“COME TO ME with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year. Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
This excerpt, from Sara Young’s “Jesus Calling”, for this first day of January really spoke to me. The last year has been one of great change for me and many I know. It was filled with many emotional moments, teachable moments and calls for change.
I feel as though I survived 2015.
God was good and has been there, of course, every step of the way. However, as I sit this morning and ponder just how much I was actually there every step of the way. I think I was far too often a bit out of step.
I don’t know if you have periods like this, but I suspect that you do, that we all do. Times when we feel that we are not meeting God’s plan for our lives. Times when we feel that we are just trying to survive and not trying to think about thriving in the process.
Yet, we are not called to this form of living. We are called to life FOR Christ, not to survive With Christ. He wants us continually striving for something more. Looking forward, and striving for where He wants us, not surviving the world around us. We are called for a higher purpose.
Now, I say this in hindsight, as I truly feel that I simply survived this last year (and most probably the two preceding it). My strife has continually been work related. Others have had health issues, or family issues, we each have our “demons.”
Yet too we are all teachable and more importantly changeable. However, what I am learning is that striving in my own power is not, has not and will not work. I must allow Christ to work in, through me so that He is changing/teaching me and it is not of my own “work” that this change happens. In fact without Christ at the center of it, change will not come!
I have struggled for too long, maybe you have as well. Trying to do it in your own way, but not clearly looking for Christ to change you. To open yourself to Him changing that which must change first and be of Him; your mind and your heart.
This year, 2016, I am opening myself to His change, to His plan. I am tired of trying to “do” it myself.
Lord Change Me
This is a slightly modified (my modifications in italics) reprint from an article by Jared Moore, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY, on the web site “The Aquila Report” (www.theaquilareport.com).
Published September 15th, 2013;
The blessings of ministry far outweigh the realities below; however, ministry is definitely not easy. Don’t waste your time and money going to seminary or college for pastoral training if you are not prepared for the negative aspects of ministry mentioned below. Furthermore, always remember that God has called you to love His church, not merely His mature church, but His immature church as well. Moreover, a call to ministry is a call to bleed.
If you enter
pastoral Biker ministry…
10. Not everyone will like you.
9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.
8. You will feel like a failure often, and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.
7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition. Yet, your greatest enemy will be your own heart (Jer. 17:9).
6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same message: one in joy, another in anger.
5. You will be criticized,
rarely often to your face, and most frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you…. your ministry partners, bikers who ride a different brand of bike than yours, your family, your friends, people you meet on the street and those you are wanting to serve in every walk of life.
4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.
3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews. You shouldn’t be surprised by the sight of your own blood. You’re a Christian, after all (Matt. 16:24).
2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far in-between. Because of the ”super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.
1. You will probably
pastor a church ride with a motorcycle ministry that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors members come and go, doesn’t respect the ANY position as Biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s, or elder, or leader, or worker jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).
However, if you hang in there, hold out and strive day after day to reach just an inch higher while continually looking upward (especially when you are on your knees and down and out), you will one day hear that for which we all strive – “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
Which will make it all worthwhile!
My son and his wife left yesterday to make a two day journey to his duty station to begin his career in the Navy. My pride over his decision to serve our country knows no bounds. As I have said many times throughout life it is my one true regret, not having served. I have the utmost respect for our troops.
However, my son was not looking forward to two days of driving to get there.
Tonight I am on a plane headed to work out of town for the week. I have some of his trepidation, but for a different reason. Traveling by motorcycle or car are my preferred modes of transportation. At 6’6” planes are quite restrictive and even getting up to walk about does little to alleviate the cramps I tend to get. Tonight’s flight is not all that bad even though it is a smaller plane, mainly because it is a relatively short flight.
I think, and read frequently, about taking long trips especially via motorcycle. There is a freedom that can be gained by packing your bike up and just heading out to a distant locaation.
I used to get very hung up on having just the right bike with the right setup to be able to do this. However, having read about people taking everything from a Vespa to a Harley to the ends of the earth, what you ride is really far less important.
The art to traveling, be it by motorcycle, walking or any other mode of transportation is in the going. Rarely are the stories about the destination but about all of the experiences in between.
The Christian journey is much the same although both the journey and the destination hold great significance.
Our job on this journey while we are on the road is to continually point the way to the One who is both the path and the destination.
Thus, every waypoint upon our journey has fascinating people to meet and experiences to have just as long as we are continuing to point the way.
Yet, just like on a long motorcycle trip there are going to be rain days, deep cold or extreme hot. Each is a life experience that God takes us through so that we might help others with our experience when they are dealing with the struggles along the road of life.
Understanding each day is an invitation to journey along the path we have been given to reach other intrepid travelers on or looking for the path.
The fact that that path can be on a motorcycle is just icing on the cake!
At 6’6” I stand out. Just a bit. Thus, when I am in my “Colors” I become a beacon to those around me about what I stand for.
I wanted it this way. I wanted a ministry that was a beacon to those who were hurting. I wanted a way that, no matter where I was people would be drawn to the cross.
This “beacon” can only be lit by the light of Christ love and without that source of light “I am nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”.
In short as the old saying goes “It is darkest at the base of a light house.”.
