Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thankful Reflections

Today I want to thank the Lord for holding me steady through life's greatest trials and hardships.

I count my blessings that I am indeed a pastor and all thanks to the call of God. That call of God came to me through my local church and through my ministerial fellowship, a credentialing body for pastors and ministry leaders. I was sponsored by my Lead Pastor back in 2003 to be given a basic local license through the ministerial. I was to operate under the lead pastor in a support leadership role. Through the grace of God I have continued to grow in this and have since been upgraded to a general license. I am an Assistant Pastor thanks to the folks of this church and ministerial and also my friends and family. Most of all, I am grateful to the Lord for holding me steady through all the years, especially the years in which I endured being abandoned by a spouse. The marriage ended in divorce  (married 2005, divorced 2009). Despite all my efforts to save the marriage, my spouse walked away dishonestly. My exwife was as described in 1 Corinthians 7:15. She did not believe the Word (despite the fact that she had confessed Christ.) That word "unbeliever" means more: it means someone who does not practice the Christian faith or believe it, but it also means someone who is "not credible". Giving your vows to someone to support them in life and in ministry and then walking away for no real reason is not credible behaviour.

So here I am, a divorced assistant pastor. How then am I still in ministry?

Yes it is true: the average divorced/separated pastor does not get to go through recovery while in active ministry.

But in my case, the Lord and the Church and the Ministerial allowed me to continue to function in my role. This was because they view me as faithful to the end of marriage, and faithful to the work of God. Indeed I was not, and am not, the only minister who happens to be divorced within our ministerial. The key is, in order for a divorced minister to continue leading, he or she must have been faithful to the end of the marriage. And that was the case with me. I remained true to my ex-wife until the court ordered divorce was finalized.

The difference that divorce brought was that I would not be advancing to a higher levels than my current one until further recovery had occured. This is on the Ministerial level, not the church level. As it stands, I am still thankfully a General License holder. As my personal marital recovery becomes more complete, I may one day see an opportunity for a higher credential, regardless of my marital status.  I leave that with the Lord.

On the Local Church level, there was what I call a "holding pattern".
Initially as the break down in my marriage started in 2006, the nights I spoke at the church were to remain as they were, but new windows would not open to me immediately- for everyone's protection. Those windows started opening as the congregation and church leaders saw my stability in God's Grace. I was able to continue in my capacity as a Youth Pastor throughout 2006 and 2007, praise God! But those were personally sad years for me. The joy of the Lord kept me going. In the fall of 2007 I was eventually promoted  to the position of a worship leader, a new window of opportunity that my local assembly opened to me after they saw I remained stable in God's Grace. I was a Youth Pastor at the time my troubles began. When I became a worship leader as well as a Youth Pastor, my title was changed to "Youth & Arts Pastor" to reflect the promotion and also my involvement with church photography and the creation and upkeep of the church's website. My local church has since awarded me a newer promotion in the summer of 2012. I was promoted to Assistant Pastor. Again, praise be to God!

Showing stability and faithfulness is not an easy task when your world around you seems to be melting and crumbling down. But God is able to hold us up in the worst of times! God rewards our steady day-by-day, year-by-year faithfulness, even though we ourselves can sometimes suffer from the unfaithfulness of our own loved ones. But God is always faithful, never to abandon us, or forsake us! He displayed His faithfulness to me through my local church and through the ministerial as well.

So in my gratitude, I thank the Lord and my friends and family. I thank my church and ministerial for supporting me in a time of great loss. My marriage was supposed to be an extension of God's love between husband and wife, and toward the people of God in ministry. When my wife decided to quit and be dishonest in her commitments to me and the ministry, and got up and left me permanently, it was the Lord and His grace that held me up in the storm. His hand reached out to me through the local church and the broader ministerial. I would not be here doing what I do except by the Grace of Christ as seen in my local church and my ministerial network.

I am here today to tell you that if you are experiencing a human meltdown of relationships or finance or of some other tragedy, that you should just stay true to God's call. Hang on to Him and don't let go! He will sustain you through His Spirit, His Local Congregation, and His Network of Saints! Read through 1 Corinthians chapter 7 as it really helped me sort through things. In this chapter the major theme is not really the marriage or singleness or divorce. The real theme of the chapter is the Call of God. Each person is to remain true to God's call on their individual life, regardless of the conditions they find themselves surrounded in.
 I stood for God's call on my life, and He sustained me and my ministry through my church and ministerial. It is a miracle since most denominations and ministerials tend to take the pastor off active duty if his marriage breaks down. Some places do not recognize who was faithful and who was not. But my church and ministerial chose to respect my steadiness in Christ. But that steadiness was partly thanks to their help! And it was ALL by the GRACE of God!
 I am here to declare that GOD in CHRIST is FAITHFUL. I simply yielded, and allowed God to be Faithful through me. And it is with awe and wonder, respect and humility that I sit here today, more than 3 years after divorce, and thank Jesus for the honour and privilege of serving Him.
~CJA, 2013

UPDATE Dec 20, 2019 - I have been divorced for well over a decade now and God remains faithful to me. Since July 2014 I have been running a discipleship Bible study for Christian singles called Christian Singles On The GO within the church. It is monthly. Every now and then we do a fun social event for the singles also.
So, God continues to bless me as a single-again Christian. After 10 years, God has proven to me how valuable the season of singleness is to Him and His Kingdom. SO much can be accomplished by a Christian who is single, and focused on knowing Jesus, resting in Jesus, and serving Jesus. It no longer matters if any woman comes by me or not. I am serving Jesus. Singleness has its own purpose, apart from marriage. Marriage can be a blessing, if you marry a godly spouse. But singleness is ALSO a blessing, one that most people do not seem to want or recognize.
 Both marriage and singleness are seasonal gifts that can accomplish things by the Spirit of God, for the Kingdom of God. (Ecc. 3:5b, 1 Cor. 7:7) Marriage may one day be a part of the picture again, many years down the road, Lord willing I live. But right now, singleness is too valuable for me to simply let it go or squander it. I have surrendered all to Jesus and am in His will. Wow, what a tremendous transformation in my life. He has made me into a successful, healed, and whole single man serving Jesus with a secure identity in CHRIST. My redemption story is complete! Christ alone (not woman) completes me! Col. 2:10.

Colossians 2:10 New King James Version (NKJV)
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

God bless and thank you for reading my Victory Story!

Learn more about my ministry to singles at these links:

website: www.churchonthego.ca/christiansingles.html 

facebook page: www.facebook.com/christiansinglesonthego/

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