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Who I amReside in Missouri, I Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Walk by Faith?

In the midst of our move from California to Missouri I've been reflecting on the entirety surrounding the story we've been living out. A great deal of prayer has gone into the past two years of our families lives and at times when we've wanted answers there hasn't been.  At other points the answers to prayers we received did not come in the way we would have wanted it.

It's in these moments that force us to pause and wonder how do we explain this thing we call FAITH. FAITH is a unique concept for some to buy into and for others it can be passively spoken about without it really affecting their life.

Faith can be labeled as the urge, nudge, force, stirring, gut decision and it can carry many other labels, but the one thing Faith ALWAYS does is it calls one to life actions.

A. W. Tozer beautifully describes this oddness:


“A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one whom he has never seen. He talks familiarly every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order that he might be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up. He is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge.”

I agree with Tozer, I'm an odd number! 
For myself and the desire of our family is that our entire life is devoted to Christ. We believe in the Scriptures and what is written about the character of God. We pray & seek answered prayer without audible conversation from God.  And we desire a life focussed on a simple truth that life with Jesus isn't about what we get out of it, but because of who Jesus is.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A New Day Ahead

I'm sitting here in our empty home on the last night of living in California with many mixed emotions.  Feelings of sadness, anxiousness, uncertainty, excitement, wonder, curiosity, trepidation, frustration and whimsy about the unknown have definitely encompassed much of these last few weeks. 
We still are trusting, by faith, that the moving of Jesus with this entire transition that leads back to January 2013 is going to be honoring to Him as well as a healthy new journey for all of us.

It is a strange sensation when you know tomorrow morning brings the beginning of a new chapter in not only my life but my wife's and sons as well.  These past few days as we've said our goodbyes to friends, neighbors, teachers, students and made a final trip to many of our favorite SoCal spots.

This process is a vivid reminder that settling isn't something I believe I am called to do.  As a follower of Christ I am called to constant change.  I am called to constant change in my values, desires, longings and life holistically so that I mimic the heart of God.  Transformation in living my life focussed on nothing less than Jesus brings constant change to anyone and at times that change is so subtle it isn't noticeable, other times the change is drastic.  
With tears and joy we are leaving a setting we have grown to love:
We know we will miss the rolling sounds of the ocean, the breath taking sunsets over the pacific, the joy of spending a night at Disneyland, the famous IN N OUT burger but most of all we are leaving dear friends.

So with a few hours to spare on our internet service we say goodnight California so we can be ready to say good morning to the next chapter in each of our lives.  Not knowing what lies ahead, but trusting Jesus who is ready to lead us.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

STOP….LISTEN….REPEAT

What happens when you stop moving?

What happens to your body & mind?
Is there mental & physical disruptions that you are unsure of how to process?  
Do you get frustrated, anxious or annoyed easily?  
Does your mind wander to everything you feel you should be doing?
Do you become agitated at those closest to you and you really do not know why?
Is it hard for you to sit or lie down and be at peace?

I often find that in my life I live at a pace that can consume me if I am not careful.  It can consume my mental, physical & spiritual energies I have to give.  I can become blinded by my own drive to achieve something that I forget that my identity isn't what I do but is already in WHO I AM.

If we observe our world we have forgotten what it means to pause and relax.  In fact even the concept of "down time" for many people, marriages, parents, kids, families, employers, employees is viewed as a weakness.  People only take a break when the world they live in has fallen apart and those closest to them gossip about how they "can't handle the pressure anymore".

I've learned to love Stopping….Listening….and Repeating this pattern.  

I've learned to stop and listen to my wife to hear about her day.  I've learned to stop and listen to the laughter & crazy stories of my sons when they want to talk.  I've learned to stop & listen to the sounds of birds, waves & even footsteps of those around me.  I've found the musical tones in the cadence of our days that help refresh me.  

I enjoy watching the world cry for help and hearing the sound of Jesus speak mercy & grace.  I've learned to listen for God's nudge to act or speak up even when it may be inconvenient for me.  I've learned that silence isn't really silence, but it is peace speaking to my inner being.

