Monthly Archives: November 2005

God spoke part 2

Pride…the beast from within. It’s been a part of my life forever. I had friends, did well in school, got complimented, accomplished goals, I was the man. Ministry was the same, I had success, started new programs, worked well in front of people, I was still the man, and I knew cause everything always just fell into place, without ever really trying. So I’m going to go launch this church, it’ll rock, I’ll be the church world superstar that I always knew I would be and then the flaming chariot will come down from heaven and me and Elijah will kick it. Till recently, remember that screeching halt? So that’s when God spoke today. He said “Ben, remember this time when things are going good.” I believe God has incredible plans in store, you know Ephesians 3.20 kind of stuff. But I realized if he just dropped in my lap again I’d never learn, my pride would take over and the long term issues would be devastating. How many people have been destroyed by pride? I’ve known this was an issue in my life for a long time, had gotten better, but deep inside I always knew how good I really was. I knew I was the man.
Till now. I’ve been humbled. Taken to the bottom. I never knew what this was like. I didn’t understand brokenness. I didn’t understand Job 1.21 before. Maybe I got a little bit better grasp now. It’s not a vengeful or wrathful thing, although he’s certainly capable of that, it’s love, instruction, a needed kick in the anus. That’s what I hear God say to me today. He’s in control, not me, he makes it happen not me. I’m not all that, not even close. I’m just a poor schlub God has for some reason decided to use. He gives, he takes away. It’s on his time. What was I thinking! That I deserved everything I wanted, right when I wanted it? I deserve hell. That’s the bottom line. Harsh, but reality. So for those of you that know me, keep me accountable. When God starts releasing new blessings, I can’t forget this lesson. It’s gotta stay at the forefront. I’ve been to the bottom, God keeps me from going there again, if I let him, cause I can take myself right there again. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m ecstatic to feel God’s presence again. Yeah, God spoke man was it good to hear his voice again…

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God spoke part 1

Something happened today. I sensed God’s presence. Maybe that shouldn’t seem strange, but I gotta be honest, it’s been a while since that’s happened. It’s been rough recently, just figuring out where I stand, why we’re in the place we’re in, and through it all I’ve felt like God wasn’t around. That’s a pretty rough place to be. I’ve never been there like I was the last few weeks. I’ve prayed, yelled, cried, been in denial and nothing seemed to happen. Opportunities that seemed to be from God and answers to prayer have fallen through. What’s going on?! Why?! It was about as close to rock bottom as I’ve felt, ever. Scary. So today, I’m driving in my truck listening to podcasts and then turned it off for a while to spend time with God, which has been kind of one-sided lately, and that’s when it happened. I heard him. This is where it got unexpected, I felt like God was saying “You need to remember this time when things are going well.”
It got me thinking. I’ve been in ministry for the last 7 and half years. I started working with students while I was still in college, a great opportunity just fell in my lap (God ordered my steps) at a time in my life where I wasn’t walking with him, but he was still there for me. At every stage of my life since, he’s been there providing an unbelievable wife, unbelievable family and tremendous ministry opportunities I would never have imagined. Literally just falling into my lap. Recently I was in California at an unbelievable church with tremendous leaders, students and a senior pastor who taught and released and supported. Then we felt like God was calling us to give it up and come to Charlotte to start a church. It was a huge leap for us. Everything to this point had just come to us, now we were stepping out taking a huge chance. Going on faith, something I was great at talking about, you know the lip service preacher talk on faith, but had never really had to live out. You know Indiana Jones stepping of the cliff kind of living it out. So everything actually goes well with the transition and move to NC, really well, God must be with us! Then everything comes to a screeching halt. The nails on the chalkboard kind of screeching, Lloyd’s most annoying sound in the world kind of screeching…you get the idea. That’s when it seemed like God was gone. Silence. Nothing. What happened? Life was perfect, I was on the fast track, I was going to have this successful church, reach the community, change lives, write books, be famous…you see where this is going?

