I’m Moving To Colorado Springs! What???

I have a Love/Hate relationship with change.  How about you?

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In the Fall of 2013, it was revealed at our staff retreat that my wife and I were going to step out of our staff roles at the time to launch the first multisite church campus of Christ Community Church. Fast forward to Nov 8, 2015. On this Sunday we announced that our campus would be changing our video teaching model to offer live preaching. Not only did this change not include my wife and I (change in leadership), we also announced that we were moving to Colorado Springs in 4 weeks.

This has all happened so quickly.  We really have seen the finger prints of God all over this…not only in our own lives, but for the health of the campus as well.

So, this is basically a journal entry reflecting on my thoughts with this transition:  What I FEEL vs. what I KNOW.

What I feel | There is personal loss attached to big life transitions. Loss of close friends, co-workers, family, culture, and familiarity.

What I know | There often needs to be loss if God is going to bless us with new blessings. It’s His way of making room for the new. I have seen this over and over in my lifetime, so I’m not sure why I don’t get more excited at the onset of changing seasons when they pop up.

What I feel | 18 months is too soon after launching a new church campus for the leadership to move on. Ok, it’s too soon for my comfort level. There, I said it. I really thought I’d be shepherding this body of believers for at least 3-5 years. And that was my problem. I presumed God’s intentions more than I should have.

What I know | God’s timing is always perfect and always better than mine. On God’s clock, late and early are non-existent. This is so comforting (and frustrating) to me.

What I feel | Its not fair that I don’t get to be a part of this local church body in its next chapter. I want to see it grow. I want to meet all the amazing, new people. I want to celebrate with the new believers and disciple them.

What I know | God’s calling on my life (and yours) is never about fairness. And it is not about our personal wants. It is, however, always about obedience, faith, and a larger Kingdom purpose than my own little world.

What I feel | I worry about how my kids will weather through this change. Our 2 oldest are staying in GA, while 2 of our boys are moving with us. I often think, they did not ask for this life of ministry….constant change and moving from place to place.

What I know | They are only mine for a season and for the purpose of training them up in faith and life. Ultimately, they are The Lord’s. When we dedicated them to Him as babies, we were placing them in His care. As they have grown older, I have had to constantly re-visit those moments and ask myself a question. Do I truly mean today what I meant back then? Thankfully, the answer has been ‘yes.’ But I do find myself constantly rededicating each of them to God’s care and providence. This is mainly for my own sanity.

What I feel | If I’m going to be really authentic here, I’d have to admit that I’ve said to God (more than once) that I didn’t ask for this calling of ministry in my life. I’ve often thought what it would be like to go to church at the same time as everyone else does. Or how it would feel not to have to live completely by my calendar. Or not having the heaviness of knowing so much of the pain and struggle many of our church members are enduring each week.

What I know | While that all sounds appealing on the surface, I know better. Yes, ministry is demanding and hard. But (there’s a huge ‘but’ here), it is also rewarding beyond words. The innumerable experiences, tragedies, joys, challenges, victories, and relationships God has gifted me with….none of them would have come to be if I had said ‘No’ to His call on my life. I would have forfeited the past 24 years of partnership with God. The thought that I could have given all that away to someone else makes me cringe.

“This is God’s universe, and He does things His way.  We may have a better way, but we don’t have a universe.”  – Dr. J. Vernon Megee

 How about you?  How have you maneuvered through major transitions in life?  When have what you FEEL vs. what you KNOW collided?

This has been the quickest, healthiest, and craziest change in my life to date…..and I’m really looking forward to it!

You Don’t Need To See All The Details Today

Have you ever wished that God would stop holding out on you and simply show you his plan for the next season of life?  I mean, we want to step out in faith and all that good stuff.  But why can’t he just let us in on the secret?  Give us the details?

Something caught my eye while traveling out of town recently.  It was a horse trailer, and the horse was wearing a mask like this.

CACFMASE
PHOTO CREDIT: WWW.HORSETACKCO.COM

I do know a little bit about horses, and there are two common purposes for having a horse wear a head mask like this while they travel in a trailer.

  1. It protects them (mainly their eyes) from insects.
  2. It helps to keep them calm.

That’s right.  The mask has a calming effect on the horse when it can’t see all that is going on around it.  The horse’s owner will remove the mask when the environment is mostly free of harm and distractions.

