Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It boggles my mind

1/19/11 Wednesday
Windy and warm is the forecast today. Then the temperature drives down to well below freezing towards evening, with a forty degree drop. Typical for West Texas. There was a beautiful sunrise that I hurried out to capture with the Kodak, that somehow is still working. Today I will spend some time cutting more firewood in preparation for the cold snap.

I went to the jail this morning to minister to whomever might be there. Usually I go on Tuesday’s but I attended the two day pastors prayer summit so couldn’t make it. Turns out that the two guys I saw last week are still there, and the only ones in jail, but they were asleep. The deputy said they stay up all night and sleep all day so suggested I show up later in the day. I’ll do that but have to wait till tomorrow. Today will be a busy day with cutting wood, visiting the widow in Midland, and then going to church.

Things are always interesting around here, sometimes more interesting than others. It boggles my mind, the places God puts me. Last week two of the people I meet with on a regular basis asked, and then encouraged, me to attend a yearly event of the Midland Ministerial Alliance called the “Prayer Summit”. This is an organization for pastors, and I suppose people in full time ministry. Wasn’t quite sure how I qualified or fit in that parameter, but I was licensed and ordained and worked as a pastor in a church, along with being currently involved in several areas of ministry. I’m anxious to be involved in things of God so, after Chuck explained there was scholarship money to pay the cost, agreed to go.

I really didn’t know what to expect, having never gone to something like this before. Arrived early as I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so had time to meet with the three people who were setting things up. One guy said “I’m happy to meet you” and I quipped “Well, let’s see if you still think that when things are over”. I joke like that sometimes but am never sure how it will be taken. That’s all part of the residuals of the brain injury, from the early days when I thought I was making a joke and it ended up not being funny at all. But it was an honest statement too as I often seem to make others uncomfortable. At the end of the two day summit he came up to me and said “I’m still glad that I met you” so it was comforting to hear that.

As ministers from Big Spring to Odessa began to arrive things began to coalesce. They were from a wide variety of churches, from a Messianic congregation to Presbyterians, covering the gamut in doctrinal beliefs, but doctrine was never discussed. This was good to see. Ultimately they were there only to learn how to serve their Lord better. No one was there to blow their own horn or to impress the others in any way. This is how it should be and how it was here. None of that petty “I’m better than you are” garbage that must break God’s heart. Ego’s were checked in at the door apparently, or had been properly subdued in each pastor’s life anyway. I had a lot of people introduce themselves to me, but unfortunately couldn’t remember much of what they said. We had name tags and that was nice cause I certainly didn’t remember many names. I was asked often “What church do you pastor?” so just as often would explain that I wasn’t a pastor and told them were I attended, but would always throw out that I was involved in prison ministry to at least justify my presence. It was kind of strange, feeling like I didn’t belong yet was supposed to be there, that I wasn’t worthy to be in the presence of this entourage yet had a purpose to be there.

I sat down and started reading my bible as many of these pastors, who knew each other and had things in common, gathered into groups and engaged in conversations of mutual interests. Chuck and Cecil arrived so Chuck sat next to me and we began to talk.

Then it was time for the summit to start. Mike, the leader, was introduced and there were opening statements from him and some others, along with introductions. Each person was to stand up and say his name along with what church he pastured. There were others there who weren’t current pastors so that made me feel better. Some were involved in various ministries and some were retired pastors so I wasn’t totally out of place.

We sang some songs and then the summit began with a fantastic teaching on the prodigal son, that uncovered some aspects of that well known parable that I had never seen before. It was great but I wondered how that related to prayer. It’s always an eye opener when you realize that your presuppositions about something are incorrect. The summit had a lot to do with praying but it wasn’t about “How to pray”. This one was mostly focused on our relationship with God, and the things that get in the way of that.

After the hour or so teaching we broke up into two groups for discussion and prayer. Our group didn’t have much discussion and the leader jumped right into prayer after one person explained his perception on an aspect of the teaching. It was strained at first, quite a surprise to me considering this was a group of pastors used to leading and expressing their thoughts. The first guy prayed and then, when he finished, waited for someone else to pray. There was a long awkward silence before someone else prayed, and then another long silence as we all sat with our heads bowed and eyes closed until someone else finally chimed in. I’m new here and not nearly as qualified as the rest of these people so wasn’t about to pray. I don’t play or pretend so opened my eyes and watched, wondering about this. It seems like this went on for an hour, but I’m sure it wasn’t that long. Often the prayers were more akin to someone expressing their thoughts on the video, talking to the others as they prayed, but towards the end the prayers were real appeals to God, expressing serious deep emotions and concerns. For that I joined in.

It was a relief to reach the end of this period, to get to the time we all took a fifteen minute break where we could stand up and get the blood moving again. I met some more people and pondered on the teaching till it was time to start again. This time the leader would play a two minute segment of the teaching and passed out a sheet with questions and statements regarding it and the segments planned to be addressed as this session progressed. It was clear now that this teaching DVD would be the focus of the Prayer Summit. I don’t think it’s original target was pastors but knew it would be interesting to see what came of it.

