Monday, March 15, 2010

Fasting, confession, and my hero.

Our church did a fast in January to start out the year by intensely seeking God. I never imagined how God would use this fast in my life. I for the first time in long time seriously exerted self control in my life. The fast was for 21 days. I ate some fruits and vegetables on five of those days otherwise I only consumed liquids. God had convicted me before this fast of overeating and to start exerting some self control but this fast was off the charts. Surprisingly the physical wasn’t that hard. It was what God was doing in my spiritually that was the intense part. When you don’t eat and use every moment your hungry to tell yourself and God that you want him more than food it turns up the heat with God. Through the fast God’s spirit grew in me and I could not resist what he was doing in me.

Unfortunately what he was doing in me was convicting me and confronting the sin in my life. I looked good to most people on the outside. I looked like someone who was pursuing Jesus and loving him with every area of my life but that was not the truth. For many years I have kept hidden an area of sexual sin in my life. I kept this part of my life hidden for many reasons all of which are dysfunctional and fueled by my sinful nature. I had kept this area hidden and uncontrolled so long that I lost control which ultimately led me to make the sinful choice to have an affair.

Through the experience of the fast God was breaking down the walls I had put up. For the first time I couldn’t control what God was doing in me because I had pursued him so intensely. He was breaking through every obstacle I had put up. I finally heard the voice of God say more clearly than I have ever heard it say, “My grace is big enough for a Pastor who has cheated on his wife.” I was wrecked. I had for the first time in my adult life let God into EVERY part of my life. I was overwhelmed with God’s grace.

So the next day I was working and trying to process what had happened the night before. As I was thinking through things and praying Vicky sent me a link to This is a blog of a pastor and his wife who have worked through his affair and are back in ministry and using this site as a tool for God to use their story. The first blog post that day was “5 things you need to do if you’re having an affair.” I read them and the last one said you have to be honest about everything. The spirit of God was yelling at me that I had to tell Vicky about the affair. There was nothing in me that wanted to. I knew it would hurt her to hear those words more than I could even fathom. But the post said you have to be completely honest if you ever wanted intimacy in your marriage again. Ultimately that is what I wanted. I wanted to have a great marriage with Vicky and if that meant I had to tell I was going to tell her.

So that night I told her. I think it was the worst night of both of our lives.

I spent a couple weeks staying with friends. I resigned from the church we had started. We heard from someone about a place called Blessing Ranch in Colorado. It is a one week intense counseling experience for pastors. God provided in BIG ways for us to go and Vicky agreed to go with me. I have never in my life experienced Ephesians 3:20 like that week. That verse says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” God blew away my expectations of that week. I have never experienced self sacrificing obedience, outside of Jesus on the cross, like I saw Vicky pursue that week. Her obedience to God and what he was doing in her is still leaving me speechless.

It has been a couple weeks and in Vicky’s words there are bad days and worse days. This is an ugly thing because the root of it is sin. I have betrayed the one I was supposed to never betray. I have broken my vows to my wife. We are starting over way below ground zero.

I have said from the beginning that my only hope for restoration was the character of God and the character of my wife. My hope was not misplaced. God of course is meeting us right where we are every day. But I cannot explain how proud I am of Vicky and the road she is walking. Pursuing the way of obedience of God is incredibly hard sometimes. The road of obedience that Vicky is walking goes against every natural tendency we have as humans to live for anger, revenge, and self in this situation. For some reason God gave me an incredible woman. For reasons beyond what I can comprehend he is giving me a second chance with her. It is only by God’s power and grace that we are going to get through this.

I know many of you look up to her. I know many of you can’t imagine what she is going through and you’re right. I know many of you want to reach out to her and give her a hug and if you can I would encourage that. Send her a message of encouragement. We all need encouragement in this pursuit of Jesus and living life His way.

The one thing I can tell you is that I get the opportunity on a dally basis to see someone epically obey God and for that Vicky is my hero. I love her and look forward to the day we can be happy together again and have a marriage that reflects Jesus as much as humanly possible.

