We are due for an update. Actually, when I go for coffee with people, or when I have phone conversations with all of you, this is the topic that comes up the most, and usually first. What are you guys up to? Where is the Lord leading you, etc…
When we went for family debriefing one of the counselors shared how going through a transition like this was like crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. When you start it’s rare that you can see the end of the bridge because there’s usually fog in the middle. We are in that fog. There will be an end to the bridge, we just don’t know yet what it will look like.
So, in the meantime, the kids are plugging away at school. Olivia has been thriving at a small Christian School in St. Petersburg that runs the A.C.E. curriculum. Thaddeus and Sarah are doing a superb job at keeping up with Calvary Preparatory Academy online. We get to see Isabelle regularly even though she’s plugged into the Zeal School of Ministryen at Calvary Chapel Fellowship of St. Petersburg.
Gen has had the opportunity to do some music recently. She’s led worship for a few churches, and has been slowly making some connections with other musicians and song-writers here.
And, I’ve had the privilege of teaching a few times at various churches. For the next couple of months I’ve been asked to do “pulpit supply” at Azalea Baptist Church in St. Petersburg while they search for a new pastor.
We are both continuing some individual counselling that was provided for us after the family debriefing. I feel like I’m in the locker room at halftime. I have almost 20 years of ministry (great ministry!) behind me and it’s good to take some time to pause and reflect. I’m doing some reading, lots of talking and praying and considering what kinds of changes I’d like to make in preparation for the next 20 years.
I’m encouraged by two things. First, that when the gardener comes through and prunes, it’s in order that there might be “much more fruit.” Second, I’m encouraged because I felt the Lord make Psalm 32:8-11 personal to me recently.
“I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel. Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you. Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the Lord will have faithful love surrounding him.” Psalms 32:8-10 CSB
We are still living temporarily in a 2 bedroom condo in South Tampa. It’s like an overgrown hotel room and the pool is really, really nice. We are still doing lots of paperwork from our move, it’s incredible how many details still need attention.
Because it looks like we will be in this transition for the rest of the calendar year, and because a handful of people wanted to support us financially through it, I’ve registered as a missionary with Axia International. They can receive donations on our behalf in any currency and will help us with the paperwork associated with it. As you might imagine, the honorariums from pulpit supply and guest speaking and worship leading are a tremendous blessing but don’t quite cover all our expenses. We would like to stay available for ministry and make good use of this “halftime.”
So, a few weeks ago, I was invited to meet a couple of pastors for lunch and fellowship at Calvary Chapel Crystal River in Florida. While we were there, we toured the U-Turn Ranch they have established, and the nearby Thrift Store that is part of that ministry.
I’m a sucker for the book section at Thrift Stores and that’s where I spotted this book.
It was fascinating. The author charts the history of the Scots-Irish people from Scotland at the time of the Roman Empire when they built Hadrian’s wall all the way to the present day. What I didn’t know is that all of that redneck, hillbilly, good-ol’boy, mountain people, country people can be traced back to these Scots-Irish people and their culture.
The author’s premise, is that it’s this culture, shaped by the events starting with the Romans, through the English kings, through the migration to Ireland and the Ulster plantation and eventually to the Appalachian Mountains is the dominant culture that shaped the United States.
When he gets to the American Revolution, his argument begins to take shape, how it was this culture, patriotic, independent, yet able to organize into effective fighters was the main driver of the revolution. It was the soft, aristocratic, educated, plantation owners on the coasts that gave the intellectual reasoning, but these guys got the job done.
Andrew Jackson was the quintessential product of this culture and made the biggest impact as president. He stands in the same line as William Wallace.
I appreciated the time the author took to describe the Civil War from the perspective of families and people from this culture. That story is not often told.
And, then the author finished the book by describing his own parents and grandparents. These are incredible stories and represent many of the experiences of many Americans.
A more recent, and more emotional rendering of this culture is “Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance. They made a movie of that book that in my opinion doesn’t capture the full story. I think every pastor in America should read that book.
If you’re short on American history, and like me, weren’t paying attention at all in high school, this book will help you get up to speed pretty quickly, no matter what part of the country you are in.
Instead of answering all the emails and phone calls… this might be a good way to share how we are doing.
I underestimated a couple of things with this transition. I knew it would be tough, but there were some parts that I didn’t anticipate.
