"It's strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words"

T.S. ELLIOT

From the Blog

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I’m Re-Learning How To Care

My blogging has slowed down quite a bit, and I am reminded of that every time I scroll through my bookmarks. Oh, Jesus & Tattoos….my blog…whoops.

 

I just haven’t known how to say a lot of things, and almost came to a place where I didn’t think those things were important enough to learn from. I have grown so much, healed so much, learned how to deal with my own shit so much better, that I almost feel like one of the normal people who isn’t super emo and yet, surprisingly good at virtually articulating said emotions.

 

The reason I was writing was to give myself hope, and to help other people have hope too, so that at least if it didn’t work for me, at least it wasn’t all a waste of time.

 

Now that I am under the illusion of being better, I almost have subsided my passion for wellness. We want what we can’t have, and once we have it, we don’t really care about it anymore. It’s easy to take wholeness for granted because we are correct in assuming that we are meant to have it, but letting entitlement spawn apathy is a very dangerous path.

 

I still feel everything, too, very intensely. And I’m not going to lie those feelings and dismiss them as if they are the unwanted love child of my crazier lifestyle.

 

I’ve learned that my feelings don’t own me, even if I let them for so long. Yet, they are still very important and have led me to do very great things. I own them, and in owning something it’s good to take care of it. I am very bad at taking care of things I own.

 

My car needed to be washed six months ago, my guitar was out of its case in that car’s trunk for many days at a time, I hate brushing my hair, and laundry is the bane of my existence. Working out and healthy eating are awesome concepts, but I am sitting on my bed right now with my computer open to Facebook, Pinterest, “How To Find Your Dead Phone”, and my blog……point made.

 

When it comes to other people’s stuff though, I am a professional. I love washing people’s dishes and am willing to help them sort through all their crap for hours on end, and if they tangibly give me something I care for it like it’s a newborn child. I still have issues with authority and negative feedback, but hey, I will take care of you and your stuff.

 

Care is not necessarily cleaning up after big messes (which is my pattern), but regular maintenance, which is my enemy, basically. 

 

So, yes I am very bad at taking care of things I own. I want to get better, I want to know how to care better for others, and for me that looks like just doing it.

 

Emotionally, I need to back off from things that make me feel SO much that I want to vomit, no matter how much I care.

 

Physically, I need to lay off the….well, most of what I eat, and I also need to lay off the laying….

Mentally, I need to keep doing things that get my creative juices and caring juices flowing and active and PRODUCTIVE.

 

Spiritually, oh yikes, spiritually…probably start meditating. Actually, yes. Meditating.

 

Socially, I need to learn to say no to the people that it’s more fun to say yes to, and I need to learn to say yes to people it’s more important to say yes to. This also requires me to surround myself with people who bring out the best in me without being impressed by me.

 

Economically, oh yikes, again.

 

Wholistically: I need to be present and content in the necessary state of process. I think this is the hardest and most grace filled one.

I want my life to be something that makes other people feel alive, that makes them feel important, and makes them want to love other people better. The only way my life can be that is if I’m grounded in who I want to be, and if I am pressing towards that.

 

To end this on a funny (but really just pathetic humor kind of funny) note: this picture is officially going to be my BEFORE picture. Talk to you all soon.

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Every summer has a story.

 

Those warm aired nights, sunburned skin and cold sweet tea, toes in the pool turning into entire bodies being pushed in, laughter and bonfire smoke, and simplistic joy. These nights remind me of being a kid, where I was finally free for what seemed like forever.

 

Yes, every summer has a story.

 

Most of them are marked with young love and night hikes and laying under the stars on rooftops: precious moments that were warned to be short, but too quickly passing to even wonder if they were taken for granted. The year would drain us, and the summer would bring us back to life in a way that kept us dreamy and certain that things did in fact, turn out alright.

 

It is a most interesting season because in it, the most goodbyes are said: yet even those feel most appropriately placed as the world turns on it’s side to basque in the fresh, blaring sun. The sadness, however deep it could be, would have kept us locked up but is pushed out by the hopeful and endless spirit of those long days. There is a rhythm that we’ve become part of, and when summer comes, it promises an unexpected adventure for your heart, as long as your eyes are wide open.

 

This summer will have a story.

 

Like each before it, this will be a time of change, goodbyes and hellos, tight hugs and happy kisses, hot cars and crickets chirping through the night. Oh, and the music, yes, all the music. Sure, I remember those old days with fondness and nostalgia, but I cannot help remembering the most important part of each one: the mystery of it all. How, I never knew what was coming, however, when I look back, my soul smiles if my face doesn’t too. Oh, how I wait for it with longing, I’m ready for something new.

 

I’m not afraid of growing old because I know that these days will always come back home and I just need to let them in. Whenever I find them again, I hold them tightly and treat them like treasure, I suppose they have always treated me just as well.

 

Fall in love, friends. Stay up late, and then watch the sunrise. Climb mountains and drive through lightning storms, open up your windows at night and look up at the moon. Take pictures and hand write letters and try new food and go skinny dipping. If making less money will let you be happy, then do more and see more and let things just happen. Bring people with you, strangers and friends alike.

 

Every summer has a story.