You can also follow Vicky's journey through this process at her blog.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fasting, pride, and trees

We are in day nine of our 21 day fast. In the prep time before starting this journey God showed me something. He showed me how much of my self image and what I think about myself (if those two things are different) is tied up in other’s opinion of me.

So much of where I find my worth is in other people. On the outside I put on a good show that other people's opinions don't matter to me. What I should be saying is that people who's opinion doesn't matter to me, don't matter to me. In my pride I have filtered out many opinions people had of me I didn't find favorable. I have found my worth in many things. Being the edgy, push the envelope pastor, but that has gotten me to the point of leading a church dangerously close to not surviving. I find worth in what other people say about me. I have people complement me on many things I do. It is all too easy to take all that in and believe every word of it. I guess you come to love how other people make you feel vs. loving them despite how they make you feel. I guess that is why there is a lot of divorce. People love the way people make them feel and when that feeling is gone they don't know what to do. Do I love that person or the way they make me feel? It can be a very fine line.

So what I have been dealing with is basically: Is my worth rooted in the person that Jesus makes me or is it in the image I have built of myself that is pieced together from the opinions of what people think about me? (Opinions which are based in what God is doing in me) Both of these are very close to the fulcrum of going one way or the other. I believe wholeheartedly that the good people see in me is because of what God has done in me. But is my self worth/image built in humility or in pride. If my self image is rooted in who I am because of God it is built in humility. If it is rooted in what other’s think about me because of what God has done in me it is pride.

God is dealing with some very deep emotional roots. God has cut away many limbs and branches and has sawed down the trunk of this issue but now he is digging into the dirt and reaching down to get the roots out of the ground. Unfortunately the roots go down as far as the tree went up. I know how long it took to cut the branches and trunk down. I think the roots are going to take longer to deal with. This fast is just starting to dig up those roots in my life. Its hard though because when people look at my life all they can see is what’s above the ground. Only I and God can see what’s under the surface. This will be a lonely journey to the bottom of this tree.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fasting, food, and whittling

21 day fast-Day 3

Some observations:

Little compromises can always lead to big compromises.

Our culture is obsessed with food.

I don’t need many of the things I think I need.

I need Jesus more than anything.

Obeying God because of grace instead of because of rules leads to true joy and freedom.

My lifestyle was not sustainable.

I need more sleep.

I don’t pray enough.

I have the opportunity to be so much more in tune with the Spirit of God than I am.

God is enough.

God does not want to mold us into the person he wants us to be. We have included this in the language of the church I think because of some passages that talk about us being made in the potter’s hand. I think these passages refer to God’s true intention for us. What he created us to be. Molding involves rearranging the material that is already present. Through this fast I am thinking more and more that God wants to whittle, chip away, or carve away the things that are not of his kingdom until there is only Jesus. It is a cutting away not a molding.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Grinch, Crowder, and the Apostle Paul

My two year old son Caleb got into a couple movies this Christmas season. He locked into Frosty the snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, The animated old skool Grinch, and the full length Jim Carry version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The ones I was most excited about was the grinch. He absolutely tore up the grinch. He sat through the full length version of the grinch a couple times. One of those times was when he was served a waffle breakfast in bed by Grammi.

I love that Caleb loved the Grinch. I love that he attached to a story of hope and redemption. He got into a movie where the most looked down upon was raised up. Where the hopeless became the hope giver. Where the left out, the cast aside, and the disenfranchised was redeemed. The Grinch who’s heart was two sizes too small grew three sizes when he saw the Whos discover that Christmas was more about what could be taken by the Grinch.

At Veritas we had a dance party at church where we rocked out to “Oh Happiness” by David Crowder Band. It is such a great song about redemption.

