Farewell Colorado!

God has a new assignment for us….in WASHINGTON STATE.

After 2 years in Colorado Springs, Cailey and I will be moving to WA to lead the development of an existing Missional Community in the city of Yakima.

Friends, this has been a casual, ongoing discussion with leadership there since April.  Yes, since April!  It has taken us that long to seek God’s will and really KNOW that he is calling us to this.

We do ask for your prayers.  One of our kids plans to remain in Colorado, while another is heading to the Navy on 10/16.  If you know us, you know that we are a very close family.  This transition will undoubtedly be the most unique, most difficult one we’ve had yet.

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We plan to hit the road with a moving truck in the first part of November.  That’s another concern…traveling through CO, WY, and UT in the winter months.  But the Lord has led us this far.  Why would we doubt his protection in getting us there at this point?

Below is a mere sampling of how God has spoken to us over the past few months, in his Word, prayer, devotional readings, and worship music.

“Is there anyone I can send? … “I will go, send me!”  (from Isaiah 6:1-3, 5-8)
“The amount of faith God has given you is equal to the assignment He’s given you.”
“There’s a big difference between self-reliance and God reliance.”
“What you give to God, He handles.  What you keep, you handle.”
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Change, and huge steps of faith, have never been easy for our family.  They have, however, become a common theme in our journey of following Jesus.  In every new direction we have tried to focus more on obedience than determining what the sacrifice will be.

Max Lucado once wrote, “God promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into our future.” 

We don’t really know what tomorrow has in store, BUT we do know that God will be there.  He will be there saying, “Thanks for taking those few steps with me.  Now, let’s keep on going.”

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Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Dear Hurting Pastor

This letter is dedicated to every church pastor who has ever felt burned out, been in a ‘funk’ and could not get out, lost the respect of your staff or board, or simply had the passion of your calling to ministry fade away.  

Dear Lead Pastor,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for all the 1:00 a.m. phone calls that took you away from you family too often.  I’m sorry about all the ridiculous expectations the church placed on you for so many years. Having to appear at every single event throughout the year.  Making yourself available 24/7 to EVERYONE for absolutely ANYTHING.  I’m sorry for all those anonymous I’m displeased with your leadership notes you found under your office door on Mondays.  I’m sorry you didn’t receive THANK YOUs and HUGS more often for the compassion you poured into people.  I’m so very sorry that your kids witnessed an unpleasant, un-Christlike side of church and ministry while they were growing up.  You probably did not get to witness first hand much of the fruit resulting from your ministry either…I’m sorry for that too.  I’m sorry that no one in your church really knows what it is like being in your shoes.

I’m sorry the church placed you so high up on a pedestal that it seemed impossible to ever step down.  You should have never been put there.  That position is reserved for Jesus.  He’s the only one who deserves to be there…who can withstand the pressures that exist there…and the only one the church needs to see up there.

In those empty, dry, and lonely seasons…I’m sorry no one in the church offered loving accountability to you.  They should have given you a paid and structured Sabbatical.  Offering to provide you with the right counseling, or even find you a mentor.  Now that would have been helpful.  I’m sorry that did not happen.

Pastor, mostly I am sorry that ministry work has put a bad taste in your mouth for the church.  As someone who has experienced this with a handful of friends who were pastors, allow me to encourage you.  The church is made up of flawed people, therefore, it is flawed.  That’s just the way it is going to be until Christ returns.  Pastors do not have direct control over the health of their church congregations, staff, and boards.  But WE DO have 100% control of our own personal health and leadership.

hurtingpastor blog

Have you left the ministry?  Or, have you been thinking about stepping out but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet?

Please hear me on this.  If there is ANY amount of calling left on your life, stick with it…BUT make some changes.  Take charge of leading by example.  Be intentional about resting and recharging once a week.  Empower others (staff and volunteers) to share the burden of hospital visits, speaking/teaching at small group gatherings and Bible studies, and even leading some team meetings.  And for the love of all that is good and meaningful in the world, please find a mentor!  Someone OUTSIDE of your church who is spiritually mature and will speak truth into you as a leader, husband, and father.

If the Lord has truly called you to ministry and others around you affirm that calling, then be obedient.  The church desperately needs healthy pastors.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  – Galatians 6:9

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Searching For The ‘NEXT’ Thing

Have you ever found yourself wanting something new?  Specifically, I’m thinking of a new opportunity, experience, or career.

Or maybe you have recently stepped out of something, but the next ‘phase’ of your life lacks clarity.

For whatever reason, most of us do experience longing for a ‘NEXT THING’ at some point in our lives.  And it becomes even more difficult waiting for what that next thing is when we think we have an idea what it might be.

