Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thanks for Keeping Up

Posted: November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

bumbleThanks for caring anything about my ramblings.  Since I have gone so long without posting while we’ve been in Africa (I know…dumb time to stop posting), I decided to completely redo the whole thing.  So I deleted all the dated posts.  Lis and I both feel like we have some adventurous days ahead.  Our saying since the Transformers movie first came out, “Fifty years from now, when you’re looking back at your life, don’t you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?”

 

I Didn’t Realize What I Had

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Being a product of the 1980’s (young adulthood I mean) I remember when the IBM 286, Commodore 64, and Atari 2600 were cutting edge technology.  So unlike the under generation biting on my heels, I still over complicate my I.T. world.  My recent goal was to get a photo onto my post that was not “available” except for the odd fact that I was HOLDING IT IN MY HAND.  Do I even have a scanner?  Oh, yeah… that all in one printer/fax we bought is also a scanner.  SOOOO…I scanned the picture and looked –  COOOOL … it looks better than the actual photo, so I started scanning…& scanning, & spent hours saving photos that I probably will never look at again!!!

What I really had going on in my mind was putting the years of our ministry into perspective.  Sometimes when God is manipulating you into a place of preparation for His next big assignment, He does it by totally combing back through all the lessons in your past.

As I began to comb through pictures, I began to scroll through my brain files.  It was exhilarating to look back at the beginning of our ministry and see that it contained the same DNA as our current determination and vision.  We are older, wiser, more seasoned, sadly more used, abused, broken, yet welded back together, reinforced, and …well… very very different…YET basically the same.  Our rally cry in the beginning was “Reality Christianity”, “multicultural, multi-racial ministry”, actually doing what Jesus SAID instead of just shouting it at people, teaching what the Bible actually SAYS…not what grandpa or grandpa’s preacher said.  True and sound doctrine based solely on the actual scripture, not feelings, wishes, and conjecture.  Solid doctrine requires, of course, godly wisdom – but it also requires an equal amount of humility and consciousness of our limitations.

Truth is we ALL need to get rid of A LOT of religious garbage.  I have said at least a million times in my life, “show me the chapter and verse”, and “don’t twist & contort it into something barely recognizable”.   As I have combed back over our ministry the common element is this: we are actually more “truly” reliant on the WRITTEN word than some of the most legalistic “fundamentalist” we know…but what might be ironic to some is, we have ALWAYS consistently helped free those around us with whom we have shared meaningful relationships.  Sound scriptural based doctrine allows us to more confidently internalize and respect scripture.

Some of our very best lifetime friends recently commented, “well, you can definitely tell that (our daughter) was baptized and first discipled by you!  She thinks exactly like you!”  I ponder this last year of Facebook reunions – basically hearing from past ministry partners a similar spiel, “we’re a bunch of misfits because nobody understands our views, our actions, our lifestyles.  We don’t fit into anyone’s preset mold”  So how can a person who is “conservative” theologically … consistently LIBERATE people.  It’s simple; just stop the charades.  Stop faking it.  When you don’t know, say I don’t know.  Stop competing with your own teammates.  We will NEVER win like that.  Seriously, I’m waiting for someone to get brutally honest and just name their church Balderdash Community Church.

My answer: don’t take what “THEY” say quite so literally (positive or negative), whether they seem to love you or hate you.  Truth is, we tend to agree with people who are saying what we want them to say and we oppose people who seem to oppose who we are.  It’s a very dangerous thing called confirmation bias – we simply surround ourselves with “yes men” who will always sing our praises and agree.

From the 1980’s until now, Lis & I have focused our teaching and preaching on… what the Bible ACTUALLY says, and to a large extent, what Jesus ACTUALLY SAID to do, the apostles, the substantive doctrine. On the other hand, our EQUAL task has been to shine the light on the very common & convenient principle that has absolutely ZERO foundation from the Bible.  That of INTERPRETING God’s Word to suit OUR own ideas and preferences.  Every honest Christ follower has thought, “It sure would be easier if He had dealt with THIS issue, preferably “on my side” of the debate.  Point is, He said what He said, and refrained from saying what He wanted to refrain from saying.

