“You Cold Hearted Jerk!”

“I didn’t spend months getting this event ready, have tons of sleepless nights, and spend countless hours of prayer and prep for you to come and pick out the littlest mistake! You cold hearted jerk! Don’t you realize that I’ve done my best, that I’m good at what I do, and that you have NO idea what you are talking about- you don’t event know what all I’ve sacrificed to be here!”

This phrase has been at the forefront of my mind more than I’d like to admit. To be honest, way more than a pastor should be allowed…

I just hate it!

Criticism is not my friend. I just can’t handle it. My chest gets tight, my hearts starts racing, and my head starts getting all hot. Then my speech gets all mixed up and my words come out not really meaning what I’m trying to say.

I hate criticism!

To be transparent with you, I’ve spent much of my life finding ways to right people off for their critical remarks. “I don’t need them anyways…” is what I’d say. “They don’t know me!”

A shepherd in a wolf’s clothing…

But I’m starting to learn that not all criticism is from “the devil.” Much of it I think is actually God in disguise!

Today was a hard day for me… I focused a lot on my critics. I spent most of the day alone sulking in my own resentment and trying to find ways to raise my self-esteem.

Then I come home, open my email box to find a little lesson waiting for me.

http://theresurgence.com/2011/07/21/sometimes-criticism-is-love-in-disguise

(I suggest you follow the link before continuing)

I’ve spent quite a bit of the past years studying the life and teachings of Jesus. I’ve read a lot of books and listened to tons of really smart theologians, but I think I’ve missed a big character trait of Jesus…

When we hear stories of Jesus, we hear things like “He’s the good shepherd,” “the Sacrificial Lamb,” or “our present Savior.” Jesus is portrayed many times as a shepherd who tends to His sheep. A man who lays in green pastures, eating honey, and cuddling with some soft sheep.

But Jesus is more than the nice cuddly guy we hear so often. Jesus was a radical who spoke is mind. As I look back through the Gospels, I see things like Jesus calling the “holy-rollers” (Pharasees) out for their pride and fakeness, knocking over tables in the temple like a mad-man, and cursing at a fig tree.

It seems that Jesus was a pretty strong willed dude!

Then I look at the writings of the Apostle Paul (the dude that wrote most of the New Testament) and I think, “Man, this guy can be somewhat of a jerk.” Paul was the kind of guy that spoke his mind as well. When he had a problem, he named names, called out private sin, and straight up chewed some people out! Paul didn’t hold back!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I struggle ALOT with the “tough guy” Jesus. I don’t like it when He calls me out or isn’t as soft as I’d like Him to be. I like the “Gandhi” Jesus who just talks about loving people and being a better person, but I have a real problem with the “Hulk Hogan” Jesus who picks my pride up and slams it on the floor!

The lesson in all the madness…

But wait, I have some reasoning behind all of this madness and it’s this: their aren’t’ two Jesus’- there’s only One! Jesus is both soft, tender, kind, gentle, and strong, loud, obvious, rough.

So, sometimes, criticism can come straight from the love of God. Even when you feel crushed by the seemingly over analyzed opinions of others, God is working to make you holy because He loves you. He wants you to be rid of the pride in your life.

What seems like constant demeaning dialogue is actually God’s tender, strong voice saying, “Son, I see that you’ve messed up. You know that you could have done this better, but I’ve got to do this. It pains Me to see you hurting, but I love you and you need this.”

So, I’m going to try to hold my anger better when criticism comes my way. It could be Jesus?

A Faith Crisis

Time to Start Blogging again…

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog. I have to admit that I’ve started several blogs but none have never made it past the “draft” phase.

God has been teaching me so much lately- too much to write down regularly. He has been molding me into a better husband, riding me of my pride, and defeating sin in my life. All of this is for one purpose- to make me more like His Son- Jesus.

When this recent journey started, I was convinced that God was going to me molding me into a better pastor- one who would proclaim truth more boldly, teach with more wisdom, and counsel with more care, but being a pastor is not my sole purpose in life. My sole purpose in life is to glorify God through my relationship with Him and my relationships with the people around me. I’m learning that being a good pastor means being a good Christian first.

I still have a burning passion deep in my bones that has yet to relent. But still, even through the dryness of this season, God has been extremely good to feel me with the peace that only He can give. My heart may be restless but I am learning what Paul must have meant to be content in every situation and in every situation living so that one more person to come to know Jesus as their Lord.

People are Different!

Through the journey of the past few months, I have sat under great Godly men. Men who love their wives well, hate sin with passion, repent regularly, and lead with Vision. I have sat with both the long sense converted and the new to the faith. I have ate lunch with those who who drink beer and those who smoke. I have had heated conversations about faith and religion, and I have been encouraged by the great faith of meek men.

God has been showing me that people are so different than I first imagined. Some I relate to, others I struggle to be around, but one thing is certain, God is all around and working in people’s hearts!

I wish I could say that God has given me some great vision to reach people or some grand plan for the advancement of the Kingdom, but I’d be lying if I did. The truth is, all of these new experience have caused me to question my very purpose in this world. All of these new experiences have made it extremely hard to see God as I once did.

It seems as if life is speeding up and new things are happening too fast to keep up!

But there is good news in this rant! 

I was reading the other day and a story jumped up off the page and smacked me in the face. The story had to do with prayer. In the story, the author was saying that there was this one time early in his faith that he really struggled in his prayer life. Some things had changed drastically in his life and he had come to a point that he no longer felt God’s presence in his life. He told of times where he would sit for hours waiting on God to meet in him prayer. He wrote of a very dry season in his spiritual journey that I really can relate to. But then he told of something a friend told him. He was confessing his struggle with praying to his friend, when his friend told him that he wasn’t praying in faith.

The author felt dumbfounded, he left to conversation enraged! Then it hit him, his friend was right! He wasn’t praying in faith that God was there and cared about his prayers. He realized that he had spent so much time focusing on his “feeling” of desertion, that he forgot that God had made some pretty big promises in Scripture regarding His people.

He realized that God hadn’t left him and that God wasn’t angry with him, but God was testing his faith. This is what caught my attention.

Come on Chris… Are you Blind?

I’ve been so focused on my past mistakes and failures, and have been spending way too much time feeling sorry for myself, that I have forgot that God has made the promise to never leave me. God has been testing my faith, to show me what I my dependency on Him.

I’ve come to figure that I have failed this test dramatically! I’ve been fighting with God and been so angry at Him for no good reason. I’ve felt alone and far from God, but He has been by my side the whole time.

Having faith in an invisible God is really hard, but faith is all about believing what you can’t see. God is here and His loving arms are all around us. My faith is not in my feelings, not in my surroundings, not in my actions, and not in my money, but it is in God. My faith is in a all powerful God who moves mountains, divides seas, raises the dead, and feeds thousands. God is my Rock and my Shelter!

I wish I would have realized this sooner!