Wednesday, December 8, 2010

They Never Told Me About New Car Protocol...

It's really amazing that everything thing a Pastor does can come under scrutiny, including his choice of the car he drives. That's why it's described as living in a fishbowl.

I am currently driving a 1998 Mitsubishi Diamante with 166,ooo+ miles on it. Pretty much everything on the car still works. It has a few dings, nothing serious enough to repair. It has an oil leak that I have decided to go ahead and repair pretty soon. The interior is not perfect but there are no major seat tears. The radio works but the antenna is broken and the CD player skips so I don't listen to much music while driving. I have decided there is no one I feel a deep need to impress when it comes to the type of car I drive, so it will be my car as long as I can squeeze a few more miles from it.

I remember a time, though, when I did need to buy a new car. After a bit of shopping, I found a Ford Crown Victoria that I purchased. The following Sunday, I announced the new purchase to our church. I did so a bit tongue-in-cheek just for the fun of it.

I explained that there are two views in a church regarding the Pastor's car. There are some who believe the Pastor should drive a "fine" car that reflects well the position of the church in the community. They want the Pastor "looking good" driving to a wedding or funeral. So, I noted that this was a big, luxury car with all the bells and whistles. It was a nice, comfortable car and everyone in the church could feel their Pastor was doing well.

In the other view, members believe the Pastor should reflect a modest lifestyle. His car should not be ostentatious suggesting perhaps he is too worldly. In fact, some go to the extreme of suggesting he drive an old rust-bucket just to show he is not earthly-minded. I explained to the congregation that even though this was a nice car, it was indeed used, pre-owned. I had not overly spent; I had not paid a new car price.

The members of that church laughed at the humor of my announcement, and honestly would not have had a problem with my purchase, no matter what car I drove. A fun benefit in the ownership of this car was that I often freaked out other drivers who thought an unmarked police car was pulling up behind them. The point of my story is that I am still amazed at the little everyday issues that can get a church all up in arms. There are just a lot more eternal issues to focus on.

I pray you all have a Merry Christmas and will be focused on the eternal values of this Christmas season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I am Salty!

Our family bought it's first TV when I was in the 1st grade. Incidentally, that is when I remember us first having an inside bathroom as well, but that is a story for another time.

Sunday mornings consisted of our family of four getting ready for church. Church was never an option in our family. It was understood by all of us that church is what we did every Sunday morning. Come to think of it, church is what we did every Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday evenings.

I remember that on school mornings we were entertained by listening to the radio while we prepared for school. But on Sunday mornings, we watched TV. Christian TV at that time consisted of Oral Roberts Healing Ministry and Gospel Quartets. I was totally inspired by the Gospel music in particular, and decided at that time I would join a Gospel Quartet and become a Gospel singer. Well, God had other plans for my life, evidenced by the fact I have no musical skill.

Nevertheless, despite my lack of musical talent, I still love music and love worship. I also love to watch children worship. There is something pure and unadulterated in their expression of worship. Children often express truths in worship that we might have missed otherwise.

I will never forget one little 4-year-old boy. He would dress in suit and tie every Sunday. His hair was slicked back and he was the epitome of style. He was a well-behaved boy and loved to sing at the top of his lungs. Boy, could he belt it out.

One of the songs we often sang back then was "I Exalt Thee". That seemed to be his favorite. In his child-like understanding, he would tilt his head back and burst forth in song, "I Am Salty, I Am Salty, I Am Salty, Oh Lord!"

Well, you get the picture. We are SALTY! Enough said.

Have a great day! Make it SALTY!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

All About Ministry

It has been too long since I showed up here. In fact, I have written nothing since we announced Dallise was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. With great thanksgiving I can report that she is doing well and the worst symptom or side effect she has experienced is excessive tiredness, and even with that she has not missed a day of work. I recently spoke to a client who was diagnosed with CML a few years ago. He endured everything from steroid treatment to bone marrow transplant to extensive chemotherapy, and is not a healthy man even today. We have been spared those extreme trials and we are grateful.

Now, with that personal report given, "It's All About Ministry."

I have always preached that wherever you work, whatever you do, that place is a place of ministry. I never had to practice that truth until I stepped into the business marketplace three years ago. I find that there are daily opportunities to speak a word of encouragement, pray with someone or to share my faith. There are people out there who may never step into "my church", but I can take church, no, not church, but Christ, into "my world". That may be the most important thing I can do as ministry.

