at an amazing time.  We live in a land of laws with no connection to their source.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when laws and rights are elevated to the status of absolutes, we should find ourselves barraged by legal actions that defy belief.  A NJ teenager suing her parents for the cost of college tuition after she left home or was thrown out – an executive branch of government that selectively enforces laws or rewrites laws completely outside of its legal authority – these things are to be expected.  Law doesn’t work if it is not a given thing.  That sounds strange, but it is true.  If grace = a gift, then law cannot work without grace.  It also sounds strange but the reason we are becoming more and more lawless is that law has become more important, not less important to us.  These yahoos running around suing people who saved their lives value law over grace.  They fail to see anything as a gift.  Everything has a price tag and the people who are going to thrive and survive are going to be the ones who figure out how to charge a price for anything they can.  If law is disconnected from grace – in other words if law is not given to us from some place or some where or some one other than us, then it is completely negotiable every day, every way, every circumstance.  You could say that this guy who got rescued is ungrateful.  Right.  Exactly.  He is an ingrate.  He apparently believes it was his right to be rescued and rescued on time.  No such thing as gratitude.  No such thing as grace.

Since we are raising kids to believe there is no God and increasingly our politicians act as if God is the most unwelcome entity in our legal, social, or political processes, then the law is what we have and it is nothing.  The law is useless.  If we make it up for ourselves, the law is a power play.  Whoever has the most power now gets to make or break the laws at will.  Why shouldn’t they?  Law is constructed by people if God didn’t make it and if that is the case why should the last set of people to make up laws keep telling us what to do?  Dump it.  Rewrite it.  Ignore it.  Sue your rescuers.  The Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  The opposite is true too:  the ignorance of God is the beginning of stupidity.  We are in a slide down into idiocy.  But as hard as it is to take, we don’t have to take it and we don’t have to go nuts looking for solutions that are so hard to reach or enact.  Just believe.  Start believing.  Look at the evidence this world presents for a moral framework we all believe in although we struggle to know why.  Big turns come in little increments.  If this story ticks you off, maybe it could be the thing that gets you thinking about what kind of world you’re living in and what you can do to change it.

 

 

Personal Story: A Wrecked Pastor

What gets your attention more? A story about a point of interest in life, or a story from someone’s life that makes an interesting point?  Personal stories get my attention.  When a person starts off a conversation with “I was out to sea in a huge storm…” I am about 20 times more likely to perk up and listen than if they start out saying “There are many things you can learn by being at sea in a huge storm.”  I’d say up to this point I’ve written what I would call general interest posts here on my blog.  I do share personal stories from time to time, but mostly I am writing topically about things that get my attention.  The more I read it the more it feels so…analytical, and, well it feels a bit sterile.  Its too clean.  I like analysis.  I 527767289_HAeJMiyiSgiJ1V9oFX7A_wrecking_ball_xlargeespecially like to take apart false belief systems using the gospel.  I also like applying the gospel to practical matters like raising children and being married.  I think I’m pretty good at it, but it doesn’t seem to get much traction with people.  By traction I mean pulling people along, hopefully into a better place or better life.  Some people always find a handle on what I write and get pulled along, but it doesn’t seem like in general folks are connecting with the message.  Good analysis without good handles accomplishes little.  The funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve learned much of anything that didn’t come through a story; either mine or someone else’s.  I’m feeling like I may be able to accomplish more if I just give you the story as it unfolded and unfolds.  Maybe you can come with me and we can figure some stuff out together.

So at the moment I am a wrecked pastor.  Do you have a pastor or a church?  Some have one or the other; some have both; some have neither.  You want to know the really strange thing about becoming a pastor?  You don’t really have a pastor any more; at least like most people do.  You want to know another weird thing about being a pastor?  You can’t read the Bible right any more.  It messes with your head.  Between those two things alone you could lose your mind.  Most of the pastors I know got into it because they had a pastor they admired and/or they loved the Bible.  Once you are a pastor every pastor you meet wants to find out “how the church is doing,” and every time you open the Bible you start 5914doing a sermon outline.  It sucks.  Oh and another thing is you don’t have many people you can say things like “this sucks,” to without thinking you might not want to say that out loud.  Stuff piles up in a pastor’s life like papers on a desk.  Why do pieces of paper start cluttering your desk?  Because at some point you lost the energy to put them away, or you just can’t think of any good place to put them.  They don’t fit into any category.  You don’t know how you’d label a file folder.  This is what it is like being a pastor.  I’ve always got things pending that don’t fit anywhere but they are not things I can forget about or shove into a drawer; they’re pieces of lives.  A couple divorcing with children.  A woman discovering she married a person she doesn’t really know at all.  Parents who found out their son is gay.  A bounced check in the offering.  A man who wants to tell me the fantastic thing God just revealed to him that everyone needs to get on board with.  Living clutter.  Pieces of love.

It surprised me when I got my first bout with depression.  It surprised me so much that it took two years and a bazillion tests and doctor visits before I knew what was wrong with me.  What does a pastor do when depression sits down on him?  Who preaches the good news to the good newser?  And who is going to help clear up the clutter?  I don’t know.  I’m striving to overcome depression.  I think that’s right.  My therapist friend tells me its not helpful to say I suffer with depression.  I get his point.  But I have suffered.  I’m not suffering at the moment.  You bet I’m not or I wouldn’t be writing this…well I might be, but nowhere as efficiently as I am now.  I want to help with my suffering though.  My Tina and I agreed years ago to share the bad things in our marriage – the things that gut punched us and hurt the worst – so we could give hope and guidance to other married people.  It feels like suffering, when it is offered up brings life, but suffering when it is covered up just rots.  If you are a pastor, maybe our story will bring life to you.  If you have a pastor, maybe you can get a better understanding of the story they can’t tell you by reading ours – and help bring life to them.  I titled this “A Wrecked Pastor” because at my worst that’s what it felt like.  LIke a car wreck, I’ve discovered over time that, while there was some considerable damage, the car isn’t totaled.  It still runs.  Part of getting it on the road again is telling the story to you and for you.

Bible: We are cast down but not destroyed…

Reading: The Anointing, R.T. Kendall

Listening: Lucifer’s Hammer, Larry Niven

Watching: The Americans, FX

Kellerism Today:  We worship that to which we ascribe ultimate value