Meanwhile, the horse still needs to respond to the owner’s guidance.  It doesn’t just stand there.  It follows it’s owner even though it cannot see what it is walking toward.

Sound familiar?

Check this out:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  – Isaiah 55:8, 9

If God is leading you somewhere and you can’t see what it’s all going to look like, that’s O.K.  There is usually good reason.  In my own life, I can think back to many times when I would have not followed him if he had shown me the plan before the journey.  Why?  Because it would have scared me to death!  He has bigger, better plans for you and I.  He provides and equips us as we need it every step of the way.

My encouragement for you today is this.  Be grateful!  What he’s asking of you today may seem like an incredible step of faith, but it’s likely to be just one of many baby steps toward something too amazing to wrap your understanding around.

Could this encourage someone you know today?  Share it online.

Perhaps this was something you needed to hear in your own life today.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Today, may you be able to fully trust God even in the absence of big details.

 

 

 

We Cannot Change God’s Plans, But He Can

photo by: www.thegrandsarachis.com
photo by: http://www.thegrandsarachis.com

Has God ever changed his plans on you?  Honestly, I really hate it when he does that.

I’m a planner, and I experience a significant level of anxiety when my plans change.  Early in our marriage, I had earned my E.M.T certification and was enjoying working between a busy Emergency Department and a private ambulance company.  My ‘plans’ were to become a paramedic and work for a city fire department.  Well, guess what?  That never happened.  I studied, tested, and applied at every fire department I could for three years…and nothing!  When I eventually gave up, God told me he wanted me to do full-time ministry work as a pastor.

See what I mean?

God did this to one of his prophets too.  Jonah was told to go to a large city and tell everyone that God was going to bring total distruction on them because of their evil and careless lifestyle.  Jonah didn’t want to do this.  He simply wanted God to destroy them.  In his mind, why warn them?  Eventually, Jonah did what was asked of him.

Then, God does this….

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  Jonah 3:10-4:1 (ESV)

The leadership lesson in this story is clear.  Jonah was God’s servant, not his advisor. (Bell, 2008)  The same is true of you and I, especially if we are in any form of leadership within the church.  God doesn’t need an advisor.  He needs individuals who can serve him and trust his methods over theirs.

What does this look like for you?  Where have you trusted him, and when have you questioned?  It’s not necessarily the questioning of God’s ways or reasons that is the issue.  It boils down obedience.  The more we obey and experience how his methods are far superiour to ours, the more our faith in him will grow….thus making obedience easier in the future.

I’d love for you to leave your comments / questions below.

 

Bell, J.S. (2008). The One Year Men of the Bible. Carol Stream, IL. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (www.Tyndale.com)

3 steps to remaining focused in 2013

One source I came across reported these statistics related to keeping New Year’s resolutions.

75% of us last beyond the first week…..ouch!

64% beyond 1 month.

46% last past 6 months!

photo from: 123rf.com
photo from: 123rf.com

This is a continuation from a recent post.  So you say you are going to make great changes in the coming year?  That’s great…I celebrate that with you.  I’m in the same boat.  Now, we all know that starting is half the battle, right?  What I’ve been wrestling with over the past few days is the fear of losing my drive, my inspiration, my focus.  Just look at those numbers above again.

Here’s my plan in 3 steps:

1.  PRAY:  My One Word for the year is STRIVE.  That said, I am going to wake up each day and pray, “Lord, what would you have me STRIVE in today?  Give me the energy and positive attitude to become TODAY the leader you intend me to be.”

2.  PARTNER:  This is the clincher.  Ask a close friend, spouse, or mentor to hold you accountable.  Additionally, it really helps if this person clearly exhibits their own ability to lead themselves well.  Now, this takes a lot of humility and authenticity.  And if we want it to work, we absolutely must be honest with them!

3.  EVALUATE:  Get your Google Calendar, iCal, or old school spiral planner and schedule dates throughout the year to seriously sit down and check on how you’re doing.  Recognize and celebrate the areas you’ve grown in, and re-engage those things you have gotten distracted from.

You can do this!

Just accept the fact that you will sometimes fail.  That’s ok.  If we didn’t ever fail we wouldn’t have any need for Jesus!

