Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Much damage is done, it seems, everywhere we turn.  From natural disasters to human casualties, pain reigns in, oh so many, hearts.  The toughest is death; not just the physical death of a loved one, but the relationship death when we walk away from one another.  One of the strongest destructions within the framework of humanity is the "Quitting" factor where we give up on others and walk away.  Family?  Church?  Goals?  Career?

Something happened along the way of my walk at the Memorial Drive congregation that turned my world upside a positive way.  Before Tulsa, I'd been at my first church one year.  My next two years.  And then Tulsa forty years.

Memorial was significantly discouraging in 1977.  Having just fired the preacher in a brutal battle within the congregation, I found myself to be the target of much congregational Hatfield vs. McCoy-isms....caught in the middle of a church whirl I knew nothing about.  An unlikely scenario came into simultaneous play.  I began receiving multiple inquiries as to whether I would consider relocating with other churches.  (I joked that if any such invitations for me to move were to come from outside of Memorial, I might consider it!)

In the middle of church hostility, I made a decision that has turned out to bless my heart deeply.  I share it should such do the same for you.  I decided two things: to stop the pattern of quitting and moving on, plus I determined to learn what it was God was trying to teach me with all of these trials.  My conclusion was that I wasn't going to learn what I was supposed to learn in year three of a local work if I kept moving away by year 2.  I made the decision to learn what it was that hadn't developed within me yet.

Here's one thing I saw unfold.  Endurance is a biblical theme which carries a sober message much needed by all of us every day.  I learned things in year ten at one church that I wouldn't have learned in two five-year terms elsewhere.  I experienced the revealing of God in year thirty-six that I may not have seen within nine-year terms at four different congregations.

Do not misunderstand.  I'm not saying that one does not naturally learn simply through the measure of time as we age.  But what I want to convey is that I began to wonder if I were to move on after two years, would I carry to the next job two years worth of sermons and experience that would not afford me the insights gained from longer tenure.

Now, for those who have served ten churches in ten years, I'm not saying your labor doesn't matter.  The Apostle Paul never lasted a whole year and he served God fairly well, don't you think?  No, my emphasis is not in the number of years one rings up at one location.  My goal is to get you to personally make a correction in your walk that is a threat to every one of us; stop the quitting.  Learn, rather to learn when under fire.  You may choose to move on (for God may be calling you to such); but learn from your struggles rather that run from them.

Throughout the Scriptures, the disciples encountered rough stuff.  Such is the core design of the church.  We are called to "take up" our crosses.  I'm watching too many throw them down in frustration.  The Cross IS frustration...the intentional pain for which we volunteer so that the hurting ones out there can find reason/hope to come alive.

We are to die that others might don't quit.  Learn to learn what it is you lack in order to reach the whole dying world.

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