Krispy Kreme Flavored Sarcasm = Trouble: Pastoral Redemptions

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are delicious! They also make for a great youth ministry sermon illustration. The trick is, knowing where to find the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop.

In 2004 I was a Summer Youth Minister for a church just north of Charlotte, North Carolina. It was an exciting time, and I wanted to make a good impression with my first sermon for the youth. In other words, it was time to borrow my friend Jeff Prosser’s Krispy Kreme doughnut sermon.

The gist of the message is that you use Krispy Kreme’s mission statement and illustrate the importance of intentional living for Christ. Furthermore, you can use the doughnuts themselves as an illustration to “Taste and see that God is good” as stated in Psalm 34:8.  It is a fun sermon and at the close of it, everyone gets to celebrate with a delicious doughnut. My problem was finding the store’s location.

Not being from North Carolina I had to use MapQuest to print-off directions. Yes, during this time I also used dial-up for the internet and would print off my directions. The iPhone and other smartphones would not be released for another three years.

Finally, with my directions literally in hand, I headed off to the next town where the nearest Krispy Kreme was located. I figured this trip will make for a great adventure. Indeed it did.

Trusting my paper made directions they humorously led me to the 18th hole of a golf course with no Krispy Kreme in-sight. Thankfully there was a nearby drugstore that I thought could help.

Once inside I asked the store associates for directions to the Krispy Kreme. As they provided their assistance it was clear that the doughnut shop was on the other end of town. MapQuest was way off, and the employees struggled to provide clear directions too. After a few attempts, they differed to a customer for better assistance.

The customer – who was in street clothes – was introduced to me when the store associate said, “She can help, she knows these streets well as she is a police officer.” She was in street clothes indicating she was off duty.

Once our introduction concluded my sarcastic mouth spoke before I could stop it. I said, “Oh you’re a police officer. Then you MUST know where the Krispy Kreme is located!” Continue reading “Krispy Kreme Flavored Sarcasm = Trouble: Pastoral Redemptions”

Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!

Writing this Pastoral Redemption series has been difficult. When I started, I had over 30 stories that I intended to publish. Despite this goal, I believe that some stories are not meant to be shared…For now. In previous times, I did not feel this noble. No, for years I was bitter about many of my church experiences. I did not see God working through them, so I just wanted to play the victim, and felt that when I trash these churches, I am justified. By God’s grace, He never let me write those stories while I was still bitter. Rather, it is only now that I have been able to write any story with two goals in mind:

  1. Write only stories that are humorous
  2. Write only stories that reflect an element of hope and redemption. Remember “God redeems.”

As a result of these goals, some stories I will not share now. Either they are not amusing enough, or they do not display any redemptive qualities…yet. Continue reading “Concluding Pastoral Redemptions…For Now!”

Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions

Discernment of the Holy Spirit is essential. This skill is one that we never master because there is always room for improvement. Still, it is important for Christians to have a baseline understanding on how the Holy Spirit speaks. If anything, to know how the Spirit does not speak. Otherwise, we may just make important spiritual decisions on our own, which we are sure to get wrong from time-to-time.

Unfortunately, it took two difficult pastorates for me to grow in the area of discernment. In fact, as I look back at one set of church interviews, it was clear that God was shouting to me, “DO NOT GO HERE!” Sadly, like many others, I had to learn through the hard path of experience. Continue reading “Interviewing the Holy Spirit: Pastoral Redemptions”

Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions

Once upon a time, it was thought that I lied to a church about moving into their parsonage. That is not exactly correct. While I failed to communicate my change of mind, I did not lie. These points and more I accept responsibility. More importantly, I am glad for God’s redemption ability despite challenging church leadership and my poor judgment.

As stated in a previous post, “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit,” but many churches believe it is an excellent tool to recruit ministers. In some cases, it still is a significant advantage. More and more pastors though are declining to live in them. Like many in their congregation, they want to build equity for their family’s future, which a provided house does not give. As a result, many churches are choosing to sell their parsonages. However, where I once pastored the expectation was still for the pastor to live in the parsonage.

The conflict over me and their parsonage began when a deacon on the Pulpit Search Committee asked

“Brother Mike, I got a question for you! Are you going to live in our pastorium?!”