Lyrics for Oh Happiness by David Crowder Band

Oh, happiness, There is grace enough for us, And the whole human race

Friend or foe, Stranger or kin, All who come, begin again, Hard or frail, Rich or poor, All in need, Need fear no more, Such a thing to give away

All regrets, Let go forget, There’s something that, Mends all of it, Such a thing to give away

Sound the church bells, Let 'em ring, Let 'em ring, For everything can be redeemed, We can be redeemed, All of us

I have been reminded lately of the expanse of God’s plan for redemption. God wants everything to be redeemed from “Grinches”, to cities, to all of creation (Romans 8:18-25). That is why the “Church bells ring”. This is why we exist. I think we in church have lost the belief that everything can be redeemed. We look at the Grinches all around us whether it be an organization, a city, or people and actually believe they are beyond redemption. What business do we have saying something is beyond redemption when half the new testament is written by someone who killed and hunted people who followed Jesus. Let us be a people and church that believes God can redeem everything and anything.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top nine of oh nine (that i can remember)

1. Polar Plunge
Who doesn’t want to start the new year by jumping into Lake Michigan amid snow, 20mph winds, floating ice, and lake ice bergs.

2. 10 year anniversary in Lake Geneva
Vicky and I celebrated 10 years of marriage on June 5, 2009 with a small vacation in Lake Geneva. We enjoyed finding turtles, eating pizza, and big jacuzzi tubs.

3. 2009 Leadership summit
Wow. This was a great opportunity to spend time with our team from Veritas and hear some excellent teachings. The standouts were Wes Stafford, President of Compassion international, sharing his story of God using his pain to end suffering for children around the world. Also Tim Keller’s teaching on the story of the Prodigal Son was epic and life changing.

4. Berkley Community Church 90th
The church my Great Grandfather started in 1919 celebrated its 90th anniversary. I wasn’t able to attend any of the festivities but for me this was of the greatest highlights of the past year. I will do everything in my power to be there for the 100th anniversary. I can’t believe Caleb will be 12, ugh. I’ll be 41 UGH.

5. BVNA leadership Conference
This was a leadership conference hosted by the Bay View Neighborhood Association. It had good content and God used this event to speak to me about the future of Veritas more than any other thing this year. Main take away-Use your strengths to address your weaknesses. This changed the game for our church.

6. Caleb being potty trained
Four days of the Wilson Family Potty Training Boot Camp and he mostly got it. He is doing well with the process. I am so incredibly proud of my boy. He taught me so much in four days of us forcing a new behavior on him. He adapted well with much suffering but he got through it and is better on the other end. I have so much to learn from him.

7. Chill on the Hill family night
I was so proud of our people on this night. We had frogs, elephants and an incredible Ark all built and dreamt up by our people. LOVED IT

8. Veritas first baptisms
EPIC. It was such a joy to do our first baptisms as a church on July 26th at South Shore Park. We will always do them outside. I loved it. The stories of lives redeemed never gets old.

9. I got a hobby
I finally got a hobby. I spent much time down on the shores of Lake Michigan this year. While I was there I started collecting Sea Glass. This is glass that has been tumbled and worn down by the waves and rocks of the lake. Its fun but it makes it on the list because of what God has taught me through this hobby. Every time I needed to hear from God this year he spoke through this medium. Also it helped with making some cheap Christmas presents.

Honorable Mention
Seeing Matisyahu, No Doubt, and Paramore in one night at Summerfest for $8.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas, placentas, and evergreens.

I am into Christmas more than I have been in years. I usually don’t get into it. If I had my way I wouldn’t put up a tree, stockings, or lights. Well, maybe a few lights but thats it. I would still watch Elf just because its hilarious. I haven’t gotten into the whole Christmas buzz in a while. For the past couple years there has been some big things going on in life through the holidays. So the stress has kinda outweighed the joy.

This year though I am finding myself in awe of it all. I’m looking at this story of Jesus and his birth and just laughing. I am choosing to be more conscious about the story I’m listening to.

I was asked to teach about a movement called the Advent Conspiracy. It is a movement within the Church to not spend as much during the holidays but then to give more away and worship God more throughout the season. The main thing I came away from that teaching with was to be conscious of what story I’m listening to this season.

