Friday, April 29, 2011

An Untold Story

"It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell."  - James 3:5-6  (The Message) 

When I began writing this blog in August of 2009 I did it for several noble reasons. I wanted the discipline of writing everyday.  I wanted to tell many of the old stories of my life in student ministry one more time before senility sets in.  I wanted to reconnect with old friends after a few years of being "off the grid."  And primarily, I wanted to begin to once again lift high the name of Jesus in some sort of public ministry.  Those things are being accomplished here with varying degrees of success, and I am very thankful for the many ways God has blessed my efforts here.

However...  Since the very start of my story-telling there was one particular era of my ministry I was looking forward to writing about.  In the chronology of my time spent working in churches, we have reached that time.  The final year and a half (2004-05) I spent at Wesley Memorial UMC in Tampa played out like a badly written soap opera- with no sex (I told you it was badly written!).  It featured a charismatic leading man who was beloved by all- except those who REALLY knew him.  It featured power-hungry church members who abused their power and leadership roles.  It featured financial intrigue, cover-ups of a Watergate proportion and misleading (and sometimes completely untrue) information given to a congregation.  There were lots of older church members trying to sound the alarm, and lots of others (often including myself) unwilling to listen.   It led to a complete crash of many ministries in the church and a wasting of more resources than you can imagine. It also led to a crushing of my family's spirit in a way that still makes my blood boil.   Yet it is a story almost no one knows.  Telling that story would serve as partial vindication for me, because no one came out of it looking worse than I did.  Much of that was my own fault.  As often happens, however, many of the other "bad guys" got away.  I knew the story because I was the one in the church office every day dealing with the disasters and witnessing the cover-ups.  And once I reached this point in my story on this blog, the truth could be told.  People were going down...

Now that the time has come, I just can't do it.  I must heed the words of James and "tame my tongue." I can't preach about grace and being part of a Jesus Revolution out of one side of my mouth and seek vengeance out of the other.  I have to let it go.  I must offer forgiveness and grace, even to people who do not offer those things to me. I do not want to be the one whose words produce that "smoke right from the pit of hell" mentioned in the scripture at top.   My posts about WMUMC must remain positive and uplifting.  I will seek to praise Jesus for the things we accomplished there, and I will share with you my own personal failures as I have done throughout this blogging experience.  But the untold story will remain untold.

That's the thing about following Jesus.  You don't get to choose who you love or who you offer grace to.  It has to be everyone.  Because of Jesus, I don't get what I deserve; instead I get God's love.  And this story, like everything else in my life, needs to be all about JesusAnd that's all I have to say about that...

Because of Jesus,


  1. I resonate with this. I don't think that there has ever been a person in ministry that has not been hurt or wronged by their fellow Christians/ workers. you know what the good part is? God is the just judge. So, as you follow him in obedience you can be sure he is working on those who need him too!

  2. Thank you, Stephanie. Always nice to know we are not alone!

  3. I can identify. We recently left the church we attended for over 13 years. Not because of one major thing, but because of many small things adding up over the years and feeling like God wanted us to make a change. We still have many friends there so we chose to walk away quietly without giving reasons to all but 3 closest friends. We had no desire to cause division or harm anything being done there. Some days it's easier than others to do this especially when you've been hurt like I was, but we've realized walking away quietly was for the best.

  4. Anonymous4/29/2011

    Hey Big C,

    Great post. I meant to comment yesterday and the day got away from me. I appreciate the book advice. Kristin and I were just talking the other day about good books and she mentioned that you discussed the Ragamuffin Gospel on your blog so now I have two books to read. Hope all is well!


  5. Thanks Todd. You'll love both books. Hope you and your family are well!


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