Sabbatical Reflections #5

christ-church-1200-seat-nexo-s12-arrays-m7cl48-center-272

So today, I’m thinking and praying for the church. I actually sat on the beach this morning reflecting on God’s faithfulness as each wave came in. It’s amazing how nature points to God’s character continually. We all need to reflect on the natural beauty around us more, whether it be the sun reflecting off a new fallen snow, or the ocean waves forming differently yet continually.

Back to the church — having visited a few churches down here and stepping away from my normal duties as a leader and communicator at the church – I’ve had this question – what are we trying to do? I mean at the end of the day, what’s the purpose of the church? I think if we’re not careful we could allow it to become events we attend or a weekly service we show up at and miss what God is hoping to do through His church. It’s about our growth, it’s about connecting with people and it’s about creating an environment where people can come to know Jesus. All of this to bring God glory and live out the values of His kingdom. The services and events are very important but they are merely tools, environments where the real work happens. God transforms hearts as we humbly receive His Word. And His Word comes from the public teaching but also through the casual conversations, the growth group discussions and the hallway prayer times. It is incredibly challenging to trust God and to live according to His Word in the midst of the culture we find ourselves in. The church is needed more than ever before in history – but it’s effectiveness and impact is really more dependent on the hearts, mindset and humility of the people who comprise it.

read more

Sabbatical Reflections #4

IMG_5101 - Version 2

We are finally getting settled into our “Florida house” and beginning our sabbatical “rhythm”. I enjoyed some great time with the Lord this morning and part of that was spent praying for you! Last week, we took our family up to Orlando for a quick mini-vacation at Universal Studios. It was so much fun and so good for our family to have some of that bounding time. And it’s that experience that I’d like to offer some reflection today…

Universal Studios is all about the movies and it’s about creating experiences and building a “show”. As someone who also is involved in public communication and building experiences, I was very interested in observe what they did and how they did it. (I know, I can’t turn it off, can I?!) What was fascinating to me was to see people building fake experiences without heart. Don’t get me wrong, they were done with excellence, humor and utilized technology, video, sight, sound, smell, temperature etc to craft something amazing. They had audience involvement and had worked hard to perfect their craft. My kids were engaged and excited to be a part of it all, as was Lisa and I. So I have nothing but positive to share on that level. But it showed me the difference between entertainment and engagement. Maybe “engagement” isn’t the right word, but they weren’t trying to take us anywhere, there was no goal beyond our simple enjoyment.

read more

Sabbatical Reflections #3

Sticky-Note-with-I-Am-a-Leader

So I went to a different church this past Sunday. It’s always weird when you’re a pastor to go to a different church, mainly because it’s hard to turn off “evaluation mode”. You tend to look at everything through the lenses of “what can I learn/ what could we do differently because of this? Etc” and “what I would do differently if I were in charge?” The downside is sometimes you don’t get to hear from God, it’s not that God isn’t speaking, but I sometimes I miss it because of that “evaluation mode”. I am grateful that didn’t happen this week. Sure there were a few things I learned and a few things I would do differently but I was able to hear from God and get something out of the sermon. It was about leadership and particularly leadership at home.

read more

Sabbatical Reflections #2

hero_evernote

Well after about 30 hours in the car we are finally here in Florida. The weather is in the high 60’s-low 70’s and the pace is little slower. This past Friday I had my first chance to get some time by myself. I am realizing how much my pace has gotten a little ahead of me and left some things undone. I spent a lot of Friday developing a new system of organization and beginning the long process of going through the pile of things that have accumulated over the last few years. And I learned something – we live in an age where it’s not about needing information it’s about organizing information and making sense of it. We don’t lack for information, in fact we have much more information than we could ever digest! Our challenge is learning to discern what information we need to pay attention to. Many of us never do this and so we pay attention to what is in front of us or what is placed in front of us. The problem with this is we don’t typically choose what to pay attention to – it’s chosen for us. We are bombarded with information on the internet trying to get our attention. Advertisers are paid big bucks to find ways to gain our audience. How do we do know what is good for us and what isn’t? How do we know which information actually is looking out for our best and what information is someone trying to sell us?

read more

Sabbatical Reflections #1

So I write you from South Carolina where we are “stuck” for the time being due to an ice storm. I shouldn’t say “stuck” because we are at my parent’s house which is always enjoyable and we never intended to leave until today anyway. Yet, based on weather reports, road conditions and a total number of 9 salt/plow trucks for all of Columbia, SC we may have to stay longer than anticipated. Here’s the thing, when you “expect” to do something, experience something, be somewhere and you can’t – well it throws you off. At least it throws me off. I know some people are “take it in stride” kinda people and I’d say about half the time I can – but when I am excited to get something started or arrive at a destination, delays are difficult. Up until this point, the trip has been incredible. The girls have been so good in the car, watching movies, playing games and being very agreeable and pleasant. And that’s a big deal because we’ve been in the car for a good 21 hours so far and we’ve got 9+ hours left to make it Florida. This is not a short trip, but I’m praying it will be worth it and I’m guessing/ assuming it will be.

read more

Sabbatical Reflections Introduction

So, I think this blog will take a little turn for a few months. I’ve decided to record some brief, yet personal “journal-type” reflections from our 8 week sabbatical. These “reflections” may not always have a point, may not always draw you closer to Jesus and may simply be a pastor-in-process rambling on about life and what not. That being said, they may very well have a point, discover one and/or lead us all closer to Jesus as well. We will just have to see what comes out and how it comes together. Buckle up, the sabbatical journey begins with my first reflection…

read more

Sabbatical Prayer List

f915e621-d3a6-4f2b-b80a-b9c6b7f9eb5aAs our family engages in our 8 week sabbatical, some have asked how they could pray for us. A sabbatical is an intentional time for spiritual refreshment and refocusing and therefore we would be extremely grateful for those who would choose to partner with us in this process through regular/ consistent prayer. Here’s a list of ideas that you could pray for:

1. Pray we are refreshed, reenergized and rested.
2. Pray that I would hear clearly from God & gain perspective personally & for the church.
3. Pray for the leaders/ teachers of Grace Church while we’re gone – that they would have all the need to lead/ teach well.
4. Pray for the people of Grace Church that they/we would be faithful in engaging, serving, giving during these 8 weeks
5. Pray for our daughters and my wife, Lisa for our homeschooling and also for some spiritual/ character issues we’re hoping to instill in our girls
6. Pray for the writing process as I begin working on a book on the topic of spiritual growth
7. Pray for those who will be speaking into me (pastors, counselors etc) during my time – that they would be helpful.
8. Pray for my growth as a leader, pastor, father, husband and child of God
9. Pray for Lisa and her growth, rest and refreshment
10. Pray for our travel, activities and church involvement to, from, and around Florida

read more