“The Bible Belt” of the USA is probably the most difficult mission field we have in my opinion.  WHY?  Easy…the Holy Bible, PLUS a “special exclusive voice from on high” to some random dude sitting under an oak tree …equals a CULT…an antichrist.  The most commonly used Bible in the world is not the Bible that has 66 books, 1189 chapters, some 31,000 verses, some 783,000 words.  The Bible that is MOST common is the PEV version – The PERSONALLY EXPANDED VERSION (customized to suit our preconceived ideas & arguments) which probably adds another 30% of material to the real deal.  By the time we “explain it” there is a good chunk that’s “just implied”.  You know “a teenager shalteth not cometh in after midnight with some lameth excuse unless he be groundeth for an eternity…eth”  Uhhhh…chapter and verse please!!!

But isn’t that what we all do?  Don’t we all “interpret” the Bible, present it in understandable terms, give explanation to what it really means?  Use it as a two edged sword to cut what needs to be cut.  NO…NOT, if we’re wise enough to recognize our human ignorance and tendencies.  Yes we must internalize it, but…1)  it is TRUTH… 2) WE are …well, sometimes pretty clueless.

When I argue with my wife (which is honestly seldom) I surely NEVER argue “HER POINT OF VIEW”, HER INTERPRETATION of the subject.  That would be rather oxy-moronic (and moronic).  NO…I argue vehemently for what I have already blurted out and am NOW committed to.  Even when I begin to see my “facts” falling apart, I tend to attempt propping it up with whatever is at my disposal.”  We all tend to do that … until we finally liberate ourselves enough to admit that there actually IS an absolute truth out there, truth that is ALWAYS TRUTH, truth not always all that easily internalized through our personal, cultural, & behavioral norm.  But, no matter how loudly we talk or how angry we get – TRUE TRUTH IS TRUE TRUTH.

There is a reason that the Bible says in 1 John 2:27   , “As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him.” AND it warns us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.  For all of us make many mistakes.” James 3.   BUT WHY???  If I take upon myself the responsibility of teaching, I will be held responsible for every misrepresentation that I present as truth because it (my twist) taints the REAL truth.  The wise goal of a teacher is to provide assistance for students to receive the written truth without twisting and manipulating it through our “approval” system.  How many times have you thought – “that person is living in denial”?  Real truth is the truth no matter what.

I am currently working on a holistic ministry concept which is deep only in its simplicity called BASICS CHURCH.  It’s not a “church plant”, it’s a study concept.  As I continue to see the Holy Spirit flesh it out on paper, it is amazing how simple it is.  Jesus had some very specific MANDATES for us and we just dance all around them.  I love church history and if we take a broad look at Christianity there has consistently been an ebb and flow of adherence to these Jesus mandates.

We’ve been called by Christ to propagate the truth of the simple gospel…that through Christ ANYONE can be reconciled to God.  Surprisingly, we’re not here to do most of what seems to be our priority at times.  We’re not here to announce and argue about the million things we are AGAINST.  Surprisingly, we’re not here to clean up this “world”.  We’ve already read it … it definitely, no doubt about it, continues to get worse.

What REAL TRUTH am I willing to stake my life on?  The easiest answer for anyone would be simply … NOTHING?  I’ll just EXIST, LIVE and MIND MY OWN BUSINESS.  But, IF THERE IS … ABSOLUTE TRUTH and we MISS it … it REMAINS absolute truth, we were just too “apathetic” to recognize it.  ME – It’s simple – I’m going to concentrate on getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as I can before I die.  COMPARED TO getting people into an understanding and acceptance of a redemption in Christ, ANY and EVERY peripheral issue pales.

Don’t let the confusion of “churchy talk” keep you from the truth of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:18-21, 26-27   Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth.

26 I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  27 The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.

The Worst Day of My Life

Posted: September 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

November 15th marks the 9th year anniversary of the most horrific experience of my entire life, and it has nothing to do with internal church issues…but then again it’s the worst “INTERNAL” church issue I’ve  ever experienced.

From my early childhood I have ALWAYS viewed life as being simply too short.  I remember dreading to go to sleep at night, not because I didn’t enjoy rest & leisure.  I was just afraid I’d MISS something FUN or important.  I have even daydreamed about being CLONED somehow, so I could do 3 or 4 lives all at one time.  My problem with graduating high school – I knew I could technically do ANYTHING…but not EVERYTHING.

