The voice of the average Joe is seldom heard these days, let alone daringly as it was portrayed in a historical place called Solomon’s Portico. (Read my bio to see who, where and what I am talking about) For a long time this average Joe has stood on the sidelines allowing fear to reign. Self-doubt, skeptics judging motives, and world beat downs that dueled with my confidence have frozen me in my tracks. Way too many bites in the back (like my horse in the cover page is doing) have caused scars that have brought on the proverbial Whoahhhh, stay in a safe place. Can you relate?
The time IS now, for this Average Joe to come out of the closet. No better place and time than here and now where I will write about triumphs, failures and lessons learned, often the hard way, in the pursuit of true peace.
I start with an open honest confession to my friends and co-workers and customers, most of whom I think would say I’m a fairly nice and funny guy. You all know I play hard and work hard and put my family and friends first. Some may not know it, but I try to live my life with God as my #1 pursuit. I also semi-secretly wish that everyone I know had a personal relationship with Him like I have. But I have spent more time being ‘winsome’, politically correct (ha ha at least on the topic of religion), and patiently waiting for the door to open.
Meanwhile in working with 1000’s of people in my sales profession I am now sadly seeing many of those cohorts, and some of you, going away as our sputtering economy has taken its toll on the tele-comm market. Worst yet, news of a long time friend being diagnosed with breast cancer spoke loudly saying, how much longer are you going to put this off?
So today, I apologize for taking too long. And for letting my ‘not wanting to lose any friends’ persona pause the most important life improving topic I wish I had talked with you all more about. Those in my church world would probably disagree as they see a different bold avg Joe. But in reality I have laid low cautiously separating church from state/work.
If you’ve read this far and are one that writes off religious fanatics as right wing irritants, please don’t stop and unfriend me. Most will not share that we all battle doubt. We all have fears and each of us has struggles with our faith. We want to punch the boss or leader in the nose at times, just like you. My writing goal is to bring the average persons view to your world. Hopefully in hearing the mind battles that swirl in my head, through my tough time and good time stories of the past and present, it will bring the reality of a living and loving God for you to ponder and join with me in following. I know that is not a quick decision, so please come on back and hear at least a few of my inspiring true stories and experiences.
I should stop here as my primary goal is communicating to the doubters and fear fighters. But many of my friends sit in the 60% of the 80-20 rule and sit in the middle, not sold out for their beliefs or not totally against. So for that crowd, please read on for my struggles on how I got here.
(You might want to click on the link above for an explanation and warning before you read on)
A tad of background; at one time I had plans and was pursuing to be a full time staff minister. But things didn’t work out. I blamed (justifiably in many ways as some of them were removed from their roles later) it on people in the church power structures. But looking back on the past 35 years, I now know it was all for a reason. We have many preachers to choose from, some of whom I admire and have learned much from, but thoughtfully, that platform is only touching a small part of the world. It is us average Joe’s that should be having the biggest positive effect on people. A better bridge must be built between the leaders and the layman both in the work place and churches and not just come from the books written by those sitting at the top unidirectional.
It’s time I and the rest of us live up to what we say we have as Paul said to one of his trainees named Timothy – For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. With the utmost of humility, as I am so far from perfect, I begin a journey of revelation I pray challenges, motivates, and moves my readers to their place of God’s destiny.
Moving to the out there mode; whether you believe in hearing a calling to do something or not, I think it happens actually to all of us who proclaim a relationship with Christ. And it has happened with me, more than once. Thanks to God’s goodness He gives some of us many tries. The first time I had a started way back while on my short stint in the Army. I sold out for a while, and continued a great life changing 10 years. But I let misguided (but with good hearts) leaders squelch the calling. I have since realized, no, they did not. I let them put out the fire, and wrong or right, that should not have happened. We are all responsible for our own inner spirit even if led on a jagged path.
Recently God provided yet another chance, just like He did to whom I affectionately call my namesake, Joenah (sic). Only I was in the belly of the whale a lot longer than 3 days.
Sitting in a white rocking chair on my porch (aka portico) words jumped off the pages of my favorite book about this place called a portico. The sound rang for months, “average people don’t speak in important places, they want to hear, but who will speak.” I tossed out the portico idea to several friends and every time in return I got a puzzled slow tilt of the head look like a puppy makes when it hears a strange sound. I figured that was my cue that the portico needed to be carried forward.
