I wrote a really, really, really candid congregational letter earlier today.
Whenever I do something like that - as a part of individual discipline or congregational care - I pass it by a few folks who hold me accountable for what I say and do.
One of 'em from Oklahoma wrote: "Very, very, well said. Oh, my friend, so many are feeling the pinch; and it shows in the giving. If this letter doesn't touch the hearts, minds, and spirits of the 'haves,' then they simply have hardened their hearts against compassion, mercy, and grace. I believe we will see God's grace covering us during these hard times, and our little will become more than enough when placed in God's hands. As I read your letter, my spirit simply cried out for the Body of Christ and for the portals of heaven to open for the faithful and needy. Your letter needs to go to EVERY pastor and EVERY church; for you have expressed the cries of the church and the hearts of the pastors."
I'll take that as a word...
I'm into metaphors in a parabolical kinda way.
Maybe that's why two Cyndi Lauper songs kept swirling through the noodle while writing earlier today.
So while you're reading, you may want to listen too.
Anyway, here's the letter and you can fill in the blanks and paraphrase as applicable:
These are tough times.
Even people who trust Jesus in all things at all times in all places
with all people are not immune to the stresses of global war,
fainting economies, vocational insecurities, distrust in
government, and all of the other stuff that inhibit every day
from being a hot fudge sundae.
Even people who trust Jesus are acting uncharacteristically
these days; contradicting the peace, unity, and purity of
intimacy with Him and transferring their pejorative pathologies
to others to assuage/avoid personal pain.
Even people who say they trust Jesus are acting like any
connection between them and Him is coincidental; coming
unglued at the slightest sense of insensitivity to their
preoccupations and divorcing themselves from the body -
family of faith - when service above self, a hallmark of
discipleship, loses out to rationalized fidelities.
Or something like that.
Again, these are tough times.
Our church, county, and community are not immune
either; and with a local unemployment rate approaching
15%, so many of our family members and folks related
to ___ are increasingly desperate just to put food on the
Our family of faith, for example, which has depended upon
an endowment for nearly three decades to balance the
budget, pay salaries, enable missions, and the like
has been hit significantly; and coupled with the
giving patterns of the past that haven't always grown
with faith, we're in a heap of trouble.
While we're praying those who "have" will recognize the
needs and dig deeper to "share" in these difficult times,
noting we have many family members and friends who
are already stretching for Him and His, many members
of ___ have lost their jobs, lost big chunks of their
retirements and investments, and don't have a lot of
confidence in what's around the corner for our world,
country, state, county, and community.
To be even more specific, some of the most generous
members of our family of faith have said they cannot
meet their pledges for current expenses or the expansion;
and, again, this means those who have will have to ask
the Lord for the will and wherewithal to step up in these
tough times for those who have not.
While my personal income does not match our family
expenses, forcing my wife to re-enter the work force
with gusto for the first time in our marriage and ministry
together, which we do with gladness in light of these
tough times and respect for those in the same
predicament, I have resisted other offers because of
a passionate call to our family of faith that continues
to grow, deepen, and root despite all of the
aforementioned. I am also writing a book that I
pray will honor Jesus, lead people to Him, and
generate enough $ to meet personal/corporate
expenses, enable expansion, and spread love.
With all of this in mind and prayer, our Mission
Committee and I have reoriented our approach to
"home missions" for this kairos moment. Our
monthly hunger offering as well as "Mission of the
Month" will be reserved and used to provide immediate
relief to members and friends of our family of faith who
are in financial distress and material deprivation.
Certainly, we pray those who have will step up and
make up the differences; and we pray the economic
trends do not continue to inhibit our life and ministry
together to the point that we must cut back even more
and lay off staff members like many sister congregations.
But, again, these are tough times; and waiting for others
to do what our Lord is compelling you to do right now
as you read this will not help.
When I fell in love with our family of faith at ___ nearly
seven years ago - you can ask me about that at a
___ or gathering of ___ - I knew this was it for me. I
knew I would resist more lucrative opportunities that
I did not resist in the past and rely upon Him for all of
our family's needs. I knew I would have very painful
days because of salty discipling postponements that
I inherited but were necessary for ___ to build upon
the best of the past for a more obedient future. I knew
the stream would be coming in even as I would weep
over the trickles out. All of those discernments and
so many more that await their time for apocalypse
have been confirmed in manifold ways.
One more thing; and this is very personal and
I'm not up to it.
I don't have the time or energies for the increasing
demands upon me. I am being pulled in so many ways
by immediate, important, incidental, major, minor,
myopic, and other needs. There doesn't seem to be
enough of me to go around these days.
While my gifts of discernment are a blessing and
curse if you know what I mean, I have never been
able to read minds; so if you need something from
me, please do not rely upon my guesswork! And
please be patient with me in these times of triage.
I do believe He will provide the time and energies for
what He wants me to do: "I can do all things through
Him who strengthens me."
As always, I will be in the hospitals with you when I
know you're there and I will always make time if you
need to sit down and chat over a cup of coffee or
something else that doesn't add to my waistline.
These are tough times.
It is our responsibility to be at His best and
most gracious as others shy, sly, or slither
away from His best and most gracious because
the burdens have become to heavy for them to
Depending upon His grace, we will!
Blessings and Love,
Adding to the excitement, Kopper and the Kopps are headed to obedience school next week.
Actually, I'm not sure who is taking whom.
Just like the rest of this KD, I guess we'll just, uh, see.
Dissing Your Dog - watch more funny videos
Blessings and Love!
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