Dearest Friends of & Analysis:

Sometime today, if all goes according to schedule, I will receive my last severance check from the church I served for nearly ten years of my life. That’s what I got for nearly ten-years of service to one church: six weeks of severance and no going away party. I didn’t even get to go back and say good-bye. Just a ’sign this paper, clean out your office, and leave your door unlocked and keys on the desk’ was all I got. Life goes on.

So now I’m in a rather interesting phase of life. Even though I preached the Gospel with as much conviction and vigor as anyone, and I am as orthodox and conservative as the preachers I listen to (Carson, Wells, Keller; almost too conservative for!) it wasn’t enough. The Lord had other plans for me and my family. So I have been hired to work at a local video store as an assistant store manager, I have gone back to graduate school to work on my M.Ed in Moderate/Intensive Special Education, and I am staying the community where the church I served is located which means I still hear the rumors, still see the people, and still have to drive by periodically and see the place that was my home for nearly 10 years.

Today I will receive the last paycheck I will ever receive from a church. It’s a weird feeling: Euphoric on one hand since I have always had issues with ‘paid’ ministry; heartbreaking on the other because I no longer have a pulpit to preach from and because, despite my flaws that were evidently too much for some, I really did love my people. Like I said, it’s weird. Churches are strange creatures indeed. This is a difficult period of life because all I have known since 1991 is church work: Preaching, teaching, funerals, weddings, etc. Now I am learning about Diversity in the Classroom, the Rights of Special Needs students, and how to teach phonics. Strange indeed.

Anyhow, I have decided that one of the important things I have to do, as part of this so-called reclamation project, is rededicate myself to the Word of God. I have thought long and hard about this because there is a large part of me that really wants to blog about the last ten years of my life and the church that so unceremoniously disrupted my life and that of my family. Instead, I am rededicating myself to Scripture. Thus I am starting at the beginning, Genesis, and taking a long, slow, pilgrimage through the Bible–one chapter at a time–and blogging my way through it.

This little post is to let you know what has been going on since the middle of July and why I may have been not a little tense. I have sadly taken out some of it out on some of you and I am sorry I did. I haven’t slept well for the last 8 months and my stomach is constantly upset–can’t shake the nerves, the tears, or the hurt. Good friends and a new church home have helped immensely. I’m trying to learn, trying to grow, trying to make sense of God’s will in all of this and it is difficult. There are no answers that seem satisfactory as I was never given a reason why I was asked to leave.

Anyhow, as a shameless personal plug, if you would like to follow me on my journey through the Scripture, I invite you to visit my blog: Pilgrim at Lake View Avenue. There you can follow as I chronicle my way through the Bible. I am not making any judgments. I am not consulting the 1500 theological books sitting in bookcases in my house–the ones that are no longer serving my former congregation. I am reading through the Bible, slowly, and listening to God’s voice as if for the first time. I am reading the Bible as if I have never read it before–getting a fresh perspective, fresh water, fresh bread. I would be honored and greatly appreciative if you would join me on the journey–even if only periodically you pick up your Back-pack, lace up your boots, and travel with me.

Below is where my journey led me today–Genesis 2. Yesterday’s post is for Genesis 1. As always, I appreciate the friendships I have here at–especially the other writers who have been so gracious as to pray for me and my family and counsel me behind the scenes. Thanks again.


It is hard to start a project so massive. I think maybe I’ve taken on too much. Day to day. My course load at CSU is rather intense; 10 hours of graduate work is nothing to scoff at. Still I’m going on with my project to stay grounded in Scripture during this period of transition. If I don’t stay grounded, it is likely I will fall apart. So, Genesis 2.

I am reading this as if it were the first time I have ever read the Bible. How would the first time reader or, better, listener, have heard this chapter? What would have gone through their minds? Fresh eyes will hopefully lend fresh insight and fresh understanding. I come at this chapter, Genesis 2, then with mounds of questions:

Why is there a ‘second’ account of creation? Wasn’t the first enough? Did we need more detail?

Why does the Pishon river get more attention than its more famous brother, the Euphrates? Or even the Tigris?

Why did God rest on the seventh day? Was God really tired?

Does this chapter ‘fit’ with the previous chapter? Can they be reconciled?

Why did God create man to work? Why not create a self-sustaining world that never required any maintenance?