First, I knew emotionally it would be a challenge. What I didn’t completely calculate was how it would affect everyone else in the family. That’s not to say that I would not have made the decision to relocate, no, just didn’t realize really how big of a change it is for everyone else.
Thankfully, early on, someone encouraged me to seek out “family debriefing” which is what missions agencies do for missionaries and their families when they return to the US from another culture. You would think that the Canadian culture is so similar to the one in the US and so it shouldn’t be a big deal. That’s true. But, the difference is the transition. When we went to Canada, we were excited, and it was an adventure, and we had lots of hope and expectation and wonder. This transition is different. We didn’t want this one, it’s not all that exciting, there doesn’t seem to be much adventure, and we all in different ways mourn the loss of what we had.
We are scheduled for “family debriefing” in a couple of weeks. My prayer (and I hope yours too!) is that each member of our family would have an opportunity to process all that’s happened to us, so that we can be ready and open (and have an attitude of adventure) for what’s next.
The other thing that I didn’t calculate was how much paperwork is involved. Our society is intense on the maintenance of life just in paperwork. And, because of the pandemic, it’s slow. There’s government documents, identification documents, licenses, tags, insurance, banking, tax returns, phone numbers, addresses, two factor authorizations. On top of all of that, we trip over things like app stores and blocked IP addresses to get things done.
What complicates that further is that it’s still not clear what’s next for us. We don’t know where to settle down yet, and I don’t know yet what’s next for work.
I finished officially at Calvary Ottawa on December 15th. I’m grateful for what a blessing that whole process was for me and my family. I hope it was a blessing for the church as well. Pastor John Cowan and his wife Laura are a gift from heaven distributed all around.
After that, we threw ourselves into anniversary, birthdays (2 on the same day!), and very different ways of celebrating Christmas and New Years. There’s no snow. It wasn’t even cold. We all missed “Christmas in the Park.”
In that period of time, we did get around and started visiting potential schools for Olivia. She’s done well at home with the A.C.E curriculum, but we could see how she would really thrive to be in a school that offers that curriculum in a dedicated “learning center.” Just before the holiday break, we visited a small school in St. Petersburg that looks like it will be a good fit.
We enrolled her and one of the big reasons I’m able to write this post is because she’s on her third day there, and it appears to be going swimmingly. She LOVES wearing a uniform and has already made a couple of acquaintances by bringing her bubble mixture and wand for the times of recesses.
My heart is full of gratitude for people that pursue that calling of investing in children, and do it well, because they love the Lord.
While we wait a few weeks to ensure that it’s a good fit, I’ve been connecting with a couple of local pastors and volunteering. I’m happy to report that I was able to teach the Bible on Wednesday morning to a group of young people including my eldest daughter at Zeal School of Ministry. That was a real delight. I haven’t taught since October 17th in Ottawa. Well, I did share for a couple of minutes at the U-Turn Ranch in California… but not a full Bible Study.
Oh yes, and I’ve been reading some interesting books. I’ll share some reviews in upcoming posts.
We’ve also been visiting churches in the area. We wanted to see what was going on down here in the Calvary Chapels and we’ve even visited some churches that aren’t Calvary Chapels… just to see what’s going on, what the Lord is doing. I doubt I will write publicly about that, maybe I’ll make some general observations about the culture at some point.
Oh… and I stopped drinking coffee a few months ago. I don’t want to change my blog name though! LOL. I still love it. The problem was I loved it too much, and the caffeine was wreaking havoc in my body.
So, that’s the update. And, if we went for coffee today and had some time we would likely hit all of those topics at some point.
I attended this at the beginning of the month. The story is worth telling.
So, I’m in Florida. Gen and I had the opportunity to attend a Pastor’s Huddle for Calvary Chapel down here. While at the huddle, my new friend Chris invited me to the conference and offered to help me get there. He was convinced that I needed to go. Gen and I prayed about it and decided to go for it. That was on a Thursday. On Monday, Zac and I went. He happened to be with me that week, and I invited him, and he had a great week. That’s his story to tell though.
We missed the first session. It was in the evening and the traffic from LAX to Diamond Bar just made it a no-go. That was disappointing, because when we joined everyone on Tuesday morning, we heard over and over again how good that first session was. Pastor Joe Focht from Calvary Philly was talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I went back and watched it with the family when I returned. It was a good and needed message, and well delivered. I’d highly suggest watching it. Joe starts at around 2:38:55
The best session of the conference for us was Don McClure on the final day. Zac said it best. He said, this is a wise old man that is giving us some perspective and encouragement for the days we are in. It was deeply enriching. I found his analysis of the condition of western society in particular to be engaging. His text was Romans 16:22, how “none of these things move me.” He’s a wonderful Bible Teacher with lots of great insights, quips and humour.