When the Holy Spirit got through to me in 1976, I realized how many “church” people are evidently NOT Christ followers.  I had prayed a prayer and was baptized in 1972 but it became REAL to me in 76.  Who knows, maybe I’ll stand before God and hear Him say…no son, I actually redeemed you in 72 and you just decided to get serious in 76.  Either way, I’m sure now and what came with getting serious was a literal “counting of how many days I have left”.  I still hated sleep but NOW it had as much to do with possible “wasted hours”, as the missing out on fun.

At 18, when I knew God wanted me in full-time church ministry and presumably pastor as my vocation, I saw it as a race… not a slow paced marathon, but a very, very, VERY long hard sprint.  Seriously, consider that if you are old enough to read this and understand it, you only have at best some 3000 weeks left?  If you have $5.00 you have 3000 weeks.  If you have $5 billion, you also have 3000 weeks.  Point is…3000 weeks.

So my ministry has always been one of urgency.  I have a sign in my office that reads “Thou Shalt Not Whine.”  And, to exponentially multiply this, I married a perfectionist who happens to have more talent in her little finger than me or most people I know.  SO…our quest together is to GET IT DONE, get it done RIGHT, get it done FAIRLY, and get it done YESTERDAY.

Quick synopsis of our ministry – started as a youth minister – couldn’t wait everyday to get off of my secular job as a mailman to get to our REAL job – youth ministry.  Church of @150 – we had 25-30 youth.  But, that wasn’t enough.  We started a para-church county wide ministry in 2 neighboring towns – we saw 100+ young “spirit warriors” give their lives to Christ within a few months.  If their parents attended a church other than ours, we directed them to attend THAT church with their family.  Many years later this “Spirit Warrior Youth” thing is well into its second generation and there’s no idea how many people these young “warriors” have influenced for Christ.  Seems like we’ve always strategized “outside the box”.

Seminary – I prayed God, “I have two children and a good job … (deal) if you can work out a transfer with the post office, I can go.”  Weeks later I was in the Gretna, Louisiana post office working minutes away from seminary.  As my second year began, a classmate said, “I know a church that you need to talk to.”  Weeks later, I was no longer a mailman.  I became a full time youth minister of around 75 youth (church avg. 700) – within 6 months we maxed out at 152 before we eventually received a call back home to pastor a small rural church in SC…a “GREAT” small church, ran about 60-70 that allowed me to cut my teeth and make youthful mistakes.  We saw 47 baptisms that first year.  Soon we received the call to a city church – small city church where literally half the deacons & leadership were having (or recently had) affairs and two of them (males) with each other.   I learned very quickly that a step UP to a bit larger church was not always the best step (so I never again took the ministry “ladder” approach again).  Now we look for “the writing on the wall” from the Holy Spirit.  When He is in it … you just know!!!

In 2000 we saw the writing on the wall and knew without a doubt that God was directing us to Christchurch, New Zealand where we would spend 5 years that literally changed our lives and mindset (we actually spent our first year in Auckland). Finding out that two of our four parents had stage 3 cancer brought us back to the States for a while (that lasted a long while).  New Zealand became home to us because we changed … and we fit.  There have been many life lessons that we have gained along the way.  And many great experiences worth mentioning, but I won’t bog you down.

Lis and I both have always been serious soldiers, showing up first in line …for marching orders.   Lord…you SAY it…we’ll DO it.  One day in 1987 during Spirit Warriors, I felt the Lord saying, “If you really want THIS building…walk around it 7 times (like Joshua) and show your sincerity.”  I know…I’m an IDIOT.  Well, after my seventh time around, I felt very personally satisfied.  Lesson learned.  And NO, we didn’t get the building – the Lord just wanted ME to realize for myself that I, Chip Morgan WOULD DO WHATEVER HE SAID even if I didn’t understand the details.  I DID what I was TOLD.  I can’t wait to talk that one over face to face.  Glad to bring you a smile… SIR.  I still laugh over that because I can imagine all of heaven pointing and laughing (I’m kidding … I know there are more important things to do there).  The overwhelming GOD message – “Chip, I don’t need you to FIGURE IT out for Me or even for you…I just need you to keep your eyes ON ME.  I’ve got this.  When I say move…you just learn to MOVE.”