Why are we given so much information about this garden that God ‘planted’?

Why are we told about the gold in Havilah? The bdellium and onyx stones? Will knowledge of these ancient things give us greater insight into the mysteries of God? Will knowledge that there was good gold in Havilah, a place I cannot go now, give me greater wisdom unto salvation?

Why did God create the possibility for man to do the wrong thing by creating a tree ‘of the knowledge of good and evil’?

Did Adam and Eve understand what God meant when he said, ‘On the day you eat of it you shall surely die’? Did they know what death meant?

When man was in the garden, with God Almighty, why did God decided it was ‘not good’ for man to be alone?  Did God really expect Adam to find a suitable companion from among the oxen, beavers, and rattlesnakes?

What sort of drug did God use to cause Adam to fall into a deep sleep? Or is this a subtle way of saying that without sleep the creation of the woman would have caused man a great deal of pain?

Why did God entrust Adam to name all the animals? Did Adam ever have any regrets about the platypus? Did he have to think twice about the armadillo? And where did okapi come from?

Why did God shape the woman out of flesh but the man out of dust?

I wonder what the first night of sex was like? I wonder how they discovered it? I wonder who was on top? Did they do it for hours like teenagers who cannot get enough of the joyous discovery? Or was it like 10 minutes and done? Were either of them disappointed? Was it awkward or were they pros?

I wonder what it was like to not be ashamed? I wonder why we are told they weren’t ashamed? Is it to shame us who are ashamed?

I wonder what Adam and Eve looked like? Were they the quintessential buff models of physical perfection? Or were they rough, hairy, and reeking of body odor and bad breath?

Why are told more than once that ‘God put the man in the garden he had formed’?

What kind of work did Adam do in the garden without tools like shovels, hoes, spades, edgers, post-hole diggers, backhoes, front-loaders, and Chevy pick-up trucks? How did he get along without mulch and manure? What about a John Deere? How did he manage without that?!?

If chapter 1 teaches me a great deal about God, chapter 2 teaches me a great deal about man. Man was formed, shaped, created for work, given instructions, a consumer, married, unhappy as a loner, creative, fragile, and in love. And even in the midst of all this, all this newness and wonderment, man somehow survived. I mean, if I have this many questions, and more, imagine Adam’s questions. One day he wasn’t; then he was. Did he have to learn? Or was he like Neo: Plug him in and upload the knowledge?

I wonder what Adam’s first words were? What was the first breath like? Did he play Yahtzee?

I wonder what it is like to be in the presence of Almighty God, in a really cool garden, and yet still be rather lonely–lonely enough that God Almighty recognizes it and decides that despite all the ‘good’ stuff he had created, man’s loneliness is ‘not good.’

I wonder why God was not offended that man was lonely enough to need a companion other than God?

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 at 10:15 am and is filed under Blogging, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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34 Comments(+Add)

1   John Hughes    
August 25th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Jerry. Your blog link above does not work.

2   Rick Frueh
August 25th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Jerry – My prayers are with you. I have come to a conclusion concerning all those questions and more:

I don’t need answers, all I need is Jesus.

3   John Hughes    
August 25th, 2009 at 5:24 pm


My prayers are with you too. Such experiences are never pleasant and too often bring out the worst in the Family of God. It looks as if you have a way forward for the nearterm and God is good and holds your future. He knows what the future holds. You will get through this in His hands.

Sincerely and Best Regards,

John H

4   nc    
August 25th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

churches are astonishing, yet predictable environments.

i’ve been where you are, chest pains in my early thirties, weeping in a walk-in closet, nightmare-ish meetings and all kinds of hell that is religious folk that you still love

honestly, what happened jerry? fb me and let me know.

5   Jerry
August 25th, 2009 at 10:00 pm


I can appreciate what you say, but I don’t know about Jesus yet. I’m only in chapter 2 of Genesis. :-)


6   Jerry
August 25th, 2009 at 10:00 pm


thanks. i will.


7   Jerry
August 25th, 2009 at 10:01 pm

John H,

Thanks. i appreciate it.


8   Cash    
August 25th, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Teenagers only “go at it for hours” in movies. Just a point of fact, and my guess would be that hairy with bad breath is the most likely scenario for Adam and Eve. I hope you get your ministry groove back soon, pal.