Dear Reader, please take the 45 minutes and watch it. It resonated with me. It’s one of the reasons why I found so much camaraderie and encouragement and fellowship at this conference. I’d love to attend again next year. These people feel like my people.
Don starts at 2:21:00
If you enjoyed those… the next session you should watch was a joint session on Wednesday afternoon with Gary Hamrick and Mike McClure. It starts at 6:21:00
The other thing that stood out to me from the conference was the ministry tent. There, I was delighted to come across the Herzog Foundation and their desire to come alongside churches and help them launch Christian Schools. I pray those guys are busy and run out of money, because so many churches get going with schools for the families in their churches.
Additionally, it was meeting Jeret and seeing his new software platforms for helping churches do ministry. I really liked what I saw in Ministry Space as a rethink of what we attempt to do with Planning Center. I heard some testimonials of it in use over Covid and I’m sold.
Lastly, I got to spend some time with Joey who was at the anchor.bio table. That looks cool as well. Don’t be surprised if you see a switch to that sometime soon. I really liked it. It made me rethink some of what I’m doing on the internet, and revisit what I would be willing to do in the future. I really liked it.
Like I said earlier. I found camaraderie at the conference, lots of fellowship and encouragement. I’m glad to be part of this movement. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Well, writing this letter wasn’t in my preparation for being a pastor. This is my first one. I’m posting it to help encourage the discussion around these things. I know that some disagree with doing these at all, seeing that the Charter rights of a Canadian have more standing. But, we aren’t necessarily in the environment that logical thinking prevails. So, here’s a letter that I wrote recently, that was attached to the paperwork of a person that’s attended Calvary for many years. They submitted it to their employer, and we haven’t heard anything back yet. I’ve removed some of the references to attempt to preserve the identity of the person.
October 1, 2021
To Whom it May Concern,
“John Doe” is a regularly participating person in good standing with our church. He has stated very clearly, and unequivocally his convictions pertaining to the vaccines available in Canada for Covid-19. I can also verify that we have had several discussions about the vaccines, health, his responsibilities to God, his family and society. In addition, it’s important to note that he has demonstrated consistently the kind of qualities that we expect from a mature member of society, namely high moral character in his personal and professional life. No one is perfect, but he has the reputation of someone that deeply desires to know the truth and live in a right and proper manner before God, his family and his community.
His convictions are in line with an orthodox and centuries-tested understanding of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul reminded us that Jesus offered his body to us, and it’s reasonable to offer our bodies to him. (Romans 12:1,2) Because of that truth, Paul also wrote in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and it is important that we treat our bodies with dignity and care, recognizing that the invisible God is made visible through us (1 Corinthians 3:16,17). Jesus has dominion over our bodies.
Beyond this, God-fearing people everywhere recognize that God is righteous in his judgment of those that benefit from the shedding of innocent blood. No one will escape that judgment. If a person did, the universe would break. To participate in any way with the proceeds of human fetal tissue from abortion is abhorrent.
Lastly, as Christians, we take very seriously the admonitions by both our Lord Jesus Christ and Paul when it comes to caring for our families and society (1 Timothy 5:8, Matthew 19:16-22).
In my estimation, it takes great moral courage for a man to be willing to risk career, camaraderie among colleagues, and the disdain of society because of conscience. I’m grateful that our forefathers recognized in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms how Canada should make reasonable accommodations for conscience. Our society has enshrined into the fabric of our laws and culture that it is sinful to go against conscience (Romans 14:23). Our forefathers also gladly engaged in the values of the Nuremberg Code, after witnessing the horrors of medical procedures without conscientious objections. They further enshrined these values in the Ontario Human Rights Code. These rights and freedoms have been tested several times in Canada over the years in trials, tribunals and the Supreme Court (2004’s Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem and 2006’s Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys), and to this date have been upheld. Our forefathers made allowance for dissenters to be accommodated in society. May God, and you and I, keep our land, glorious and free, and bequeath these same values to our children and grandchildren.
Here’s what I sent through our email list after our church-wide meeting at Calvary Ottawa on Monday, September 27th, 2021. I have edited a couple of sensitive details out because this is posted to the public.