It’s taken over a year since I began as more messes to clean up arose (see my first post below lol). I began to realize, that is what happens all the time, and if I wait for everything to be just right I will never start. Doubt and perfectionism slowed things but clarity and conviction arose in the midst of the hold back. I vowed to God and myself that I would not be doing such a thing either for money or fame and would only do it with the full support of my local church. That didn’t quite work out as planned as I know God was leading me, I know (dueling doubts go way…), in a different direction than where they were going. Yes there was disagreement but not disaccord and we ended up amicably departing, de-committal is something I try hard to avoid.
There were the expected logistics like going against the book with the designer of this blog on titles, pages and using my full name like other writers do. I was sure it needed to be anonymous, there are enough people making money and fame off books, blogs, and speaking engagements. I vow (ed) not to use a platform for my gain as I feel it is important to have no hidden motives. Not that all writers and ‘speakers’ do so, but when they teach on money and serving there can be a sense of it being for their personal gain, and not for the benefit of the message receiver. You don’t have to look far for examples of abuse.
Additionally, backlash came from multiple places; on the positive side saying no, you are not average, God doesn’t create average people. And from those who I work with regularly, ‘you are going to quit your high paying job to do what, have you lost it’? (note – I am not leaving my current job but fear of words being misread could create issues fighting fears go away….) Internally I fought doubt daily, such as, you don’t even know how to wright (sic), you are not brief (140 characters, no way), and have no credentials. Or big deal, I have some work and sports trophies and have managed finances well enough to do this without needing cash to do it full time, but where’s that big ‘title’ of proof.
The world seemed to be falling apart back then as I have mulled and gained clarity. Present day a year later it seems to have gotten worse. Too often even the good people let us down and want to take what little peace and joy we have away. Wars rage inside and out of our borders. In the latest headline event we have hate filled humanity via ISIS pouring terror on the world. From their viewpoint, they feel the only way to peace is to eliminate anyone that they cannot control. Then there will have peace. In their ‘religious’ mind it is the right thing to do, crazy as it seems.
I ponder, why should they think any different when many believe the solution is to do it right back and wipe them off the face of the earth? (I will not debate that just now). Long term, I believe the solution is each of us, one person at a time, doing our part and teaching the next person to do the same. I imagine all living by the golden rule and loving like God creating world peace, ludicrous as that may seem.
On ground we are in the UN-United states of America and the 80% professed Christians of the U.S. belong to the UN-United Church of Christ. Why doesn’t somebody stand up, take charge and fix this messed up world? We’re all hoping some great leader will come along and solve the world’s problems. Since that is not happening everyone is growing in anger towards the government and whomever they want to lay blame on. Some say it must be the Christians that are causing it because they have not lived up to portraying the goodness they claim comes from their all loving and all good God. Maybe they are right?
A small hand full of church leaders are standing up, but it comes down to the many who not only just sit and watch them on Sundays but do so the other 166 hours a week. We toes, fingers and arms of the body have to drive in unison as one if we expect any change. If everyone did their part, the ‘other’ religions of the universe would KNOW that our God is 110% love and 110% goodness. How can they know, lest they see it from ALL of us average people, not just a few? How can they see peace when we are filled with our own disunity? Here in the USA, how do I (and you) help those who sought yet walked away from an unloving church that judges more than it loves? (Like I did but have been healed and plan to help those overcome the same bitter pill)
I claim not to be a prophet but leave you today with words of two old testament prophets whose words ring loudly in my ears. Hopefully these are not words just for me but for anyone touched by the worries of this fallen world that are tired of sitting silently, doing little outside our churchy walls, and waiting for somebody other than ourselves to stand up and do something about it:
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
But if you don’t want to worship the Lord, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you are living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. (CEV) “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (ESV) Joshua 24:15
Listen to a great song inspired by Josh 24:15 here at my Youtube link: As For Me and My House by John Waller
Perhaps the whole world will not change via Average Joe’s Portico. But come back, if you dare, and just maybe via a little contesting of your thoughts it may alter yours one thought at a time. I hope the result will help you become a little better each day and your influence on those in your life will be way above average.