Xperience X-Zone

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Get Real!

I really don’t have time to be writing this today, BUT…., I’ve just got to put this on. By the way I will try and get to Slidel the Elvis impersonator mechanic later next week. But for day here’s what I’ve got to get off my chest. I have this friend named Jeff. Jeff is my brother’s Pastor. His church is one of the up and coming innovative churches in Arkansas. I don’t mean they have Green Day sounding worship services or artist painting pictures of Jesus while Jeff ponders the deeper issues of the Bible, or black lights, and candles, crosses and pillows on the floor. I mean they are innovative in the sense that they have totally rethought church and what it is all about. They are what I think a true New Testament church would have been like. Founded on building true caring relationships with one another and serving and loving others outside their body. I say all this to give you a picture of what Jeff and his church are like

What made me write this, even when I REALLY don’t have time to be posting today is this. I was reading a post on Jeff’s blog yesterday (He is one of my links to the right if you want to read for yourself.) But he was talking about a passage in Nehemiah and how he’d been discouraged with the results in his church and his own life recently. Jeff was talking about how he’d been feeling about himself and his church before reading this passage in Nehemiah. He said he had been thinking, “They're not doing enough - not inviting people, not eager for people to be impacted by Jesus. I'm not doing enough, I think. I'm lazy, worthless, and uncommitted to what I teach...” Man, that is transparent. I’m always talking about being transparent. But so many times transparent to me is to say to some one “I suck.” That’s kind of obvious; the Bible says that, in fact it says we all suck. (Rom. 3:23) But, what Jeff often does on his blog is he says things that I feel about my own ministry and my own walk with God but I’m afraid to open up and share with other people. Real things. Things like maybe the problem is I’m just lazy, maybe I’m not ever going to see “success” in all of this.

I was talking with someone the other day and they were asking me about how the ministry was going here at our church, were people growing spiritually? If I could have mustered some Jeff transparency I think I would not had answered the way I did. I gave a pad “spiritual” answer. What I would like to have said is this. You know it is not going that great. There are some things happening in people’s lives on Saturday night but in 7 months we have not had one genuine conversion. The youth group here is growing in number but I feel like for the most part I’ve not helped any of them build a strong spiritual foundation that will impact others and their future. The one that have that have got it more on their own than form any thing I’ve done to help them grow. I wanted to say, truthfully I believe there is so much potential for God to do something great in this church but I’m just not the guy He can use to do it. I’m not spiritual enough, I’m not genuine enough, and I’m sure as heck not committed enough.

Well, what I really wanted to get out there to you guys today was how much it means for me to have friends like Jeff, and like David Yates (a church planter in Wynne), that will TRULY open up and say what is going on in their lives. So Jeff if you see this thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so real, you have no idea how it helps me at times. And to the rest of you, when are we going to pull off these masks and really get to know one another? When are we truly going to GET REAL? I’m sick of thinking I’m the only one like me. In fact I’m starting to think I’m just like the rest of you, in need of grace, mercy, and forgiveness daily and so dependent on God to do anything of lasting significance at all. WHHEWWW… I feel better. Have a good weekend. By the way come to Xperience (Perfect Flaw) will be with us leading worship. It will be AWESOME!!! And that is the genuine truth.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mike and the Mechanics

I’ve missed you my beloved bloggers, (If there were blogs when Jesus was on earth I think that is what He would have called us). I’ve been on vacation. A preacher vacation. We spent our time driving back and forth to Little Rock, going to the movies, shopping with out buying anything (The poor among you will understand this practice), and lying on the sandy beaches of Hollywood Video. But man was it relaxing. We vegged-out and loved every minute of it.

While I was on vacation I got to thinking about my former life, life as a mechanic. That is what I did before I got to do this kind of junk full-time. I want to take the next few posts and tell you about some of my mechanic friends. These guys are a colorful bunch of people and I think they somehow capture several aspects of what we are all like spiritually. All of the names have been changed to protect the guilty. However, they need not be changed much. Mechanics all have names like Mike, or Bob, or JIM. I don’t know why but that is just the way God made us. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about these guys a lot this week.

I worked with this one guy I will call Tommy. Tommy, reminded me of country singer. He wore a big cowboy hat everywhere else other than work. He drove a four wheel drive with huge tires, and best of all he was a chicken farmer on the side. He was a real man’s man. When he would walk through the door in the morning I felt like country music should play in the background, you know something like “I’ve got friends in low places, where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases, my blues away….” Actually it usually did play because we blared the stuff over a tiny pink jam box all day every day. Tommy had this real rough exterior. Small in stature but big in moxy. Do we say that in the South? There were two other mechanics I worked with at the time and we became kind of like the three amigos of the mechanic world. All of these shop politics made it much easier to do what we three amigos did best. We would daily make fun of Tommy. Not always to his face, but behind his back and in veiled references we thought he wouldn’t catch on to but kind of hoped he in some way would.

In fact we had a name for him we used behind his back. Chicken Man. Because he was a part time chicken farmer you know. Man, were we creative. I used to think it was us against him. The three amigos working to bring down the man…the “chicken man.” Now I look back and see it was us against him, them against me, me against them, and all of us against each other. We were like an office full of spiteful secretaries, except with lots of grease and hairier legs. No offence secretaries. Why do we feel the need to always toss someone out of the lifeboat? God puts us in a group and we feel the need to team up against one or more in the group. Like kids on a playground. I think what it all comes down to is we need to feel superior to someone. Wouldn’t it be great if we would all learn to just be like Jesus? He was superior to all of us but chose to not act like it to any of us. Do you have Chicken Man in your office, your shop, your store, your school, your group of friends? Can I give you some advice from a former amigo with a lot of regrets? Do what 50 cent would say and “Back up off him.” Do what Jesus would do and team up with the weaker in the herd rather than teaming up against them. I wish I had a do-over on all that time spent with Chicken Man. I guess I'll just have to use what I've learned to do better in a future episode. To be a better man in Jim the Sequel. I want to say so much more about this but this has already become much longer than I wanted it to be. Check back soon, because I want to tell you guys about Slidell, the Elvis impersonator / mechanic I used to work with. I’ve missed you guys. Please feel free to comment and let me know how you are doing, even if you are bummed out right now. My dull but enquiring mind wants to know.