Greetings Church Family!
Let me begin by saying thank you for the time away that you gave us. I know that it was short notice, and I know that many of you were troubled by that. Gen and I appreciate so much that we were able to take that time to pray, think and talk over all that’s going on.
As you all are well aware, our society has changed dramatically, and it has changed the way that we operate as a church. I’m afraid there are more changes on the horizon. We need to talk about that. We will need to make some changes in order to continue gathering as a church, continuing to grow as Christians, reaching out to others and maybe most importantly passing on the faith to our children.
In beginning to think about that and pray about that, reckoning with the changes that have already happened in Canada, what is on the horizon, and the particular needs of my family and my responsibilities to them, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not the right guy to pastor this church. I’ve been the right guy and I want to be the right guy, all the elders want me to be the right guy, but the Lord has made it obvious to both Gen and I, that I’m not going to be able to continue. We are going to try to relocate to the States.
There’s two important truths that we need to be reminded of in moment’s like this.
First, Jesus is the head of the church, He’s the brains of the operation, and He will lead and He will guide not only because He promised to, but also because He purchased us not with silver or gold or perishable things, but with his own precious blood. He is the Good Shepherd, and whatever good you have seen in me as a pastor has come from Him.
Second, the Christian life is a life of faith. And, it takes faith under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to step away, to release a role, in order to watch the Lord meet the need through someone else. We live by faith.
As, Gen and I have begun to walk down this road, by faith, to my surprise and delight, the Lord has provided for us a team of seasoned Calvary Chapel Pastors that are going to come alongside of us while we make a transition to a different senior pastor.
What I’d like to do is introduce a couple of them to you this evening, and then, we can share what we believe the future is going to look like, at least for the next several months.
The plan: I’ll finish our quarantine and be in-person at Calvary on October 10thand again on the 17th. We are going to be dedicating all the Petrenko children that morning, it will be glorious. Pastor Trip Kimball will be with us on the 24th and Poimen will take over from there.
Side note: The last time Pastor Chris was in Ottawa was the weekend that Jon Ruby was filled with the Holy Spirit, and his whole family came to Calvary for the first time.
Pastor John and the team from Poimen will become what’s called the “Transitional Senior Pastor” on that day. Trip will be around for a couple of weeks, and then Pastor John Cowan and his wife Laura are going to come shortly afterwards. They will be here for 4-6 months and help us identify who the Lord has called to be the pastor here at Calvary.
What’s going to happen to me and the Falleurs? Well, we don’t know yet. We are going to try to move back to the States. There’s some hurdles there, but it looks like we can do that. The good news is that everyone seems to be hiring in Florida, the population has grown significantly in almost every city, and Jesus has been faithful to lead us and guide us all these years, I’m sure he will lead us to some people that we can be a blessing to. We are open to what He wants to do.
What can you do to help?
That’s the best thing to do, especially if you have anxiety or worry, or your overcome with disappointment, or you may even be angry. Let me encourage you to take that to the Lord in prayer. This is something that He’s doing. We are trying to follow the leading of His Spirit.
Pray for us, pray for the elders, for Steve and Sharon and Zac, and for who the Lord has called to be our pastor here.
Serve: There’s going to be new opportunities to help out. Look for those.
Currently, we need a handful of you to take up this opportunity to disciple the next generation, our children. There’s 48 children here that are under 8 years old. Let’s share the truth in love with them.
Let’s keep the Upper Room open to the church community. We need this available and accessible in Ottawa like never before.
If you’ve been blessed by our ministry here in Ottawa and would like to help us with what the Lord has for us next, the best way to give is to donate to the church here. This will help us in tying up loose ends here, moving costs, and establishing a new home in the States.
We are also looking for accommodations for Trip Kimball and then John and Laura Cowan for the time they will be with us. We will need an apartment, or house or room for them for several months. They also need a car to drive while they are here. If you have leads or ideas or friends with cottages or spare bedrooms or wings of their house, or mother-in-law suites, please let’s talk.
And, then we prayed and closed off our meeting by moving into the lobby of AltarLive and some conversations continued.
As always, the elders and I are open to your feedback. In addition, take advantage of our new relationship with Pastor John Cowan, Trip, Chris and Bill Holdridge.