So, now I am downright obsessive about the days that I have left.  I figure statistically, if you stand before the Lord (in that day) without having had SOMETHING (plant, water, harvest) to do with at least 5000 coming to Christ, you’ve wasted a lot of life.  Just THINK, if we interact with 3 people a week and let our “light” shine and your words be heard, 5000 is pretty much a minimum over a lifetime.  It’s like a pyramid business, you influence one who influences one, who influences one.  Or even better it’s like the Bible, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

NOW MY TRAGEDY!!!

My wife and I had just gotten to the church – a church that had been written off by most.  The search committee promised, after I reiterated over & over … please DON’T call me unless we are going to REACH THIS IMMEDIATE COMMUNITY like NEVER before.  I am NOT AT ALL interested in simply maintaining a satisfied church.  There was an Army base within easy walking distance (tattoos… no way) and an urban housing project literally feet away (poor, unruly, kids of different races … you’re kidding).

We began to head in the right direction with a great unified attitude as we started to renovate a 1970’s church into a state of the art 21st century place of worship.  Instead of putting the jailhouse industrial look back into the bathrooms we created “a beautiful Tuscan tiled bathroom that people actually came out of talking about how nice it was. We spent $5000+ instead of $2000.  We…excuse me (I) … yes I … insisted that the 1970’s wallpaper come out of the 30 ft high sanctuary and throughout all the halls.  Also the children’s building needed to be “themed,” as well as our nurseries.  OF COURSE, it was only the idea that originated from me.  It took my wife and some wonderful ARTISTS and some strong construction oriented people to make it happen.  We also wanted to turn our youth building into the MOST cutting edge hang-out that it could possibly be … within our budget.

Lisa and I were in our offices like we were on most late afternoons.  Everyone else had gone home and we were getting ready ourselves.  We had hired a very admired Christian man who sang Southern Gospel music with his family group on the weekends and worked as a painter by trade during the week.  He was the lowest bid and we knew him & his ministry so he got the contract.

They were in the process of repainting our two-story, 30 ft tall, fan shaped sanctuary from top to bottom.  It was Bruce, his son, and two workers that had been with him, like forever.  Bruce had borrowed a scaffold from a dry wall guy in our church and had his extension ladder braced on top of the double scaffold.  We had enjoyed him singing “I’m winging my way back home” all day while he worked away.

Lis and I were in the office wing…some 100 yards away, I’d guess.  All of a sudden we heard a “traffic accident”, a fallen power pole, maybe the wall of our church crumbling … SOMETHING … something loud and NOT good.  Time sort of went into slow motion when we realized that it was very close, like INSIDE.  I moved fast, then I ran.  When I swung the sanctuary doors open I caught first glance of a pile of scaffolding and ladder at the back of our church.

I have always known that I was a leader because in any tragedy I go into “Survivor” mode.  Yep, I’m the one they send home first – I automatically & very sternly instruct … YOU call 911, YOU get a blanket, and YOU come help me with this.

Only this time it was WAY worse. The 3 workers/son actually SAW it happen, so just one look at the result and (instant shock) it petrified them to such a degree that they absolutely could NOT come back inside.  Three grown men almost crying, “I CAN’T!”  I guess I went into three stages – 1.shock – 2.protect my wife – and 3. you’re IT buddy… whether you want to be IT or not.  When I approached what I thought would be, at least somehow, a fixable situation… it was anything BUT.

My first words were, “LISA   DO  NOT come over here!!!  DO     NOT – he IS alive – so call 911.  What my eyes were gazing on was straight out of anything but REALITY.  Oh…God…oh…God…oh God and I was not taking His name in vain.  Bruce had been painting the very tip of the peak of the wall when the ladder pushed the scaffold completely over causing him to plunge head first off the top of the ladder into the tangled scaffold and onto the concrete floor.  Claw marks were visible on the freshly painted wall.  The scaffolding sprawled onto the rear 3 pews and in the middle of it all was the contorted body of this gentleman who had brought a smile to us all morning with his singing.

When I got to him, he was inverted at about 30 degrees, his right leg twisted so far back that his foot was up close to his shoulder.  I couldn’t tell or I don’t really remember the other leg.  His back was no doubt broken because of the extreme bend.  Both of his arms were obviously broken, his left sort of parallel with his body, back just enough to be snapped.  And his right arm was not even describable.  It was exactly like an arm is NEVER supposed to be.  It was bent behind his back straight up, with 4-5 inches of a raw jagged bloody bone sticking out the end with the hand and wrist dangling below like a piece of rubber.  The worst part is that I knew I shouldn’t – I couldn’t possibly – move him, and the problem was … his face was slammed, nose first into the thinly carpeted concrete.  (We would later dig nose bone fragments out of the concrete.)

