I was 12 when I became king.
I am evil at heart.
I will do everything I can to desecrate the name of God.
I have built altars to idols in the place of God’s honor.
I love the stars, and they have become my guide.
I seek the starry hosts more than the host of hosts.
I tied my sons up.
Bound their screaming bodies together.
I burned them alive, to appease the “gods.”
I have practiced witchcraft…
I have been more evil than any other king.
I have led the people of God away…on purpose.
I have ignored the tangible voice of God.
I have now been captured.
A hole has been driven through my nose, and a hook placed there.
I am shackled and led to Babylon.
I AM EVIL.
I prayed today.
I sought God with my heart, what little is left.
I repented in my distress……………..and……
………………………….God FORGAVE me.
He freed me from Babylon.
He returned my kingdom to me.
I removed all the idols and worthless “gods.”
I have rebuilt the city.
I returned the nation to making proper sacrifices to God.
I was EVIL………………….
I was forgiven.
May you who read this find grace today. May you understand that no level of evil will ever outweigh the overshadowing love of a Father who would do anything to love you. A simple love, yet one that cannot be explained. May you receive freedom from what holds you back, and courage to walk in your God ordained future.
For the second week in a row I have gone to church as a visitor. Yes, it’s hard, but I am finding God is using this as an amazing teaching time for me. As a pastor and church leader, I know exactly how much time and preparation goes into putting together a Sunday experience that will touch the lives of people. We teach about God’s love, and I know we mean it. We talk about bringing in visitors, and we really want the people to do that. After all, we have spent all this time preparing them for a life-changing encounter with God through His vehicle, the local church. Let me give you my experience today.
Brenda did not go to church today because she is backslidden, JUST KIDDING! (Gracen was sick and she stayed home with him, while I took the girls to church with me.) SO as I walked up, I must have looked like a single dad with two little girls. There was a ton of people outside the front doors of the church in a courtyard like feel. It was obvious that these people loved being around each other. Laughter, camaraderie, and fellowship was everywhere. I was teeming with anticipation about getting there as we strode through the parking lot. Where are the parking lot attendants? (I guess they are off today.) As I entered the courtyard, I had no idea where to go. Probably a hundred people here, yet no one has spoken to us. The kids are begging me to take them to kids church but we can’t find it. Oh, there are some doors with kids going in, let’s go that way. We get in the side wing, and there is a good size group of people all full of smiles and talking, but not to us. We look around for kids workers but no one is wearing any form of ID to identify themselves as volunteers. Come on girls we will go into the main building and find some help. There is the info table! Now we will get some help. We stood there for 6 minutes (yes I counted) with no one coming to help us, and as a matter of fact people actually looked upset that we were standing in the way. We finally found a greeter handing out bulletins and when we walked up to him, we waited patiently for him to finish a conversation he was very engaged in. When he saw me, I got excited that we were going to get some help! He just reached out a bulletin, and didn’t say a word, not even a hello. We were done. The girls just asked if they could stay with me and I allowed it, even though I normally don’t. We sat down 15 minutes before church started thinking surely someone will talk to us. Nope. Not one. Not a soul. Church began, and after 4 songs they took a 10 minute break. Someone surely would come now, this is the time when they are trained to talk to visitors right? Nope. We sat there by ourselves. We sat through the rest of service, and when we left we were treated the same, no one spoke. My girls and I were at a church for 85 minutes today without being spoken to. Am I exaggerating? I wish. We did not talk to anyone except each other.
Maybe they had an off day. Maybe I will go try again. It will not affect my relationship with God, nor my thoughts about how great I believe the local church is. It has broken my heart though. What if I was a single dad, who was struggling to keep it together, and finally, decided with no hope left I would find a church. And this was his experience?
Pastors and church leaders, I beg you to listen and read this with an open heart. I am not bashing this church, just stating facts that the leadership might not even know exists. I am asking you to examine what happens at your church from the moment someone walks on the property. If you are a member at a church, I want to challenge you to be alert to new people, open to talk to someone you don’t know, and ready to be used by God to potentially change a life. In all honesty, it is more on you than the pastors, sorry but it’s true.