J.C. was my maternal grandfather. He died on Friday, June 11, 2021 at his home in Millbrook, Alabama. He was almost 90 years old. His wife, my maternal grandmother died a couple of months before. She was 88.
Let me describe to you what kind of person he was. His name was J.C. and that didn’t stand for anything. It wasn’t his initials. It was his name. He was from Louisiana. He had to stop school after the 8th grade and start working full-time. His father and his brother had debilitating problems with alcohol. I recall someone telling me that his dad was the town drunk. My grandfather never touched alcohol, he hated it all of his life.
He married my grandmother two weeks after meeting her at a bowling alley. Incredible. Those were different times. After they married, he purchased her the first article of clothing that wasn’t a hand-me-down. They both worked, but she earned more money than he did in the early days of their marriage.
A few years ago, he sent me a copy of his testimony, how and when he became a Christian, and his experience of it. Here’s what he wrote:
“I really don’t know why I am writing this, except that one day, my grandchildren might want to know why I take the stand I do on some issues. Dr. Walter Martin said, “A man who will not take a stand for something is likely to fall for almost anything.” The Apostle Paul writes, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). I became fully persuaded on some issues many years ago….and, I still stand on them.
I suppose a good way to begin this would be to give a word of testimony of my salvation….how and when I came to know the Lord.
I was saved Tuesday night, June 25th, 1963, at the altar of Centennial Baptist Church, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I lacked 3 months being 33 years old.
I had been brought up in church, in my early years. Mr. paternal Grandfather was a “lay preacher” who was well known and respected in our area. I was too young to know about doctrine, but from what I can find out, he preached sound Baptist doctrine. After his death, my family drifted into a “Pentecostal” type church, due to influences from relatives on my mother’s side of the family. I attended their church, though I never became a part of it. I knew that I could never live good enough to keep my salvation, and I refused to make a mockery of salvation, as I had seen many do.
The night I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, I had been to a union meeting. We had a member whose name was Oliver Jordan, who had a habit of coming to the meeting under the influence of alcohol and wanting to argue about everything that came up for discussion. I detest beverage alcohol, and I had made up my mind (or I thought it was me that had made up mind) that the next time Oliver came to the meeting drinking, I was going home. That night Oliver came and he had been drinking, so I went home. That night happened to be the visitation night of Centennial Baptist Church.
I hadn’t been at home but a few minutes, when there was a knock on our door. When I opened the door, there was Bro. Jesse Whitley, the pastor of Centennial Baptist Church, and Bro. H.B. Hall, one of the Deacons. I invited them to come in. And though Bro. Whitley had visited before, there was something different about that night. Times before, I had been able to change the subject, off salvation, and talk about sports or other things. But that night, I could not seem to come up with anything. I really could not tell you one word Bro. Whitley spoke, until he said, “We can kneel right here by your couch and you can call upon the Lord to forgive you and save you,” I remember the first word that came from my lips: “No.” But that “no” was followed by, “I always said that when I got saved, it would be at a church altar.” With that, Bro. Whitley replied, “Then let’s go down to the church.” And that is what we did. Bro. Whitley, Bro.Hall, Ann, and myself went down to Centennial Baptist Church, and knelt at the altar.
When my knees touch the floor, I remember starting to cry. My heart was broken as I came to that moment in my life. Bro. Whitley prayed, and then said to me, “Bro. J.C., will you pray and ask the Lord to come into your heart and save you?” I couldn’t answer. All I could do was weep. Finally, I uttered 8 words which I will never forget. Through my tears I prayed, “Lord, save me. I’ve been wrong so long!”
I couldn’t tell you what happened at that moment, but there was a change in my very being. There seemed to be a great weight lifted from me. There was a peace that I had never known before. What I later come to know from 2 Corinthians 5:17 suddenly became a reality. Life took on a new meaning. After almost 14 years of marriage, Ann had a new husband, my children had a new Daddy….not perfect, but new.
I Had lived a life of being under conviction from the time I was about 17 until that Tuesday night. I would take my family to church and go get them after church. I knew it was good for my family to be in church, but “it wasn’t for me.” I would go to church occasionally, but when the invitation was given, I would suddenly need to go to the restroom or get a drink of water. Whatever excuse I could come up with was all I needed to get away from the Holy Spirit’s drawing. I had run from the Lord ever since I could remember. But that night, I lost the race!
