A Journey from the Wasteland
Hi, I am Tom Neary, the founder of Pastor Unlikely and I am glad you are here.
I am a pastor, lawyer, husband, and father of four great kids. I was also somewhat late to the Christian life. I spent years chasing after business success, material comfort, and my own opinions rather than pursuing Christ. I achieved all the things I thought would provide happiness and worth in life. I then found out they could not save me from myself. They were vanities as the Preacher from Ecclesiastes says. Life was pain, bitterness, and loss without Jesus. Praise the Lord for His grace and mercy because He saved me into new life in Him.
I had no idea how to be Christian. My wife and I had no real role models for what new life in Christ would look like. This lack of understanding led to me squandering the first years of my Christian life in lukewarm, consumer faith. I heard hundreds of sermons during this time that were poorly disguised self help seminars. They sounded good on the surface but lacked any real substance. There was no actual teaching of the Bible. There were no calls to worship God for who He is not for what He can do for us. Holiness and service just for God’s sake were foreign concepts. Jesus was presented as a divine therapist whose goal was to make me a better person…without judging my choices.
It was faith without power. It was a life without a firm foundation in Jesus. I did not understand the identity and character of God. I was told to not sin and do a checklist of good deeds but never spent time with the One who loved me. Only Jesus makes it possible and worthwhile to do or not do. I, therefore, left church each Sunday inspired to change and fix everything in my life! I was motivated by eloquent messages and slickly produced video clips. This verve quickly faded on the drive home as it encountered the ugliness of my heart. The problem was my entire faith life was all about me – the consumer.
Why am I Not Growing in Christ?
How to get me in the door? How to get me motivated? How to keep me entertained? What was this weeks hook to keep people interested? What great music and atmosphere to keep people comfortable? How do I get happier? How to get more successful in business through God?
It was not really about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the Father. It was not about God’s power and glory changing people. It was Tony Robbins but with Christian titles. This pushes people for a time but does not transform them.
It is impossible to fix you with the efforts of yourself. Self is the reason Jesus died for you. There is no discovering the inner you. You just get more sinner self which is the problem to begin with. Jesus becomes your master putting you on a hamster wheel of failure and sin. It was such a waste! It was also incredibly painful. I wanted to grow but I had no idea how to do it. Willpower and pep rallies were certainly not doing it.
Too many people are stuck in this willpower cycle! Too many others walkaway from the Lord entirely after being ground into dust by it. Yet, it is pattern of many today.
Then Jesus had more mercy on me. He did so by destroying my claims to holiness in my own strength. God challenged me with His Word and exposed my failures. I picked up the Bible myself and read of Peter and the disciples celebrating after being wrongfully imprisoned and beaten. They were happy they were abused for Jesus. I studied Paul and Silas singing praises in a dank Roman prison after being badly beaten. I read of Stephen praying for those who were killing him even as the stones were hitting home!
How could this be the same Christianity that I was living? My life looked nothing like that! I did not even want people at work to know I went to church. Why was I not like the early church?
It was not that I did not believe. It was not that I did not want to have thousands come to faith like at Pentecost. I did have a huge problem, though. I wanted all these things on my own terms. I did not want to change. I wanted my old life just with Jesus there in case I messed up or was scared.
I sought the benefits of being Paul or Peter without living the faith of these great men. Such a waste!
God answered me simply. He first showed me that He still loved me. He then gave me a choice. There is only one throne over my life. He could sit on it or I could. The Book of Acts is what a disciple looks like. This could never be me if I continued directing my own life. It could be me if I submitted and trusted Him. The fearless Christian lives of the disciples recorded in the Bible were nothing like my unsatisfied and unchanged life. The powerful early churches of Acts and the Epistles bore little resemblance to the gathering of divided and distracted people I met with each week. Simple contrast and easy choice with hard execution. Did I trust God?
If you believe what it says in the Bible as absolutely true, how would your life change?
