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.