Paul Tweeted About Bad Stuff Too
This is an article I wrote for the Destiny’s Magazine
Paul Tweeted About Bad Stuff Too.
I go to conferences, follow high profile ministers on twitter and Facebook, read blogs, and see folks on TV. Yet most of them only give me status updates on the miracles and places where God shows up. Every time I hear from them, it is revival! As much as I want to say it is always encouraging…it is not. The problem is that it doesn’t represent real life. When I look to my life and the ebbs and flows of ministry, there are so many more challenges and simply ordinary scenarios.
If Jesus were like us, he would have tweeted about feeding the five thousand, but not when the disciples struggled with their faith or couldn’t perform a miracle. He would have posted on Facebook about healing the lepers. However, He would have been so embarrassed when Peter fell into the water that he would have quietly left that out.
There is something so refreshing about reading scripture and getting a full balanced look at how life really is. When we read the New Testament scripture, we find 3 core events happening over and over. In no particular order we see: God Show Up, People Obedient to God, and Trials.
God Shows Up
Though out scripture, God shows up in a supernatural way. Miracles, signs, wonders. Seas part, people healed, sin forgiven, eternal life given, mercy, grace, blessing, favor. These events are unexplainable and often unpredictable. We love these moments. We believe and preach about these moments. We have no problem sharing with everyone. We love to give God glory (and we should)! However, the danger is when these moments make us feel validated. They should not make us feel validated at all because at that moment, we start taking credit for them. There is a temptation to spin every church situation into this supernatural event so that we can ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (no offense Scott and Brett).
People Are Obedient To God
In the book of Acts, we see countless men and women showing their obedience to God. Going to prayer meetings, traveling to other churches, working a real job, preaching, teaching, living in community, sharing. It is cool just to DO the work of God. Obedience is often not glamorous but is as valid as any other part of the kingdom. There is no need in building this into something it is not. I am so thankful that it is mentioned in scripture that Peter and John did normal things just like me. Paul worked a job and was bi-vocational. Luke let us know some common things about Paul. Often God shows up during these ordinary obedient times of everyday life.
As much as there are miracles and obedience in scripture, innocent people of God were blasted by life. Jailed, sick, betrayed, went months unaccounted for, people left Jesus, people left Paul, ship wrecks, pain, death. These people that suffered through these ailments were not discredited and excuses were not offered. They simply were a part of God’s plan. In fact, Paul boasted in those weaknesses. He was tweeting all about how bad things happened, because in those events, God was going to show up.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, ”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
We as ministers are afraid to reveal when we ‘lose’. Like when our marriage is not as good as it should be or when no one showed up for church. When you had to end a small group because the leaders left your church or you don’t feel like preaching. Our pride says, “If you show weakness, then you are failing.” We immediately start saying “I’m not doing enough. I did wrong. I will work harder. I…I…I…” We think we can hide the problems until they pass over or we deal with them. No one needs to know. Personally, I think this is one of the most dangerous places to be in. This is a self-centered wasteland. We become bitter at those who are doing better. We harbor our feelings and turn inward. Our families suffer and God is not given the opportunity to show up.
As a pastor, one of the most frustrating parts of my life has been living my life and leading my church in a way that is not represented in scripture. I have wanted my church to grow at a constant pace forever. I have wanted people to never leave or betray me. I have desired for offerings to always be more than last week. I cherry pick miracles out of Jesus’ life and the stories of Acts. I have wanted all the miracles of scripture without the trials of scripture. Now, instead of trying to eliminate trials, I have learned how to live through them. If Jesus and ALL the apostles couldn’t shake trials, then lets realize that we will see them until our death or rapture. They are great places and opportunities for…God.
A Great Resource
One of the best things I did three years ago was invest in relationships with local pastors. My purpose was friendship, but what developed was brotherhood. I found 6 other local pastors from different theological backgrounds and did everything I could to get to know them. I asked them to dinner, prayer, church, meetings, whatever it took. Whatever interested them. Like little scared rabbits, we carefully opened up to each other. We are now intentional about it. All seven of us meet the final Thursday of every month (for about 3 hours) and spill our guts. We talk about our personal and ministry adventures. We share about God showing up. We laugh about daily routines, and we cry with each other about failures.
Take a risk and make sure others know all the details of how God is showing up both in your obedience and trials!