Aw, Heck, no!

The best thing you can do if you want to see what someone can accomplish, is to make them angry.  The joke is, if you ever hear a country girl say, “Aw, he!!, no!”, you’re in big trouble.  Well, someone pulled out the stop for me.  Actually, its been brewing for a while, it’s just this someone put it in words, and well, this rant is for them.

In the LCMS, CRM status is a black mark on a pastor’s career.  Kiss that career goodbye, because if you congregation decides that they can’t afford you, you’re not a good fit for them, if you decided to be Confessional instead of church-growth, or if they decide to harass you and your family until they leave, and you are forced out, it’s all your fault, your not a good pastor, and your done.  That’s how it’s seen with many, too many, pastors who are good and faithful servants of God’s Word.

My husband was forced out of a call.  He was on CRM.  Now he’s part time.  Did he make mistakes?  Sure, everyone does.  Everyone is a sinner.  Everyone has a point where they don’t handle a situation well.  Everyone has a place where they are vulnerable to make a mess.  But should that be a career ender?  Let’s put this into perspective.  A person who is struggling in a job can actively look for another job.  They can put their resume out there.  They can interview and hope to get a better match for them in the same career in the secular world.  Especially in a world where company loyalty is at an all time low and people are always out looking for the better fit instead of working through the issue presented, the reason for looking for a new job might be the location, the co-workers, the boss, the work assigned, the clients or customers doing business with the company, and the like.  Who, in the secular world, could cast the first stone and state that they have never gotten so frustrated with their job that they have actively hunted for or gotten a new job when they felt they couldn’t take anymore?  Now, what is it that a pastor can do?  Give their file to a DP, who the pastor hopes will give the information to the calling congregations in each district, and pray for a new location.  This process can take months or even years at times.  That doesn’t work if a congregation is running out of money and telling the pastor to seek employment elsewhere.  That doesn’t work for the pastor who has a minority of his congregation threatening to make life unbearable until he finds a new call.  That doesn’t help the pastor who is all but fired from his call for not scratching itching ears.  So what is a pastor to do?  For his health, for his family, for his own congregation sometimes, he will resign.

So then what?  Because he did the best he could with the sinful situation at hand we will judge him, play Monday morning quarterback, and bar him from serving any congregation ever because he did what he thought best?  We aren’t talking about gross outward sins such as adultery, slothfulness, or other Biblical reasons for a pastor to be removed from his call.  We are talking about sinful situations where the pastor did what was best in a lessor of two evils choice.  We shouldn’t be telling them that their careers are over, lives are shattered.  We should do what we can to both heal and uplift these pastors and put them back out to serve Christ Jesus and the Church He has entrusted his under-shepherds with bringing Word and Sacrament.  It’s time to realize that mercy, forgiveness, and understanding should abound where judgement and condemnation once stood.  Most (I will not say all) on CRM don’t deserve to be there permanently.  They deserve a “second chance” as it were to get back into the system of the clergy roster of the LCMS.

On a side note, help them while they are still in “limbo”.  Buy a t-shirt.  Raise awareness.  Call your DP and admonish him to seek out the CRM pastors in his district and find them calls.  See if you can find out the CRM pastors in your district and call them up and ask them how you can help.

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Perspective…

My husband has often lamented that he is no longer a full time pastor.  He hates the fact that he has a clock in, clock out, forty hours a week job at Wal-Mart.  This isn’t to say that Wal-Mart is a horrid place to work, more that he spent so many years prepping to be a pastor, and though he has all the training, all the experience, all the readiness to serve full time, God placed him in a congregation that couldn’t pay him enough to live on and he had to maintain his second job.  But Wal-Mart isn’t where his heart is.  His heart is with the people of his church.  He wants to be there for their hurts, their challenges, their victories, and their lives.  It’s hard for him to wake up and not put a clerical on, but what he calls the “Wal-Martian” suit and head off to a place that holds so much of his time, much more than he would ever prefer.  If he gets a phone call that someone is sick, he has to wait until he has time to go there instead of rushing to be at the side of the infirm.  How frustrating!

Then, I think, God doesn’t make mistakes.  God doesn’t just accidentally “stick” someone in a part time call.  God doesn’t just put someone in a church because there wasn’t another place to put them.  God has a plan, an intricate design, a place for everyone.  It’s hard to think that while my husband was going through his hardships in Kansas that God was prepping him for where he is at now, but He was. The time my husband spent in Minnesota with his congregations there prepared him for what he is doing now.  He may not feel prepared and he may feel like his time is wasted at Wal-Mart, but that’s not how God sees it.  God sees His own beloved child working to better the lives of the neighbors around my husband in at least two vocations he calls jobs.  God provides when we need to do what seems impossible.

