Sunday, November 9, 2014


Positive excitement in your life does not necessarily equate with contentment. Three years into our new adventure as Pastor of then Crestline Bible Church this young pastor was in the pits. Construction on our own facilities atop Shades Mountain underway, a church family loving their way into my heart (easily, because of who they were), excitement over what God was doing...and me miserable. Self examination for hidden sin produced no biggies. Intimate family relationships - solid as a rock. I did the pop (and not so pop) psychological cure all and looked at my family of origin. While all parents face the awesome reality that we do reproduce after our own kind, the kind of my origin were loving by touch and words, affirming, had been there for me, and did not leave any gaping holes in my psyche.

So what was it?  The answer was God taking me off by myself to spend time in His Woodshed of Grace and Truth (John 1:14).   In the awesomeness of His healing Presence in those more than sacred moments, God brought me face to face with three critical issues in which I needed to embrace His perspective, not my conclusions, no matter the source of those conclusions. Years of dealing with struggling often struggling against they know not what, but with angst of spirit creating a constant sense of inner dissatisfaction...taught me that relief from this burden of soul weariness comes hard.  But if it does not come, enjoying our freedom in Christ will be a distant dream.

First, though raised in a home full of love, God's love for me with no strings attached was only a theological concept, not a practical, practiced truth. Then God exposed to me a plague ravaging saints serving around the world - we operate in our sphere of service in a PBA mode. Performance Based Acceptance, which being interpreted means we consciously or unconsciously believe God is pleased with us and loves us to the degree we function (jumping through certain pre-set hoops) and are "successful'  or acceptedly spiritual as measured by some standard pit on us by our parents, church, organization, our particular Christian culture, or even ourselves. That brought me to the third issue needing God's perspective; The church I pastored was not mine. It was His, period. He would build it, not me. If He wanted to burn it down, He would. And He did not need my permission. He, in His purposes, could split it wide open, or cause it to burst at its' proverbial seams to the point this Mississippi KISS person could not handle it. It was His church, not mine.

So, from that point on, when people would ask, "How's the church doing", usually thinking bodies, bucks, and buildings, my response was - Heaven will tell.  For the true issues are not the Big 3, but the spiritual dynamics taking place in hearts which should be experiencing personal encounters with the living God who comes to us as a no strings attached lover and with His adequacy for a life well lived, not PBA demands. I threw off the yoke of PBA and embraced His love. God's gentle touch affirmed me as "I am what I am by the grace of God, and His grace was not wasted on me." (I Cor. 15:10).  God's pit delivering words were; "Mick, you are not omni-competent, omni-gifted, or omni-anything. Live with it. Be you, Mick. You'll be surprised how I can use an earthen vessel".

That week left me a free man. From people's expectations, pressure to perform, counterfeit crosses, and Satan's condemnation shouted full voiced from self, saints, even society. But until Heaven calls my name, the days ahead, though overflowing with His no strings attached love, must be driven by raw obedience to His commands (and they are not hard to be borne). Because for me, when a brother shakes my hand and asks, "How're ya'll doing?" the answer - in truth - is not "fine" but "Heaven will tell."

Not because I have to (PBA), but because I yearn for it (no strings attached love), I want what Heaven tells about this earthen vessel to please Him.