I left that church…

“I didn’t agree with what the Pastor taught, that’s why I left that church.”

 

That’s an excuse I’ve heard from people in my generation more than I can count. Generation X, Screenagers, Mosaics, whatever you want to call them. This generation is getting more use out of that phrase than any other previously. I love this generation, I’m a part and a product of it. But we so easily get offended by those in spiritual authority and the words they preach. In using that excuse, here’s two issues that underly it:

1. You’re not going to agree with the next guy either.

2. The issue isn’t what he said, it’s who you are.

 

Let me explain. 

My wife and I belong to a gym. We pay monthly dues and it gives us access to weights, treadmills, etc. There’s also the option of getting a personal trainer. They are there to help you with form, nutrition, and overall health. These trainers are skilled, knowledgable and have your best interest in mind. I trust them because they know what they’re talking about.

When a trainer tells me, “Don’t eat that, eat this.” Or, Don’t lift like that, lift like this,” I listen. Why? Because they know something I don’t. We go to that gym to get more physically healthy and listen to someone who can help me better my life physically. I’ve never met someone who has left a gym because a trainer gave them “too strict” of a diet.

 

On the contrary, people leave the Church all the time because they say a church’s rules are “too strict” or the pastor is legalistic. Often, Pastors take abuse from people because they say, “Read the Bible more.” Or, “Stop sinning in this certain area.” All of a sudden the Pastor is now the one to blame. He simply is looking out for your spiritual health and now he is under attack by the very person he wants to help. The issue is not what he said. He spoke the truth. The issue is you enjoy what you’re doing and how you’re living, and what he has said does not mix with those choices.

Your pastor is not your enemy. He is not trying to cramp your lifestyle. He’s trying to help you. Your Pastor is your personal trainer, spiritually. Even if you don’t like what he says, try it. It’s probably good for you. This Sunday, hit the spiritual gym and thank your spiritual trainer. You may not be where you want to be, but you’re better that what you could be. Listen, he can help you get good results.

 

The Third Tree

Many times in my journey of ministry in the first two years, I started asking myself questions like,

Why is this not like I expected?

Why do I feel like I don’t fit in?

Why do I feel like a black sheep?

Do I belong here?

Have you ever asked those questions? If so, hold on. I had been asking them for some time. This was the third step or “Third Tree” in my journey. (For proper context, read the last two posts).

I started to question what I was doing and how I was doing it. I had been with two churches and as great as they were, I just didn’t seem to fit like a glove. I took the next six months off and began to seek God to find out what was next. During that six months, I would meet a woman who would later become my wife!

Through that 6 months, I knew something great was brewing. After learning so many lesson in my “Second Tree” journey, my third journey took me to Carlsbad, Ca. I took the opportunity after an invite from Aaron Jayne to be the Intern Pastor at Coastline Church. This was the first time I felt like I FIT where I was. I stayed with a great family that was more than gracious to me during my stay.

Coastline Church has one of the greatest church cultures that I’ve ever been a part of.

images-10Every weekend it’s as if they are preparing for 30,000 people to attend even though they have less than 1,000. Tim Shaw and the worship team play like they’re recording a live album every Sunday. There’s never a weekend that goes by that passion, excellence, and creativity aren’t stretched. They always go above and beyond the week before to get better than they were previously.

Coastline also is extremely generous. The way Pastor Aaron speaks on tithing and giving is incredible. Pastors, if you want to learn how to clearly and effectively teach on both of those subjects, learn from the best in Aaron.

 

Throughout the seasons of not knowing why I did NOT fit and knowing there was somewhere that I DID fit, I stayed the course. Are you struggling with not fitting where you are? Don’t worry, the place you desire is coming. Don’t leave too fast! Learn the lessons you need to learn! There are things that you learn when are UNcomfortable that you cannot learn when you are in a place of comfort. Enjoy the places that are not comfortable, they’ll be your biggest seasons of learning who you are meant to be. When you don’t get your way, when things are done differently than what you want…those are the proving grounds.

I never would have enjoyed Coastline as much as I did, had I not gone through the previous seasons that I did. I’m forever grateful for the culture of Coastline Church and what it did for me.

To find out more about Coastline Church visit: http://www.CoastlineChurch.org

To learn more about their Senior Pastor on twitter: @aaronjayne

The Second Tree

After graduating college, there’s ministry things you can only learn through real life situations. Being in Austin taught me a few of those, but there were a lot of things I hadn’t learned yet. There is always more to learn and can only be learned in different seasons and different places. The next step of my journey would be in Charlotte, NC.

I moved to Charlotte on October 1st. This was something completely new for me. New city, new house, new church, new youth ministry, new boss. I headed to Charlotte through the recommendation of a mutual friend of myself and the Senior Pastor. I’ve learned in ministry, opportunities often come through relationships. If you want to be successful, continue to cultivate relationships. People are doors through which your journey will pass. Relationships with the right people can open doors you could never open on your own.