There isn’t a more loving congregation out there than the one my husband serves now.  Understanding, patient, loving, they have never caused any rumblings of trouble because my husband can’t be there full time.  They accept him for who he is and where he is and never make any complaints that he isn’t around more.  Much the opposite, they respect it and work around it so that all can be done to God’s glory.  It may be a frustrating situation for all, but Christian love abounds as there is no blame, no resentment, only  understanding and patience on all sides.  Perhaps it could be that God gave my husband a place to heal after what he endured in Kansas?  I’d like to think so.  Even the most frustrating situations can be gifts from God even if we don’t always see it.

This isn’t to say that we don’t work to better ourselves and our situation because it is important to have that drive.  However, it’s good to know that we will be provided for by a loving God who sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we could be in heaven with Him.  He provides eternally and temporally all that we need to support this body and life.  In that perspective, my husband isn’t in some “holding pattern” until he gets back into the full time ministry, he is right where God wants him to be.  That assurance, through faith, makes it so that my husband not only can perform at both jobs, frankly, he rocks it!

Ever Wonder?

Back a couple of years ago, my husband, sitting in his collar, was complaining to me that his job was worthless, no one appreciated him, and that he was a poor pastor.  After everything we had endured with him being forced to resign and not being called to a new congregation, he was, to say the least, depressed.  We walked into Qdoba to talk it over.  After hearing his many complaints, frustrations, and problems over dinner, we began to clean up our table when a young man walked over.  He wasn’t a member of a church that my husband had filled in for that we could tell.  The young man was just a “joe” on the street, but he came over anyway, shook my husbands hand, and thanked him for all the hard work that he does in the church.  Though it might be hard at times and things may look grim, he appreciated the pastor and his role as the bringer of the Gospel, and he wanted to make sure my husband knew that.

Ever wonder if God really pays attention to the conversations you have every day?  That day, both my husband and I were sure!  It’s easy to forget that God is involved in our every day lives as well as the things we do every day to remember that He is is present, prayer, devotions, going to church, Bible study, and the like.  Talk about feeling self-conscious!  It’s easy to go about live and compartmentalize God to just the activities that involve Him.  But He cares for us enough to not just be involved when we choose to involve Him.  He’s there for the complaints we tell our friends, the laughter of a stupid joke that makes us have tears in our eyes even if it wasn’t that funny, the long conversations that happen in a car on a road trip that might be about cows, deer, and the crazy driver who just passed us.

As if we needed more of a reminder, before working out at the gym this past week, I was explaining to my husband the need to feel loved and wanted at home because I don’t get that type of support anywhere else.  I complained that at work I meant nothing and that I really wasn’t all that important.  After working out, there was a woman who recognized me as “her” pharmacy technician.  I had taken care of her earlier and she was very appreciative of the service and the fact that I didn’t just take care of her, I seemed to truly care about her well-being.  It brought a smile to my face knowing that I had helped at least one person and that is exactly what I thought as we walked to my car.  My husband and I were decided to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things, and again, I was met with another patient who wondered when the next time I was working was, as “I was the best tech there” according to her.  We chatted for a bit and and then my husband and I went on our way.  My husband wondered if we could go anywhere where in town where I wouldn’t be recognized as somebody’s pharmacy tech.  I laughed but inwardly mused again that God was walking right beside me even as I walked through the Wal-Mart, worked out at the gym, and went about the rest of my life.  I mentioned this to my husband a little while later and he laughed so hard.  He thought it was funny that God did the same thing to me as He did to him.  Turnabout is fair play.

Now, this isn’t to say that this is how God promises to interact with His creation.  God promises to be found in Word (the Scriptures) and Sacrament (Baptism, Holy Communion).  If one is to look for God, don’t look for God in signs and wonders, or even through a patient appreciating hard work after a complaint session on how insignificant one is.  It is important to note that if one is looking for God, he need look no further than the Christian Church down the street, who brings God to the people every Sunday in the Divine Service, or in the Scriptures that is the Word of God themselves.  But, it’s also not unheard of for God to step outside these means to remind His children that He is there and listening, watching, and taking care of His precious little ones.  Not expecting it from Him, it is important to acknowledge He can work that way.  In a way that built both His precious prince, my husband, and His precious princess, me, He reminded us that we are not alone.  God is with us.

It’s Alive!

One of the reasons why I push to get healthy is because I do want to get pregnant.  It’s important that body, mind, and soul are healthy to carry a baby successfully.  Getting my weight under control and my eating healthier than it has been is an important step to make sure that my baby’s first home- me- is healthy and a good environment to grow and develop.  Taking good care of me means that I will be taking good care of a life that I am responsible for (hopefully) in the near future.  Just as much as protecting baby from harm after s/he is born, I must protect baby from harm inside of me.  Toxins of unhealthy eating will effect baby, probably more than I realize.  Having a healthy weight, good cholesterol, low blood pressure, and no diabetic tendencies are important precautions just like making sure to use a safety seat in the car is, locking the door after coming in the house, and making sure that the plugs have covers on them to avoid mishaps.  Baby’s environment shapes who s/he becomes both in the moment and later in life.