Several other things changed that night. I had an extremely foul mouth (though I never cursed at home). I asked God to help me quit my profanity, and it stopped as though you had flipped a light switch. That night, He gave me a desire to read and study His word. I have tried to do this daily since that time. It was a few months later that I dedicated my life to be used of the Lord with whatever abilities He gave me. Though I have failed Him many times, He has always remained faithful. AMEN!!!”
(J.C. Breazeale testimony from an email he sent me.)
My grandfather loved to sing about what the Lord had done for him. He had a small P.A. system that he would load up from time to time and travel to small churches all around Arkansas. He would set it up and lead the singing and do special music for Sunday night services and hymn sings, and gospel quartets and bluegrass. Some of my fondest memories are being at some of those events and being around his friends.
He also edited and published a newsletter for many years from his church. He would collect the articles from various people, edit and copy and paste all by hand (way before computers) and then take them down to a printer to be copied. I remember watching him prepare the newsletter with his exacto knife and paper cutter and bits of glue. Once the printer was finished, he would stamp and send hundreds of these to people all over the South. I wish I had a copy to show you.
Grandpa (Paw-Paw when I was small), did read and study the Bible everyday. He loved to do word studies. Where he would systematically work through a book of the Bible by looking up the definition of each word in the original language. It was tedious work. He also made copious notes in his Bible with a .3mm mechanical pencil on very small hand drawn lines. It’s an understatement to say that he treasured the Scriptures. He was completely committed to the King James Version.
I remember him ending every day, by getting on his knees by the couch and praying for each one of his children and grandchildren. Every time we visited or called, he would remind us, sometimes individually how much he loved us, that he was praying for us, and to try and “help your mamma.”
As a child, I remember him telling me: “Andy, you can do whatever you put your mind to.” Man, did that go down deep. And, it gave me a lot of hope, when hope was scarce.
I got to spend the summer with my grandparents in my early teens. I left Florida and spent several weeks in Opello, Arkansas. I cut grass, weeded the garden, played basketball, went fishing, shot a .22, and helped him build an addition on to the back of his house. Grandma gave me Coke-a-Cola and a candy bar almost everyday. It was the best summer I had as a kid.
He bought me my first real Bible that summer. It was a KJV, from Oxford Press, with a Genuine Leather cover. It was very expensive. That was the Bible I read and studied when as a young adult. I still have it.
One more story, and maybe the one that really inspires and challenges me. It’s a good one to leave you with.
One Saturday during that summer with them, we went into town to get a haircut. While we were waiting for our turn, one of the men there began to use foul language. My grandpa piped right up and said: “I’ll thank you to not use that language in front of my grandson.” The man excused himself.
I’m very, very grateful for his example in life.
And, I know very well, how my life has been privileged because of that Tuesday night at Centennial Baptist Church.
Before starting the Bible Study, this past Sunday at Calvary, I took a moment and encouraged everyone attending to take advantage of the rights and privileges they have as citizens of Canada. Here’s the gist of what I communicated.
For the last several decades, the majority of pastors of evangelical churches have been apolitical. That means we have not publicly discussed political positions, parties or candidates. Because we have largely been apolitical, many people attending our kind of churches have taken that example and become apolitical themselves. This is not the way it’s supposed to be.
There are some things going on in government that are concerning for many of us, and if you’re a citizen, I want to encourage you to contact by email, phone call or letter any of the various officials, departments and elected representatives and express your thoughts and opinions on all that’s being done.
This is how democracy works. It’s actually self-government, and these leaders need feedback in order to make good decisions. Many people in our kinds of churches have been silent. These are the appropriate channels that our forefathers have given to us to provide feedback.
If you feel that citizens are being treated like children, let me encourage you not to act like a child. Take advantage of these channels of appropriate feedback and express yourself in a mature and honest way.
If you wanted to expand that further, encourage the people in your network of contacts to do the same. Lastly, take advantage of the opportunity to write letters to the editors of the local news organizations, or contact by phone their management and publishers.
Again, these are the activities of a mature person in our society and what’s needed to keep our democracies healthy. And, these kinds of things shouldn’t be controversial, but they are, only because we haven’t discussed them at church from the platform yet.
Today, I’m drinking Peru Huabal from Equator Coffee. The beans are processed completely different. It’s called “honey process.” You can read more about it here.
So, there I was, about a year into church planting… and I was attending a Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conference in NY. They had a Q&A session, and I asked: “what should I look for in Board Members?”
