Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Even Churches and Church Leaders Make Mistakes

Well, duh, even churches and church leaders make mistakes. They are flawed human beings with all the bad qualities from the fall intertwined with the good qualities. It's what they do after making the mistakes that is important. There are two sides to every conflict that will arise as a result of a church being made up of flawed people, but the solution is not to sweep things under a rug and pretend they are not there. A writer writes what they know, what they experience, and that is what I do. How people choose to interpret things is out of my control. But I have never once NOT admitted my role. However, I am tired of the fact that I am not the only one at fault yet I am the only one being punished. And I look up the meaning of excommunication and essentially, the church has ALREADY done exactly that WITHOUT having exercised the biblical process of church discipline FIRST with the FIRST step being the original "offended party" directly going to his/her brother/sister. So my decision was to escalate the matter up. And ask for an appointed mediator because in all honest, this problem CAN be settled through mediation and be settled nicely and fairly if a proper mediator handles it. In truth, I have tried for months to get them to follow through with what they teach people that they practice, and they have not done so yet. And now, there have been a few false accusations on their part with regard to me and a threat. But the worst is that they have already violated the process.

And I have to say, that in the midst of this, something lifechanging is happening. This past Sunday, as the God of Hosea was described as being a God who pursues those He chooses and loves those who He chooses, I heard for the FIRST time EVER loudly and clearly that there is a God who cares. And He has been pursuing me. Hard. In the strangest of ways. And I want THAT God. I NEED THAT God. I don't have THAT God. I need help getting to THAT God.

At this juncture the church is either going to make another mistake that could cause a pretty serious loss of the potential to bring someone to the God I heard about Sunday and push that person FURTHER AWAY FROM that God or they could slow down considering the recent revelation has occurred and lead someone CLOSER TO that God described Sunday.

But being the nature that flawed human beings are, yes, even churches and church leaders make mistakes. It's how they handle those mistakes that can make or break things.

As to my own mistakes, I have apologized and will apologize even now thus making my apology as public as whoever reads this post. I am asking forgiveness of those who are directly involved and those who have been vicariously (not sure if that's the right word) involved. I ask forgiveness of those who have put their neck on the line in their effort to help me resolve the conflict that he caused. I ask forgiveness of those who have stood behind me, with me, and beside me and have not given up on me and have been my rocks, encouragers, and Switzerlands. This should never have been allowed to escalate to this point, but this is a matter of leaders make mistakes too. And, it is the duty of any human being when they see a potentially devastating mistake occurring with a leader to point that out. My method may not be the best, but it is the only one I have since they refuse to hear me out or to acknowledge me. And for that, I apologize only for my chosen method of airing things out with regard to my grievances about these mistakes. I have asked for the time and the opportunity to be able to air them in a more appropriate manner and they have repeatedly refused. So here it is, hopefully for the last time because hopefully they have finally gotten their wake up call. I know I have, and that was the fact that I NEED the God that was described Sunday because THAT is the God that has been pursuing me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins on Redemption

Mr. Popper's Penguins is a delightful family film about a businessman whose father has been away in Antarctica for most of his life. He is separated from his wife and has weekend custody of his two children, a precocious boy and a pubescent daughter who has her own share of drama. It is as he is in the middle of trying to make an acquisition for his company on an old restaurant that he learns that his father passed away and ends up inheriting a penguin which due to a language gap ends up quickly turning into him acquiring six penguins!

His children end up coming over for a birthday celebration with him and his son falls in love with the penguins. As time passes, Mr. Popper becomes attached to the penguins and they to him. Named after characteristics they show, they become like part of the family for him, his wife and his children. He even goes so far as to allow some of the snow into his apartment so they can have a cold environment in which to live. The problem with his attachment becomes evident when three of the penguins lay eggs and after a few more weeks, all but one of the eggs hatches. He then does everything he can to try to get that egg to hatch.

He is in such despair over the egg situation he calls the zoo guard who insists on taking the penguins. What Mr. Popper does not realize is that the zoo guard did not intend to keep the penguins but to ship them off to another zoo. So he and his family ensue on an adventure to rescue the penguins from the zoo. They realize as they are about to leave that one penguin is missing and then see him on the roof. The penguin has been trying to fly and has his one moment of flight due in part to the kite that got stuck to him as they were escaping through the gift shop.

At the end, the whole family takes the penguins and their two babies back to Antarctica where one of the penguins ends up laying a new egg. They vow to make frequent return visits to see the penguins.

This film is rated PG and is one that is sure to be enjoyable to young and old.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Knowing Your Time Is Up in a World That Often Lacks Grace

First of all, I am going to be very open and honest in this post because it may be one of my last across all of my blogs. And second, I no longer can care what anyone thinks of me or anyone else because of this post because not like it really matters in the grand scheme of things anyway.

I will apologize to the person who initiated what has turned into the biggest and longest conflict ever. But only for what I said out of retaliation for what he did. But to be honest, the reason why what he did hurt so much is because it honestly does feel like that he did not consider what all he and I had been through for the vast majority of a year to get to the good point where we were before he just up and decided that he was going to arbitrarily break his end of an agreement that he and I had made that only had term to it at the time we had made it - I was not to ask him why he hated me on his Facebook page. And I didn't. I never would and I never did. But he still chose to act adversely against me without warning and cut me off.

