Monday, September 05, 2005

Everything I Ever Needed To Know, I Learned In Algebra!

Once in a while, everyone screws up.

Stacey wrote in Thoughts From A First Year Minister about something funny that happened during Communion service. You can read what happens by going to her blog and reading the September 4th post on "Playing Pastor." Stacey -- you are right -- spitting the Communion bread out would not have been a good idea!

A few days ago Behind the Pulpit asked a few good questions on his post, "You Know..."

I wonder how other pastors feel about failure? Have there been places in your ministries as pastors, leaders, and volunteers where you've felt like you've let the church down? How do you not take the issues within the life of the church personally? How do you deal with those issues in a way that allows others to know that you truly care about their desires, hopes, and dreams for their ideal church without compromising your own heart for what you feel like God has called you to do and be as a pastor? How do you keep from running away and completely giving up?

I read this and thought about so many things.

The organ fund that almost died because a single elder convinced the rest of the Session it was too difficult.

The mission trip the church decided not to take.

The time Presbytery put me on a committee to create a new conference center -- and we never made any progress with it.

I think about a couple of humiliating mistakes I've made that are best left unshared.

Most of all, I think of Algebra back in 1969.

Algebra was the most valuable class I took during high school.

I was a lousy student, and paying attention to the teacher never seemed to be a good use of my time. Algebra was no different. It fell on me to find productive work to do during the class time.

I wrote notes to Patti, until she broke up with me on Valentine’s Day (Damn you dastardly Patti!). So then I started writing notes to Eve.

Sometimes I’d read favorite works of literature. You know – the classics: Spiderman, Daredevil, Fantastic Four.

Occasionally I would try my hand at art – you should have seen the masterpiece I produced of the Principal.

One day, John pounded me on the back and pointed at the teacher.

There was Mrs. J, standing at the class droning on and on about something being greater or less than something else.

Holy cow, her skirt was coming loose.

Mrs. J was big woman. I knew there was no way that skit would make it beyond those massive hips.

Still, ever so slowly, the whole class began to pay attention.

Mrs. J should have known something was up. After all, she had never had our undivided attention until now.

It was when she was erasing something on the board that it happened. Mrs. J would put her whole body into the erasing process. It was like watching some old and senile person do the Twist. Her right hand would move the eraser back and forth. The flabby part of her arms would move back and forth like – well, the only thing I can think of is a bowl of Jell-O shaking in slow motion. Her left arm seemed to be needed for some sort of balancing process. And the hips. My Lord those hips! It was as if moving those hips generated the energy necessary to erase the equation from the board.

The skirt fell to her ankles and I thanked the Lord for the invention of slips! When the skirt fell, I felt a wave of sorrow for this woman.

I was laughing hysterically with everyone else, so the wave of sorrow couldn’t have been that much.

I’ll never forget what happened next.

Mrs. J bent over (Oh Mrs. J, why didn’t you turn and face the class before bending over). She picked up her skirt. She wiggled into it and fashioned it.

And then…

She continued to teach as if nothing had happened.

Over the years I have found this moment in my life to have been a great teaching moment.

I don’t know much about algebra, but I do know Mrs. J taught me a great lesson for life. As I look back, she was one of my best teachers. She was a wonderful lady who had the strength not to be overcome by humiliation, and the dignity to continue in her calling in the face of adversities that only 9th graders can provide.

Sometimes you screw up – whether it is by your own fault or another’s fault. Sometimes you find yourself humiliated. Sometimes things are so bad, you think, “It can’t get any worse than this” – and you’re right. It’s really that bad.

What can you do?

You just pick up your skirt -- or your life -- wiggle into it, secure it, and move on to the next problem.


Anonymous RG said...

What is your fixation regarding sex, or nudity.

Obviously perverted.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Apostle John said...

Hey, what can I say? I was born naked :)

12:50 AM  
Anonymous rg said...

Indeed you were born naked.

But accepting the Blood of Christ covered that nakedness.

Clearly you want to take that covering away again.

Just as God covered Adam and Eve with the skin of the Lamb, you delight in seeing that skin removed.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous rg said...


People were harmed by that show of jubilation. Christ was nailed to a tree to cover our sins, large as well as small.

So yes, Christ was hurt by that.