I've learned that a day off really should be a day off.  
Vacations are mandatory and not optional. Rest is important. 
Employers who demand a chaotic rhythm for "success" are really out of rhythm themselves.  
Employees who pride themselves on "business" are really vulnerable and insecure.  
Marriages that pursue selfishness don't care about pausing to serve one another.  
Parenting that is manipulative and dictating will never hear the truth of whom their children are.  Families that portray an image that they really only want the outside world to see is often a lie and cries for help.

Sit down and read Matthew 6:25-34.  Observe the text.  Ask yourself if the statements are true of your life right now?  

What happens when you stop moving?

What happens to your body & mind?
Is there mental & physical disruptions that you are unsure of how to process?  
Do you get frustrated, anxious or annoyed easily?  
Does your mind wander to everything you feel you should be doing?
Do you become agitated at those closest to you and you really do not know why?
Is it hard for you to sit or lie down and be at peace?

Years ago I read a book about solitude & sabbath.  The book was Abraham Heschels THE SABBATH.  It is worth the read but more importantly, it is worth the implications for our lives.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What is in a Name?

Anyone who lives any sort of life outside of a Hobbit hole is bound to work, play a sport, eat a meal, have kids in the same school, go to church, ride a train, shop at the same store or even walk the dog in the same park with another human being.  The more people we interact with the higher the odds are we'll run into someone multiple times in life.  However, there are few times where you may have a brief encounter with someone that in the moment you can recall their name but let a few days, months or years pass and you forget who they are.

Anyone have this type of moment in life?

Someone walks up to you and says, "Hey it's so good to see you!" 
And while you are staring at this person you are frantically trying to recall their name, nickname or even where you know this person from?

I really dislike these moments.

I'm really good with remembering faces however.  I secretly sometimes think I should've worked for the CIA or FBI as a profiler or negotiator.  I've been the weird guy walking up to someone saying, 
"Hey have we met before, you look really familiar?" 
Some people may not care if they forget someones name but for myself, especially working with teenagers, I try really hard to remember names along with their face.  When a student is recognized or remembered you can see the look in their face when they feel they important enough to be remembered.  And when they come up to you, expecting you to remember them and you don't, you can also see the disappointment in their face.

The truth is sometimes I really suck at remembering names.  I'll admit I've met and that I've even talked with you, but I can't remember the name.  It's really embarrassing when I guess at their name and I'm not even close.  In those moments I confess that I don't remember their name and ask them to remind me what it is and I try to sear it to my brain, hoping it won't leak out.  When you are interacting with a few hundred people each week, many of them new or you've just never met them 1on1 yet this can be a regular occurrence.

The problem with youth ministry is you not only need to remember the students name but what parent(s) go with what student.  That is really critical depending on the type of phone call you are making to a family.  You never want to be calling to inform parents of their son/daughters accident at camp only to realize too late in the hysteria of the conversation you've called the wrong parents [ooops!]

If you are like me I'm glad I'm not alone.  If you are gifted to recall people's names instantly I'm happy for you and jealous.

Both of these websites (Forbes) & (Psychology Today) have really good tips that I use and yes they do work…sometimes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Agendas vs Collaboration

You walk into a team meeting type setting and eventually there will be a specific direction that meeting will take.  Odds are there will be a point where a key person will set an agenda that will be dictated and the employees will be asked to follow the agenda.  
Or the meeting operates where the team as a whole will work together to communicate, design & achieve common end or results.

The agenda based model can have a few key aspects to it; 
1- Specific Key voice who monopolizes the conversation, 
2- Orders given to be followed.
3- Personal tasks & accomplishments overshadow celebrating team achievements

Given that there are certain settings where the agenda model works well and for certain type of people they thrive in an agenda model setting.  It allows people to know what is exactly expected of them by the person they report to.  It also allows people to "stay within the boundaries"
An example of this model can be the CEO telling his VP what they need to go do to change Marketing, financing, sales, customer satisfaction, etc.  If performance isn't met the CEO will replace the VP whose failing.

