Friendship Strained

Hebrews 10:24 Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.

Have you ever had it happen where you knew someone and you did things together, but all of a sudden they dropped off from your life? Being a pastor, we have it happen quite often. It is one of the hardest relationships with people to navigate, but it is also the most rewarding. Like anyone else, if I did not get joy out of seeing the light come on (fresh revelation being revealed to them personally) then I would not be doing it.

Yesterday, my husband and I were walking around a local thrift store. He is a big thrifter and likes to find items to resell. My kids and him have a Youtube channel called Bama Pickin’ and Grinnin (click on the link to see what they have been up to). I saw someone out that I had not seen in years. I went up to them and said hello. I was met with, “I did not know you were in here,” as their eyes darted in all directions but me. I complimented her on some things and then went on my way. I wondered, what had I done to muster such a look of discomfort from an old friend.

My question was, did I offend them? What stronghold are they holding on against me? Then my heart hurt for them. I never want to spur others to anger. I want to do what the above scripture says. I prayed their hearts would be softened to the Holy Spirit and prayed Luke 6:36-37 (AMP) over them and myself: Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful. Do not judge [others self-righteously], and you will not be judged; do not condemn [others when you are guilty and unrepentant], and you will not be condemned [for your hypocrisy]; pardon [others when they truly repent and change], and you will be pardoned [when you truly repent and change].

There are always two sides to a story (more than one perspective). When we do sit down and talk to each other, really listen to each other. Just because a person has a different perspective than you does not mean they are your enemy, or that they are wrong (this is not talking about the Word of God). The body of Christ is stronger when it is unified and not divided in an issue. So let us (Ephesians 4:32 in the amplified) Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Is it really worth holding onto something for so many years? Is it really worth losing compassion? Is it really worth hardening your heart? Christ forgave me, therefore, I need to be readily and freely ready to forgive others.

A new thing

Isaiah 43:18-19 (AMP) Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

As I was ministering Sunday I said something over my church that I regret. I told them I could not share the complete vision of the next steps because of some of their doubt and unbelief. I regret these words. I repent for these words. Those words are no longer true. Those words came out of a hurt that I still have not worked all of the unforgiveness out of.

Those words came out of a hurt that I still have not worked all of the unforgiveness out of.

My husband and I took over as the lead pastors in 2013. The very last service, that marked the transition, a couple walked up to us and let us know that it would be their last service. They said, “we do not want to attend church with the type of people you will attract.” My husband and I thought, great they stirred up strife anyways.

The next blow came from a couple that left that were big supporters. We did not know how much input this couple had in the goings on in the church before our leadership. When my husband corrected them on coming up to him every service to critique his message, they left. We were in shock.

Then there was our core team. We did our best to listen, and communicate, how the transition was going. We did our best to give them tools to succeed. We were told, “This is your baby, do not expect us to love your baby the way you do.” Most of that “core” is gone now.

Then there were the ones who submitted to the former pastor, not you. They tried it, he was their pastor. If we were really going to change our church, why not use the model of the successful church in town. If you are going to succeed as a pastor, you need to be full time. Eventually, we pulled back. We took a different approach, with very little expectations. If you do not have big expectations, then you cannot get disappointed, right?

Before our property sold in March of 2019, I had gotten a phone call December 31, 2018 about an offer of one third our asking price. I laughed at our realtor and told him, you know my answer is no. That evening we had a worship service to ring in the new year. We had a guest speaker who also operates in the prophetic. It was an amazing night of worship. His message was on point for the vision that my husband had given at the beginning of that year. It was the year of “suddenly.” Then he looked at me and said that the property would sell, not to worry. Then he made a statement that I did not understand, until I spoke my words on Sunday. In two years time, this church will not be in the same place it will look completely different.

Sometimes when we think of a church, we think of a building, a physical structure. Actually, it is a people. When God reminded me of those words, I was reminded that this church does look completely different. God has placed a big dream inside of us for the church in our community. It can be pretty scary and overwhelming from looking at our natural resources. He would not have given us this vision if it could not be done though…”We exist to touch the world through our community.” I have to stand on these words:

Father we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. Show us what to do and guide us with your hand upon us. Fill us with the knowledge of your will so that we can walk in a way that pleases you. (Paraphrased from 2 Chr. 20, Col.1:9-10)     

Isaiah 43:18-19 (AMP) Do not remember the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.     

Amos 9 (MSG) Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening all at once – and everywhere you look, blessings! 

Father, I want to believe, help me with my unbelief. Help me with my words. Help me with my thoughts. Help me see your people the way you see them. Help me with my unforgiveness. You are the only one who can heal my wounds. You are the only one who can do the work within me, so that your purpose can be fulfilled through me. In Jesus Name, Amen.