9   Pastorboy
August 26th, 2009 at 8:57 am

I can appreciate what you say, but I don’t know about Jesus yet. I’m only in chapter 2 of Genesis

He is in verse 1 of Chapter one… ;)

Jerry, I have yet to be dismissed from a pastoral job, so I have no idea what that is like. I can only imagine. But leaving a pastoral position to take another is heart wrenching enough. It does feel like betrayal on your part! It feels like a divorce, like breaking up a family…it really hurts.

So I can only imagine the hurt of the opposite happening.

I hope it produces in you a greater dependance upon Jesus, and that produces a man who looks more and more like Jesus.

Ruach Shalom.

10   Jerry
August 26th, 2009 at 9:38 am

To be sure, I wasn’t dismissed. I resigned. But even the word ‘resign’ carries with it some dark connotations.

But ugly divorce, like War of the Roses ugly divorce is a very good way of describing it.

11   Joe
August 26th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Hey John,
When are you going to post about the Drops like Stars? Also, have you asked Ken to take down your name yet. As of this writing it was still up but that might be my browser.
And I have a list of other pages that actually has your first, and last name along with pictures if you want to contact them. Some church in Mn.

12   Phil Miller
August 26th, 2009 at 1:34 pm

My wife and I resigned from our positions as campus pastors last summer. It was a bit different for us because we both work full-time jobs. We did get paid a little from the church, but that was actually made up by two within a month when my wife was offered a different position. Anyway, we had been at the church where we were serving at for a long time. I was there for 14 years, so it was a bit odd to walk away from that.

Looking back on the past year, I can honestly I don’t regret our decision at all. I think serving in a place where you don’t have people who share your vision just leads to cynicism and frustration.

13   Rick Frueh
August 26th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I have presided over hundreds of funerals. But even when the deceased was from all indications a lost sinner, even involved in a life of debauchery, I would never magnify their sins, only the Savior.

This is another example of how some revel in exposing the sins of others, even the dead. Is there no compassion in Christ?

Although Ted Kennedy did not claim a born again experience, and from all indications he trusted in his church for salvation, he was a kind person who became a father to his neices and nephews and was a friend to most of his political enemies. That, sadly, is more than can be said for some “conservative” Christians and talk show hosts.

14   Jerry
August 26th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I think serving in a place where you don’t have people who share your vision just leads to cynicism and frustration.

Especially when your vision is to reach out to the lost and the church’s vision is to reach in to itself.

HUGE difference.

15   Pastorboy
August 26th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

What does this have to do with Jerry’s post?

Teddy Kennedy is a prime example of people who worship their heros despite their heros not even following the religion they claim to follow.

Catholics are against abortion, divorce, etc. By their own standards, Teddy should have been refused mass and communion within their church.

But since he was a powerful senator from a powerful family, they looked by the mortal sins of murder.

Hypocrisy? I would say so. But we do the same in evangelicalism (Rick Warren) and Emergent (McLaren). We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and proclaim the truth even if it hurts those we love and admire.

16   Cash    
August 26th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Rick, no offense but if you don’t like exposing the sins of others why are you exposing the supposed sins of Pastorboy here? Your self-righteousness is kinda obvious so you can’t see your own hypocrisy maybe? Maybe a little “compassion in Christ” would help.

17   Rick Frueh
August 26th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Correction – it’s a nuance that is perhaps unfamiliar to you? Your understanding of “compassion in Christ” is misguided. Within the body we are directed to confront error, especially those with elder credentials.

Exposing the sins of lost, dead sinners does not fall into the category of “ministry”.

18   Pastorboy
August 26th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

The purpose, Rick, was to help people see in themselves the sins where they fall short that they might turn to Christ.

To be sure, Teddy is thinking that right now. His message to day is don’t miss heaven- because either he is in Hell, and he missed it, or he repented and trusted Christ, and he realizes how great heaven is and he is saying don’t miss heaven.

Certainly, He is either full of regret or praise. Either way, he has proclaimed Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

I hope he repented…I do. I hope he trusted Christ…I do. I hope his life and his death serve as a reminder to people- to not miss heaven.

19   Neil    
August 26th, 2009 at 3:35 pm


That post is almost comical… comical if it were done in the style of The Onion. Unfortunately I think he is serious.