Things got a lot better quickly. The leader, I think recognizing a need to adjust his format, had the whole group circle up as one. Now there was opportunity for serious discussion of the ramifications of what the teacher had revealed from the parable of the prodigal son, and now the depth and hearts of these pastors was revealed. This was what the Summit was here for, to create unity of heart and soul, and to empower them to better serve their Lord and congregations. I listened with a quickening heart as these men of God expressed their needs and desires while discussing the relationship between the prodigal son and his father.

Suddenly I found myself in the spotlight. I didn’t ask to be there, had only taken my turn telling what God had revealed to me through this teaching. It was as if God took over my tongue as I heard myself preaching to these men of God. I heard myself explaining the heart of God and telling them how to build their churches, to reach out to the poor and broken, the lost and rejected of this world. At one point the statement “Why am I preaching to preachers” came out. I ended my speech quickly, as I wondered if I had been far out of line, but it seemed to have been accepted. I spoke up several times over the next two days, always trying to be constructive. Part of what I feel I contributed was an outsiders view of the church, the perspective of someone who wasn’t a pastor. I shared about being rejected by more than one church, and how truly loving others and ultimately really loving God is the key to breaking down barriers in peoples lives and churches.

It was a long first day. I didn’t get home till after ten, and was certainly tired by then. But it was a great first day, with hours spent in corporate prayer that was effective. Through that one video a wide variety of topics came up for discussion. The next day things got started at 8:00 so I left shortly after Cherie left for work.

The second day ended when we broke for lunch. By this time hearts were breaking before the Lord as many, including me, repented of a wide variety of things that hampered our relationships with God and others. There was great discussions on many things, and in the end we all were improved. I met some great people and look forward to seeing what God will bring out of this. I wondered, as things came to a close “Who am I, that I should in any way influence such great people”. Of course that presumes that I had any influence on them at all, which I can’t say for now. But to be accepted and have my words regarded at all is an honor.

Meanwhile, today will be a busy day. I’ve wood to cut and then must run to Midland and spend some time with the widow before I do some grocery shopping. Cherie is sick now, predictably caught what I had. Hope it won’t be as bad as my cold was. Got her taking big doses of vitamins and eating healthy stuff. She had to call in sick to work, first time ever for that.


Anonymous said...

hi this comment isnt about the current post. i found this blog while researching life after a coma. my friend has just woken up from a 2 month coma/ vegetative state after a car wreck that would of killed most. he has sheer damage to his brain and the doctors said he would be in a vegetative state forever. but a few days ago he started waking up and today he is talking and moving and seems almost like before the accident except that somethings seem different he cryed when his icecream was too cold and says things that dont make sense sometimes. he laughed at jokes and spoke normally but a little slower but sometimes said strange things like "its dangerous" and gas chamber or electric chair and things like that after napping. Will he progress from here and be less confused or is this pretty much it. thankyou

Bob said...

This is wonderful news actually. What you describe is exactly the way I used to be. This is the start of what may take years as his brain rewires itself. It's been ten years now for me and I am a walking miracle. There's a link on this blog to Lash and associates where you can find material to help him on this sometimes difficult road to rehabilitation. Having friends around him who understand and tolerate strange behavior, and who will help explain and guide when he is in error with his thoughts is vitally important. Please feel free to email me at with questions or for help understanding what is going on. I am anxious to help.

Anonymous said...

thankyou for replying i will check the link. he is responsive, laughs and talks, but has childlike ways now and im hoping the child-like way he is now is just a stage he will get through and become more of the same old way. he is my friend and my sisters fiance so hes like my brother. we've been ther every step since the accident happened and we will always be there. sometimes when he first wakes up from sleeping he gets whats a dream and whats reality abit mixed up too. he doesnt have insurance so they wont move him to rehabilitate him til we find him some insurance. he has back injuries and a neck brace on too, and cant walk or sit up for very long so its hard..ty

Bob said...

I so relate. Didn't have insurance and the hospital was going to escort me out the door in January after working hard to teach me to walk so they could do so. Broke my neck and back. Pain is still an issue for me. He will grow and learn just as a child does, and having friends around to help makes all the difference.

Anonymous said...

not having insurance is the worst thing when something like this happens, i feel like they dont really care, ive never seen a doctor, we alway just miss him. and some of the nurse dont seem to care at all. he got mrsa from a nurse, when he was in a coma. they have moved him 3 times, out of icu before he was ready and cant wait to place him in a rehab now even though hes still got brain bleeding.

Bob said...

Contact the Brain Injury Association and all brain injury organizations you can find and start seeking help. It's a shame but the truth is that those with money get the best care and those without don't. I learned to fight and get the help the government offers. It's there but they don't make it easy to access. What state are you in?

Anonymous said...

we are in florida