Doubts

There is a lot of pressure on Ministers and workers in the church to have it all figured out. I feel like I can’t express the things that are bugging me too much within the church and that is fine. But I want to talk about it here just to see what other people have to say…

I have been rocked by several things recently ending in watching the movie “Watchmen”. I guess my biggest doubts started to surface during this time and they have been really bugging me. So these are the issues that have me questioning: How are we supposed to be God’s voice to the world when we continue to perpetrate the injustice, oppression, and marginalization in our own churches? Where is God’s voice when we seem to need it the most. How can we be so blind to the injustice, oppression, and marginalization in our country. How can we stand by and say God has blessed America and not see the evils that are being committed every day in our own backyards? How can I make a difference? How am I as one youth minister in Montana going to change anything?

This has made me feel so small and insignificant. I don’t know how to approach this. I don’t know how to trust God in this moment. I know that i had my big trust moments earlier this month but then i started to think well yeah, why would God do that for me when there are more pressing issues all over the world? Why would God supply and rescue me when people are dying and hungry and oppressed? I have been reading through the prophets again and i have taken on this task of trying to translate what the prophets were saying to the Israelites during that time into what they would be saying to the USA and to the church in general. This has been a fun undertaking but it also has gotten me rather depressed. I had this amazing discussion with my teens on Wednesday night about what they believed and what they thing could be different. One of my teens talked about the corruption that is inherent in the Church at large. I started to think about this more. I notice corruption everywhere. Its horrible. We are being driven by the most powerful bullies in our church, and ministers and staff are almost powerless to stand against them. We are no longer communities aimed at bringing the values of the kingdom into modern day. We have become an institution. We have become the Corporation of Jesus Christ. No wonder church attendance has been dropping in the last 10 years. We are more concerned about the money that comes in rather than the people who supply it.

Don’t get me wrong this is not a rant saying that i don’t love what i do. This is not to say that I am sick of working with people. This is a rant to say i really wish i could change it. I really wish I could do something to turn us back around. I wish that I could start a new reformation. Not a new division but a new unity that brings us together as a body of Christ. Coming together to bring about the virtues of the Kingdom. Those most important being Peace, kindness, justice, and a cease to the oppression of the weak, poor, sick, alien, the differently sexual orientated, and a cease to the marginalization of all. Who knows maybe someone will listen to me…

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The Drive…

This weekend I went to Colorado Springs to see and spend some time with a friend i have grown rather fond of. She has been incredible to talk to and spend time with. I am finding such a wonderful outlook on life, religion, Christ, Spirituality, and everything in between from her. I am thankful that she is back from the distant shores she was serving in. She has been doing missions work since college. She was in my “sister” (that’s what we in my dorm room called it) dorm room. She and her roomates were very dear to us guys who lived in the Ghetto Underground almost 8 years ago. We kept in touch and this opportunity to go hang out came up and i decided to head down.

This blog post is not about my time there, however wonderful it was, the drive is what was most significant to me. On the way down I was looking for a book to listen to, I love listening to audio books when i take long drives. Well the morning that i was supposed to leave i discovered the one i had was only 4 hours long and that would just not do. So I logged on to I-tunes to see what i could find. The first recommended book to pop up was a book that several of my friends, my pastor, even this friend i was going to see had recommended i read. So i paid the money to download said book. I was excited but also had this looming worry that something was going to happen. I was hoping that it was not going to be so big that would make me spend extra time, money, or unnecessary emotions. So i hit the road so hard that it hit back… sorry always wanted to “say” that. I popped the chord that goes from my radio into my i-pod (thank you Jordan, greatest Christmas present ever! well besides the phone from mom but i am getting to that later). I start “The Shack” and thinking oh well this is going to be one of those lame spiritual self help books. Boy, was i wrong. It was a beautiful narrative about this man who has struggled with God his entire life and had just recently gone through a very traumatic event which made him even more hardened against God. Anyway, to ruin the book a little bit he meets with God. God shows up and has conversations with him. It is a beautiful story about God, grief, forgiveness, and the incredible love of a God who never stops trying to meet with us. I was very blessed by this book. It went a long way to heal my heart from pain that was residual from this last year. It went a long way to show God in a different light to me and shine a light on the mistrust, anger, and resentment i hold in my heart as well toward God. I know its odd to hear of a minister who feels that way toward God, but we all do it. We all have things that keep us from God and the ability to trust God is something that I doubt many have figured out at all. Anyway the drive down was uneventful, save the tears of healing and rescue that i shed.

