Sorry to be so slow to post. I’m still recovering: what a frustrating weekend at so many levels.
Ever wonder what goes on in a pastor's head?
It started Saturday night. If you don’t mind a little personal whining, I never felt like I got on track with the message. It was one of those times where I honestly felt like walking off the stage in the middle of the message and saying, “I’m done. Would the last person out turn off the lights?” People said kind things afterwards, but that doesn’t matter when you feel like you dropped the revelatory ball, so to speak. And please, I’m really not fishing for a compliment.
Although you don’t have to say amen, either.
I know the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, but it’s a drag when you feel like you aren’t holding up your part. I thought the worship time was awesome and Sean & Evan were appropriately ridiculous with the transition, but it was downhill from there on Saturday night. I had an appointment in Reading afterward, didn’t get home until nearly 11 p.m., rewrote a good bit of the message until 3 a.m. and subsequently felt better (whatever that means…) on Sunday.
And then shortly after the 10 a.m. celebration finished, the electricity went down in Springdale. We heard rumors of what happened (a car knocked down a pole? the hamster died?), but the auditorium was plunged into darkness. As I understood it, legally we had to empty out the building.
Next, we had someone trapped in the elevator. It took twenty minutes to get him out.
Even truer confessions here: it’s a serious financial hit when your biggest celebration is shut down. Yeah, I know, I should have my mind on whatever is lovely and true, but this is a stream-of-consciousness reaction to a stream-of-bills. And I'm supposed to have this "sovereignty of God" thing somewhat personally reconciled as a pastor. Hmmm.
I’m still looking for the silver lining. In the end, of course, I default to Romans 8:28.
Oh yeah: I'm changing the name of this blog to "What I Meant to Whine..."
postscript: A number of people told me they really liked the retelling of the wheat parable on Saturday night, but it was one of the things I edited out on Sunday. It just didn’t seem to fit the focus of the message. Here’s a transcript of it…
“One day Jesus told a story about a man who owned a field that he worked in. He worked hard and planted good wheat seeds in it. But one night his enemy came and planted weeds in the field. Weeks went by and one day the farmhands came to the man and said, ‘Didn’t you plant good seeds in this field? Where did these weeds come from?’
He told them, ‘An enemy has planted them.’
They asked, ‘Do you want us to pull the weeds up now?’
He replied, ‘No, you might pull up the wheat too. Let them grow up together and then when it’s time to harvest, we’ll bundle up the weeds and burn them and gather the wheat in the barn. It will be easier then to tell which is which.’
That’s why it gets a little confusing now. And if the Big "C" Church—that is, all people who have surrendered their lives to God’s Son and are now working for Him—is God’s plan for bringing the Kingdom, then doesn’t it make sense that the place to plant phonies and fakes and busybodies might be among the people whom God is using? It shouldn’t be any surprise that there are hypocrites in church…and at this point it’s sometimes hard to see what’s wheat or weeds. I don’t want to make you paranoid, but I didn’t write the parable--Jesus did. If you’re faking the Christian life now, if it’s been a long time since you’ve had God convict you about something, if you haven’t had any interest in showing mercy to someone and compassionately telling how God is working in your life, if you find yourself thinking about yourself and living defensively, and yet you still hang out with church people—you’re faking it.
Live it up now…but it’s not good in the end.”