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10 Pastors I’m Concerned About

by Scott Postma

It’s not a secret the church has been in decline for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. Abuse, apostasy, and irrelevance are just a few of the words that keep coming up in the search for reasons for the decline. There are a variety of compelling opinions and I even have a few of my own.

But I suggest there is another area of decline more significant and perhaps much less obvious—and one that certainly contributes to the church’s decline in numbers.

And I think its likely a careful analysis would implicate the church’s leadership for this more significant issue.

In other words, I’m concerned about pastors and the role they play in the church’s decline.

By saying so, I’m not suggesting this pastor has it all together. Nor am I trying to cultivate (or ratify) some dishonest skeptics’ hate for the church. Rather, I’m hoping to raise some concerns in a conversational kind of way.

Further, I’m not claiming to be the expert in all church issues. However, I have been in some form of pastoral ministry for the last 19 years and feel I have some measure of insight about the issue.

So in an effort to pursue this conversation in a healthy way, here are 10 pastors I’m concerned about.

1. I’m concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but I’m not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message. The church is not better because it has more programs. It’s quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission.

2. I’m concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible and theology. Sure topical sermons can be helpful teaching tools when used appropriately and in moderation. But to pique interest in the unchurched, church-growth pastors have promoted episodic sermons ad nauseam and to no avail at effectively grounding deeply committed disciples of Jesus, as the statistics provided previously demonstrate.

3. I’m concerned about the pastor who is a chief executive instead of a contemplative sage. The pastor is called to a contemplative life of prayer and study of the word (Acts 6:4 cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). From that life his ministry flows to the church. The pastor was never called to be a rock-star communicator or bench-mark business leader. He was called to model redemption and shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4 cf. Acts 20:28). Perhaps pastors should consider putting away their John Maxwell and Nelson Searcy books and picking up the Bible and the church fathers.

4. I’m concerned about the pastor who uses the pulpit to milk members instead of minister to the saints. It was the angry atheist, Richard Dawkins, who asked Ted Haggard (back in the day) why he needed a multi-million dollar sound system that paralleled that of MTV to teach people about God. I think that’s a question that deserves an answer. Why do pastors need to build bigger and better on the backs of God’s people? I think the answer may be rooted in the human heart. Francis Chan seemed to have caught that vision when he was still pastor in Simi Valley. And if we think we need to build bigger barns, perhaps we should pray about church planting as a viable alternative.

5. I’m concerned about the pastor who makes growing the church the goal instead of glorifying God the goal. There is no biblical mandate for growing the church. Sure there is one for propagating the gospel and making disciples. But the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. There is nothing in Scripture, except pride, that drives pastors to drive the flocks they are supposed to be tending.

6. I’m concerned about the pastor who builds his ministry with people instead of building people by his ministry. It seems I’ve said this already, just differently. But here I’m speaking to a philosophy that often underlies many of the abuses in the church. For example, a well-known mega-church pastor once advised me to think of people in seven-year terms. He explained that people generally burn out after seven years. And if I wanted to build a big ministry for God, I would need to leverage those seven years. Funny, I don’t recall God asking pastors to leverage his people for the pastor’s dream of building a big church for God.

7. I’m concerned about the pastor who cultivates a culture of dependency on himself instead of cultivating a culture of community within the church. Of course, I’m not denying spiritual dependency on Christ is biblical. But the pastor is not the people’s savior. He’s a just man who will burn out and fail himself given enough time and responsibility. Christians should be taught to depend on Jesus as our Savior, the church as our sanctifying community, the Bible as our word from God, and the Spirit as our parakletos.

8. I’m concerned about the pastor who reads and teaches the Bible literally instead of literarily. This is not to suggest the Bible is not important or any less God’s word. It’s to say the Bible is literature, divine literature to be sure, but literature nonetheless. That means it needs to be read and understood as God’s word to us (or for us) in the context of its literary genre. Not all the Bible is prescriptive; and none of it was written to be used as a random list of verses cherry-picked capriciously to beat people up or defend our personal ideas and beliefs. The Bible is the holy canon which reveals God to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Pastors who mishandle God’s word are extremely dangerous.

9. I’m concerned about the pastor who contributes to the culture of consumerism instead of combating idolatry. Pastors who pander to the consumerism in the church are no different than parents who give their kids everything they want to keep them from throwing a fit or to get them to reciprocate love. Christianity isn’t a smorgasbord where people get to pick and choose what they like or don’t. It’s a community of believers on a journey and mission of faith who live in communitas with others for the glory of God, the blessing of his people, and the advancement of his kingdom.

10. I’m concerned about the pastor who sees the church as a stepping stone instead of seeing it as a custodian of Christ’s kingdom. Certainly, God moves people. And certainly pastors have a right to pursue other ventures as the Lord leads and gives liberty. But the church is the primary agent for the stewardship of the gospel and the redemption of the cosmos. It’s the integral institution for advancing Christ’s kingdom and for shaping culture and society. It’s not God’s second-hand agency. It’s not his “Plan B.” Jesus died for the church and it is significant.
Great post, I really feel like these have been on my heart too. The real solution isn’t in the diagnoses, but in the action that we can take now. What does it look like to pursue this kind of leadership? Comment below!

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