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Recently, after nearly 20 years of working in church ministry, our family moved across the country to Colorado Springs.  My wife accepted a position with a Christian publishing company, and I am currently working as a Barista at a popular coffee shop.  Shortly after moving and starting my new job, I quickly started speculating.  I noticed that I was trying to guess what God’s next assignment was going to be for me…as if my purpose were on hold.

But there was a huge problem with this.

I was already in that assignment!

I received a random text from a friend last week.  It read, “I was praying for you today, and God wants you to know that you are right where he needs you.  Invest your all in it.”

This almost brought me to tears.

The lesson I am learning in all of this is very simple…BUT equally challenging.  I am to accept where God has placed me as my primary ministry focus.  Period!

Then this scripture hit me right between the eyes.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

 I was seeking God, but not with ‘all’ my heart.  A large portion of my heart was dedicated to seeking my next calling….job…opportunity.  I was peering into the future, into a season God has not allowed me to see yet.

God may very well be working on details for me somewhere down the road, but I am really excited to pour my life into the HERE and NOW of what today consists of.

 Can YOU relate?  Does any of what I’ve shared resonate with you, or am I really the one one?

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.
You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

3 Things To Always And Never Do In Leadership

“I will NEVER be that kind of leader.”

“I will ALWAYS lead with the utmost integrity in my church.”

We’ve all heard it said, “Never say ALWAYS or NEVER.”  And I think there is some wisdom in that.  These words can easily set us up for major failure.

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In the right context, however, ALWAYS and NEVER can be incredibly useful for staying focused and intentional with who we desire to become and what we hope to accomplish in the future.

Here are 3 things I suggest we ALWAYS and NEVER do in leadership:

1. ALWAYS do your best | Our work effort should be high and directed toward God (Col. 3:23).  This also creates solid character.

2. ALWAYS forgive yourself when you fail | You and I are going to fail.  It’s inevitable.  But if we don’t learn from our mistakes, give ourselves grace and move on…we will end up self-destructing.  Give each new day a clean slate (Lam. 3:22-23).

3. ALWAYS look for the good in everyone | Noticing the positive traits in others (and acknowledging them) encourages and builds others up.  Who doesn’t need more of that?  This also changes the way we view people for the better.


1. NEVER Give up | You and I lose sight of our goals, hopes, dreams, and reason for living when we give up (1 Cor. 9:24).  When you feel like giving up, seek a mentor immediately.  Work through it with someone.

2. NEVER neglect your priorities | Relationship with Jesus, family, personal health, rest, and growth.  These are some of examples.  Whatever yours are, keep them in front of you at all times (Luke 12:34).  Examine them to see how you are doing.

3. NEVER lose sight of your calling | This one helps us to avoid giving up.  Whatever God has called you to, do it well (Eph. 4:1).  He believes in you.

What would you add to this list?

Join the discussion and leave a comment below.

Sabbatical | Day 3

This is technically Day 4, but I still want to share from yesterday.

(Be sure to check out my Day 1 and Day 2 posts)

The key moments for me were continuing my reading in ‘No Other Gods’ and having some sweet time of personal worship.  I find it cool how the Lord can enter into fellowship with me while simply lying on my back in my hotel room with my earbuds in.

When we take the time for Him, He takes the time for us.

And as it is with most of my Sabbaticals, I have not done all that I originally intended to at the beginning of the week.  And today reminded me that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, I came upon a Tweet today asking for church leaders to share their story…particularly about their current ‘Phase’ of life and ministry.  I could not resist. I love sharing my story, both the good and the less pleasant sides.  If it hadn’t been for others telling their personal stories I may not be where I am today.  So I share to encourage others.

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Anyway, in doing this I want to share with you a personal quote I included when I emailed them.  Here you go.

“Our partnership with God in His Kingdom work is never contingent upon our comfort, happiness, or confidence.”

 

While I was thinking back over the past 6 months it dawned on me.  God doesn’t wait until we are living on the mountaintop, free of pain and 100% sure of Him being right there with us, to ask us to do something HUGE for Him.  Nothing happens to us that does not pass through His hands.  This doesn’t mean that God necessarily  ’causes’ all things to happen to us.  It does mean, however, that when we’ve given God a definitive ‘yes’ He will be active, aware, and verbal in our relationship with Him regardless of what is going on around us.  The critical thing here is to maintain healthy personal soul care.  If we aren’t doing this it can become nearly impossible to hear His guiding voice or feel His involvement in our daily lives.

What about you?  How have you been hearing from God recently?  Leave a comment below.

Stepping Into God…1, 2, 3

When God is calling you to something HUGE, what do you do?  