I pastored at World Worship Church working with Momentum Youth.wwcnewlogo World Worship works with a lean staff, relying on key lay leaders to lead ministries. Through that structure, I learned valuable lessons in evangelism and outreach through lay leaders like Trip Critz.

World Worship is also very gifted in empowering business people to be examples of Christ in their workplace. That might seem simple, something every church does. Yes, every church should be emphasizing it and most churches do. But World Worship seemed to be special in their gifting for it. Many people I talked to on Sundays were incredibly successful in business and in the marketplace. Even with great success, they still knew it began with their faithfulness to Christ and World Worship Church.

With all the great successes I experienced there, learning valuable lessons, seeing youth saved, and building friendships that I still cherish today, one thing was for sure, I did not fit there. Does that mean I was wrong for going there? No. Were they wrong for hiring me? No. To find out where you do fit, you also have to find out where you do not fit.

The culture and DNA that I had in me was not the same they had in them. The way I was accustomed to doing ministry, the models and methods, were not the same that they were accustomed to. Is there a perfect “way” to do ministry? No. Everywhere is different, every pot has a lid. There were many times we didn’t see eye to eye, there were many times we did not agree. But no matter what, there were many lessons I learned there, that I could ONLY learn there and not anywhere else.

Sometimes you’re going to be in situations that you don’t understand and you don’t agree with how things should be done. That does not mean you need to REBEL to show how your way is right. Power and freedom come through submission. Submission to authority figures that you don’t even see eye to eye with. Only there will you learn what you need to learn and grow in areas you need to grow in.

To find out more about World Worship Church visit their website: www.worldworshipchurch.org

To find out more about their Senior Pastor on Twitter: @LloydBustard

We go together like peanut butter and Julie.

In my life, I have worked my butt off…or have I?

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I’ll let you be the judge. Not really, but I’ll let you think you’re judging me. I’ve had 26 jobs since I turned 16 and just started my 27th. Now granted, nearly all of those being simple part time jobs. Some people would say I can’t hold down a job, I lack commitment, or in Author Jon Acuff’s words, I’m a serial quitter. I tend to think of myself rather, a learner. I learn something then move on. Though when I say move on, I mean actually MOVE. I have moved 7,092 miles since graduating college in May, 2010. I’ve lived on opposite coasts (West Coast, Best Coast!), the midwest, and the deep south (Better than both coasts). I’m actually a serial mover, not serial quitter.

I’ve never been one to sit still, I’m fidgety. I don’t have ADHD or ADD but some days I like to think of myself as a middle schooler trapped in an adult’s body. Besides, immature is just a word boring people use to describe fun people. Can I get an amen? I have loved every move and would do it all again.

But as “fun” as I think I am, and as much as I have moved around, I married a still sitter. Although she has moved, it’s been well thought out. My moves? Not so much. I married an attorney that is a thinker and a processor that decides something and sticks to it. I could never have found someone more opposite than me. Why marry her? Why marry someone like that? Why? One word, BALANCE. She gives me what I don’t have. What I lack in thought process, she makes up for, in detail. Balance, I did need it, I do need it, and I always will need it.

Some people told me in my single days, “Marry someone just like you! It’s more fun that way!” Well, if I married someone just like me, we would be broke, in a random city, wondering where to go next, or what to do next. In our case, opposites attract. But not just opposites attract, but opposites fulfill. That’s the big idea that I want you to see.

God doesn’t just want to give you someone that you’re attracted to, but someone that will fulfill what you don’t have. So can I say my wife completes me? Maybe. Are there still areas that she can’t fulfill? Of course. She’s human. Only God can fully fulfill me.

Whether you are dating, engaged, or married, look for those areas that you’re not gifted in and see if your mate compliments you. I hope they do. Don’t just leave it there though, see how you can complete your spouse. If your mate isn’t good in a certain area, try it out! You might be their answer to what they need.

I’m not where you think I am.

I’m a fan of most games that we play as kids, but I hate hide and go seek! Why? I hate hiding. I hate sitting there in a kitchen cabinet, closet, or under a bed. I get scared, it’s dark, but mostly because I usually have to pee. There’s also that underlying fear that you’ll never be found. As much as I hated it, always knew I was in a good spot. I could sit there and know, I’m not where you think I am.

Instead of hiding, I want to be the finder. I want to be the one who looks for the other person. I want to be the seeker. The seeker has a certain control over the whole game. It’s as if everyone is at his beck and call. When he decides to seek, only then will you be found. The seeker is in charge.

Recently, I was studying Luke 6 in the New Testament. I noticed in verse 19 something great! Here’s the scripture in 3 different translations. Read all 3 and see if you can pick up on a certain characteristic of the verse.

