Spiritual fathers & mothers… Monday musings…

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a friend about my age (40+ish. The closer I get to 50, the more 40 seems like another lifetime ago. But I digress.)

My friend, (like me) had been in ‘the Church’ for more than 20 years. And after those many years of active, vibrant church-life, he felt like the Church really had nothing else to offer him. After all, “I’ve been there, done that, learned that, heard that, lived that… And I feel like I’m at the spot in my life/maturity where there’s nothing else in it for me. Nothing else really to learn…” That wasn’t the 1st time I’d had the conversation, & most likely, it won’t be the last. While I think I understand, in theory, what my friend was saying, I think he could be missing something incredibly important: the opportunity to be a spiritual father/father in the faith to upcoming generations of Christ-followers. Here’s what I mean.


Looking back on my life inside (& outside) of the Church, I can point to a handful of men & women, some who couldn’t have been more than 5 years older than me, who invested themselves in my life, people who helped shape me into the man I am today. This (non-comprehensive) list includes:

  • my Sunday school teachers
  • a large number people who attended some incarnation of our family’s small group Bible study over the course of 15 years & took the time to include me in their discussions (Bible & other kids), played catch with me, & generally acted like it was totally normal for an adult to have a pre-teen/teen kid hang out
  • sports team coaches/assistants
  • youth leaders & pastors
  • camp cabin leaders
  • small group leaders who hosted a Bible study group (& fed me & my friends)
  • the list goes on…

In real life, we go through transitions… at one point, we were all completely dependent on others for our care, food, shelter, diaper changing, etc… & gradually, we all go (& grow) through various stages of dependence to become, for better or worse, independent. We get married, have our own families, & then repeat the cycle, except this time with us being mostly on the giving vs. receiving of the care. When we’re dealing with our kids, it’s not like we come to a spot where we think, “You know, I am not really getting anything out of this whole parent thing. Shouldn’t there be something more in it for me…? I’m out.” 

In the Church life, we go through transitions as well… hopefully reaching a point in our Christian development where we are able to give back & pour our lives into others who are still in the early stages of growth & maturity. In essence, we get to give back as spiritual fathers/mothers, without regard for exactly what’s in it for us, or knowing HOW we are going to get something out of it. We get to join with the very Body (the Church) that brought us to the point where we were grown/mostly grown up, mature, not ‘needing’ anything from others. This joining with the mission of the Church can be called a lot of things, discipleship, mentoring, etc… To me, the terminology isn’t what’s important. What matters is that we adopt & ascribe to the Kingdom of God values more than we adopt & ascribe to our American culture of consumerism (a ‘what’s in it for me’ faith.)


I’ve had many, many conversations with young people (translation: people younger than me) who say they don’t have a role model, a mentor, a coach, a spiritual father/mother to give input in their lives. And, they don’t really know how to go about getting one. Which, in my opinion, is one of the reasons why we who have been around the block a few times, who have grown & matured in our relationship with God, have the responsibility to take the initiative & get involved in the lives of others. I’m not saying we start out by introducing ourselves as their new spiritual father/mother, (c’mon: that’s weird.) I’m saying we just do it – in a small group, as a coach in rec-league sports, inviting people over for dinner – & not worry about what title we get/don’t get from them. Call it paying it forward or being on the Giver Team, it is an integral part of the lifecycle of the Christian faith, & we have the privilege of being able to play a role in the lives of others.

And the best part, we DO get something out of that.

 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak & remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35 English Standard Version


NOTE: I intentionally avoided (or attempted to) the definition of what the Church could/should look like. To me, those are delivery systems, (not the main thing) & the point I am trying to make is, whatever the Church delivery system you’re a part of, take the time to invest in (disciple) others. Someone. Somewhere. Somehow. It makes an eternal difference.

It’s not about me…

Last year I spent a little over a month blogging through the Book of Acts – 1 post per chapter. Several people were invited by a mutual friend to do this with the thoughts that The Collective End Product might be able to be compiled & bound into a book of some sorts.

The (original) project didn’t end up coming together, but a couple weeks back, I found out that several blogs that we’d written had been combined with some others as a part of a devotional book called DAILY ACTS. Sweet. I was really excited & my wife & kids thought it was pretty cool. So we bought a copy of the book. It is good stuff, & not just because I wrote a portion.

There was only one ‘problem.’ Every one of the blog/devotions that I wrote were attributed to “Louie D. Locke, Pastor of Fountainhead Foursquare Church in Carson City, NV.” That’s not me. It’s my dad.

Ouch.

My dad & I are both pastors in the Foursquare Church. We have the same first name. And last name. Over the last 20 years, this has resulted in me getting his anniversary cards. Him getting my correspondence. Both of us getting emails, letters, and phone calls meant for the other. It happens.

As soon as I saw the attribution, I felt something rise up in my gut. I think it was frustration. I felt wronged. I wanted the world to know that it was really me that had written the blogs. Not because I’m a glory hound: at least I don’t think so. Not because I want to be famous. But because I did the work. So I did what I’ve learned to do when I feel ME rising up inside, getting all indignant & frustrated at one of life’s quirky yet painful happenings. I went to a private place & told God what was up. What I was feeling. In gruesome detail. I talked til I was talked out. It wasn’t that I felt much better at the end, but I did feel understood. Like He got me.

Then, a question popped into my head –
GOD – “Why did you write the blogs on Acts?”

ME: “Because I hoped that they’d help people read, study, understand, & apply the Scriptures.”

GOD – “Is that going to happen?”

ME: “Yes.”

GOD: “So what’s the problem?”

ME: “I guess I wanted the credit.”

GOD: “It’s not about you. Don’t make it about you. You start making it about you, you’ll try to make yourself known. Someone great, in the eyes of others. Don’t do it.”

ME: “Ok.”

GOD: “Remember, whatever you do, you’re doing it for Me. My glory. My purposes.”

ME: “Got it. Yes Sir.”

The frustration lifted. My head cleared. And so did my heart.

Day 2 musings… – Columbus, OH – Connection 2011

Day 2 – Columbus
This has been a very rich experience for me – every meeting, every interaction has been full of significance & meaning. As I’ve looked back on the day to try to “sum up,” I find that my words are inadequate to do justice to describe it & will probably leave . So, here I go with some musings…

From the messages –
• Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; He came to make dead people alive.
• In the context of 1Kings 17 & Acts 20 – if/when you come across death, hug it – the life that is in you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will bring life… For the same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead is alive in you, & gives life to you…(Romans 8:11)
• Bitterness, unforgiveness & resentment from past hurts are deadly, spreading poison, barrenness, disunity, & isolation – with the ultimate result a lack of fruitfulness & sensitivity. The only way these can be truly dealt with is with true humility & repentance.
o Isaiah 58:8,9; Isaiah 1:18,19; Matthew 11:28-30; John 7:37-39
• On the heels of repentance, God calls us to hunger & thirst for righteousness, & for the work of the Holy Spirit in, through, & around our lives
o To determine to repent, forgive, to be healed
o To see God work physical miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit
o To release to the church signs & wonders that point to Jesus Christ


I met for lunch with Jan von Wille, a friend & pastor from Germany – we spent several hours catching up over food & coffee – talking through the commonality of experience we have, albeit in different contexts. I came away feeling refreshed & encouraged, like 2 parts of my life that haven’t been ‘connected’ in a long time had come together. There’s a piece of me & my heart in Germany, & when I’m gone from there too long, I really feel it. Here’s to hopefully being there again this November for the Foursquare Deutschland pastorenfortbildung (Pastors training/strengthening/conference.)

In the afternoon, I had the privilege of being a part of a ‘task force’ that is specifically strategizing how to help the Foursquare church (local, division, district, etc.) find ways to reach, train, empower the next generation – over the next months, we’ll be offering up practical suggestions & steps to help do this, looking 3-5 years into the future. Good times.


The highlight of my day happened on accident – right after the task force meeting, I had to make a run for the facilities… unfortunately, there was no restroom. So, I had to make my way down a couple of escalators & search, (increasingly frantically, I might add. And BTW: that isn’t the highlight.)

In my search, I ran into my friend Jason D. – he is a dear friend that I haven’t seen in several years; his wife, Alyse, is theWeez’s namesake – they were a part of our church & youth group leadership team in Carson City, & they now live in South Carolina.

They’re at convention working in the ‘exhibit hall’ – serving as sponsors of a booth that is helping raise money for kids in Nepal – they’ve been active in missions in India, & have a heart for the kind of life & ministry that meets practical, tangible needs, as well as presents the gospel Good News in a way that makes sense to where people are.

I spent more time than they had, just listening, talking, & well, looking with disbelief at these two. More times than I can tell you, I’ve wanted nothing more than to be able to see these guys again… I feel very rich to have the relationships, friendships, & community that I do in Reno; I realized today that my heart has longed for the reconnection of the very old & dear friendship of these dear people.

Still can’t quite believe it. Feeling thankful. Alive. Joyful.

Wanted: Table servers. Must have good reputation, be full of the Spirit & full of wisdom…

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples & said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit & of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer & to the ministry of the word.”… & Stephen, full of grace & power, was doing great wonders & signs among the people. Acts 6:1-4,8

What are the characteristics you’d look for in a person to serve tables? Good personality. Responsible. Able to multi-task.

The disciples had a different list: Good reputation. Full of the Holy Spirit. Full of wisdom.

To serve tables. Isn’t that a little much?

I don’t think so. The disciples weren’t just trying to find a warm body to help pass out food; they needed several someones that fit their description exactly to help heal a potentially volatile situation that had arisen in the church.

“…anyone who calls upon the Name of the LORD will be saved,” meant that people who had had little to nothing to do with each other in the past, were now worshiping Christ together. Former points of division were tentatively, but surely being overcome.

It was precisely at those points of racial and cultural division that our enemy, the devil, attempted to strike by stirring up offense & bitterness, trying to get the Greeks to lash out & retaliate against the Jews, subtly whispering to them that this ‘salvation in Christ’ was just a sham, & that the Greeks were still second class citizens.

The Apostles brought the Church together – the whole church – & asked them to pick 7 men, of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit & wisdom. And they did – if you read Acts 6:5, you will see that all the men chosen had Greek names.

This seemingly menial assignment was actually one of great significance, & the discernment, grace, & faithfulness of Stephen & the rest help diffuse the antagonism & bring unity to the Church.

Every single one of us who belongs to Christ serves in a vital place in the body. Our job title may not be prestigious according to the wisdom & values of our culture, but in the eyes of the One who made a way for us to serve in that role, it’s perfect. Because our world needs us, men & women of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, & full of wisdom to bring glory to God by the way we live & serve.

And real significance comes from hearing God say, “Well done, good & faithful servant.”

Preparing for the Spring…

Looking out across the valley, the last rays of sun leap out from behind the Sierras. Dark clouds streak the sky as a whistling wind rises & falls, reminding me that though this is the 1st official day of Spring, Winter hasn’t packed his bags & moved on. Yet.

The tease of the last few warm days have almost wiped away the memory of 2 feet of snow just 1 month ago. The ‘new-ness’ of life that comes with Spring definitely makes me think about change & transition. Wondering what new things are headed my way. What ‘new mercies of the LORD’ are coming towards me? Where am I going to be challenged to grow, develop, & lean into God in a new way…? To be taken beyond what I can see & know to the place of utter dependence. The place of “I don’t know about 2 weeks from now; though I’m fairly sure about today. And I know where to look tomorrow.” If that makes sense.

There is a temptation to stay where I am. In the familiar, the comfortable, the known. The places where my feet have marked a worn path, where I can almost walk with my eyes closed. A place where I feel competent. Strong. Secure.

To me, walking with God means being led. Not being the one in the drivers seat of my life, dictating what I’m doing & where I’ll be doing it; rather, looking for where it seems He’s at work in & mostly around me, & seeing how I can jump in in those spots. It means humility, a willingness to not “know” with certainty the plan for the next 3-5 months, let alone the next 3-5 years. To invite the Holy Spirit to shine a light into my life, even into the dark corners where we’ve hid the dirty laundry, that escapes even the most well-trained eye. But not His.

Practicing repentance. Realigning with God’s purpose, plan, & direction.

Laying down the right to be offended. To put aside (not deny, but not hold onto) hurt feelings. False accusations. A character that has been assassinated yet again, leaving the defense of me to the One who knows me best. Even if it means appearing weak.

The last several months, I’ve been reminded that I need to be planting God’s Word in my life, heart, mind, & spirit. To read, listen to, & meditate upon the Bible. To get it ‘in me,’ so that it can bring about the life God desires for me, & to provide fodder for the Holy Spirit to apply as the Spirit sees fit.

Entering Spring, I reapply myself to the Process, to say “Yes,” to what God has for me & mine in this next period of my life. That His purposes, His mission would be my priority. That love for others would overflow in my life; that I would grow in knowledge & discernment, to know what is REALLY important; to be fruitful in Christ-likeness, living pure & holy in His sight, bringing praise & glory to Him.

Yep. Here comes the Spring. And I’m looking for the new.