The promise of Jesus of an abundant life seemed entirely foreign and unattainable. I wanted it desperately, but did not know how to get it. Then the Lord followed up with a few more questions:
Who do you really belong to?
If it is Me, then follow Me?
Are you done playing at half hearted Christianity?
Do you trust Me?
The answers to these questions drives this ministry and the goals of this blog.
A Living Sacrifice – What Does it Mean?
How do you answer them?
I desperately want you to be saved.
I greatly desire you to grow in your love of Jesus and to know Him as He revealed Himself.
I don’t you to waste the time I did. I don’t want you to remain trapped in a bad culture. I don’t want you to stay unsatisfied and stuck in your walk. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The church need you! The world needs you! Jesus loves you!
Grab onto a great life as a servant of the Most High God. Your place as a bondservant, a slave, an unknown worker in the Kingdom of God is so much more valuable than anything this life can offer.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10
Pastor Unlikely exists to help you get there. So that you can have a simple, joyful and abundant life in Christ.
Do you believe you can have a fulfilling life as an on fire believer in Christ?
Do you want one?
Then fight for it!
Fight for Your Joy
A republic, if you can keep it!
Benjamin Franklin heard the question as he left the Constitutional Convention in early America. The person asked what type of government the Convention had set up to guide the United States. Franklin’s response was simple but deep with meaning:
“A republic, if you can keep it.” he replied.
His point was the form of government was good for everyone but required the work and good intentions of the people to preserve it. The people had to always be vigilint and willing to fight the corrupting forces trying to steal it from them. This applies to Christian life. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is only successful when you let him be.
Jesus offers you:
His pure holy Word, if you can keep it.
A Spirit filled life, if you can keep it.
A wonderful church, if you can keep it.
An awesome prayer life, if you can keep it.
A walk in holiness, if you can keep it.
A God honoring marriage, if you can keep it.
God is not waiting for you to mess up so He can take things away from you. He blesses you continuously. Yet, the abundant Christian life is a daily decision.
Do you fight to follow Christ today? Do you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus as redeemed servant? Or do you allow the works God prepared for you and blessings to be stolen away?
I didn’t go from totally lost to living a mature joyful Christian life in a moment. It took research, Bible study, and discipleship. It took willingness to face my fears, failings, and strongholds. It also took lots of tears and setbacks. Powerful forces come against my family and do every day today. It was also not without trials. Jesus never promised it would be easy. I do promise you it was both worth it and is possible to you. If you can take it?
Pastor Unlikely exists to help you along the same path. I write to encourage you in the journey and help you avoid the pitfalls. Jesus taught me so much during my time before salvation and after. He redeems my time in the wasteland through helping you out of it into plenty. I want to share it with you.
So are you searching? Are you interested in God but have questions?
Come and let’s talk about it. I would love to show you how God answered my questions! There is nothing off limits.
Are you living a life that is not satisfying and wonder if there is something more?
Do you know that things are not what they should be?
Come, sit, and stay for a while. God is ready to give you what He promised you! But the truth is you have to lay down your stuff to take up His.
I understand what you are going through. I was there and would love to share what helped me out of those years.
34 thoughts on “About Tom”
Congratulations on becoming a member of the many believers. I appreciate your visit to my blog and hope you will stop in again as you like!
Do you have social media I can follow you on (or friend on Facebook?) Seems you have some solid theology here and I’d love to follow you further, but I don’t glance at my WordPress reader much.
No sorry Rebecca, just here. Thank you for the compliment – just trying to stay true to the Word.
Thank you for liking my post: “Entertaining Angels: The Sales Rep.”
You are welcome. It is a great post!
Pastor Unlikely, I just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award because I believe more people need to recognize what a blessing your blog is. Please do not feel obligated to participate in the rules, nor rush if you do. I just wanted to use the opportunity the Lord has given me to let you know your blog is appreciated, and to lead others to it through the link on my page. May God continue to bless you and your blog. God loves you!