My drive back though was a difficult one. Well when I arrived my car was making some odd grinding sounds and i was a little concerned about it, but not too much to do anything about it. So i got into the car yesterday morning to drive back up to Montana. The drive went well though was a little noisy through Colorado. I got to Cheyenne Wyoming. I stopped to get gas and as i slowed the car down to stop at the exit my car stuttered and died… I thought “oh, no not now…” so i pull it into the station and gas up and check the oil. I was a quart low so i added some and I thought that would be ok. So i start up the car and there was a little battery light on. I didn’t think much of it because i had some issues with the battery before and had not affected the car much. So i drive on… About 80 miles down the road my gauges shut off and my radio starts acting funny and eventually shuts off… I am thinking “OH NO!!!” so i pull into a little town called Douglas, Wyoming. I pull into a gas station and open her up. I think it might be the alternator that isn’t working right anymore and i know that is pretty expensive so i chose to get my battery charged and hoped that it would take me on to Billings. Well the closest auto parts store was a mile down the road. So i un-hook my battery and carry it a mile and get it charged the guys there said it should work. So an hour later i lug my battery the mile back to my car. I hook it back up and turn on the car and start down the road again. This time i get maybe 100 miles down the road before things start shutting off.. I’m thinking “oh no” I push my car to keep going i made it past Buffalo, Wyoming and just as i start climbing the hill outside Sheridan, Wyoming my car goes from 80, to 70, to 60, to 50, to 40, to 30 and i can’t get it to go any faster. 20, im hearing the car stutter, 15, i reach the summit of the hill and i am going maybe 5 miles an hour and hit the down slope. I get the car up to about 60 before it tops out again. I coast the car then down the first off ramp that i see. I coast it around the corner onto the side street. There is a Hotel there so i pushed the car into the parking lot there. I figure its time to call for help. I called a couple of people and well i had some offers to come help though they couldn’t leave for a few hours. So i just go and get dinner. I found a mechanic but it closed at 5:30 and well wouldn’t you know that it was 5:30… So I am frustrated, scared, and worried. I have dinner and walk back to the hotel and i decide… well it would be too much to have someone drive down and help me. So I just checked into the hotel. All the while i was reminded about how i should trust God. This word to trust God, and that God loves me this story would have a purpose. So im sitting there that night tired, dirty, frustrated, scared, and worried trying to put into practice these things that i gathered during my trip down and my time there. It is a difficult thing isn’t it? Putting into practice the things you learn? It is for me… I showered and slept. I got up this morning still worried. Finally i am able to get ahold of the mechanic and he tows me over and takes a look at the car. Turns out it was my air conditioner’s condenser. The pulley had just seized up and broke the belts that were attached to it. He told me that it would cost 800 dollars to fix… I’m thinking oh crap! I don’t have 800. He goes on to tell me that he could try and bypass it though i wouldn’t have air-conditioning. So as i sit her typing this out I am thinking that air conditioning is just a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, but sacrifice is not the moral of this story. So I am there listening to Blue Like Jazz on my Ipod and it comes to the chapters on love. By the way those are my favorite chapters. So Donald Miller talks about how he was unable to love himself and so therefore unable to love others much less trust that God loves him. So I had to stop and think about that. If God loves me doesn’t that mean i will be ok no matter what happens? So finally he comes back in after a couple of hours and tells me success i bypassed it and you won’t have air conditioning unless you get that fixed but otherwise your car will run just fine. I am thanking God so much at this moment. So i get back in the car and start driving again. This time i continue the conversation that I had on the drive down. This time i begin to try and trust God. Trust that God will take care of me. Trust that no matter what happens God will be there for me. God is the author of all. I need to just depend on God. Now it is not as easy as i have written here, and it was much more of a give and take conversation with God. So as i drive the last 5 miles into Billings, I just feel this peace come over me. God knows. God loves. God is. God will care for me if only i let God do so. I felt at home…

I find it so hard sometimes. I try so hard to be independent. I try so hard to do things on my own apart from God and others. But as i look at myself i don’t love what i see. I don’t love me. So i try to be validated by other people to see that I am somewhat loved. As I thought about it i realized that I don’t truly trust God loves me. I mean i am starting to believe it now but when i was in the midst of the conversation i realized i hadn’t. I think there is only one person that i have truly believed in and believed in that love she has for me. That is my mother. I know my mother loves me. I know my mother cares about me. I love my mom for that. I realized so much on the drive home that God loves me like my mother loves me. This is a metaphor I think we need to return to God as mother. God as a nurturing, caring, loving, entity that cares about what happens to us. So now I am driven to try to make this reality more a part of my life. I don’t know what it looks like but i think it is the Journey that matters…

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