On asking his question, there was at least one committee member who interjected against this deacon’s question. His objection centered on the previous pastor who experienced problems when he lived in the home owned by the church. Despite this committee member’s concern, the deacon reiterated with,

“Hey, our former pastor needed to get out. When you resign as the pastor, you need to exit the pastorium sooner than later. Besides, we are better than some churches. I know one church who had the water cut off the next day. We gave the former pastor more time than a day!” 

This scenario was a shock to my senses. Not only did I doubt the long-term benefit of living in any parsonage; the committee was admitting their checkered history with their building. Still, I had to give a response, so I said, Continue reading “Parsing About the Parsonage: Pastoral Redemptions”

Delays: Pastoral Redemptions

The last post on “The Church Parsonage is Not a Benefit” was written to set up the next post. This post will be published on Friday 11-August-2017. The next post deals with a very sensitive subject from the churches I pastored. To represent the full story, accept my responsibility, and show God’s redemption from the story an extra day is needed. It is a massive post with a lot of details, and I want to represent the events and people well. Please come back tomorrow to read it then.

PSA: Psalm 42 & Prayer

Today I’m taking a break from my Pastoral Corrections series to share a written piece from a sermon I preached last Sunday. I pray it is a blessing to you!

Psalm 42 begins with the famous lines, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.” These words from Psalm 42:1 are a beautiful phrase to start off a passage that addresses the opposite extremes of our faith experience.

The Christian faith is filled with many wonders, riches, and joys as we walk with God. These moments make it easy to say, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.” However, life is filled with difficulties that oppose our love for God. There are moments that seem as puzzling as some of the lines in Psalm 42. Lines such as verses 9-10:

“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”
My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”

These lines appear to stand in direct contrast to the psalms opening line that compare a deer panting for water as us longing for God. Yet, they are not in contrast to another; no, they are complimentary.

Most of us would prefer our view of God that matches the initial perceptions we have of Him. We love the idea of a Candyman God who gives us what we always want. But, life is filled with ups and downs that are unavoidable. As a result, we should embrace these inconveniences because they create unique opportunities to deepen our faith in God. Opportunities that will grow our love and trust who is present in every hope and adversity. Such depth then lets us truly long for God like a deer panting for water because we see His goodness in every circumstance, even when life is difficult.

The question then becomes, “How do we move from a shallow faith to one with depth?” Continue reading “PSA: Psalm 42 & Prayer”

The Veggie Boat Tour: Pastoral Redemptions

As a pastor, I get to know a diversity of people. Some of these individuals have hobbies and resources they shared with me and my family.Thankfully, these resources have provided good memories from my time as a pastor. Specifically, this story will cause me to fondly remember speedboats, couples’ communication, and veggie sandwiches.

Now, these people are some of my favorite people I have ever had the chance to pastor. Not only are they still they great supporters of both Amy and me, but we had a lot of values we shared together. Still, though they are friends I will refer to them as Larry and Sara in this amusing story.

Our boat journey began at a local State Park where we would put their boat into the lake. Unfortunately, our entry into the lake would be delayed because Larry forgot the ignition keys. This oversight was already embarrassing enough, but to make matters worse Sara fussed at him with her frustration. As an outsider to their debates I believe she too was embarrassed, but for different reasons.

Fortunately, Larry’s mistake was correctable since they only lived 5 miles away. This fact of convenience did not comfort Sara as she still spoke her mind towards Larry about his error. The fervor she expressed seemed like he had done something much worse. Larry, being the wise man he is decided to stop arguing and drive off to get the keys. Finally, he returned and Larry, Sara, Amy and I were on the lake with only a delay of 30 minutes from our original launch time.

Together, we each enjoyed the rest of the morning. As we traveled over the lake’s water Lary and Sara showed us how close their house was to the lake. Additionally, we saw other landmarks such as favorite dive points to the lake’s wealthier homes. It was a fun time and without incident…until lunch. Remember, earlier Larry suffered his share of embarrassment; now it was Sara’s turn. Continue reading “The Veggie Boat Tour: Pastoral Redemptions”