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.
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.
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.