While it was very difficult to adjust to not being "Pastor", I now find my job, my job ministry, very fulfilling. I have been guilty in the past of passing some degree of quiet, private judgment on those who left formal ministry. I thought they just did not have the stamina or they became jaded or disillusioned with ministry. I thought maybe they were quitters, they were giving in to satanic pressures. They were to be pitied and definitely prayed for. They just didn't have what it took. I have even thought that maybe some of those should never even have been called ministers. We read all the statistics of the numbers of churches that fail and the numbers of those who have left the ministry and we feel saddened by those numbers.

Yet, might it just be possible that God just planned, in His own wisdom and for eternal reasons we might never know in this earth, to use some "old Preachers" to carry His message to a different crowd in a different way than he started out.

I'll admit, this may sound like one "old Preacher" trying to justify his own life journey, but I gotta tell you, this feels pretty right for me at this season of my life. So, please do not feel sorry for me, please do not look at me as one who abandoned The Call. If anything, that Call is stronger than ever and I am feeling a holy liberty to pursue it as long as God gives me life. I have an idea this thing is about to become an even greater adventure than I imagined 35 years ago when I launched into pastoral ministry.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Goodson Prayer Request

Dallise and I have been facing a new challenge in our lives since the end of 2009, and we finally know enough about it to be able to share with our friends so that you may pray for us. It sounds like really bad news at first, but then there is enough good news about the bad news that it is not quite so bad as it will seem at first.

The short story is that Dallise was diagnosed December 31, 2009 with Chronic Myeloid
(or Myelogenous) Leukemia (CML). Obviously, this was scary news. Since then after doing some of our own research and meeting with about three different Dr’s, we have discovered it is not life-threatening and is not terminal. It is a type of leukemia that is completely treatable and manageable.

There is medication, a pill, that will within 18-24 months put the disease into remission. She will still need to take the medicine on an ongoing basis thereafter as the leukemia would return without it. This treatment may produce some side effects, although in terms of cancer treatment, these should be minimal and manageable as well.

Yesterday, she underwent a Bone Marrow Biopsy to establish a baseline for measuring the treatment process. She began taking the medication last night.

While it would be dishonest to say we are at perfect peace about this, it is absolutely true to say that God is daily perfecting our peace. We will not be surprised at all to awaken one fine day to discover that God has completely healed Dallise with no further treatment necessary. If not, we still will daily revel in God’s constant grace and provision for every need.

The website noted below will give you more info if you are interested in details.

Needless to say to you, our friends, we will count on your intercession whenever God brings us to your mind.

Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!

Philip and Dallise

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

They Never Told Me... to prepare for a church service. Now I'm not talking about the sermon preparation, although that can be a challenge in and of itself. Some Ministers love the study, the note-making, the digging. Others love the presentation, getting in front of the crowd, preaching the Word. It seems most Ministers love either the preparation or the presentation, but one of the two is often a little more difficult than the other for most of us. There are times when I really get inspired in the preparation, but mostly I love the presentation.

But, how does one prepare himself for the service itself. The normal and most common activity of many Ministers is to pray until the moment it's time to walk onto the stage. Some ascend the stage, as it is practically named, or more technically, the pulpit, as the music begins. Some pray in some secluded room until the music has ended and the announcements have concluded, then grandly make an appearance. I'm sure it is not nearly as important just when one arrives, as long as he/she is ready and prepared.

Many churches have a Prayer Team, an invaluable team, and I do not say that lightly, who intercedes for the Pastor and the service before and/or during the service. My Prayer Teams always felt it was important for me to join them in our Prayer Room just prior to the service. I tried to accommodate them as I knew it was important.

For me, and I say this knowing that it does not have to hold equally true for everyone, I found myself frustrated and confined in feeling it mandatory to participate every week with this Team. It actually distracted me from my readiness. I'm not against prayer, by any means, but I had already prayed. I had spent the week in prayer asking for God's anointing and guidance. I was ready. I still needed their prayer, their intercessory prayer, for me. The crux of intercession is to pray for another, isn't it? I needed that; I just didn't need to be present always.

After many years of trying to understand my own emotions and needs in this area of preparation, I came to realize that what I most needed right before the service was some face time with our members. I'm a people person. I need conversation, connection, laughter, stories. I had to make connections with the people I most cared for. I just had to satisfy my need to see and be seen. Once I had my people-fix, I was ready to go. It took some time for my Prayer Team to understand and accept my needs, but once they did, I was a free man, and we all understood how to dovetail our needs together.