Next week I will go to another church and pray that God again teaches me, except maybe not in such a lonely way!!!
She came down the stairs this morning crying, her bedhead hair not yet brushed. She was crying for the 4th time this morning. First she cried about not knowing where to go when she got off the bus at school. I “fixed” it by explaining that she just had to ask a teacher. Then she began to cry about leaving her Cadence to walk (about 10 yards) alone. I explained that I understood the pressure of being the oldest and caring about her little sister but that her little sister had no fear and that there was nothing to worry about. The school was safe and she would be fine. I “fixed” her problem again, go daddy! Then her tears returned because she was afraid the bus would get in a wreck. I so confidently “fixed” this issue as well by explaining that busses get in less wrecks than cars do. Man I am on a roll this morning I thought. I am knocking out all her fears and the tears should stop now. I have “fixed” it all! Dad of The Year Award? Then she taught me how stupid I was. She came down the stairs, my angel and first born. The one that saved my life with her birth. The one that has touched my heart in ways I didn’t know possible. She looked up at me and simply said, “Daddy, is it okay if I just want to cry? I just want you to hold me while I cry.” I was so broken. I wanted to take that dad of the year award I had given myself, turn it sideways and shove it…well you get the picture. She just wanted her Daddy to hold her without “fixing” anything. In her world, it would all be “fixed” if I would shut my stupid pie hole and just hold her. No words, no solutions, no logic, just her daddy. So what did I do? Yep, sat in the middle of the floor and held her. And she cried…and cried…and cried. Big tears that shook her fragile little body. I held her, held her until she was done. I no intention of letting her go until it was over…by her standards. Nothing mattered, not time, not a schedule, not a to-do list or the church or anything. This was her time with daddy and she knew it. Nothing would have stopped me from holding her, except her little voice that finally said through swollen eyes and matted hair, “I’m okay now dad, thanks.” Then it hit me…
When was the last time I just sat down with God and allowed Him to hold me? It seems I am really good at allowing God to fix my issues, and He usually does. But that will never replace the joy of a father getting to hold his son. Why don’t I just allow Him? Because if I cry to God, does that mean my faith is weak? I am the guy that helps people fix things, I am a problem solver. I am innovative and creative when it comes to “getting it done.” I can evaluate a situation and usually come up with a plan to make it better. God will think I am weak, not ready for the task ahead of me, or not worthy of what He has planned for my life. This is the first time I think I have been able to articulate this and it feels really good to know I don’t have to have it all together. There are problems I can’t solve, and He knows that. There are things I can’t handle alone, and He knows that. There are days I just want to cry and have Him hold me, and He knows that.
I am sure the journey you are on will also have these moments. When you just want to cry and not be told the answer. When it all just has to come out, be cleansed in the deepest places of your heart, when a river of tears will help the process. Today I will pray with no words, I will simply be. I will not take requests or tell God how great I think He is. I will not fill the time with rambling, or a list of prayer requests that people have given me. I will simply be. Selfish maybe, but I will sit in the arms of God and cry.
May you allow your heart the freedom to cry today. Tears of joy, sadness, confusion, frustration will be wiped away by the heart of a Savior that can not be measured. May you find newness in your relationship with your Father, and may you sit in His arms ntil you are done.
I feel guilty and am not sure how exactly to unpack it, so you, my faithful readers will have to be the faceless way that I will share my feelings. I have been dealing with something all day and I feel guilty about it. I understand it, I know it is normal, but I still can’t shake the guilt.
I need a BREAK from my kids. Yep, I said it, a break. Some time alone, to think, be alone, not hear noise, to process all the thoughts going crazy in my head. I can’t seem to do any of these things due to crying, laughter, arguing, playing, and all the other things that go along with being a dad. I think my name has been changed to “Daddy Anita.” (As in daddy, anita drink. Daddy, anita snack. Daddy, anita this or that.) Let me explain…
We took them out of school in Tallahassee on Friday, October 2nd. We moved on October 5th. We allowed them last week off to get settled in their new environment, and planned on registering them last Friday. Due to the fact we had to prove residency (which was harder than we thought) we couldn’t get them registered until today the 13th. They start school tomorrow! This means I have had my kids with me for 11 days straight with no break. Add that to the moving chaos, unpacking, and trying to get used to a new city, and I am a dad that needs a day to myself.
