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Pulpit of Embarrassment

 

As I sit here to write this I struggle to even piece the thoughts together. Should I be totally open? Should I polish it? Should I be tactful? I think openness is healthy, so I will let you all into my world.

One of the most painful experiences I have ever had was seeing the congregation of my church walking out on me as my band and I tried to engage with them at the end of a Sunday service. Was I preaching heresy? No. Was I doing some ungodly act? No. Was I being disrespectful to the pastor or members? No. My “sin” was presenting some original works, promoting my concert, and asking for support. In five minutes, the congregation went from approximately 500 people to about 15. Needless to say, I was totally embarrassed as I stood standing asking for their attention, asking for silence so I could make the announcement and do a few songs. Like in the parable of the sower and the seed, my plea fell on stony ground and the birds gladly swooped it up.

I learned quite a few lessons that day. Here are some of them.

Core support is never in the masses:

Having lots of people around you and cheering you on feels good. However, when the next trend or hip thing comes along, the masses will be gone in five minutes or less. The 15 people that remain are the ones that will support you in the good times and in the bad times. Whether you’re hip or unknown, look for the 15 people and keep going. Ask Gideon, heading off to battle the Midianites with 20 00 men, he followed God’s directive and reduced his army to 300 hundred. Guess what? He won.

Even at church, not everyone around you is for you:

Some will smile, maybe even compliment you, but they may not be for you. After that experience I asked God for discernment; in my naivety, I once thought every member of my congregation was “for me”. Well, the reality of life is different. Some will do things to malign your name as well as undermine your work and credibility. I have not and endeavour not retaliate in kind. I keep my peace by allowing God to renew my strength. I also continue to pursue a genuine relationship with Christ, and to engage in fellowship with believers who sincerely care about me as a person and who wanted to live out God’s word daily. Not everyone that calls you ‘brother’ thinks of you as a brother.

You are stronger than you know:

It was ironic. In the face of humiliation, my bandmates questioned why my “own” would treat me that way. Yes, I felt hurt, yes I cried, my wife was upset; we both wondered, “Why?” Faithful member, worship leader, keyboardist, former choir director: Why? However, after searching myself and dealing with the pain, I found a strength I didn’t know that I had. One that allows me to smile with the Judases knowing they will eventually betray. A strength to pursue in the face of challenges. The strength to cry out to God, to praise Him – even when I didn’t feel to. I am quite a skinny guy, so my muscular strength isn’t that much, but I found out that real strength is not measured in muscles but in heart, in passion, and in mental and spiritual resilience.

 

 

 

Passion can be a lonely road:

When you’re passionate about something, it can be a long, lonely trek. Your passion will be questioned and misunderstood. Your passion will be used as the barometer and thermometer of your walk with Christ. The thing that you are passionate about, some will consider it your idol because of your discipline and dedication to learn and improve. In my case, it is music. Needing to learn and grow in an environment where many are less passionate is quite disheartening at times. My passion and drive have been and at times probably are easily misinterpreted as “you love that thing more than God”. However, as lonely as it is, only God knows my heart and commitment to him. He will reward in due time.

 

So there you have it, a few things I learned from that experience, as painful as it was. I believe, and I am convinced, I have come out better. God indeed does work all things out for your good.

 

Bless

Who?

Who told you black was ugly?

Who Taught you to fear your skin?

Without black we cannot see the stars.

Without black where would red, green, white and yellow begin?

I know it wasn’t God! because from your beauty all life would begin.

Because from your beauty all life would begin.

 

Who told you that hair could be nappy?

Who told you kinks were dirty?

Who told you fros were wrong and should be frowned upon

I know it wasn’t God!

For he gave you your hair as a crown.

 

Who told you, you were uncivilised?

Who told you, you couldn’t speak?

Who told you, you were illiterate, when for centuries you could already read?

Who told you your language was gibberish?

Who told you to change your name?

I know it wasn’t God!

Because he knows and called you by name

 

Who told you your drum was evil?

Who told you your rhythm was demonic?

Who told you to stop playing it?

And to play their rhythm…their music?

Who told you your music was dirty?

Who told you stop that song?

I know it wasn’t God?

He’s the author of music. he created it all.

 

Who told you your dance was unholy?

Who told you not to move your waist?

Who told you, you are a sex symbol,

Good for nothing except a nightly fling?

Who told you to stop dancing and taught you their dance instead?

I know it wasn’t God!

Diversity in praise is his plan.

 

Whoever told you is a liar!

Whoever told you is a thief!

Whoever told you wants to steal, kill and destroy!

Take away what God created you to be.

Whoever wants to rule you!

Whoever told you doesn’t care!

Whoever told you, is ignorant to the fact that God looked at you and said…

“It is very good”

 

Break free of the shackles

Free your mind of the chains

Let God’s image be seen in your blackness

His beauty…His creation…His and only…His

 

 

©2016

Stephen John

Published S2J2 Publishings