So if baby isn’t alive until after s/he is born, why bother with prenatal care at all?  Why bother getting healthy if the first environment baby is in is out of the womb?  It really shouldn’t matter what I eat, how much I exercise, or even if I drink or smoke, if the baby isn’t alive until birth.  So why is it that certain products (alcohol, cigarettes, certain medications) and certain activities (roller coasters and other amusement park rides, even hot tubs)  have warnings on them cautioning women who may be pregnant that this could be hazardous to the unborn?  Logically, this makes no sense.  Why should it matter if the baby isn’t alive until birth?

The same scientists who claim that they can prove using evolution and natural processes that God doesn’t exist will argue on whether the lump of cells made of two different individual’s DNA to form a completely new DNA structure is a baby or a tumor.  Isn’t disproving God infinitely more complex than deciding if a lump of cells is cancer or a baby?  I had a tumor removed from my hip about a year ago.  I can tell you now it didn’t have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and a nose.  It truly was a lump of fatty tissue that needed to come out.  How can we scientifically not see the difference between that and a baby?  Logically, this makes no sense.

So, if the baby is only a baby if it is wanted, how does that effect the rest of life?  Are my parents only my parents (and by that I mean the physical DNA that my parents gave to me to make me who I am) if I want them to be.  If I decide I don’t want them, will my DNA change to who I want my parents to be.  If I have a cancerous tumor, and I choose not to have a cancerous tumor, will it change and become something less malignant?  I can hate my eye color, but the only way that I can change it is by covering it up and pretending that it is something it’s not.  I can’t change it to what I want simply by making up my mind that my eye color is something different than what it actually is.  So why is it that a baby is only a baby if we want it?  Logically, this makes no sense.

So if scientifically it’s a baby, and from the physical laws of our reality we can’t change it by wishing for something different, then what does happen when an abortion occurs?  Removing an organism from the environment that it is nourished, grows, and develops will kill the organism.  So, abortion kills the organism, the baby.  Why?  Is it inconvenience?  Fear?  Perhaps a hardened heart?  Whatever the reason, it’s not based on science, logic, or reason.  Neither is murder based on science, logic, or reason.  So if we legalize abortion, why not legalize murder?  Each murderer has an emotional reason why the person they killed needed to die.  So does the woman who has an abortion.

But murder is outlawed, based on the 5th Commandment, the laws of the land, and the natural law written on our hearts.  So why isn’t abortion?

Time to be Responsible…

We live in a world of disposable, well, everything.  If it’s gross, disgusting, unpleasant, bothersome, infringing on our happiness, irritating, or even angering, it can be easily thrown out and replaced instead of working on the issue to mend it.  After all, isn’t easier to start over than it is to repair something broken?  I mean, with the fresh and the new there is a new start, a beginning that has the promise of wonderful things to come, a way to become something that isn’t constricted by the old.  For some things, the new truly is better.  Toilet paper, for example, has had its usefulness spent after a one time use and should be disposed of else the members of the family will be sick.  Most of the time wrapping paper is the same way.  Ruined after one use and beyond repair to use again.  Some things in life should just remain disposable.  However, I think in turning into a disposable society, we have forgotten the value of what is old, tried and true, cherished and loved.

I have held the locket that belonged to my great great grandmother.  Within that locket are pictures dear and treasured.  Once she was gone, I suppose that someone could have thrown it away, gotten rid of it and the memories it symbolized, but I am so glad they didn’t.  It’s my link to her from somewhere in the past.  It’s a clue as to who she is and what was important to her in her life.

But it’s not just the stuff that we seem to think is disposable.  If a relationship doesn’t work, we throw it out.  This is seen in the divorce rate in our society alone.  My thoughts are something completely different.  Call it old fashioned, call it backwater hicksville thinking if you will, but it’s tried and true, and it works.  If it’s broke, fix it.  Spend time working on it until it’s better.  Yes, I do understand that there are sometimes when it is safest for all involved to walk away, but that’s not every time.  In fact, the odds are that the people who are calling it quits are already looking for the new, polished, and shiny relationship because they don’t want to work on what’s broken with the relationship they have.  Well, nothing that is worth keeping happens without work.  A great garden will grow only when it is tended to.  A great relationship will only flourish with the same attention.

I believe that this same attitude is permeating our society.  Nothing is worth keeping any more.  Everything is subject to discard.  I think that this is part of the greater issues that are hurting our American culture.  What do you think?