The team based approach tends to have a few things that stand out as well;
1-Each person present is allowed an equal voice
2-There may be a set person to keep conversation moving but nobody is the key leader that gives orders
3-People offer ideas freely but also willingly take ownership of tasks to help the team move forward
4-The collective energies & efforts matter more than personal accomplishments

The team based model environment can help people flourish who value helping others as well as thrive off creative brainstorming opportunities.  Team environments help level the playing field of authoritative organization charts.  Not that authority is negated in team based models but it isn't always leveraged in certain team meetings.
An example of this model can be a Principle who asks the department chairs who collectively as educators they can change the failure rates of the school.  Everyone sees different aspects of the school so collective they voice ideas, concerns and apply collective efforts to change the school for success.

I've worked in both settings & I've led with both settings as a model.  I can say that the team based model is the most effective but it take constant intentionality for the team based model to not turn into the agenda based model.  The key is health matters more than productivity.  Health for the employees & the common desired goals to be worked towards.

These thoughts are unpacked in great detail in a great leadership book  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Time Off Highlights

Top aspects so far of the last two weeks of not having a job:


  • Extended Reading & Writing times
  • Taking my sons to school & picking them up
  • Lunch dates with my wife
  • Not "having" to check email
  • Taking the dog to the park in the middle of the day
  • Thinking, thinking & more thinking
  • Getting to-do lists done!
  • Sorting through boxes & cabinets we haven't look at in 6 years

Sunday, March 09, 2014

FEAR, FRUSTRATION and FOCUS

March 3rd I became officially unemployed which means this is the first time since I was 14 years old that I do not have a job.  Yep, no joke. I've had a regular paycheck for the last 20 years of my life!

My scenario is better than most because I knew this change was coming and over the last 1.5 years leading up to this moment I have been able to process a lot, learn a lot and reflect often on the unknowns in life change life quickly for us.  Through processing with a good friend one day over coffee here are some bullet point learnings I've expereinced walking through a season of life where you just don't really know what is going to happen next.


FEAR
Fear of what will happen.  Fear of how do I provide for my wife and kids when I lose a paycheck. Fear of will I be able to find another job. Fear that this change could actually be the end of student ministry for me.  Fear that my insecurities and doubts will stifle me for the rest of my life.
Fear is a powerful emotion that can cripple, convict and even callous people's hearts.  The unknown in life has kept me from making decisions based on fear and I've often regretted those decisions.  But my fear was really short-lived.  There were several key moments where in my own soul and in my family Jesus was speaking a single word to all of us "TRUST".  Trust me, cause I've got this.  Trust me cause I'm a God of motion & movement, and we are on the move.

Psalm 23 as cliche as this Psalm can be for many, it was a real essence of God's presence.

FRUSTRATION
I can't lie, this emotion lingered for a while and to some degree is still there.  Frustration that life and ministry the way I thought it was going to go, didn't go that way.  Frustration that hopes, desires, dreams & longings were snuffed out.  Frustration that I felt alone.  I never felt alone in a fearful sense but I felt alone in that my passions & longings were not mirrored.  I was frustrated seeing my wife and kids frustrated at the reality of change.
Frustration is an emotion that comes when you don't have control.  Frustration shows up when the plan you thought you had really didn't map out.  Frustration can occur when the plan & goals you had become thwarted by someone else.  Frustration can show up when you see flaws in your own self that you wish weren't there.  Frustration can be a emotion that can physically & mentally cause you to feel stuck unless you release control to trusting that God is doing something bigger than what you see right in front of you.

Proverbs 16:9 has been a prayer that I wanted to own and not just speak.

FOCUS
Focus is a brilliant space to be in! Focus came after a phone call with a friend.  It wasn't a long conversation and no epiphanies were shared but only affirmation.  Affirmation in who I am in Christ and who I am as a leader.  For myself now, being focused has allowed me to step back & trust Jesus the way I enjoy trusting Him…with everything.  Focus allows me to really ask myself honest questions about what are my convictions and holding to them.  Focus allows me to enter into leadership conversations knowing who I am & where my life is going in our next season of life.  Focus allows me to move pass the little details that'll only distract me from keeping my focus on Christ.

John 9 is one of the most humbling accounts I read about Jesus love for humanity and John 9:4 is a key verse to me in regards to FOCUS.