There is one story that is told to us by the marketers, other consumers, and massive corporations. This is the story being told to us that says that the house has to be decorated, cards need to get out, presents need to be bought, that we need to be busy and get caught up in the buzz that surrounds the season.

There is another story. This story is not glamorous. This story is about God becoming human. This is an excerpt from the teaching I did about the Advent Conspiracy: “The first breathe that filled Jesus’ lungs was filled with the particulate of manure and straw. He was born in a place that most moms today would make sure to bathe their kids in Purell after leaving. Through the contractions, screams, breathing, and pushing of young girl named Mary Jesus entered into this world in a way that showed a solidarity to the poor and the left out. The first announcement of the messiah, the person that would be the culmination of all that the bible was and is, was told to Shepherds. I know you have heard this before.

God entered this world just like you and I. His entrance involved screaming, pushing, blood, amniotic fluid, and placentas falling to the floor. The cord that he drew the foundations of his human existence from had to be cut. It was gritty, real, and messy. No one puts that scene on a Christmas card. It looked nothing like the nativity scene that was on my grandparents mantle with the slightly chipped orange lightbulb sticking through the back wall of the stable.

Then the first record we have of visitors to this scene are shepherds. Really God? You send the culmination of your plan for the redemption of humanity and you tell shepherds? You couldn’t come up with a better plan? Shepherds? I know when we had our child some of the last people I would choose to be around my newborn would be grimy, dirty, smelly strangers. Imagine this group of very rough around the edge guys who smell like they have been sitting in a field around a fire hanging out with animals (because they had been) knocking on your door, without warning, as your wife is nursing your newborn son. They say that angels told them to come here and see your kid. Then because angles talking to people about this kid seems normal at this point you let them in.

Christmas isn’t about what the marketers tell us it is about. Jesus was crammed into the middle of a bunch of pagan festivals and traditions surrounding the winter solstice. The Jesus story does not have anything to do with what Christmas is about because it never was until someone from the church crammed him into the middle of mistletoe, evergreens, and presents. The birth of the messiah. The birth of the culmination of everything the story of God is about has nothing to do with evergreens with lights and tinsel. It has to do with God coming for the not so good. God intimately involving the grimy, dirty, and smelly into his story. It is about God breathing my air so I could one day breathe his. It is the opening sequence of the last installment of the trilogy. Its the beginning of our story. Its about God becoming man so we could be his children.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Teachers, asses, and tour guides.

Just heard Chuck Swindol on the Catalyst Podcast say, "The word of God is alive, active, and sharp, not what I have to say."

For some reason God has given me the gift of teaching. I sometimes wonder what God was thinking for giving this passion and skill to me. But the more I read the Bible the less sense I can make of God. So I guess its just par for the course.

I am a teacher of the word of God. Anything anyone ever gets out of what I teach has nothing to do with me. I just get to be a guide to the most amazing amusement park, most interesting museum, or attraction you have ever been to. I just get to highlight the things that maybe you miss when you just walk through it alone not knowing what you’re looking at. I don’t always do what I teach. I sin. I fall short. I don’t teach what I have mastered. I teach what is there. Some would say I’m a hypocrite. I might be. I might not be. What I do know is that I’m forgiven. I know that its only by the grace of God that is given to me through his blood that stained the dirt around the cross that I can do any good with my life. I am in awe of the grace of God.

Rich Mullins once said, “God chose to speak through Balaam’s ass and he has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God so chooses to speak through you, you shouldn’t think too highly of yourself. And, if upon meeting someone, right away you recognize what they are, listen to them anyway, because God chose to speak through Balaam’s ass and he has speaking through asses ever since.”

I am just an ass God has chosen to speak through. If you ever think you are changed by anything that you hear me say. You weren’t changed by what I had to say you were changed by Jesus. I’m just a dumb ass Jesus chose to give a voice to.