When we finally started to discuss anything, he admitted that he was wrong to do things the way he did and that he should have talked with me first. Yet he didn't.

The road to trying to come up with reasonable boundaries that are needed was a long one and filled with many mistakes on both sides. But then he did the worst thing he ever could have done. I have been wrestling over a decision I really don't want to have to make, one that I need to make sure is not based on me trying to just run away from a conflict, but could hurt everyone I know - friends and others. Me, even. We had gotten in a bit of an argument in text messages and then he said if I sent another that he was going to talk to the staff and have me pulled from my volunteer positions at church. That's exactly what he had said. So no further text messages went out. The next morning he texted me and said he was going to talk to them anyway. That's when he arbitrarily changed the terms again and extended them as not only being him but others. It wasn't until the day after he did it that he ended up sending me a message and basically told me I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about anything except for him and that reinstatement in the activities would be contingent on several terms - which I have in fact actually met.

But I asked for help - for intervention- in order to get back in the activities. And instead of that, I got a boot. Literally. Apparently some of the leaders decided to cut off communication altogether and didn't tell me about this decision. And all over the fact that I had tried to clear up a murky point from a meeting that he and I and one other had with the counselor that was supposed to be working on helping me get reinstated and helping to resolve the conflict.

He said some things and made some promises in that meeting. 1. He promised when the time was right and I started showing some restraint that he would restore Facebook privileges. 2. He said that he felt like for whatever the reason God put me in his life as one of the people he was to be a pastor to outside of the leaders and his family. Knowing him, he doesn't ever make promises and assertions that he doesn't mean and doesn't intend to keep.

I finally got the murky point cleared and then we gave it a shot and even though I did show a lot of restraint during the weeks that followed getting it clarified though not perfectly, some of the leaders used the prior decision that I was not made aware of to start with against me. And now not only have they destroyed the one relationship that was already hurting, but they have destroyed all of my other relationships there.

I was told to trust them. I did. I trusted them to help get me reinstated into activities, not destroy every relationship I even have. They have now jeopardized the only church I have encountered that refuses to stigmatize past victims of abuse. Or well, used to refuse. I'm not sure that's true anymore in light of what they have done.

Here's the deal though. I don't know that I really have a relationship with God. I've been wrestling with that for a while now. They throw at me about the peace and purity of the church. I didn't understand that until now but not only is slander and gossip something that can hurt that, but so is what they did. You see, they began to go down a slippery slope of entering into church discipline over the situation, but it's one that jeopardizes the whole church because they skipped two important steps in doing so and as a result have acted unbiblically. Utilizing EVERYTHING that I have been taught, in order to engage in the disciplinary process biblically, the offended party MUST go to his brother/sister individually. If at that point, things get resolved, yay! No need to proceed any further. If not, then that offended party takes another. Repeat. If things don't get resolved at that point, THEN it goes to the whole or can go to the whole. But here's the thing: Step one has NOT, in fact, occurred.

This is why I said the world often lacks grace. Because when you have a process to protect an organization you have to follow it to the letter. One step out of that process is where grace falls apart. And the thing is, there are NO exceptions to this rule. It applies to EVERYONE EQUALLY EVERY TIME. So, now I am at a critical juncture of having to write a letter that I don't want to have to write and in that letter having to acknowledge that the original "offended party" basically brought this on himself when he basically dared me to do exactly this.

You see, based on EVERYTHING that I have been taught about grace, grace would have considered the progress made and maybe tried to pare down the communications but not cut them off altogether. And grace would NEVER destroy EVERY relationship a person has. But because of their actions, I was put in a place of disobedience to God since God also requires that His people use their gifts to serve their local body and that can't happen when some of the leaders act unbiblically and head down a slippery path into a disciplinary process that has skipped steps in the process that is outlined for them to help protect the organization.

I will not apologize for sharing my perspective so openly and honestly. This is my perspective.

And before anyone goes "oh! such slander!," I do know what slander is. And in the effort to prevent that, I do have this blog open to the person or persons who this relates to for them to post their side if they so choose. This is just my side, one side, and even though some of the most sensitive details have been left out, including names of people and places so random people cannot know or deduce what this is actually about, it is still my side, and I do have the right and the obligation to share it, no matter the cost.

I, like everyone else, am tired of the facades we too often put on and the pretending that everything is fine when it really isn't.

If the person or persons who this relates to wish(es) to do so, they may counter with their side in a comment or a post.

As to the part of my title that says knowing your time is up. Well, the reason I said this may be one of my last posts across all blogs is because my immune deficiency is rapidly catching up to me faster than we would like. I have been sick basically the entire time since the tornadoes of April 27 disrupted the environment and I don't know that I will see my birthday in November. The next appointment with the immunologist isn't until October. At which point we will be discussing the efficacy of IVIG infusions to help boost the immune function that I am severely lacking. Those infusions may be what can safe my life. But in the meantime, I don't know how much life I have left. It's not looking very positive though. So I have to transition into being ready for the end of life stage. And for that, I do need a pastor. Only apparently I don't have one because of the unbiblical actions of some of the leaders which have now jeopardized an entire church. Ugh!