Maybe this all sounds a bit narcissistic, but, hey, it is what it is. A Pastor at our church just blogged ( A DAY IN THE LIFE WITH PK: NARCISSISM ) about the narcissistic tendencies our modern world of communications - FaceBook, Blogs, Twitter, etc - has produced. He and I decided to become the founding members of the FELLOW NARCISSISTS CLUB.

Currently, Membership applications are being accepted. The only prerequisite is that you understand we all have a little (or a lot) of self to which we must die. "Nevertheless, I live, and the life which I now live, I live in Christ..."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

They Never Told Me About Elder Fights...

We studied Biblical Leadership. We went to Leadership Seminars and Workshops. We read books on Leadership. We watched as mentors dealt with their own church Elders and Deacons. But, still, no one can prepare you for the battles that spontaneously break out when passionate men and women feel strongly about church direction with opposing opinions.

There is an adage that Pastors should never surround themselves just with "Yes Men". I believe that is true, but I have also discovered that every Pastor needs someone who is in agreement and in tune with his heart and vision. It is healthy to have leaders who agree with you. I propose that every Pastor needs a couple of "Yes Men", because it is a given understanding that every Pastor will, without fail, have plenty of "No Men".

Dallise's Dad was a Pastor. In one church he served, the Deacons drove past his house one night and fired a rifle into his house. It happened to be fired into Dallise's bedroom. Fortunately she had not yet gone to bed and no one was hurt, but that's a pretty serious "Deacon Problem".

I have been blessed with some very good leaders and advisers along the way. We still have blessed friendships with many of them. One of those Elders whom I still call my dear friend and with whom I still communicate is Ronnie. He and I have stood toe-to-toe in the church building locked in an intense verbal disagreement. After 30 minutes, we had still not come to an agreement, but we embraced and parted company, both still passionate about our own view of the circumstances.

This "intense fellowship" was not uncommon between the two of us, but we always came back together over lunch at the local hometown restaurant or to play golf. I knew he had my back when the times were tough and he knew I always valued his opinion and input.

There are more stories about Ronnie, but to relate them now means that I would be telling the story according to my own flawed recollections. His memory may recall different details about the same story, and the next thing you know, we would be on the phone arguing over whose version is the most accurate.

Bottom line is that "Yes Men" or "No Men", we all need each other. I have learned to appreciate the divine tension that exists between men consumed by God's calling. So, Ronnie, and all the others with whom I have been privileged to minister, here's to you, the salt of the earth.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Wife Who Keeps Me Straight...

There was a generation of Pastors who were expected to have musically talented wives who would complement the Pastors' preaching skills through the music ministry. They were hired as a package, though the wife was generally never compensated monetarily.

Dallise, my wife, has a degree of music competency. In fact, she has a great heart for leading worship, and has led in various seasons of our pastoral ministry. However, it is not her passion and it is not the greatest asset she brings to the churches I've pastored.

She is wonderfully able to take my big picture-no detail plans and turn them into organized success. For example, it is common that I might step onto the stage on a Sunday morning and announce to the church, with no prior warning to Dallise, that we are going to have a church dinner on a certain date. When we get home, she asks, "Who is going to bring the food, the drinks, the plates, the condiments?" In other words, what about the details? My answer is always that it will just work out, but she knows better. So she gets busy with the list making, the delegating, the planning; and it always results in a fabulous event, all because of her.

But, I have to say the most fun and most humorous assistance she brings to the church family is her insistence in keeping me on track. I'm a storyteller and have a tendency to travel far afield from my sermon point as I chase one rabbit trail after another.

Dallise has always sat just to the right of center aisle on the second pew. She knows me all too well and early on developed her own series of subtle hand signals to get me back on point. Because I often ignored her subtleties, she was forced to become more and more overt in getting my attention. As a result, every church we have pastored picked up on her signals and many, if not most, of the congregants soon joined her in giving me the "fingers-slashed-across-the-throat" signal. This signal is universally recognized as the "cut" sign, meaning stop the current thought; it is not appropriate to go there. Or maybe you can visualize her "rolling-the-hand-in-circular-motion-in-front-of-her-face" signal, meaning move it along, pick up the pace.

Alas, I may have never finished a sermon or a Bible Study in our Small Group if it were not for her signals, although once again in Small Group all the members have joined her in keeping me on track.

What a wife! I love her and need her. She keeps me straight!

What about any of you other ministers? What signals do you get from your wives intended to keep you straight?