Working on Me…

I was never the athletic one growing up.  My younger brother could play basketball like no one else.  But me?  Naw, find me in front of the TV, on the computer (like now!) or something else that really didn’t involve an active life where I would make sure my body was in good shape.  My family was heavyset, and in reality, I guess I always thought that there was no beating your genes.  No matter what I did, I would be heavy.

Little did I know my weight is directly related to my mental health.  When I work out, eat right, and take care of myself, I am usually in a great mental state as well.  Letting my weight go did much more than hurt my looks or my cholesterol count.  It would be detrimental to my mental health as well.  My anxiety goes up, my depression increases.  All in all, its a bad situation.  When I joined Nutrisystem, when I joined the gym, I did a lot more than just improve my looks and my physical health, I improved all of me.  Now I can knock down 10 -11 miles at the gym every other day using a stationary bike, a treadmill, and an elliptical, something that I thought my genes would keep me from doing.  I’m not model thin, I still have pounds to shed, but I am darn proud of myself for being able to accomplish what I told myself I could never do from an early age.

Genetics aren’t everything.  If you want to become, you have to work on it.  You have to believe you can do it.  Since my heaviest point at 230lbs, I have lost almost 70 lbs.  That’s not genetics, that’s determination.  Praise be to God that He has given me the motivation to do what needed to be done.

For the Children?

So, the Chicago Teacher’s Union is on strike and the kids have a free pass at the beginning of the year to not be in school.   There are many lessons to be learned here, but I don’t think it is the lessons that the union would like me to learn.  It used to be that we should fear the unions.  Treat the workers right, or the workers will refuse to work, the job won’t get done, the company won’t see profits, and everything falls apart.  It’s good to keep the union happy so that everyone goes to work, everyone gets paid, and all the work gets done.  It sounds like a great set-up.  But, with great power comes great responsibility and the ability to effect great change.  It also comes with a temptation.  The temptation to abuse the power.  Unfortunately, that seems to be what unions are more about these days.

I got to see much of this in my “battle ground” state of Wisconsin.  In the heat of all of the bitter recall efforts of my governor, I was able to hear many gripes and complaints which were supposed to relate these teachers back to the “everyday” person, but instead, highlighted the fact that, through my taxes, these teachers were getting a much better deal than I was through my job.  To be sure, I could also go back through my paperwork and get my teaching certificate up to date, join a union, and get the same benefits.  However, it wasn’t my jealousy that was the topic of conversation.  It was the fact that the teachers didn’t have a fair contract reflecting the same benefits that the rest of the middle class enjoyed.  The fact of the matter is that they get paid higher, have better retirement and medical benefits, and many more holidays and vacation days than I will ever see.  I do recognize that they are in charge of teaching our youth, however, there are many jobs that are difficult, including my own.

In my line of work, though, raises don’t come unless clear progress is made.  In fact, cost of living raises are even going the way of the dinosaur as the economy sputters.  One must really stand out in the crowd to show that they have what it takes to bring more profit to the company and is worth paying the extra money.  So, as the teachers come to their bosses, the taxpayers, for a raise, one must not only ask themselves why the teachers are deserving of a “fair contract” but what the teachers will be bringing to the table to warrant such a raise.  Since the teachers decided to come to the table as a whole, and not individually, they must be looked at as a whole and not individually.  Statistics on the entire school system must be taken into account.  Where does the school system rank nationally?  What are the drop out rates?  How do they rank in standardized testing?  Is there an accomplishment that the school system can brag about or that helps them stand out above the rest?

Next, the raise must be looked at against the needs of the business, or in this case, the needs of the government.  Can the government afford the raise being requested?  Is it possible to accommodate the request?  If the answer is yes with the help of raised taxes, one must ask themselves what the teachers’ motivations really are.  If they are really for the proper education of the children, they won’t put an added burden on their parents by raising taxes, thus adding to the stress of the home.  If the answer is yes, the government is big already and can afford it, one must ask if the educators are really in touch with the reality of our society today.  Our debt in this country is out of control and isn’t getting better.  Money is not made in a magic reservoir that can be automatically tapped.  It comes from somewhere.

Most importantly, the teachers must look to the example that they are giving our children.  We teach our children that it is not right to refuse to do what is asked of them by authorities.  We teach them that sometimes life isn’t fair but it is about what you make of it.  We teach them that if they don’t like what is going on, this is America, and they can go somewhere else or start something new to change it.  We teach them to work hard and be proud of what they have accomplished and do what is right,  even if no one notices, because one should always be proud of a job well done when doing the right thing.  We teach them not to be selfish.  We teach them to care about others and to take care of those who are smaller and who cannot take care of themselves and not abandon them when they need us the most.  We teach them to be truthful even if it might get us in trouble.  Telling the truth about a situation is better than perpetuating a lie and sometimes will get us into less trouble.

So, Chicago Teachers, tell us, is this really for the children, or for yourselves?