I request you remove Christian and Minister from this blog. You are neither a Christian or a Minister.

To be a Minister, you must be able to Minister to even those who lost loved ones. It is bizarre to here you say you have no idea when God makes it clear throughout the Bible what lies beyond us after death. Christ discussed our future after this life but you have now idea what He said.

Again, I am requesting you to remove Christian from the title of this blog as you do not know Christ.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Apostle John said...

RG said "you must be able to Minister to even those who lost loved ones. It is bizarre to here you say you have no idea when God makes it clear throughout the Bible what lies beyond us after death. Christ discussed our future after this life but you have now idea what He said."

My reply is "huh?"

1:17 AM  
Anonymous Happy Sam said...

rg -- lighten up. Geee wiz!

Apostle John -- great post, as usual. And you are so right. Sometimes we do screw up so bad, and you just have to move on with life!

1:40 AM  
Blogger jbb said...

i want to say i find your blog encouraging and honest. two rair traits in most minister i meet. thanks for the rocking blog!

2:59 AM  
Blogger jbb said...

i want to say i find your blog encouraging and honest. two rair traits in most minister i meet. thanks for the rocking blog!

2:59 AM  
Anonymous RG said...

come on "john"

After jockying around with your own responses to my comments you are now working over mine.

That is getting pathetic. As I said in the comment you just moved out, one of my comments was in regard to my response of your own, one of your own you have since removed, saying no students or animals have been hurt, in regards to my comment regarding the Lamb.

So, I will repeat again, as a Christian, the Lamb represents Christ who is our atonement for our sins great and small assuring our way to salvation.

Not only is Christ, the Lamb of God hurt by your smart remarks but so are true Christians. Fortunately you removed that comment. Fenageling seems to be the norm at this blog.

In regards to you as a "minister", I find it extremely difficult to hear you call yourself a minister when you admited on this blog you have no idea what awaits us after death as that is spoken of so many times in scripture. So you cannot effectively minster to those who are grieving at the lose of a Christian loved one.

Many millions of people are hurting every day. Young people to old. Some looking desperately for answers. Some have no one to look up to for answers. Some even go to the internet and key in "Christian Minster" in their search engines to find answers. And here they find a man who has no qualms allowing children to come to his site and read his mockery of teachers, ministers, congregation members (old ladies in the church and the deacons) and those who go to fight to keep our country safe. Sex, nudity, on and on and what are they to think.

Could this latest post of you rediculing a teacher have to do with the fact that a person who commented adversely at your last post was a teacher? A Christian one at that. And this is your little sniveling way of putting that Christian woman down?

And you have the gall to call yourself "Christian Minister". People, there are far, far better people out there, you will not find your answers here.

Just pull "Christian Minister" from the title of this blog so it does not hinder those who are seeking true Christian Ministers.

10:46 AM  
Blogger cheesehead said...

Great story, great lesson, great blog.

11:04 AM  
Blogger ~**Dawn**~ said...

rg: you say you are upset to read that the author says "you have no idea what awaits us after death". do any of us?? i mean i know there is heaven & eternal life but i am the first to admit in my feeble, cloudy, earthly mind that i have no concept of what that really means. none of us do. nor will we until we reach that place. "heaven" is a vague idea at best to us.

12:02 PM  
Blogger ~**Dawn**~ said...

by the way...wonderful lesson here in your blog ApostleJohn. something we can all identify with--bad moments that we simply have to move past because dwelling on them will solve nothing.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous RG said...


This is a summation of life after death:

A Full Summary

It is all written. It is all in the Bible as plain as can be.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Angelique said...

Apostle John, reading your blog is always a treat because you don't take yourself too seriously. Don't worry about what people say, as I remember there were some people who didn't believe in Jesus, either. That's the beauty of being human, you have a choice on what you believe or don't believe and what you read or don't read.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Julie & Davis said...

Strangely enough, the words of an anonymous Columbia Grad (I presume) miles away have spoken to me tonight.

I was in a funk because I embarrassed myself tonight at the first night meeting with my new youth group. Reading your blog has inspired me to get over it!

I look forward to reading your future blogs.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Apostle John said...

Yes indeed, I am a Columbia Grad!

But that was in another century :)

11:55 PM  

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