I remember when I started pastoring my second church. I had the experience of my first church. I also had the experience of traveling as an evangelist for a few years, so now I understood people better. I was more prepared for ministry. Sure, I took some lumps in my first church, but who doesn’t? Going into my second church all I could see was how much better this congregation was. Finally, I had grown with experience and now I was in a good spot where we could really see some great growth! Right?? Wrong! During my first six months I realized the treasurer who had been the treasurer for forty years, wasn’t the nice old sweet man he appeared to be. He basically informed me multiple times in many ways he was in charge of this church. This as well as other troubling situations brought back sad memories of my first assignment. I was left wondering if I may be the problem. I didn’t understand why the same conflicts were happening- AGAIN! I called a close pastor friend of mine who advised me to talk with a mutual friend. He was also a pastor and was known for speaking hard truths when necessary. I gave him a call, and I will never forget this conversation. He asked me some questions about the church. (how old it was etc.) I explained to him about the power struggle with the treasurer and others. He then said something I will never forget. I wasn’t hurt by his statement, I was shocked. The irony is I knew down deep he was correct. “You’re in for a flogging, brother!” The reason this statement surprised me was because other than one other time (This is explained in part one) this was the only time someone was this honest with me about the reality before me. This was an experienced pastor explaining to me that at least for a while, things are not going to get any better.
I find it interesting how we are in such a result-oriented culture. Everything we do is based on results. As pastors we are measured by attendance. As bloggers we are measured by subscribers. As tweeters we are measured by followers. Do I believe in results? Absolutely. As followers of Jesus we are here to bring others to the faith. At the same time, we tend to forget that serving Christ can be pretty ugly. It involves denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Luke 9:23). The cross isn’t lovely. The results of the cross include hatred, scoffing, and abandonment. These three things are what I naturally do everything within my power to avoid. However, these three things have ALWAYS been present in my ministry. It’s like trying to run away from my own oxygen-impossible! As followers of Jesus life is not going to be easy. He never promised it would be. The only thing He promised was that He would not leave us (Matthew 28:20). Whether it’s in ministry, your job, your family or other relationships, one thing is for sure- Life is a struggle and the struggle is worth it because we have the greatest gift of all which is knowing Jesus.
- Wild Man
They Call Me Pastor, Sometimes I Like It- Series
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
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From the first time I can remember I loved the sound of rock and roll. I loved the distorted guitar, the hard hitting drums and the fist pumping choruses. Being raised in a Christian home I had many guidelines to follow concerning what is right and what is wrong. Much of the teaching was important, it did keep me from making mistakes as a kid, and I appreciate the oversight I was given. Lets face it, what kid is smart enough to make their own decisions?
But, there was something about music. I was raised around the piano. As kids my brother, sister and I would bang around on the piano just for fun. Our mother, aunt and uncle used to travel and sing in a gospel trio, so music was a huge part of our lives. I was on stage singing solos in church from a very young age. In high school, I was in the church’s cantata. One year I was Judas, the next year I played Jesus- It was quite a year.
I started to play trombone in the school band. By the eighth grade I wanted to learn guitar. Why? Because I wanted to rock! My dad finally gave me the permission to switch to guitar as long as I didn’t give up playing an instrument. From day one they had to keep me from playing my guitar. I loved it, I would play up to six hours a day, it became my life. After a long time of convincing with many discussions and listening to many songs, my parents finally permitted me to listen to Petra. At the same time this was going on, Stryper had just come out with To Hell With The Devil. In a word-no. My parents didn’t give Stryper the time of day. They couldn’t stand how they looked. They thought their sound was too hard to be Christian (although my mother did admit how much she appreciated the rich harmonies). Long story short, Petra- yes, Stryper- no. The only way I was able to listen to Stryper was either at a friends house or the local Christian book store which had demos you could listen to before buying. I remember listening to To Hell With The Devil and I was hooked. The sound was incredible. I mean who can’t appreciate the in your face guitar opening, and the powerful vocals with nothing but drums in the back until the guitar comes back in? Epic!
The lyrics weren’t heavy theology but basic truths such as who the devil is and to stay away from him. What I appreciate the most about Michael Sweet is his transparency. From the beginning he has always been honest and willing to admit mistakes that have been made along the way. If you haven’t read his book “Honestly”, it is a must read and explains the highs and lows of this band.
There is no question God has used this band through all the controversy. Many lives have been touched and many know Christ because of them. Now, as a middle aged Pastor, I can honestly say one thing Stryper taught me was not to put God in a box. And most definitely not to judge by appearance. People would look at Stryper and wouldn’t give them the time of day, and people would write them off without knowing who they were or understanding their story. I remember my pastor and youth pastor rolling their eyes and speaking condescendingly to me regarding this subject.
We need to understand that God can use many things to bring people to Him, some of the ways He uses will shock us. Why? Because, we don’t have His ways figured out as much as we think we do- nobody does. The disciples constantly thought they had it figured out, only to be confused and realize they didn’t. Are we to have standards? Absolutely, but those standards need to be based on an ACCURATE study of the scriptures, not on ones personal preference and bias. After twenty two years of being a pastor, God is still showing me continuously where I am wrong. So many of my beliefs are nothing more than personal preference. I never want to be like my pastor and youth pastor, I would rather spend time understanding things before making premature judgments. The youth of today need this as well. When they come into our lives we need to be able not to make fun of what they enjoy doing, but accept them and understand, God may minister to them in a way we would NEVER expect. The woman at the wells priority was just to get water, yet she met Jesus! (John 8) Many will come not looking for Jesus, it is our responsibility to show Christ to them.
I must close this post referencing the incredible musicianship of Stryper. Perhaps you had been turned off of Stryper because of the controversy or the made up stories about them. (There are several of those!) I would encourage you to listen to ANY Stryper song and tell me we are not dealing with top notch musicianship. Their sound is amazing! Any guitarist, vocalist, musician has to appreciate that……
- Wild Man
P.S. I was never able to see Stryper live, but it looks like I will finally have the opportunity next month!
Though I don’t play guitar nearly as much as I used to, I still love it, hey Mike if you ever want to rock out with a pastor let me know!
I am The Wild Man...
I am a...
Husband, Father, Christian, Pastor, Pastor Coach, Leader, Preacher, Guitarist, Political Junkie, 80's Christian Rock/Metal Fan
I blog about all the above....simply put what interests me...