i don’t want to start grad school in three weeks.
over the last couple weeks, i’ve gotten some friendly inquiries from a couple folks wanting to know if my faith is doing ok.
and my response would have to be, “faith in what?” or “faith in whom?”
well, you know, ever since you were somewhat screwed over by your last church. since you and lise have been dealing with mind-numbing medical and mental health issues for the last 3 years. you know, since you feel like you’ve been on the continual downside of the rollercoaster. since you’ve not gone back to church since leaving the ministry. you know, since you don’t really talk about Jesus in all of your blog posts (i mean, you are a minister, aren’t you? you are a christian, right?).
let me dispel this myth.
i admit: after the shock of being treated the way i was at the church, my faith in God got a little shaky. it sure felt like we were being singled out for continual persecution and kicks in the crotch and if God has the power to stop all this and i keep begging him and begging him to do so, and then the people who are supposed to help me by ministering to me (even as i minister to teens) take a swift kick at my crotch, too… well, that certainly was difficult. since God didn’t stop it, then it must be God having fun kicking us around.
depression hit me pretty hard. self-doubt hit hard. questions and anger at God hit hard. i couldn’t believe that God would do this to me!
and the reality is: he didn’t.
another reality is: i can cry, moan, whine, beg, plead, be angry, scream and hold my breath until i’m blue in the face, but God didn’t set out to prove a point by torturing me or lise.
sometimes crap happens.
and i think that God gets too much of the credit and too much of the blame. i also think satan gets too much credit and blame as well.
so towards what, then, has my faith suffered?
i know, i know – it’s an unfair, blanket statement. but the shock of 17+ years of following Jesus and seeing God’s people treating others of God’s people with SO much disrespect (and then being on the receiving end in such a time of need) – this really put me over the top. it’s made it difficult for me to trust and even listen to Christians because i’m wondering what their motives really are. wondering what they’re really thinking.
jim snyder told me back in december as i was first dealing with what had happened: scott, we’re all broken sinners and we don’t play well in the sandbox together. it still seems too simplistic to me but i guess it’ll have to work.
in the last 2 weeks alone, two friends of mine who are also in ministry have been dealt with in similar (yet different) ways, the end result being their leaving the church/ministry. over the last 17 years, we’ve seen people in leadership get forced out over the silliest things. we’ve seen folks in the congregations we’ve been a part of get hurt (at the hands of leaders and/or other lay people) to the point of leaving and with no restoration of peace or fellowship. we’ve seen people get used and discarded. we’ve seen people who needed to be taken care of and ministered to get shunned and ignored.
and i can’t imagine that God sits back and says, “good work, folks! this is exactly what i was talking about when i sent my son to die for y’all! keep it up!”
am i guilty, too? definitely.
are there good and awesome things happening in the name of God? absolutely.
but right this minute, i can’t imagine going to a church and opening myself back up again, sharing my life with a group of people who i’ll wonder if i’m going to get hurt again. see, several older guys who’ve been in ministry a long time advised me that i shared too much – with the youth group and with the senior ministers. they advise me that i should have kept my mouth shut and just dealt with the things going on in our lives alone.
but i don’t think that’s what ministry’s about – ministry can’t be conducted in a vacuum. God works, leads, directs us through our lives and the everyday things, in part.
keep it to myself? hold it in? don’t share myself with the folks i minister to? keep it on the superficial? i’ve served under a minister who did just that. he’s a good teacher but his interpersonal skills and compassion (as well as leadership skills) are awful. he admits he doesn’t like dealing with people and would rather not be leading a church.
i’d rather not do ministry at all than to have to guard and shield myself from God’s followers.
my faith in God? rock solid. i don’t understand why all this is happening, but God’s not up there with levers and switches angling a big shoe at my crotch.
my faith in God’s people? shaky. will this improve? i hope so.
i may just have to invest in a good jockstrap before i get back into church.
i must’ve gotten it from my dad. my mom? more than 15 minutes in the car and she’s had enough. no joke.
the drive from cincinnati to maryland is 550 miles. we love taking this 9 hour trek for various reasons, from together time to driving back roads half of the way and seeing the beautiful mountains in west virginia and western maryland to being able to take our time and mosey or make stops.
and another reason is the strange sites along the way.
Ohio’s Smallest Church is one of those sites and it’s an odd place. it’s situated across the street from a rest area in Athens County, Ohio in the middle of a field off Ohio Rt 32. until just 6-7 months ago there was no driveway or parking lot. we first noticed it a couple years ago and first stopped in last year.
clicking on the picture will give you a better idea of the scale of the place. the front door is maybe 6.5′ high, so the whole building itself can’t be much higher. there are stained glass windows on the sides, a steeple with a real bell inside, 4 pews on the inside, an altar and a place to put your prayer requests.
i was hesitant to go into this church because of the “spine-tingling” factor. have you ever had that? someplace has something “special” in the feeling of it and you’re certain that (despite the understanding that God is everywhere) “God is here” – i try to avoid that (and as a youth minister i try to avoid that for my teens) because i don’t want to box God up. at any rate, the spine-tingling was present and if nothing else, it’s quite a peaceful place. you figure: driving for hours, the noise of the road, of the music you’re playing, of the thoughts you’re thinking, and suddenly: silence. peace. quiet. breathe. sit. pray.