Thank you! That is very nice of you to do. I appreciate it. It is a busy week for me, but I will participate when I get a chance next week. You have definitely blessed me this Thanksgiving Eve!
Praise God it was a blessing! Exactly what it’s suppose to be! 🙂 Take all the time best for you! Happy Thanksgiving, Tom!!
It’s great to finally talk to you, Pastor,
My name is God’s Warrior and I wanted to thank you for following my blog because it’s humbling to know how much of an impact God is allowing me to have on people’s lives. I am going to be reading your blog post about Sin and by the title, I can tell it’s going to be good.
I just wanted to know something; What was it about my blog that you decided to follow?
Hi – good to talk with you as well. I followed because I liked the title and the plan for what you were covering. Seemed like good content.
Hello, I am Akshata. I am a newbie to blogging and have started up recently. Would request you to have a look and help with suggestions for improvement.
Hi Akshata – welcome to the blogging world! I hope you enjoy it. Looked at your site – it looks good. Great job.
Good day sir and blessings to you. Thank you for stopping by hisnamebpraised and liking a recent post. I pray blessings not only to and for you but also to all who would come into fellowship with you through this blog and other circumstances. In Jesus Christ’s Name. Sincerely, Doug
Thanks Doug. I enjoyed your work and will pray the same for you!
Ha! My Brother? Did expect you liking my comment, for sure. That’s doubtful me. Anyhow? It really amuses me the way Father fools and makes a believer out of me. Silly me, I should say.
In reading your About, I am fascinated with the accuracy of the way the Spirit of our Father/Creator deals with each one of us individually. The way He teaches us the meaning of Yahushua’s words. The meaning of the whole of the written words from Genesis to Revelation, and?
The way we react at each stage of His teaching. It’s really a joy to pass from one grade to the next. Only His way of grading us? No failures for sure. It’s all timing. Been called to journal my life to witness of the work He has done in me. My take of His commission?
I wanted to setup my ministry–I called it, Broken to Serve. I beg to be put on the stand to give my testimony. I wanted to help my people big time. Guess what?
A word came to my dear spiritual Sister Frances, “Thia, the Lord wants you to minister to Him with your writings.” A few days after I hear her but did not understand her meaning? I attended a meeting with a guest Pastor. At that time after the preaching? many of us stood in line to hear a word from the speaker.
Sure enough, my turn came. My request? How can I minister to my people? His response? “I believe the Lord wants you to minister to Him and forget about people.” I looked at Frances standing next to that brother. I thought for sure she had told him what to tell me, but Frances said to the brother, “That’s exactly what the Lord gave to me for thia.” Wow!
I went home and? From that day on? I have not falter one single day in this glorious ministry to Him. Why I refer to Him as my Father? Because that’s His command. “In this matter you shall pray, “Our Fathe…” Then? He said many times, “I and the Father are ONe.” Then He said, “Abide in Me.” Then He said, “The Father is greater than Me.”
Finally after all these 33 years? He has made clear the meaning of His words. If I am abiding in Yahushua? I am abiding in the Son. So? It should be obvious that I am abiding in Yahushua. The immensity of the love in my heart for the Father? That’s Yahushua’s love for Him.
What is the love of Yahuahua? What does it mean to love Yahushua? It means to obey Him. To do what He tells us to do even if we do not agree or feel like doing it. Feelings and emotionalism is not impressive to Him, but! He tolerates it because He knows the plan He has for us despite our emotional worship.It takes a life time for Him to sober us up.
For me? It took 79 minus the last 9 years for Him to sober me up. He brought me to the wilderness of this people to judge me face to face. Talking about sobering me up? Yeap! And it’s not over yet! Hahaha! His discipline hurts but O the joy the results are.
Anyhow? In retrospect? I see my journey in your journey, and? Rather than forming an opinion about you? It makes my heart rejoice! It amuses me to see the Father at work in each one of us. You are so especial to Him, and? So am I for sure. Hahaha! HalleluYah!