I use these metaphors to give you a clear picture that if Christ is not the clear message we send, the clear ember that burns bright within us, then we are hollow. We do not serve as the beacon we were meant to be, in “Colors” or not.
We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of “putting on” Christ only when we are “doing” our ministry. Whether you wear Colors or not we, as Christians, tend to wear our Christianity like a garment.
We put it on and take it off when it suits us. Yet, a lighthouse can be nothing other than a lighthouse. If it is not a lighthouse it is simply a tall structure with an unlit source of guidance at the top and a hollow core. Yes, it may stand for what it once was, and stand against the raging of the sea, but it provides no purpose.
I have been guilty of this. I have allowed myself to put on my cloak of many colors and strode around when it suited me, only to take it off when it did not.
When we accept Christ and our role in the Christian community we are given a guide, the source of that light which lives within us and is an ever-present helper. To think that we can remove an organ when we do not need is as much a fallacy as removing the Spirit when it suits us.
Thus, we grieve the Spirit with our actions and He must either turn aside or be present during our absence. If we are true believers, I think, He is present and one of the many sins Christ had to endure on the cross is heaped further on the pile.
Consider your Christian “Colors” as a tattoo that everyone can see, 100% of the time, emblazoned on your forehead. Ask yourself, is my beacon shining a light to Christ love or to my fallen nature.
Be the beacon.
Typically, we do not have to be asked twice to saddle up. You have somewhere cool to ride, or just somewhere to ride in general and we are typically all in!
Over the years Sidecar and I have learned that every destination can hold a potential ministry opportunity. We call them “Divine Appointments”.
Rarely do we stop and put the kickstands down that we are not approached by someone wanting to know what we are doing or needing prayer.
But this is where our ministry happens. We like going to church like everyone else, but we are not called to be there every Sunday. We are called to be on the street and meeting those in need.
Now, don’t get me wrong, “Divine Appointments” happen at church too. Just a few weeks back I had gone alone to our local church. My wife was off with our daughter at the grandparents house and I was flying solo. After the service I was walking out of our church and got stopped by a lady. She was looking for a church home and obviously hurting.
She had seen the Biker Chaplain logo on my shirt and having spent some time in our world felt comfortable coming up to ask me questions. She told me of a difficult past and being hurt in other church settings. She cried and wanted to know if our church was a good church that was open to those who had had difficulty.
I was able to minister to her right there telling her about our church, telling her about our ministry and praying for her.
But this happened outside of the church. And I want to tell you about how our God works when we are open to what we teach about ours being a ministry of presence.
You see, not only was I flying solo that day. I was not even where I should have been! I go to the second service. We have for years. Our kids were in the second service during their high school years, so we went then so we could be with them if they wanted to sit with us (which they typically didn’t).
No, this day I decided, last minute, to go to the first service. Well, I didn’t decide, God lead me to decide. I got there late but made it for the preaching. After a good message I met the lady outside the church, after getting stopped twice by other.
This was a very definite Divine Appointment and a chance at even more street ministry.
When I look back at my life in the Christian community, I can clearly see God’s hand at work leading me ever forward into Chaplaincy and my ministry.
I have taught many classes over they years at my church, but I love the one on one I get when I am out and recognized (through a logo, patch or action) as someone that has something greater in my life.
Lord, bring on the Divine Appointments. I will take on the streets, you send ’em my way!
Our material speaks frequently about the need for showing respect in the biker community. This is both a protocol issue and, to be quite honest, a Christian issue.
Over the years I can tell you that I have often felt less than an acceptable level of respect from people. Sadly, quite often that lack of respect has been from within the Christian community or from “Christian” people.
Truthfully, it is little wonder that people have such a bad impression of Christians in general. We shoot our wounded!
I mean, the reason we have a “Biker Friendly Church” listing is because we have run across so many non-biker friendly churches. Churches that have literally asked bikers to leave because they came in leathers.
This is quite hard for me to accept. I cannot even fathom a situation where I would turn anyone, much less a biker, away from our church. I would go so far to say that someone doing so in my presence would find themselves on the receiving end of a pretty nasty tirade (in a respectful manner).
The biker world runs on respect.
Should we ask any less from the Christian world?
Showing respect should be a first order of business, not an afterthought or worse yet, not thought about at all. When we are interacting with others we should always show respect.
My dad was a loving but stern man. He demanded respect. My kids will tell you that it is something I too demand from them. However, I work very hard to show it to them and others in return. I am not perfect and I fail this from time to time, especially with my family. But I try very hard to always show respect.
True, it was a hallmark of my parents generation which has fallen off over the years. Today, the general disrespect I see coming from many young people is appalling. I must often physically restrain myself from teaching them respect. My wife will tell you that my size and continence literally demands it, and this may be true. I do not well tolerate disrespectful young people and I let them know it.
Respect is in fact a learned personality trait. Whether it was impressed upon you as a child or you learned it in business settings, we tend to have to learn the limits that make up the concept itself.
However, if you begin from a place where you see it as your responsibility to show respect to all people, regardless of any personal or cultural factor, this is made much easier.
Remember, in the community we serve it is not just a good idea; it is not just protocol; it is an imperative.
1 Peter 3:15New International Version (NIV)
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.