Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unanticipated Feedback

As I prepare to step down from pastoral ministry our District Superintendent visited with our Pastor Parish Relations Committee this evening to discuss the future. I was at the meeting for the first part and he asked the committee what they thought about the time I was appointed to them. In other words, "how has Brother Marty done"? Their answers were humbling to say the least. No bad grades, just good ones. I thought that surely someone would have articulated the shortcomings I see in my ministry there but no, nothing bad.

I share this because of what was said when the DS asked about what positive things I brought to the congregation. All agreed that it was the healing services we conducted with relative regularity. I had NO IDEA that these services were perceived as powerful or meaningful. It was just me doing what I thought God was leading me to do. But it was more than that.

Unbeknown-st to me these services had a strong impact on those within the congregation. I thought it was them just giving into the wants of their pastor, but it was more meaningful than that. These services touched the people of the church in a way I hadn't imagined. One woman who was under the care of an orthopedic surgeon for "hand therapy" testified that the healing service did more for her hands than all the medical procedures. Another testified that a broken neck didn't require a "halo" because of healing prayer. Another said that a good year was added to his terminal sister's life because of prayer. I had no idea! No idea!

I pray that God uses me for His glory in whatever lay ministry I may go into. I'm just so utterly humbled to be on the sidelines when the report cards come in. I never ask nor ever will ask if prayer helped. I'll just hear the testimonies when and where God so wills that I hear.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Do Denominations Matter...Really?

Serious question...if you even care about these things. I've wondered about God's calling to me and I've come to the conclusion that it isn't being a pastor. Rather, it's being a non-denominational conduit for connecting with God's healing mercies. His healing doesn't have anything to do with Catholic, Methodist, Baptist or even the unchurched. It has to do with the love of Christ for every living, breathing human being. In the healing people come to testify about how God enters their lives. That's what it is all about.

Is it possible for us to embrace God's mercies regardless of our denominational relationship with Him? Hmmm...tough question. But I contend that God reveals Himself in every situation where His healing is experienced. If the testimony of the one healed brings someone to know Christ...regardless of denomination/persuasion...then the mission is fulfilled. Isn't God so much greater than what we give Him credit for?

Our an awesome God...who reigns from heaven above...with wisdom, power and love...our God is an awesome God. (Thanks to the late Rich Mullins).

Just my thoughts on Christian Healing. Where are you in God's plan? Are we above denominations and the sort and more importantly about God's plan for ALL? I wonder if we can embrace the healing mercies of Our Lord outside of our denominational affiliations. I just wonder.

Brother Marty

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Power of The Name of Jesus

Sometimes it seems that people don't give credence to the name of Jesus. It is a powerful name. All too often we fail to call upon the name of Jesus in life's situations. Shame. There's power in the name, power in the blood, and power in calling upon His name for whatever life throws at us. There's power in the name of Jesus. Can we all call upon Him in whatever situations we're in? Can we call upon His name for healing? Can we call upon His name for a map to navigate us through this thing called life? I call upon His name for healing, forgiveness, and fortitude. Call upon the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Thoughts on Leaving the Ministry

It’s peculiar how I was a lay speaker and how I routinely (at least annually) turned down opportunities to pastor a church. Mind you, in rural areas it is very common for a lay speaker to take a pastoral role because there are insufficient elders (official pastors) to take care of the small churches. While I routinely said “No” to the offer to pastor a church we got a new district superintendent. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, I took on a church…then another church. And now I look at the prospect of perhaps taking on another church. I’m done. Finished. Put to pasture.

I took on the pastoral task as a favor to the district in which I serve. Done it and have many T-shirts to show for it. But as of this summer at the annual conference, there will be a new pastor appointed to my church. I’m through “pretending” to be a minister when I’m merely a certified lay speaker. I’m announcing my resignation at our District Committed On Ministry meeting January 8th. It is with some regret yet some empowerment that I make my position known. Me, a regular parishioner, stepped up and answered the calling from the “boss” over the district to do him a favor. Two and a half years later, I feel I’ve answered that request and am calling it quits.

My calling is NOT into the pastoral ministry. My calling is to pray for people to be healed and receive Christ into their hearts. The weekly demand of coming up with a sermon and conducting services of worship IS NOT what I’m called to do. I’ve come to grips with this and am acting in accordance with this reality check.

So, “Brother Marty, pastor at Midway UMC” will no longer be my title. I will have no title and be empowered by that. I’ll just be that member of a congregation who has a gift and is willing to share that gift with anyone who comes forward to accept the power of Christ’s love into their lives. Nothing “official” from a pulpit…just me.

So, I thank those who may read this for their surrender of their lives to be set aside for the furtherment of the faith. I’m not set aside. I’m a bi…make that Tri-vocational Certified Speaker who stepped up when the call was made who has now determined that it is time to step down and become one who looks to the likes of You for empowerment and encouragement. I’m so terribly humbled to know the many pastors I’ve met in this short time I’ve been lifted up to be called a member of clergy. I’m not. Just a lay speaker who took a turn at being a pastor.

In the love of Christ….

Marty (NOT brother Marty)