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Monday, May 26, 2008

Hard as Nails

I have just been totally and utterly inspired. It is my first day off and, surprisingly, I woke early so I decided to get up. I flicked on the TV and caught a documentary made my HBO about a radical unordained Catholic Minister from Syracuse, New York, called Justin Fatica.

This man is walking talking 24/7 passion for Jesus. With the journey I am on right now and seeking ways to share my love for Christ as I drive the taxi this was a divine appointment.

Check out www.hanm.org for further info. If you are in the US or Canada you might be able to get HBO. I saw it on Showcase on the Foxtel network in Australia. If you want to be challenged and confronted then get a hold of it.

This is a man and a ministry that gets right in the face of troubled teens in a way that can be offensive at times but they get to the heart of what it is to live 24/7 for the one who died for the WHOLE world. As I meet more and more lost people I am realising that I need to be bolder in sharing my faith and the hope that is found in Jesus.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Passengers

The taxi driving is wonderful. Last night I met a man who was a doctor in both senses i.e. a doctor of medicine with a doctorate. He was a pathologist with an interest in molecular biology. As we proceeded with our discussion over the course of a 20 minute taxi ride it became clear that he was also a Christian.

He was very open about talking of the complexity of the universe and his own discoveries at a molecular level and how science was appreciating the complex design of the universe at every level. He has taken one of my taxi cards and we will meet up again in the future.

I am still interested in the fact that whenever I mention that I am an ordained Baptist pastor I get no negative reaction whatsoever. The issues that people have are always with Church as an institution. I am not attending a church at this time and working through where I should be as far as a Christian community is concerned. My in-laws wrote a letter to the church leadership supporting me fully and the letter was read to the Diaconate and I have not had one person contact me. It seems that the church has put the allegations against me into the "too hard basket" and are getting on with the business of church.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Over Church


Before I begin...thanks to all those who have supported me in this time with comments here or personal emails. I have really appreciated it.

I attached an image of a derelict church because in some ways it depicts how I feel at this point in time. As I drive around I meet many people who are interested in Jesus and faith in general but who see the institution of the Church as an archaic monument to former customs.

When I go driving I pray for God's presence and blessing and I am conscious that I am being Jesus to all those who come my way. It is a challenging and liberating time as I seek to live my faith outside of the confines of a local church.

I have a great fellowship of believers but they are scattered across Newcastle, Sydney and further afield. I have prayer support, love and people with whom I can confess my struggles. I have all that is needed of a Christian community but I don't "attend" a building on a Sunday. I am still working through the future ramifications of this as a Christian and a pastor but it is certainly a spiritually enriching time.

If you have any comments please send them my way because I want to be wise and to grow through this time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trials

7 weeks ago life was going along smoothly. I was preaching once a month and people were responding well to the messages. I was due to preach for 3 weeks in a row to cover for the pastor's holidays and many people had told me that they were looking forward to my sermons.

I had finished my application to become a taxi driver and my intention was, and still is, to use this as a means of earning income but also to evangelize and speak to a wide variety of people about issues of faith and life.

Around this time I had a visit from the police. An extremely serious allegation had been made about me by a family in the church. I later found out that the police only told me part of the allegations but the full scope of the issue soon came to light. The police and the other government body involved both told me that there was absolutely no evidence and after 20 minutes said that they definitely would not be pursuing the case against me. As far as the legal authorities went it was case closed.

The only other question the policeman asked me was whether this family had a grudge against me to which I answered "no". I had no reason to think that someone would try to ruin my life and my reputation. The police officer advised me to stay away from this family which I have done.

The response of the church has been altogether different. I am an ordained Baptist pastor with a wife and 3 young boys. I have my issues but I have always sought to live with integrity. The wife of the family in question went around telling people of the allegations as if they were fact although they had been legally dismissed as groundless. People in the church began to believe her without taking to either myself or my wife. Thus began the hardest part of this journey so far. People stopped talking to me; someone emailed the pastor and said that they would attend church if I was still there; I was asked not to preach for the 3 week holiday cover and, finally, after a leadership meeting, I was asked to step down from all of my ministries until the allegations were "proved or disproved". This, in spite of the legal authorities telling me that reports were being written clearing me of any wrongdoing.

At the present time I am not attending a church. I have been driving taxis for 2 weeks now and have had many, many opportunities to share my faith and to speak generally about issues of faith and belief. This is my church right now. My wife is very hurt by the church's response to this issue. Since the leaders meeting we have not had one phone call from the pastor.

As I speak to people in the taxi the general complaints are not against God, Jesus or faith in general it is with the Church. People see the Church as dogmatic and judgmental. At the present time who am I to argue? All that I can do is to continue my call to love those who Jesus loved. I have forgiven the church and those involved and wait for the time when the truth is fully revealed but for now I will continue to be Jesus to the lost. Please pray for us at this time.