BTW Why I use the Hebrew name Yahushua instead of the English name. When one come to these parts? One learns the importance of the native name. Our Saviour was a Hebrew, thus, His name is Hebrew. Much to learn about all of that. Rather? Much He is now revealing to us all.
much love, thiaBasilia. 🙂
I read your article about how your wife helped lead you to God (part 1) i was wondering if you have finished part 2 yet? I am eager to read this as your story has truly inspired and ENCOURAGED me greatly. Please do write me back. I would love to hear more on this if you wouldn’t mind.
Thank you so much
This is a wonderfully honest post, thank you! I related to much of it. My church experience was quite empty, and when it wasn’t empty it was stressful pressure to “do” and “be like everyone else” in the church. It was DRY, no living water or bread of life to be found. But it’s true that the Lord God is ever seeking the ones who are truly seeking Him–He could see me floundering, and during Easter week 2011, the entire Holy Trinity showed up in my living room–Oh what a Day!!! I’ve never been the same since–not a perfect saint, still deal with depression–but what JOY I have in spending time with Him, reading the Word like it’s an adventure tale!
The intimate personal relationship Jesus invites us into is a gift of Holy Spirit revelation, I’m convinced–because all my “trying” didn’t achieve it. And I’m finding that you can’t explain it to someone else in hopes they’ll jump on board too–their eyes just glaze over, they can’t see or hear or feel what you’re saying. So that’s where prayer comes in–I was reading in Genesis where Abraham’s servant, having been sent to find a wife for Isaac, prayed that God would show His “unfailing love” to the people he encountered; and that’s what I’m doing now, in hopes that those who need the Living Lord in their lives (and on the throne of their lives–that was a major turning point for me, too!) will be so attracted to Him that they won’t be able to resist Him anymore. Okay, I’ve taken up too much Comment space with my jabbering–but I’m a sister to you now, like it or leave it😊 May God abundantly bless you and your family!
Hi Rene – I am sorry. Your comment did not show up properly for me somehow and I am just seeing it. Thank you for the encouragement. Praise God for His rescuing you as well! Please comment as much as you are so moved, sister, it is such a joy to hear from other believers who are sharing that life changing perfect love of Jesus. The world can spend its time striving and “doing”, let us as the family of God spend it rejoicing and loving!
Thanks for your reply, I was wondering about the delay. God bless.
The perils of dealing with a spam filter. It keeps all of the bad comments out but occasionally a blessing like yours gets derailed. Life on this earth, I suppose.
So true, nothing’s perfect on Earth–and ‘Spam guardian’ is usually a good thing! Blessings to you!
Hi Tom, I noticed you gave a review on the film The Shack and I wondered if you have come across a book called The Common Rule by Justin Whitmil Earley’s ? I am feeling a little bit uncomfortable with it for certain reasons and I just wondered if you have any thoughts on it.
Hi – I’m sorry, I have not heard of it until your question. Do you want to bounce what is making you uncomfortable off of me? Sometimes even just the action of writing it out helps me clarify why my alarm bells are ringing.
I’ve been asking myself the same question. “How could this be the same Christianity that I was living?” To a degree had been doing outreach. But lately I’ve been sidelined with heart surgery and moreso with the recovery. Also being 75 and other health issues besides plus COVID has kept me indoors most of or almost all of the time. My continued rehab at home is going slower than it needs to. I need to get back to the spiritual hunger that you remind all of. Thanks. And thanks for the example of reaching out through your blog. I’ve just been writing and waiting for people to find my blog. I’m disingenuios in not seeking out other bloggers. I need to get the ordinary in my life together in order to do more personal outreach.