Since day one of moving from Washington State to Columbus, GA over four years ago people simply assumed I was in the military.  I guess I can understand their reasoning.  I mean I have the Army haircut, and why else would someone move his family 2,600 miles across the country?

photo by: www.businessreviewcanada.ca
photo by: http://www.businessreviewcanada.ca

Come to think of it, the majority of twenty-three years of marriage for my wife and I have been anything but stable.  Don’t get me wrong; we are blessed with an incredible relationship.  That’s not what I mean when I say we have not been  ‘stable.’  We’ve actually never lived at the same address for more than three years.  Many of those residential moves have been related to ministry work.  In fact, we recently left the home we had hoped to purchase and settle down in and moved just across the river for the sole purpose of living in the town we are launching a new church campus in.  We are so excited for this new chapter of life the Lord is writing with us.

What about you?

What is God calling you into today that is new, different, or maybe even challenging?

I’ve learned something about God in my 27 years as a Christian.  This is huge…you might want to write it down or even Tweet it.

Ready?

Saying ‘yes’ to God at the moment of our salvation only begins a life of ‘yes’ moments with Him. 

You see, God doesn’t just want you and I to say ‘yes’ to His grace, forgiveness, and salvation and then to be done with it.  That intimate moment with Him is amazing.  But…to experience kingdom living on a grand scale we (you and I) are going to be constantly called, challenged, pushed, encouraged to step into something bigger than ourselves.  Something out of our comfort zone.  Something inconvenient.  Something we would even prefer not to do.

I’d like to offer you 3 clear steps to consider as you approach stepping into something new with God.

1)   Be open:  God is not going to force us against our will.  Now, He might make avoiding His call incredibly painful at times.  But He desires a trusting and open heart that will respond to Him.

2)   Pray:  Seriously.  Devote some real time to praying about whatever it is.  Journal your prayer life through it.  This will help to bring your head and spirit together on the issue.

3)   Tell another mature believer:  This really is where the rubber meets the road, folks.  The first two steps are completely on us.  But this one…this one takes it to a new level.  Telling someone creates accountability and defines the genuineness of our intentions with God.  Take this step seriously.

May our Lord and Heavenly Father bless and reassure you as you begin stepping even further into Him today.

Leave a comment below.

 

Stay true to your call

photo by: inmymindandthoughts.blogspot.com
photo by: inmymindandthoughts.blogspot.com

“You are a king then?”  Pilate asked.

“You say that I’m a king,”  Jesus replied.  “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”   – John 18:37

Even on the verge of Jesus’ death.

Even when it seemed like everyone was against Him.

In a moment when anyone else might have taken this interview  as a chance to escape death.

Even when those closest to him stopped walking with Him.

Even now (and I love how this reads in the HCSB version) Jesus replies with, “I was born for this!”  Then, He goes on to clarify what He was born for.

As ministers of the gospel, both vocational and volunteer, we should have this same attitude.

When things get rough in ministry, can you boldly proclaim “I was born for this” without hesitation?

Second, can you quickly rattle off your specific calling?  Do you know (remember) what God has called you to do for His kingdom?

May you have boldness and clarity of your calling in this season of your partnership with the Lord.

When was a time that you had to reafirm your calling, draw a line in the sand, and claim, “I was born for this?” 

Leave me a comment below or a voicemail with your thoughts.

He considers you faithful

No matter where you serve in God’s ministry (greeter, sunday school teacher, grounds keeper, minister, etc.), its likely that you have experienced this before.  Its the occasional season when we tend to take our calling for granted and almost slip into an ‘auto-pilot’ mode regarding our service.  I don’t think we do this consciously, but let’s be honest.  We are human, therefore, we do need reminders now and then to keep us focused.

I received one of those reminders today during our staff ‘Crave’ hour.  After some time of prayer, I was led to this passage.

I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry-  1 Timothy 1:12  (HCSB)

Paul took time and found it important to….

…acknowledge Christ

…thank Jesus for strength

…thank God for trusting him — and using him for Kingdom work

photo by: fanpop.com

For those of us who are serving in the purposes of God, let us always remain humble, focused, and ready.  May we never regard ministry work as being held prisoner to an esthetically dull cubical plagued with outdated ‘to-do’ sticky notes.  Ministry is anything BUT monotonous!  It is not 9 to 5.  It is not easy.  It is not always rewarding.

BUT

It does orchestrate life change in people, both here in this life and in the next life with Jesus.

Two years ago, I had had all I could take with ‘church politics,’ weak leadership, and being chewed up and spit out one too many times.  I was done!  I was on my way to being one of those ‘older than average’ Starbucks baristas into retirement.  Over time God wrapped His arms around me (in the form of the Church), slowly and gently pulling me back to my original call.

Today, read the Timothy verse (above) again….and thank Jesus for trusting you with His work.  Saying ‘Yes’ to God’s work isn’t always rewarding, but remember this.  The creator of the Heavens and Earth considered YOU!