Isaiah 40:29 tells us that, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

So, give your weakness and struggles as a leader, husband, and father to God…and He will fill in the void the way only He can!

 

 

The First Step ‘IS’ the First Step

continuous-improvementIs there an area of your life that needs improvement? Every person who has an ounce of humility and a somewhat clear view of where they are at in life will answer “Yes” to that question.
For the longest time I have hated Nike’s mantra to “Just Do It!” How egotistical. They don’t even know me. I’m big and clumsy, so exercise isn’t easy for me. I’m challenged with moderate dyslexia, so I pretty much despise reading. I enjoy pastries, bread, cheese, and fast-food way too much, so maintaining a constant healthy eating habit has always been a challenge. I did not grow up in a Christian home so leading myself closer to God has been one depressing failed attempt after another. These are my realities. They are, however, also my excuses. I’ve recently come to understand that our excuses usually do have much validity to them, but validity doesn’t lead us to health and improvement in these instances.
While reading (yes, I’m reading) in one of Maxwell’s books I wrote down a quote he mentions in the first chapter.
“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn
I had to read this five or six times to really let it resonate. If you’re like me, we are usually willing to make that initial step to change our direction, but the problem is this. We expect the new (better) destination to arrive quickly. That simply doesn’t happen! So, how do we get there?
Whatever it is you need to start doing…..Just Do It! (Can’t believe I just said that)
It’s true, though. To change our direction requires a step. To continue in that direction takes another and another step.
I have recently been so encouraged. Sure, there have been positive voices around me…but my real encouragement has been tied securely to the tangible steps I’ve been making all on my own. And as I’ve take steps, God has been faithful to bless those. I can also feel Him cheering me on…wanting me to succeed.
I will pose the question again. Is there an area of your life that needs improvement? You might identify 4 or 5, but do what I did. Take on one at a time. Then, simply take small action steps that are nearly impossible to fail at. Just do it! I am…and you can too.

Please leave me a comment or voicemail.

Ministry Leadership, part 2

photo by: thejoshuacollective.com

I’m continuing to blog through Jim Wideman’s, “Children’s Ministry Leadership.”  In chapter 2, Jim throws a barrage of key leadership traits at the reader.  They are concise and their truth is deafening.  Here they are.

Authentic leaders must…

1. Being willing to change.  This is true today of church leaders, and it was true one hundred years ago.  Show me a pastor who hasn’t changed anything in their leadership approach or how their church carries out the Great Commission…..and I’ll show you a church that rarely bares any fruit.

2. Have integrity.  I love this line Jim writes on integrity.  He says, “It’s not about your being right;  it’s about God being right and you leading the way to him.”  So, it’s O.K. to not have all the answers.  Humility is absolutely vital to having solid integrity.

3. Be faithful in small things.  This can often be a stumbling block for many leaders in the church.  Many times I think we can gravitate toward the BIG events or responsibilities, but God equally calls us to the smaller things.  Look at Luke 16:10.  This is Jesus process for promotion (so to speak).

4. Be a person of vision, and communicate it.  This is basic, but SO important.  If you don’t have a clear vision for the direction of your ministry or church it won’t go anywhere.  Additionally, however, in you’re the only one who knows and understands the vision…you’d probably be better off not having one.  Everyone needs to know your vision, and it needs to be clearly communicated often.  People forget, and there’s always new people who haven’t ever heard it.

5. Be willing to follow others.  Every leader requires a higher authority to learn from and follow.  Modeling HOW to follow well is one of the best examples of leading.

6. Be unpopular at times.  Ministry leadership is not a popularity contest.  This is hard, because most of us really do like being ‘liked.’  But if being liked by our church becomes more important (or more easily done) than having God smile on our ability to obey His Spirit’s guiding….we’re in BIG trouble.  Do the ‘right’ thing, not the most liked thing.

7. Be someone people see as a leader.  Two words on this:  OWN IT.  Be who God has call you to be.  Sure, remain humble in your position…but take hold of what God has placed in your hands.  If you don’t really know what kind of a leader you are, chances are those around you will experience difficulty figuring it out too!

Which of these areas is the larger challenge for you in leadership?  We all have areas to grow.  Leave a comment.