Tuesday, June 12, 2007

true confessions

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.

But reluctantly.

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.”


  1. I love, love, love the church. And the church's heart to reach out, and the church's mission to go outward focus, and the church's honesty, and all the church's people, those who are faking it and those who are not, and I pray that God will bless the church more and more so that we can serve more and more! But even though I love the church, sorry, I still love Jesus more!

  2. My 2 cents:
    I agree with alycepaige. When our leaders are real, it helps us to be real too. We limit our healing when we leave our masks on.

    I don't think you "dropped the revelatory ball" at all- in fact, I heard from the Lord specifically with direction.

    I believe the wheat and tare message was a hard word, but a GOOD word. Love offends sometimes.

    You know, I was with a ministry team this past weekend, and the lies I heard were especially vicious. I entertained them and buckled. I talked with a friend who was going through this too. Seems like a season of opposition. It's a good sign. God is moving.

    Praying for the ministry.

  3. Dave, Your an inspiration to me whenever you talk. I even look at the service again on-line afterwards. Thank you so much for your individual prayer with me after the lights went out. Things have not changed much with my wife and I. I leave to go back to Sacramento on Monday. I plan to attend your services again this Sunday, and hope you will pray for me again. The only thing I can do right now is pray for patience and the Holy Spirit to come down upon my wife's heart so she can open it back up to me, and pray for forgiveness. This situation is such a gut wrenching pain that is very hard to overcome. Thank you for listening. Mike

  4. I agree with alycepaige as well - THANK YOU Dave, for being real. I was at 10:00 and didn't feel like you were off at all. As a matter of fact, I brought a friend who has been visiting for a few weeks now, but has not yet accepted Christ. I have been the one going through tough times lately, and she said to me on the way out, "Feel better now?" She got your message, God is working! Allow God to work! And he has. My situations seemed to get even worse this week, and all I could do was cry out to Jesus. Things have started to look up. Though I'm not there yet, I can see Him working, and I praise His name for His love. Thank you for bringing the message of hope to all of us. Even on your worst day, you still inspire.

  5. ”… 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.”

    I will not dispute that the enemy works to disrupt God’s work, especially within the Church.

    However, I am concerned that seeds of self-doubt about "faking it" may be planted in the minds of sincere believers. If you fear that you are a phony, a fake, a “weed” who is only hanging out among the people whom God is using, consider this: the original purpose of this parable was not to address the problem of “weeds” among God’s people.

    If you have such worries about yourself, please read how Jesus explained the parable of the wheat and weeds to the disciples.

    (Matthew 13:36-43)
    Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

    He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil on, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

    As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

  6. Well I loved it on Saturday! It gave me a lot to think about. And after, I went and wrote out what God is teaching me through this mural project and my mentor said God gave me that to encourage me. I wouldn't have been thinking that way if I had not been at Saturday night!!

  7. hey Dave, Jesse here from Milan, MI. Just browsing your church website, and found your blog. Awesome! Thought it was cool that you guys kicked off a series that's right in line with what God's saying to us this summer as well. We're calling ours the "Summer of Discovery", but it too is all about the joy of finding God at work everywhere and joining in. So anyway, it's really encouraging to see the Lord continuing to do sweet things there in Cincy. Rock on!

  8. well!
    glad you didn't delete the lesson from the site!
    i was born at night--confirmed it with my Mom, who was there And my birth certificate...Just Not Last Night--the are pearls in the lesson!
    anyway, there was a prayer circle outside of the south entrance on Sunday after the 11:30 Worship was cancelled--i opted in--So did The Holy Spirit-His Light on us muted the midday Sun!

    long story short, two souls came to Christ just days afterward,
    my wife landed the job of her dreams,
    The Lord is gracing my stewardship at work,
    Mercy Works is bearing a bumper crop of fruit--true to your lesson--do people understand what God is doing and wants More hands to do??!!
    i watched the lesson twice online during my lunch break at the home-based job The Lord Gave Me following much prayer for Divine Wisdom at Mercy Works and renewed commitment to Tithe--The Lord is increasing not just The Tithe/His Tithe but the percentage going to Luke 4
    i had to watch the lesson twice to make sure i got it right--i knew Sunday that the evil1 did not want the lesson out--"FATHER, do YOUR WORK in me...so i can take part in the work YOU'RE DOING. i surrender my life to YOUR WILL. Amen

    afterall it is our weekness that lends room in "the Inn" for The Holy Spirit
    continue in eyes-open-wide-weakness Dave

  9. What!?!?!
    While I can understand that it was a difficult weekend for you, you cannot discount your message! It was excellent! I only heard it via the internet, but while listening to it I was thinking, "oh I wonder if should suggest this to my friend." The message was simple, clear but powerful; Let God do his work in you first, before you help Him do His work. I thought it was accessible and easy to understand (ex the airplane example). I imagine the guys from Calvary were proud, touched and moved by the things you said. And it beautifully illustrated God's work, ex Dave. PLUS it was funny!!! Nothing opens up my heart like you making me laugh! I was very proud to call you my pastor after watching this session. I am very surprised at your Blog, and feel that you are mistaken. Perhaps you could watch it again, as I think you judged yourself a little harshly. Or maybe Lou (Lucifer) has deceived you about the GOOD WORK you really did.

  10. I was not at last weekend's celebration (I normally attend 11:30 a.m.) and I have not yet watched it online, however, I think I will do so today.

    Dave, I want you to know that when I was at my class at VCC on Monday night, (the day after the lights went out in Springdale) a woman commented about how your message was so powerful that she was weeping tears down her face and something about a prayer of surrender. (As I said, I have not yet seen this celebration...)

    And then others chimed in with her, agreeing that Dave's words were powerful and moving, and that they, too, had tears just falling down their cheeks as you spoke last weekend.

    So...I can't wait to watch the celebration online because apparently it was AWESOME! I cannot tell you with absolute certainty whether my fellow classmates attended the Saturday evening celebration, or the "edited" version on Sunday morning, but either way, they seemed to have gotten a lot out of it.

    Dave, I love VCC and I love you (as my pastor). And although I'm sorry you had a frustrating weekend, I am so happy that you shared your frustration with us because sometimes we NEED to know that human side of you (like 'alycepaige' said). We need to know that you get frustrated, too and that you have bad weekends just as we do.

  11. We all know there are hypocrites in the church. I know there are times I recognize me as one, and I'm sure at least a few fellow church members would point out more times than I recognize! I don't always feel like I fit in at VCC; I have a lot of spirituality, which I've discovered is unacceptable here. A small group leader told me I was wrong for believing in guardian angels!