Thanks for the encouragement, friend! Let me now encourage you by saying it is ok to take it easy on yourself. It has been a rough year for all of us – seems like more so for you. Sometimes our job in the Lord is to be the one sitting at His feet and just enjoying Him like Mary at her house in Bethany. Rest in Him is a good thing. Sounds like He has been working during on you during your recovery. Hope you are feeling better.
You are the Balm of Gilead. Thx
Tom, read your article regarding the YMCA, and it is sadly true, I would like to know which of the 2900 YMCA’s in America you got this picture from? Also have you looked at any of the Worldwide YMCA’s – I only ask because I am a Christian Mission Director for a YMCA and I have been with them for 28 years. Ministry within the YMCA can often feel like salmon swimming against the stream, but some of us do make it and manage to be used by Jesus for the advancement of His kingdom. He still equips those He calls, even in the most unlikely places. I could not agree more with the sad state of our mission drift. However here is some hopeful information. Several YMCA’s in the USA still have chaplains, Christian Mission Directors, and even Christian churches within YMCA’s. And for the past eight years every Monday morning (yes, even if it’s a holiday) brothers and sisters gather on a call to read scripture and pray for the YMCA. Our heritage is rich with faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray with the words of one of the YMCA’s founding fathers, Luther Wishard, “where water once flowed, let it flow again, do it again Lord.”
fun fact* next week October 11th is the 200th anniversary of the birth of our founder George Williams.
Loved reading your story, Tom. You make me yearn for real Christianity. Are you in a church of authentic believers now? I hope so. Just a note on your website — not sure if it is my computer or yours but the slide out menu at left blocks reading your posts. I am sure I will be back. Thank you!
Hi Candace – thanks for the comment. It is very encouraging for you to say that as that is exactly my goal – to make people yearn for real Christianity. I know it can be hard to find, but it is worth the search, no matter how long it takes.
Yes, I am in a church of authentic believers now and I am very grateful for them. We are far from perfect, but we are committed to humility, not trying to put on a show, and loving and supporting each other – even if it is hard. My wife and I planted the church with the goal from the Lord to try to never let anyone feel invisible or unloved because they don’t fit into someone else mold – kind of like Jesus did:) God has shown me what His love really looks like since then.
Thanks on the site issue as well – I think I fixed it.
God bless you,
This is not going to be a popular Q, but it is a necessary one. In my opinion.
You want to grow closer to God,
You want Jesus Christ in your life,
You want Him to guide you through life,
You want His will as opposed to your own will, yes???
Then..why are you (I’m assuming) still a protestant?!
Why are you not a Catholic?
And please, I beg you, don’t reply as so many do, “..because we worship Mary…because we worship statues..” That is a deliberate lie.That is untrue, and that accusation has been refuted more times than there are stars in the sky.
Sadly though, many protestant pastors ignore rebuttals of these untrue accusations and continue to claim that Catholics are not Christians, that we are idol worshippers. Those kinds of accusations come from satan, not from God. There are 40 thousand plus denominations of protestants, they all think they have the fullness of truth. Yet, Jesus created only ONE Church, and gave teaching authority to only ONE Church.
Here’s an interesting titbit…
If satan were to destroy all 40 thousand protestant denominations, what would he have achieved?
Answer: NOTHING AT ALL
The Catholic Church would still remain, and it would be bigger than ever, and more powerful than ever.
He would have shot himself in the hoof.
He knows that, and that is why the children of satan, Satanists and the free masons have for centuries concentrated their efforts to destroy the Catholic Church, for if he was to succeed, he would have destroyed all Christianity, Catholicism and Protestantism. That fact alone proves that the Catholic Church is the TRUE CHURCH OF GOD.
Thankfully God has promised that the gates of hell will NEVER prevail against His Catholic Church.
In fact, Martin Luther was satan’s greatest success.
Hi Alan – I appreciate the comment and the zeal, even though I obviously disagree with you.