Bil Gallatin spoke up, and it felt like it was pretty quick and bold. “Look for men that are filled with the Holy Spirit.” He went on to say how often we look for people that are successful in life, or appear to be successful in the world, but neglect to look for the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.
It was a great answer, because I wasn’t expecting it, but immediately felt… “duh! Of course!” And, then it did send me on a journey of meditating on what evidences show being filled with the Spirit. Often times, we automatically think of someone that’s “on fire for God.” But, experience has shown that sometimes, those folks aren’t consistent over time, and don’t have lives that demonstrate wisdom.
We can talk about that more if you want.
But, elders and Board members (and anyone on the platform) is a crucial decision. It’s easy to put people in those positions. It’s almost impossible to get them out if there’s problems. It’s better to be really, really slow, especially with the Board.
Because, if there’s drama at the Board level, there will be chaos in the congregation. I have a friend that just survived a coup.
I have another friend and the Board of his church is intimidated by the pastor. It’s a real problem, because it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to share the truth in love. And, the pastor has some blind spots. In fact, he’s firmly in that place described in the phrase the emperor has no clothes.”
Gen and I talked about it a bit last evening. The heartache that gets spread all around when the Board doesn’t have mature, wise, courageous people. People that are full of the Holy Spirit.
A lot of that heartache is born by the Pastor’s wife and children.
I’m very, very grateful for each of the people that serve on the Board at Calvary. We have navigated some very difficult situations in the last 3 years.
What do you do if you don’t like the people in your Board, or don’t like the culture of your Board? First, it would be to pray. We have to remember that the church belongs to Jesus Christ. He purchased it (and you) with His blood. He’s the Head of the church, the brains of the operations, and as such, He has the privilege of making the decisions.
Ask Him what He wants you to do. It may be to wait. I have a friend whose church had all kinds of problems. As he prayed, the Lord caused one of the Board Members to be caught in his sin. When that happened, and the person resigned, peace came into that leadership team.
It may be that the Lord wants you to confront someone, and speak the truth in love.
It may be that you need to leave. I know of a church that seems to churn through pastors. That isn’t the pastor’s fault. There’s a problem on the Board.
I often reflect on Paul in Troas. Here’s what he wrote: “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia.” – 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 CSB
Because the Board really has to operate as a team, and because the nature of church is spiritual, and in the context of spiritual warfare, it’s important to trust and have a good relationship with everyone on the Board. If there’s no brother like Titus, even if there’s an open door. It’s okay to say good-bye and move on.
This conversation might stretch into a refill!
What are your thoughts? What’s been your experience?
Yup… surprising, I know, that a pastor would have some thoughts and suggestions around prayer. But, interestingly, in the last few days this topic has come up three different times in conversation. And it is a perennial topic, and now seems to be a good time to talk about it.
Pray on your knees. I really don’t believe that praying on your knees does anything special from God’s perspective. It’s not like He sees you on your knees, and says… “oh, NOW, I’ll listen to you!”
Praying on our knees does something really good inside of us. It puts our body in a posture of humility. It helps to focus the mind. It helps us to remember what we bring to the equation. It reminds us that He’s the authority, and He may give us something to do as a result.
I believe it’s a great way to start the day. Right after your morning constitution, getting down on your knees and “offering your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord.”
Think about what your thinking about. Someone asked me about their struggle when it came to prayer. They would start to pray, and then there mind would begin to wander in all kinds of directions, and it frustrated them, as they wanted to pray.
But, what if that’s the Holy Spirit, guiding your thoughts in that moment. There’s nothing wrong with letting your mind wander during that time of prayer, going to the end of it and then returning to the topic you started with. What if the Holy Spirit is wanting to show you something, or open up your understanding or insight, or share with you his perspective on a situation, or give you something to do in that regard.
Isn’t that what we want in prayer? To have a conversation? To hear God’s voice speaking to us? Often, for me, I end up writing down todo’s, reminders to contact people, or some novel idea while I’m praying.
Read these articles. Calvary Chapel had a post a few days ago about what they had learned in praying online over the last year. Check it out. It has some really helpful observations and insights and ideas for times of prayer via technology.
Spur Ottawa had a post about answers to prayer from our local community that was very inspiring.
What do you think? I’d expect if we were having coffee and having this conversation, that it would be a conversation. That you would have some thoughts and suggestions as well.
Praying through insomnia, instead of cruising the internet, or raiding the fridge…