My wife and I had lunch yesterday with some old friends we hadn't seen in years. Gary had called to say they would be in Louisville and wanted to invite us to lunch. Gary, a deacon in the church I pastored, had been the one person who prayed with me, made visits with me, and who was truly closer than a brother in that lonely place. Pastors, from my experience and from my observation, are very lonely folks. Oh sure they are constantly with people with all the visits, meetings, and services, but to really have a confidant and friend is very rare. Gary was all of that and more. We genuinely loved each other like David loved Jonathan. The only regret I have had all these years since being asked to resign as pastor, is I no longer have a person like that in my life.
My wife and I returned to Indiana, and I began teaching at a Christian school, where I even served as Principal for a while. Those years teaching "a captive audience" were the best years of my life. When the school began struggling with financial difficulties, the highest paid were not able to continue teaching there. As the high school Bible teacher, I was expendable because the pastor added that job to his others. Understandably, the church suffered and so did the school; one man can only do so much. The school closed the following year, and to my understanding, the pastor had a stroke. Ministry certainly takes its toll. I know because I suffered great depression for quite some time after leaving the school.
The greatest lesson I have learned in my nearly forty years as a Christian, is that the majority of those who say they are Christians don't seem to try living like Jesus intended. The world sees Christians as hypocrites, and all of us are. No one lives a Christ-like life all of the time. Hence, the world is right. However, I want the world to know that there are some of us who genuinely try to live Godly lives. James wrote that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Christians understand that their sins are forgiven because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Christians also understand that living the Christ-like life is a continual struggle (read Roman Seven). My problem is that few Christians are really involved in that struggle. Most, apparently, have given up trying, and have returned to just being like everyone else. I guess that is why it is hard to tell the difference between the wheat and the tares.
Now that my health has deteriorated so that I am unable to do much, I found myself needing to serve the Lord, but unable to find something I could do. My pastor suggested I write a blog in order to share with others my thoughts on the Christian life. I didn't know what a blog was (and I still don't), but he set this one up for me, and I am very grateful. It is my sincere desire to be a blessing to the body of Christ, and to those who need to become a part of that body. If you read this, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think. Ask questions, share stories, and feel free to make suggestions on how I could improve it. I will not shorten it, so don't even go there. I write until I feel that God wants me to stop. Jesus is Lord. He deserves obedient children. Can I get an AMEN?