Auto glass

I was driving in my truck today, cause that’s what I do to pay the bills, and I saw an auto glass business. It was a small shop with someone’s name in the title so I figured someone started the business and grew it to a respectable size as they had a nice facility and several bays to presumably install glass in cars. It got me thinking about starting a business. Why can’t I start a business? Which I immediately answered (I know I had this conversation with myself, so I’m a freak) “cause I don’t know enough about anything to start.” How do you get into your own business? How do you decide what the business is going to be? I remember talking to a guy that was an assistant manager at a fast food place once and he and his wife were going to open a craft store. Now that’s nice, but this was a small town and where is a craft store really going to go? You gotta have something that’s going to grow, expand, take off, like Best Buy or Wal-mart for that matter, and those are already taken. Then I realized what I know is church. And I have this nut job idea that I can start one. I guess there’s plenty of people out there who think that’s pretty crazy, I’ve had a few say so. But still thinking about it made me feel a little better. I am entrepeneurial! Ha! It’s not an ego thing, but it gave me an understanding of small business owners. They know something, a market, and they figure out a way to service that market. Isn’t that what a church plant is? People are afraid to relate church to business because that’s heresy or something, but come on. Business is about profit. If you’re going to make a profit you’re going to do all that you can to promote your business. You’re going to strive to be the best there is, to promote what you do, to convince people they need what you have. Now the flip side of that is lot’s of business is based on crap people don’t need to have and that’s where I think people get afraid of equating church with business. But at it’s essence they’re the same, but not quite. I had this point made to me by a good friend who is fairly successful at what he does and is passionate about doing better all the time. I was telling him how I could understand his passion for what he does and he told me, “Yeah, but what you do is so much more important. You’re about people’s eternity, heaven and hell. That’s way beyond anything any business ever does.”
So yeah I’m going to start a small business some day soon. I’m going to be an entrepeneur. But I’m trusting God, not market trends for my success. Everyone needs Jesus, and I know I have a responsibilty to be the best I can at showing them and guiding them to the truth of the cross. It’s going to take investment, creativity, ingenuity, excellence, diligence, hard work, but how much more important is that compared to auto glass?

The valley sucks

You know, “ye though I walk through the valley…” Wanted to clarify for my West Coast friends, although that Valley is pretty frickin hot most of the time. Anyway. A while back a close friend who has the most amazing gift of knowledge from God prayed for my wife and I. He said we’re not where we expected to be right now, we’re in the valley, but God is with us. As I drove around in my truck today I got to thinking about that. The valley sucks. I mean that’s alright, it’s not supposed to be a place of joy and expectation. It’s a place of brokenness and anticipation of the end of the valley. I’ve always been the one to nod and give that reassuring, pastoral hug when someone says they’re being broken or their in the “valley” but never really understood the concept. You know you go through down times in your life and think you’re being “broken” cause that’s a good Christian word/excuse for when life isn’t all puppy dogs and BMW’s. And towards the end of that period you think wow I’ve been broken by God I’m ready to move forward now! And soon you are and the puppy dogs begin to frolic again. Now I’m getting a little bit better idea of brokenness. Just totally crapped out, that’s brokenness. A sense of isolation and wonder if things will ever move the other way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in some pyscho-funk or anything, just realizing this is a new place for me and it’s tough. Every little thing seems magnified. It’s so easy to follow God and “hear his voice” and “be in his will” when you’re on the mountaintop, but the valley sucks. But you know Moses tended sheep in a baking desert for 40 years, David lived in caves and watched Saul take a dump, Jesus got tempted face to face by Satan himself. I guess my valley’s not so bad…

We’ll see…

Going to see where this leads…how can you be an unemployed pastor? You can’t really, but you sure have a lot of thoughts swirl around in your head all day doing your other job. I have a feeling this is going to take a while to become something, but there is something there. Something’s going to come…at least that’s what I tell myself all day at my other job. It’s funny cause the other day I had this cool way to start this thing off in my mind and of course it would turn into a book deal and Zondervan would offer me money and I’d going on the Willow_Saddleback_North Point_Lakewood_Mars Hill speaking circuit and I wouldn’t be unemployed anymore, but now that I’m sitting here writing this I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Hmmm. Life sure seems perfect when you’re driving in your truck (my other job). Anyway, don’t now if your on board or not, I guess you kind of are if you’re reading this, but stick around, we’ll see where this thing goes.