Now, those of you that know me understand I am a Mr. Mom. I take them to school, pick them up, make their lunches, cook dinner, pray with them at night, and put them to bed. Not because Brenda can’t, but because I love to. I love my kids with everything in me, and that is why I think I feel guilty. I have been trying to hide it for a few days, but tonight I finally came clean to Brenda and said I am ready for them to be back in school.
I know in the knowledge part of my brain that this is completely normal. We all need time alone, away from even those we love with an unquenched intensity. The heart side of me says that I should never want to be away from my kids, I should want them around me all the time, I should not be able to function without them with me. This is simply not the case, and while I know it is okay to need a break I feel guilty. I have been trying to figure out why and really don’t have an answer…but it makes me love God more.
Yep, in my guilt I find again God teaching me. In our humanity, we all need time away from people. To just regain our sanity and think. God doesn’t. He wants us all the time. He loves us beyond the ability to be frustrated to the point He tells us to go away. He never tells us to leave or to just “give Daddy some alone time.” He wants to and gives us all of His attention…in our good moments…and in our bad. We are never a bother to Him, pester Him, bug Him, ask too much of Him, or any of the other things I have experienced in the last 11 days. God loves us, all the time…no matter what.
Okay, I think I hear my kids calling, thanks for listening.
For the next little while, I will be using this blog as a way to update the birthing process of Baypointe Church and keep friends, family, and fellow leaders updated on the status of the Liles family during it all.
Week 1 – Transition. This was definitely the theme for this past week. It was a long week of getting moved on Monday and Tuesday and trying to get unpacked. As of this writing (Sunday morning) we are about 75% unpacked physically and much more mentally! I am ready for this upcoming week for a couple of reasons:
- The kids go to school. I love my kids more than I can explain, but having them under my feet, trying to move, and getting unpacked for 9 days straight has me ready for some space. Mack is in this age where she wants to be with me and Brenda all the time, wants to only have “adult” conversations, and forgets she is only 9. Need some space. Cadence is still thinking we are on vacation so she wants to “go somewhere” everyday, eat out for all meals, and have no schedule. Need space. Gracen, well he is just a crazy 2 year old. Need space. Do I feel guilty about wanting some alone time? Nope, it’s needed if I want to be a good father. This week they go back to school and that will give me the space I need.
- Brenda starts her new job. She is really excited and nervous, but this is what she has been wanting. She was really nervous yesterday and basically feels like she is the new kid in school. I am so proud of her, and can’t imagine doing life without her.
- I get to start working on Baypointe Church! This is why God brought us here and I am ready to get it going. I have so much to do, but I know the work will bring so many rewards. This week is mostly a administrative week (establish non-profit status, incorporation process, bank account, set up virtual office space, etc) but these things must get done. My office for the week is not too bad, it’s only a Starbucks about 200 yards from the ocean…
I am looking forward to our life here. I am ready for the staff of Baypointe to get here to start this journey with me. They are an excited group of guys that are relocating here because they believe that this is a God moment for me and for them. I admire their faith and can’t wait to serve this community with them!
Excitement. Anxiety. Joy. Nervous. Happy. Sad…
In the last few weeks, many people have asked how I am feeling in response to my next step in life. To be honest, it just depends on when you ask me. It depends on what I am thinking about. I am an emotional burrito!!!
Today is the last day in the office of GCTV. I have learned so much while working here that I will be forever indebted to Pastor Brian and the staff. In only a year and a half we have become a close team that has survived more than any church staff should. One day our story will be told, and when it is, most people will be blown away, while others won’t believe it. It has been the greatest test of leadership any of us will probably face, but in the end we are greater leaders for it. The staff at GCTV loves the people of this church more than the people understand, and that is something I want everyone to know. Never take for granted how much this staff loves you, and will be there if you need them.
Let’s lighten things up a bit…here are some things I have learned while I was here:
- Pastors Brian and Scott have weird tastes in football teams! But I will say this, they are loyal to their teams despite all the garbage they get for it.