breathe. sit. pray.
i could use a reminder about that every now and then.
we were further rewarded as we continued home by a spectacular sunset viewed from Keim’s Amish Market in Seaman, Ohio. the sky looked like a fireball was rolling across it, ready to burn through and scorch the land. pretty cool.
driving, discovering new places, revisiting old – these are the things that make life good.
when we go to maryland we always stay with our good friends barb and joe. they’ve been friends of ours for almost 15 years now and we share many things together. barb was the youth director at our church when we first met her and she was really supportive of our getting involved with the group. over the years they’ve become family. we spend every thanksgiving with them and usually a week in the summer.
this past week was spent at their house in bowie, maryland. joe is the executive director of FIDO’s, an assistance dog organization. he is also the owner of Ace, an ass-kicking black lab service dog. ace it a big boy and he serves joe well.
needless to say, when we get our black lab, Dolby, together with their lab, all playful hell breaks loose. one minute it sounds as though they are going to kill each other, the next minute they’re wrestling over a toy, and the next minute they’re laying next to each other hanging out. it’s a lot like junior high ministry.
this week, however, dolby’s non-existent sex-drive kicked in and he repeatedly was trying to hump ace. was it dominance? was it that we have a homo dog? was it acting out? was it dolby thinking he still had his gonads? did dolby think that ace was a chick? was it ace being subservient? or maybe he was just caught unawares.
at any rate, as we took some pics during the visit, lise inadvertantly snapped a picture of dolby assuming the position.
and it was good enough to share.
we’re gonna have to break him of this habit, though. to quote joe, “That’s RUDE!”
for most of you, this is probably not a name you’re familiar with, but for this old man… well.
i was turned on to Pink Floyd by the sister of my best friend in junior high. ken had bought me an album by Billy Joel for my birthday and i already had it (52nd Street, maybe?) – ken’s sister worked at Globe Records and Tapes in the plaza a couple miles from my house. i walked into the store and asked for some help in returning it and getting something else. what would she suggest, my 7th grade former self asked.
and she gave me Wish You Were Here.
and life as i knew it was changed forever.
i didn’t know anything about Pink Floyd at this point. never heard of dark side of the moon. didn’t know animals. no idea who syd barrett was or that Wish You Were Here was dedicated to him and was essentially about him.
sonically, WYWH is probably my favorite Floyd album. the range of the music was mind-blowing. the guitar work of david gilmour – holy cow! the whole thing was mesmerizing.
soon after, i was loaned The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon.
and then i went back further and discovered syd, hiding among the first two albums PF made.
then i bought his 2 solo albums.
did i like them? sure. did i love them? hmm. no. syd’s music was a bit too far gone for me. was he a genius? i suppose. misunderstood genius? definitely.
at any rate, RIP syd. if nothing else, you started the band that would build on your insanity and blow our minds. thanks.
several folks asked me today what lise and i did for the 4th of july.
i feel a little foolish. we didn’t go see fireworks. we didn’t go to a cookout. we didn’t get together with the family. we didn’t get hammered at the bar. we didn’t go to a swim party.
we went to the drive-in.
lise and i have been going to the drive-in for several years now. here in the cincinnati area, we’ve got two to choose from. the holiday auto theatre is up in hamilton (or “hamiltucky” as the locals call it) and it’s ok (check out their ridiculously long page on “house rules” and you’ll get the feeling that we get when we go there: Yeeesh!! anything ELSE we can’t do?) but rather restrictive.
the other drive-in we go to is the Starlite Drive-In out in Amelia. the starlite ROCKS. really nice folks, nice atmosphere, good screen (some drive-in screens are dark or falling apart – beware!) and almost always good movies.
so what is it about the drive-in that we like? hmm, well….
- BIG FRIGGIN SCREEN – woo-woo!
- fresh outdoors air
- snuggling together in the car (get your mind outta the gutter)
- cranking the sound in the car however loud we want
- TWO movies for the price of ONE (always double feature at the Starlite and admission is only $6/person)
- first-run movies all the time
- gets us out of the house and into each others arms
- no distractions from people around us, like at regular movie theaters
so what’d we see? Nacho Libre was the first one and, i admit, i thought for SURE it was gonna be a dog. jack black is an idiot and i was doubtful that there was ANYTHING he could produce that i would like. i was wrong. jack, i’m sorry. you’re funny in a very stupid kinda way.
Click was the second movie. again, apologies to adam sandler. i was starting to give up on him. now, this movie isn’t intelligent fare and it’s loaded with predictable dialogue, sequencing and conclusion, but despite all these things: it was funny. and decent. you can take the kids to see either one of these movies.
there’s just something about the drive-in. if you’ve never been, please: do yourself a favor and check it out. you can go to Drive-Ins.com and plug in your zip code and find the closest one to you.
you’ll thank me for it.
and if you’re at the starlite this coming sunday night, you’ll see us – we’re seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie!