Some of You Have Asked Me

For over three decades I preached like a traditional, conservative pastor should...with should being the operative word. 

You see, for the longest time I did what I was told as a preacher. I preached expository sermons, voted Republican, shared the gospel, and towed the evangelical line.

My fellow pastors were pleased with me, and I figured God was too. After a period of time, however, my heart became empty. I was going through the motions, and trying to hide it from everyone. 

Mind you, I still believed in Jesus, and in the power of prayer...just not my prayers. I believed that I was disgracing the pulpit, which I loved, by the way. I miss preaching. I really do. I left local church ministry in 2016 at the church's request. When that happened I felt like a failure to my family, the ministry, and most of all to God. I had burnt out mentally and emotionally. My feelings were all over the place and I had no control of them. I had a total nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for three days. I was then admitted to mandatory intensive outpatient therapy.

Part of my program was group therapy. During my first group, I listened to all these people who had some really sad issues. I wanted to help every one of them. Pastor Todd to the rescue!

It was then that I realized I was not there to help anyone. I needed help. I was one of them. I had my own set of sad issues. There were also various classes we would go to. And we had one-on-one therapy. My favorite part of the program was the group therapy though. Hearing people share their stories really resonated with me. I started thinking of my 30 years in the local church and wondered how many people like this I walked right past without a second thought. 

I reflected hard on my ministry career. Did I even help one person? Did I even care to know what people were going through? I realized how arrogant I had been as a pastor. The church was filled with reprobates that God wanted me to whip into shape! I was not a hireling of the church. I was the Pastor! When people got mad at me and left the church, I rejoiced and said God was giving a back-door revival. I was awful.

The Law of Sowing and Reaping cannot be argued. You will always reap what you sow. I finally started reaping my arrogance. My family fell apart. The church asked me to resign. I was once a pillar of my community. I spoke at PTO meetings, and I was even approached to run for public office. Now I was an outcast. 

The journey back is spelled out in my book, The Renewing of Your Mind. After leaving the ministry in 2016, I began doing extensive research on the human brain. I also read three books that completely unraveled my personal belief system. One was The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young. Another was Love Wins, by Rob Bell. The third was, The Divine Invitation, by Steve McVey.

I realized that for all those years, I had placed God in a box. My box. He could only do what I believed He could do. My life had been stuck between Genesis and Maps. I became so incredibly humbled by my arrogant presumption toward the God of all things. 

The seed for this was planted in 1998 by Dr. Larry Crabb, Christian Psychiatrist and Philosopher. We had co-officiated my brother's wedding. Our conversation lasted 20 minutes, and I mostly listened while he shared how pastors get so depressed because of doctrine and dogma. That was me. It was like a weight lifted. I wasn't alone! Dr. Crabb is an amazing man.

Fast forward to 2017. I began reading more books on the brain. I had discovered yoga breathing in group therapy. I learned about energy vibrations and quantum theory. I learned about meditation. I began to realize that God and our Universe are way bigger than I ever imagined or could comprehend.

In the light of my new knowledge, I closed my mental door to traditional conservative theology. It just wasn't me anymore and I was okay with that. We like labels, so let me just say I moved over to a more Progressive way of thinking. I believe that when Jesus said, "It is finished," He meant it. His death on the was so that NO ONE would perish, but all have eternal life. I am leaning toward Universal Grace. Honestly, grace has WAY to many requirements in my old camp. God loves you, unconditionally, but,...

Here's what amazes me about this change. I have been reading my Bible every single day. I didn't even do that when I was a pastor! I am listening to Christian music again. I had sworn that off years ago. I feel released and free to let God be God and stop trying to tell Him what He cannot do. I feel like I have graduated into a more enlightened perspective on things.

I am happier than I have been in a long, long, long time. I almost abandoned my Christian faith during my post-church journey. Then one day I listened to a message by none other than Joel Osteen (grab your pitchforks!). It was like I was hearing from God directly. It was about comebacks. He is not the evil false prophet conservatives make him out to be.

I am in a good place right now, I am praying about starting a church for people who were hurt by people like me in church. I want to provide a safe place for them to come and be welcomed and affirmed just as they are. LGBT and Transgendered are welcome.

I hope this clears the matter up for you. For more clarity, I invite you to read my soon-to-be published book. I get way more specific in there (shameless plug!) 

I am happy to sit down with a cup of coffee and talk about this further. Anytime! Like I said in my book, I am not looking to start a movement. I don't want followers. I only want better conversations.

Bright blessings!


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