Bill Thomas was associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Madisonville for over a decade and served as its musical director. He’s no longer there. Bill did nothing wrong. Even though, many people believe he was terminated. According to a statement made by Joe Leonard, the church’s pastor, Bill was not fired, he resigned. It’s just that Bill happened to resign shortly after his wife wrote a news article that ticked off about half the community.
Bill’s wife, Angela Thomas, wrote a column accusing the Southern Baptist Convention of being “raging Shiite Baptists” for opposing the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to welcome gay recruits and members. She also included that, “Santa and the Easter bunny are simply the devil in disguise and cable television and the Internet are his playground. The Boy Scouts are his evil minions.”
This is not a blog about the Boy Scouts’ decision. This is an article about Pastor Thomas’ departure from his church. Many believe, as do I, he was “encouraged to resign” as a result of his wife’s actions.
When I interview for a church, I know that my wife is being considered. It’s a strange thing this life of ministry. I remind the church that there are to be no expectations of my wife. I am the one being hired, not her. And yet, there is a kind of Abraham and Sarah relationship between us and the church I serve.
God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of a nation. Yet that covenant required Sarah to bear a child. A church hires me and yet, that covenant between me and the church is not complete without my wife. If my wife is not a good fit for the community I serve I can’t in good faith take the job.
In Bill Thomas’ case, his wife did something that many could not tolerate. Something they felt was bad enough that Bill himself should be let go from his position as associate pastor. Even though, he did nothing wrong.
What do you think? Should a pastor be let go because of what his/her spouse does? Can you separate the spouse’s behavior from the pastor they’re married too? In other words if one disgraces the church, must they both go? Read article at examiner.com
The Biblical character Nehemiah is known for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after it had been destroyed. You would think that building a wall to protect a city would not be a complicated task. But the challenges that Nehemiah faced seemed disproportional to the goal he set.
The wall not only served as protection, but as a boundary. And boundaries provide us with several things.
BOUNDARIES GIVE A SENSE OF SELF
When Nehemiah heard the walls were down he knew that Israel was without boundaries I don’t just mean boundaries made of brick and mortar Israel had lost a sense of self. Because Israel’s wall was down, it was hard to tell if they were really serious about; Their safety, Their relationship with God, How they identified themselves as Israelites.
When we don’t have boundaries, it’s hard to tell where we begin and end. Boundaries remind us of where we draw the line when it comes to our actions, our finances, our values. Occasionally our worldview or our sense of identity is tested and our boundaries shift. That’s when we realize we are redefining ourselves.
BOUNDARIES CAN BRING CRITICISM
Once we begin to set our boundaries, there will always be some kind of attack in the form of criticism.
Nehemiah and his workers were verbally attacked the entire time they rebuilt the wall. They were mocked. They were ridiculed. They were told if a fox jumped on the wall, the whole thing would come crashing down. Nehemiah 4:3
It doesn’t matter what you believe in. There will be someone who does not share your values. There will also those who will mock you for your values. I don’t know why some people criticize others. I do know that if you know your boundaries, you can handle the criticism.
BOUNDARIES BRING BULLIES
When making fun of the work didn’t slow down the construction, those who didn’t want the wall began to threaten an attack. Nehemiah 4:11
In other words, Nehemiah and his crew were bullied. Threats are more threatening when our boundaries are weak. Boundaries may bring bullies, but strong boundaries protect us from attack.
BOUNDARIES BRING TEMPTATION
Once we know our boundaries we know what we can or cannot do. And as humans, once we know what we shouldn’t do, we’re always tempted to do it. It’s natural to think that the grass is greener on the other side
When Nehemiah was at work rebuilding the wall he faced constant temptation to walk away from it
While he was in the process of establishing boundaries, Nehemiah’s enemies constantly tempted him to go outside of them. Nehemiah 6:1-4 Nehemiah knew this was a trap. He kept working and said he was too busy to walk away from such an important task. It’s kind of a funny conversation: “Leave your work!” “I can’t, I’m too busy working on it!”