AMP: vs. 19 And all the multitude were seeking to touch Him, for healing power was all the while going forth from Him and curing them all [[a]saving them from severe illnesses or calamities]

NLT: vs. 19 Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

NKJV: vs. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

 

They were seeking to touch Him, tried to touch Him, and sought to touch Him (emphasis mine). They were attempting to touch because healing power was coming out from Him. It never says, everyone touched Him! They never made contact with Him. Yet the Scripture says He healed them all! What? That doesn’t make sense. No one touched Him, yet everyone was healed. So they never made contact, but they received what they needed, a healing.

Do you need something from God? An answered prayer? A healing?

Look at hide and seek. Are you hiding or are you seeking? Stop hiding, even though you might be good at it. Start being the seeker. Get in charge of the situation and seek God. God isn’t always asking you to touch Him or even find Him, all He needs is for you to have the want to. The want to seek Him. You may never need to touch Him, but SEEK and try and you will find!

Is deer hunting even real?

I’ve often wondered, is deer hunting even real?

I’ve also thought, why have I never personally seen a big buck alive? I’ve only seen them mounted on walls and I figured that person bought it somewhere! If all these hunting shows can take men, cameras, and trucks out in the woods, and film deer undetected, why do I have to soak myself in deer pee?! Yes, that’s a thing. If you didn’t know, now you do. But alas, deer pee and all, I will go into the woods to see if deer hunting is real.

I told you previously, I went deer hunting for the first time because someone prepared the ground for me. They scouted the land, saved me a seat, and gave me the necessary tools. Someone cared about a rookie deer hunter like me.

Getting out in the woods I had my fair share of reservations. I had spent my whole life wondering, is this even real? I thought, is this a myth? I thought, maybe this is just how guys get away from their wives for a few minutes! They just say, “I’m going deer hunting!” when in reality they just go sit in solitary confinement of the woods for the morning. But I also thought, I’m a rookie, I don’t belong out here. I’m going to mess up any chance the others guys have at getting a deer for themselves.

 

Those were my thoughts. Those were my reservations.

 

Every week, people like me are coming in to church with those same thoughts. People that have spent a lifetime running from God will suddenly be faced with the thought of, is this even real? Is this a myth? They’ve seen people commit outlandish crimes for the sake of God. They’ve been hurt by people that said they were Christians. They wonder if a God they can’t see is even real. They have come on a hunch that possibly something good might be found there.

I told you in the preceding entry title, treat people like rookie deer hunters. Rookie deer hunters are lost, unsure of where they are. They know something good might be out there. From now on, save them a seat. Make sure they are positioned to receive from Jesus. They’re walking into a church building thinking, I’m a rookie, I don’t belong here.

I was a rookie hunter looking for deer; they’re a rookie Christian, looking for Jesus.

Point them to Him and His grace.

Christians, please treat people like rookie deer hunters.

my view.
my view.

Let me start by saying: I am not a hunter.
I was not raised to hunt; I was raised to avoid hitting deer with my car on the back country roads where my family lived. Although not a hunter, I married into a hunting family…so hunting one day was guaranteed. That day came this week.

My father-in-law took me hunting for the first time and it gave me a great realization.
This realization can affect, not only how people are treated as they walk through the doors of a church for the first time, but also how we portray Church to them.

As we gather on a Saturday night or Sunday morning, wherever it may be, church is often singing a few songs, hearing a few announcements, the offering, then an encouraging word. We then leave hoping that something we heard might help sometime in the next 6 days.

Let me show you how a a Christian might miss the point.

My Father-in-law knows deer. He can think like them, act like them, put himself in their hooves, and figure out how to get a big buck. With this knowledge, he set up a tree stand in the right spot: near adequate food source, perfectly situated between rolling hills and a creek that flowed to a pond, acting as a natural funnel that deer follow.
All this comes from years of experience watching and observing this animal.

After doing all of that, he then took me to hunt. It being my first time, his main concern was getting a deer in the crosshairs of my muzzleloader. It wasn’t about adding another trophy buck to his collection or getting more meat for his freezer. For him, his thrill was me getting to experience getting my own trophy buck.

Sunday mornings should be much of the same. What if we make our life’s mission setting up opportunities for people to experience the Jesus we already have? Every Sunday, not hoping that the worship leader would sing our favorite song or the preacher would say something that would answer that question you came to church with. But rather, making the most of every opportunity to prepare the ground, leave a better seat for someone, knowing that watching them experience Jesus would thrill us more than being touched yet again.

Put yourself in their shoes this week. Prepare the ground, knowing that someone who has never experienced Jesus will walk through your church doors this weekend. Pray that Jesus would speak to them more than He speaks to you. Create a spiritual funnel for people to follow, putting Jesus in their crosshairs so they have nothing left but to look at Him.

Focus less on, “I hope I get something this week,” and focus more on “I hope I can help change someone’s life this week”.