He was still breathing and all I could do was keep calling his name and trying to encourage him if he could hear me.  I wanted to KEEP MY WIFE AWAY from the horror and make sure HIS SON didn’t come back in.  The ONLY constructive thing I could do for him was to keep the blood away from his nose and mouth, so he wouldn’t asphyxiate.  And for what seemed like an eternity I scraped a quart of blood at a time away from his face, each swipe would only make room for the next quart to gush out.  I simply could NOT get ahead of the flow, but I knew he’d drown if I didn’t keep it up.  It started to GET TO ME and I don’t know if I cried out loud … or just inside.  But when the ambulance finally arrived, the paramedics came in, took one look and couldn’t have cared less about any damage that might take place by moving him.  They moved as much metal that could be moved and one of the two guys said to me “OK…now grab his legs and let’s flip him over as evenly as we can.”

He was immediately intubated and before long they were gone and there we sat…tired, clueless, helpless, SPENT.  My precious wife … (some of ya’ll … just think you know my wife) she began to console the workers and son (she is the most compassionate person I know) and we got them to just sit & wait there until the family could arrive from 30 minutes away.  Bruce lived in ICU for several days but he never regained consciousness.  He was basically dead when I was in his face, urging him to hang on.

I left the church that day, NEVER to be the same.  For months all I can remember hearing from my congregation was the scaffold guy (deacon) worrying about getting sued, and everyone talking about how tragic the accident was.  I was numb.  But I had a job to do and that job was to be the PASTOR, the counselor, the “encourager”.  Life became EVEN MORE URGENT for me.  The chairman of deacons had helped me and Lis clean up the blood with a carpet cleaner (over & over & over & over & over…foamy blood).  I think if anyone understood he did.  We replaced the carpet squares in the middle aisle at the back under the clock next to the sound booth.  If you go into that church today you can see exactly where it happened (as clear as day) because the carpet doesn’t match.  Week after week, I stood in the pulpit staring back at the war zone that I had NOT yet come to grips with, as a reminder every week.  Some commented that my preaching had changed – more urgent – not quite as funny – much more serious.

For months, there was not one single solitary HOUR that passed that I didn’t think about it.  I woke up one morning weeks later at 3 am throwing up, numb, really hurting in the chest, dizzy, head pounding, I could NOT move – a sure heart attack.  I told Lisa that she had best call 911, I thought it was bad.  When the ambulance got there and got me to the hospital I found out for the first time what a “panic attack” is and how it mimics a heart attack.  Weeks later, again I just randomly passed out in our hall bathroom and knocked a hole in the wall.  It scared the girls to death.  I told a few close friends, but by this time everybody was back to their normal lives .  The funeral was way past.

BUT, finally the breaking point came.  One day I was driving home and I heard an advertisement on the radio about this man’s family singing, still ministering, and I started to literally sob.  They were going to be at some local church.  I remember as vividly as if it were today…I SAID IT OUT LOUD to myself.  THE LORD NEEDED ME … TO HEAR IT.  I seriously said through a stream of tears, “IF I HAD NOT KILLED THEIR DAD…he’d be singing with them tonight”.  It was then that I knew I needed help…real help.  You see…with leadership comes responsibility, and down deep in my soul I reasoned that “if I had not insisted that our church look its best to welcome new guests” Bruce would still be here.  I WAS GUILTY…I surmised.

Thank God for doctors in a military town who deal with PTSD everyday!  It’s been several years now and I don’t think about it as much…probably once every week or two…and I don’t dwell on it as long.  I generally have a terrible memory, but I can reenact every microsecond of that event.

I HAVE changed – I’ll never be the SAME person.  I’m glad God is actively molding and changing me (and Lis) for new and exciting challenges.  And we will proudly approach the next challenge with just as much ZEAL as we have faced prior ones.

I pray that I will continue to CHANGE – to grow and learn, and that God will correct me and/or reward me.  And I pray that November 15, 2007 will always remain “the worst day of my life”.