It is interesting, you say that Martin Luther was Satan’s greatest success story but I assume that you own a Bible, feel entitled to read it, and believe you can understand it. That is thanks to Martin Luther and the Reformers. Before the Reformation, regular folks like you and I were deemed to unholy and not worthy to read or own the Bible by the Catholic Church. Do you take communion – wine and bread? That was Luther too as the Catholic Church’s doctrine viewed the sacrament as too holy for folks like us. Do you believe you are able to pray to God? Do you have individual worth? Are you required to work as an unpaid slave on church land for 10% of your year with no opportunity to object? Luther and the Reformation was responsible for getting rid of all that as well. Do you read a Bible in English? The Holy Spirit miraculously translated the words of Peter into many languages on the day of Pentecost to allow people to understand the Gospel in their language so this is great that you do. Yet, the Catholic Church killed people when they dared to translated the Bible from Latin (a language that Jesus and the Disciples did not speak) into English. This was Luther and the Reformers again. Many of the practices that you take for granted in the Catholic Church are a result of the work of Luther, are they from Satan as well?
But you asked a question so I will answer it. Why am I not a Catholic? I don’t believe the Bible or history supports the claims of the Catholic Church to being the successor church to Peter, to being the One True Church, or being anything like the church that it claims to succeed.
Historically, there is very little evidence that Peter was the bishop of Rome. There is ahistorical reference to Peter AND Paul founding that church, but there is no evidence he was there and acting as a bishop. There is also no contemporary historical evidence that the head of the church of Rome should have any authority over the wider church. The early church of the Bible has no hints of such a position. The historical records show the bishops of the churches treated each other as equals. The Council of Nicea that was called by the Roman Emperor to determine church issues that were big in the 300’s was not even led by the Bishop of Rome. It is not until later – the 400’s and on that the Roman Church started to make the claim that their Bishop was higher than anyone else, and guess what the rest of the church said? They denied that and refused to agree. The Catholic Church itself did not even begin to argue that Jesus was establishing the Catholic Church in the passage with Peter until centuries later. The church of Acts and for hundreds of years after Jesus almost uniformly denies the claims upon which the Catholic Church claims to be the One True Church with unbroken line to Peter.
In fact, directly related to this point, the heirarchy of the church that was in Rome as of 300 or so moved along with the Roman Emperor from Rome to Constantinople. They Eastern Orthodox Church has been there since that time and claims to be the successor of Peter based on this switch. The leader of that church has denied the claims regarding the Bishop of Rome for 2,000 years. The Ethiopian Church is likely older than the Roman Church as it was established through the Eunuch from Acts and has been in existence since that time. So the claim that this current Roman Catholic church is the one from the time of Jesus and was the only one through history is untrue.
Then there is the fact that the Roman Church did not really become what it is until at least the 8th Century. At that point, the Western Roman Empire was cut off from the East by the Franks and other tribes. The Roman Church stepped into the power vacuum and took over the secular ruling of the area. They made deals with the Franks to secure their position as princes of the earth and proceeded to build their secular power over the next 800 years. Much of the practices and trappings come from this time period – the robes and trappings of priests etc are from this time. The hugely wealthy DeMedici banking family was hugely influential in this rise as they used the positions to expand their power. Many of the popes were put in place after their family bought the position. They raised armies, waged war on other Christians, and oppressed the peasants. They killed anyone who threatened their power. This is what allowed them to cement the argument that they are the One True Church in the mind of many western people. They did not allow anyone to argue against it. They burned Jan Hus 100 years for asking about the doctrines of grace. They tried to kill Luther.
Then there are the many doctrines of the church that have followed this pattern that are contradicted by the clear Word of God. You say don’t bring up Mary – but claiming she is a co-redemptrix and sinless is a horrible affront to the sole mediator, Jesus. Claiming that Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is insufficient and believers need to go through purgatory greatly demeans the completed work of Christ.
There is more – but the short version is that the claims of the Catholic Church don’t make sense and are unsupported. That is why I am not Catholic. Why you are is between you and Jesus.