Take a look at the symbolism here. Nehemiah is establishing boundaries and he’s being tempted to step outside of them.
It’s not safe outside the boundary. It’s safe inside the boundary.
FIRM BOUNDARIES PROVIDE CLARITY
Throughout his experiences, Nehemiah remained focused on building that wall… setting that boundary. Because that wall, that boundary, gave clarity to whom the Israelites were.
They were not one to be mocked by others.
They were not to give in to the temptation of others.
When that wall was completed it symbolized the tenacity of the Israelites.
When that wall was going up Nehemiah was focused on the wall and the boundaries it represented. He was not focused on the attacks, the criticisms, the temptations
Nehemiah was focused on what the boundaries represented. The boundary for Nehemiah brought clarity: To Nehemiah’s identity as an Israelite, His purpose for God’s plan, Who was against it and who he needed to avoid.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES?
Take some time to think about your boundaries. Do you know what they are? They help define you. Knowing your boundaries will help you know yourself. They will bring clarity to what you value. And when they are challenged, you will know where you stand.
Most people believe in God. In fact, 9 out of 10 Americans answer “yes” when asked the question, Do you believe in God?
Another study shows that less than 2 out of 10 people regularly attend church.
Somewhere there is a disconnect between believing in God and participating in a church. People are leaving the church. Many of these people feel like they need to recover from their experiences. Enter Recovering from Religion.
Recovering from Religion is a group of atheists who plan to start a 24 hour 1-800 hotline to counsel people struggling with religious doubts. It’s an opportunity for people questioning their faith to talk to someone.
The idea may be crazy genius. It certainly will provide someone to talk to in a faith crisis. But should the person that helps you in your faith struggle be devoid of faith themselves? I can at least tell you this; the receiver on the other end won’t be struggling in their faith. Perhaps in a weird way, that makes them qualified.
What do you think? If you struggled with your religious views would you be comfortable talking with your pastor about it? Do you have a friend strong enough in the faith to talk to? Or would calling a self described, trained atheist be an option?
I never really struggled with my belief in God. But sometimes it seems that religion challenges my relationship with Him. This may sound a little on the Mad side, but come Christmas, when I’m working on several services and dealing with religious business that oftentimes doesn’t have much to do with the birth of Jesus, I may just pick up the phone and dial. (Complaints and hate mail may be sent to email@example.com)
We're not inclined to make a change in our life if we are complacent. Often times, real change comes when we are dissatisfied with the way things are. Have you ever seen a group of picketers with signs that say, "Our pay is adequate”? Of course not! People go on strike when they have become so dissatisfied with some level of employment that they join the picket line.
Sometimes we have to reach a point of dissatisfaction that makes us ready for change. Dissatisfaction leads to change. Complacency on the other hand is dangerous. It keeps us places that are not safe.
Dictionary.com defines complacency as: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger.
Do you ever think of becoming more? Or are you just satisfied enough to stay where you are? That is the danger of complacency. It robs us of vision… for a better future, for a better life. While the life that awaits us passes by, a life that deprives us of memories swallows us up.
This may sound crazy but if you want to be happier you need to start being dissatisfied with where you are. Acknowledge that good enough is no longer good enough. Turn your good enough into great.
It's the day after my last day. Do I really look that tired? I'm going to Galena, IL to unwind and rest up. Come with me!
It's hard to believe but Sunday finally arrived. It was a day full of hugs, kisses, laughter and tears.
It's Saturday of my final week as pastor at Bethany Church. If you know the days of your week you know that I have to preach my final sermon in one day. I think I'm ready.
Happy Monday. It's been a long weekend and I had hoped to put together one video for Friday and Saturday and then a final video for my final Sunday with Bethany. But with so much going on, here's most of my adventure from Friday. Saturday and Sunday are coming soon.
It's Thursday of my final week at Bethany. I need chips and salsa.
It's Wednesday of my final week with Bethany. Will I find the faith and courage I need?