- Kathy Stock’s voice reminds me of Norah Jones.
- Scotty Thornton is one of the most laid back guys I know. You gotta keep an eye on that guy…
- Robby Hughes is by far one of the funniest and most random guys I have ever met! I will always be the Commander though…
- Steve Mooney is really a Pirate at heart.
- Pastor Lance’s laugh makes me laugh. It’s one of the deepest laughs I have ever heard.
- Tabitha Hunter makes the best cupcakes on the planet. No discussion. And don’t give me one of those “Well, you should tastes my Aunt Betsie’s.” I won’t and I don’t want to! Put that in your cupcake pan…
- Jason Stock should join the UFC. Just sayin…
- I have not many people that generally love people as much as Lisa Collier. It’s inspiring.
- Marty Fitzpatrick is just a funny guy. And you really need to see his son breakdance!
- Jerad Collier is a music snob. “A Blues band and a Jazz band are not the same thing!!!!”
- Tiffany Mooney and Amber Tice are two of the most loyal and talented Kids Workers I have ever seen. Please don’t stop loving these kids, they need you.
- Tiffany Stuart, I think you have a Facebook addiction. I am starting a FB Anonymous group and you need to be there! But, kidding aside, you have also been very encouraging and Gracen will miss you terribly.
- Pastor Scott is one of the most talented guys I know. Is there really anything he can’t do?
- Pastor Brian has more shoes than most women I know. Just kidding…wait, no I am not! That dude has got some shoes!
- Piney and Michelle have been great friends since the day I pulled in the driveway of Tallahassee. I will miss you guys more than you know…
- Jeremy Williams is a gangsta in hiding. Don’t let the red hair fool ya. You will find that out if he texts you. Thanks for all the lunches, they are priceless.
- Ty and Jenn – You guys will be fine. Your marriage will rock!
- Did I mention that Tabitha Hunter makes amazing cupcakes?
Okay, let’s be honest. I am only moving a couple hours away so it not like we won’t see you again. I have made so many friendships, that the list could go on for a long time and no one would read it anyway. Maybe I’ll do a second one later…
I am a better person for having been here. I am a better leader, thinker, and can’t say how much I treasure my time here. Was it rough? At times, but the tough times shape us. Was it fun? Of course, that’s when good memories are made. Will I miss it? More than you will ever know. I am on a new journey, one that will be filled with great accomplishments as well as a few failures. But, I know that it is one that God has ordained, and that is all I really need to know.
It was announced today at Genesischurch.tv that I would be leaving. Now before you flip out and go into detective mode to try and figure why I would leave such an amazing church I am just going to tell you so you can know. I am planting a brand new church in Panama City called Baypointe Church!!!!
For the past few months Pastor Brian Hunter and I have been talking about this and I feel this is the next step for me in my faith journey. The Florida Church of God State Office has approved me, and my family and I are taking some steps of faith to make this vision I have a reality. I am excited and a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous!) about this but know that I know this is a God moment in my life. Pastor Brian and Genesis will be partnering with me to plant this church. They will providing resources, equipment, coaching, as a way to be a major part of this church plant.
A couple of details I am sure you are wondering about. My last Sunday at Genesis will be October 4th. Brenda (through a huge miracle of God) has been transferred from her present job to her corporate office which is located in Panama City. She starts on October 12th so we will be moving the weekend of the 9th and 10th. (We need help moving! At least you will be getting an excuse to go to the beach for the weekend…) Our opening day for Baypointe will be April 4th 2010 which is Easter Sunday. Between now and then I will be forming a core group, training teams, and yes RAISING MONEY! It will take a lot of finances to make this dream a reality, but I believe that God will lead me to the right people and churches that will invest in a kingdom moment. Many of you reading this I believe are those friends that God will use to help financially and in prayer.
This is not a sad thing, this is a great thing! I will miss so many people at Genesischurch, but through our partnership with Genesis I will be in close touch with many of you. Please keep us in your prayers as I take on the daunting task of raising the necessary funds that will make the dream of a life-changing, Spirit filled, church in Panama City a reality.