Get in the boat…with Todd…

It was probably 20 years ago…not exactly sure about the date but the word was unmistakable…


“Get in the boat with Todd”…it was a clarion call from heaven and I had no way to do it really…


Since that time I have had to process a lot of really interesting twist and turns connected with that initial script from heaven…


First off…me…I ended up being divorced and rather preoccupied with raising my four daughters and one son as a single parent…little hard to “get in the boat” in that context, heck it was hard just raising them without anyone getting lost or damaged too much along the way…


So I was distracted…yet resolved to be obedient when I could lay aside other more pressing agendas…


I have no regrets about that decision…


Second there was the whole derailment thing of Todd…see as far as I could tell Todd kinda went off the reservation so to speak…and it was completely understandable…losing his son…divorcing…life can create train wrecks that stop traffic in both directions and ruin the land for a long time…


I have recently visited a blog that is a tribute to Todd and Deann… their influence was primary in shaping who I have become as a believer…they were the first “Apostolic” pastors I encountered and it was  the very first church I chose as an independent adult of 18…


I met Ern Baxter in their home, I was introduced to Sophal Ung and he stayed with me in my little house in Tucson the impact is still part of my being.


Todd was the first Pastor I had who was not my dad…


I had moved away from home to OKC and found this amazing church called New Covenant Community, “Tippy (Earl) Stewart and Mike Torbett and Todd and Deann…who had been missionaries to Cambodia and India and now were helping plant missionaries all over the globe in Bern, in Bogota, Hawaii etc…I knew if I stayed I would go…I would have ended up in Thailand or Columbia or Europe somewhere…its what he did…he sent out missionaries, many of them never returning…


The Lord sent me on another path though…and I ended up reconnecting a few years later as a Pastor on my own…


Still the influence of passionate lovers of God resounded in my soul and shaped my future…


Then life happened…or in some fashion…death…death of a marriage, a ministry, a dream…death of a status and an icon…ministries that once were lighthouses of hope seemed extinguished and there were plenty of rocks around them that you could go ship-wreck upon…


And this is where the grace showed up…when God doesn’t heal, when things don’t work out, when hopes are dashed and the light goes out and there is no anchor strong enough to hold you in the storm…


Grace is that wonderful small voice that refuses to shout above the wind that says God is always good, He is always love, and He is deeply connected to you in spite of the lonely dark and cold vise around your heart…




Grace says, trust Him in the mystery…


Trust Him when it makes absolutely no sense…


Trust Him when it is impossible…


Trust Him even if He does not deliver you…


Trust Him if you never see the healing…


Trust Him when you see a loved one take the last breathe this side of heaven…


Trust Him when she walks out of your life for good…


Trust Him when the dreams are so shattered you cut yourself just picking up the pieces…


Trust Him when the best friend you ever had hates your guts…


Trust Him…in the mystery…


Trust Him when the plans don’t work out, the road dead-ends, the check does not show up, the car breaks down, the promise gets forgotten, the door remains shut, the bill stays unpaid, the pain remains…


Trust Him in the mystery of no answers when you desperately need an answer even if its “no”…


This capacity, born of grace, to trust Him in the mystery and to hold onto faith in spite of all odds against it is what defines us as Abraham’s offspring…and it is this capacity born in the furnace of adversity that will make us heirs of the world…


So…I now get to fulfill the Macedonian call…even if Todd has gone on to his reward…I get to “get in the boat with Todd”…


Its about Missions…its about thinking outside the box…its about dynamic revival and miracles and covenant models and since Todd is not here, its my version now…the boat…it always belonged to Jesus…


Who’s ready for an adventure?

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On the Margins…

Sting, whose music I have always been a fan of, discusses the use of silence in music as being one of the more critical elements… actually he basically suggest that the song is really just a frame around the silence, and that is the most important part, and for us in the west it is an uncomfortable part.


It is important in life to take a moment on occasion and stare hard into the margins…stand back and look intently at the edges of life, the undefined and foggy perimeters that we normally discard in order to pursue our goals…and sometimes when you do that you become aware that the margins are really the actual thing and not the focus that you have been following.


As  believer I have had to do this recently and the picture that emerged was startling to say the least…it disrupted my mode of life and the model it was riding in.


I have been driven my entire life to build up, create, sustain, encourage and maintain the body of Christ, I started when I was 2 and my Dad became a Pentecostal Pastor, and I graduated into that world without even thinking about it, it has always been “what you do”…no questions asked.


The particular model of life that emerged from this penumbra of circumstance was basically joined without much thought or question, as is normal for most of us.


I had a room mate in college who told me I was only a Christian because I grew up in the USA and my parents were Pastors, my response was “No I am a believer because God appeared to me when I was six years old”…which was my conversion experience…no sinners prayer, no one else in the room, just me and the Son of God standing above the doorway demanding my allegiance…my Mom wrote it in my baby book after I went in and told her what had happened.


I have never once seriously doubted the existence of God from that moment on…but it has not stopped doubt from creeping into how I relate.


Recently…I have been forced to the margins and have had some rather intense conversations with many who are sharing the same journey in various stages of map-less anxiety as you cross over boundaries you never thought you would encounter.


One such boundary is how we are currently expressing body-life and the authority structure that sustains it…I  have had to revisit margins of how we do church and as I stand back and look at it I realize this is the seedy part of the shape…control, submission, money, worship, even actual physical architecture are pointing to some rather ugly realities, realities I would not have visited if I had not decided to launch out into the “land that I will show you”…


As long as we continue to sustain a top down hierarchy instead of an “among” position of empowerment, until we release resource and value instead of collect it, when we stop imposing submission to one particular vision and instead become enraptured with the journey and story of our fellow combatants, the amount of life we draw from the body of Christ will be a small cup of juice sucked through a stirring stick as my friend Ryan would say.


There’s an old adage “If its not broken don’t fix it” that seems to be the main focus of the church in the west…but we should not ignore the margins of “if its not working, its broken”…


The margins are really what you see when you back away from the intrinsic and captivating…its the forest not the trees that will stand out in our history.


My point is probably this: God is pushing many of the Levites out into the margins, and it would be good for us to remember that God very rarely showed up where we expect Him…it was Moses and a bush out in the desert, Gideon hiding in a wine-press, David out in the sheep fold, a feed trough in a manger and religious Zealot persecuting the Way…if we ignore the margins and the truth they blatantly declare we just might find our wicks burned out and we have run out of oil at just the wrong time because the focus and redundant rhythm of life lulled us to sleep when we least expected it.


Maybe you aren’t there yet…if not that’s ok…but you should at least check out the reality of what is on the edge of the city you live in…you just might hear the cry of the fatherless and the weeping of the widow and I know these are the things God is concerned about, don’t let the din of the traffic dull your ears to what is coming from the desert.

Chapter available

I am posting a chapter from my book on divorce online for a while so anyone can read it.


It is completely unedited at this point, but I do have Cindy Hansen and Marlene Cole as well as my daughter Leahbeth Payne to thank for ideas and input on structure, flow and content.


It is completely raw, but I believe the concepts are critical for any divorced person to grasp and there is very little along this line of thinking available.


I will eventually make the file private again so the editing can be done by people armed with words and word-processors.


It is a rather long chapter…actually REALLY long…which may be adjusted by smarter people than I.


There will be three versions available, a pdf, a word, and a pages document.


here’s the link:


pdf

Word

Pages

Feel free to comment, understanding that all comments require approval and I don’t always see them when they are posted, but I will read all of them.


Thanks!