20   Neil    
August 26th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I see a derailment a com’n…

21   Nathanael
August 26th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I’m not sure how long you’ve been reading here, but Rick has proven that he is as balanced as an unbalanced man can be.

He is one of the commentors here who will critique the writers on this site as much as he does others.

But he also has a track record of zero tolerance for those within the fold who seem to latch onto the depravity of those without, and who write in colorful language and scathing manner about said depravity.

He actually doesn’t have any friends either except his dog Rudy.
And we’re not sure if he’s even saved.


22   Neil    
August 26th, 2009 at 3:58 pm

and we’re not sure if he’s even saved.

Rick or Rudy?

23   Nathanael
August 26th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Well Rudy is Catholic.
Just sayin’

24   Rick Frueh
August 26th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

It is the open disembowelment of sinners that turns the world away from Christ. Jesus would have, no doubt, eaten with Ted Kennedy. It is also noteworthy that in the Calvinist economy, if Kennedy is in hell, he had no chance for eternal life to begin with.

I guess the connection with the OP is how the church operates and how it is perceived by a lost world. John’s post has more to do with the Ten Commandments than it does with the redemptive love of Jesus Christ. I am not sure why those of us who have broken all of them have the moral/spiritual foundation to judge those who have broken them as well.

25   Rick Frueh
August 26th, 2009 at 4:02 pm

In the words of Jame Gumb:

“Don’t you hurt my dog or you don’t know what pain is!!”. :)

26   Neil    
August 26th, 2009 at 4:04 pm

I guess the connection with the OP is how the church operates and how it is perceived by a lost world.

This is a great thing to keep in mind. I know some are quick to say we should not care what the world thinks – and that is true when it comes to core doctrines, o f course.

But he did say they would know us by our love; not the things we oppose, the judgment we espouse, the purity of our doctrine, etc. etc. etc.

All those things have their place…

They Like Jesus but Not the Church is as great a read as it is an indictment – particularly since they church is the body of Jesus.

27   Rick Frueh
August 26th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Motives are a very mercurial and clandestine thing. We are easily deceived by our motives, especially when we set up falsehoods as divine motives. We are not to be worried about being seen as “warriors for truth” or “bold truth bearers”. Our motive must be redemptive and when that is in place we will often be perceived by the ecclesiastical Bourgousie as “compromisers” and “soft on sin”.

The greatest compromise ever manifested was the cross since God provoded a way for sinners to be the beneficiaries of God being “soft on sin” to them through Jesus Christ. Jesus was accused of being “soft on sin” through the Mosaic prism. God has in these last days spoken to us through His Son.

Redemption, people. There will be a test, not so much on papaer, but on a field trip.

28   Julie
August 26th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Jerry, I’m sorry for the difficult things you went through/are going through.

What you are doing with the new blog sounds interesting. I’m glad you’re doing it. I will stop by and visit periodically. It also inspires me to “start new” in a similar way.

29   Nathanael
August 26th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
(I John 4.16-19 ESV emphasis mine)

That verse has a lot of implications.
As Christ is, so are we in the world.
If I am a fault-finding legalist and claim the name of Christ, guess what people will think Jesus is like.
But if I walk in love and humility and grace and forgiveness and mercy and claim the name of Christ, guess what they will think Jesus is like.

30   Nathanael
August 26th, 2009 at 4:26 pm

That first portion of my comment should have been in quotes.

31   Rick Frueh
August 26th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

In full disclosure – I am a fault finding legalist in my heart. But God’s grace has enabled me to fight it, otherwise I would make SoL look soft.

My inclination is judgment – His is redemption. My prayer is that He wins.

32   Nathanael
August 26th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Hear! Hear!
The worst part about having a judgmental spirit is how it manifests itself at work, in the store, on the road, everywhere, not just toward spiritual things.
The Spirit catches me throughout the day thinking the stupidist things about others, which I must immediately confess.
But I contend that love wins.

Lord help!

33   Jerry
August 26th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Jerry, I’m sorry for the difficult things you went through/are going through.

What you are doing with the new blog sounds interesting. I’m glad you’re doing it. I will stop by and visit periodically. It also inspires me to “start new” in a similar way.

Julie, thanks. I appreciate the thoughts.


34   Jerry
August 26th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I see a derailment a com’n…

You think?