Archive for January, 2009

A Miserable Failure

Posted: January 28, 2009 in Bible, change, church, family, life, prayer

Here’s a taste of what I’ve done the past few weeks while I have not been blogging.

1. Fixing a roof damaged by Hurricane Ike.

2. Getting my home ready to rent. (Fixing a roof damaged by Hurricane Ike, repairing plumbing in the kitchen and master bathroom, painting, repairing ceiling pop-outs, putting in new ceiling fans, hanging a back door, etc…)

3. Finding renters without the aid of an agency that would suck out more money than we could afford to lose on the house. 

4. Negotiating with movers for both our house and my car.

5. Looking for schools and homes in a city over 1,000 miles away.

6. Trying to spend time with everyone who wants to say “goodbye.” 

7. Trying to help my 5-year old emotionally negotiate the first major change in her life. (As if I don’t need to emotionally negotiate the same thing.)

8. Working with a landlord 1,000 miles away.

9. Cleaning out the old and embracing the new.

10. A million other things.

Trust me, I’m not complaining. This is a God-ordained move for our family. But it has been a lot to deal with, not to mention the glorious new work that awaits me when I arrive. 

But through this time, I have learned that I’m a miserable failure at one BIG thing: NOT WORRYING. Truthfully, I’m about to give myself an ulcer with all this no matter how hard I try not to.

I’ve never considered myself a control freak, but it is the lack of control right now that is driving me crazy. Someone else will be living in my house, someone else will pack and move my things. Someone else will drive my car to California, and the loss of control makes me worry. I’m experiencing a feeling very similar to the one I had when our first daughter was born; when I realized I was much more selfish than I ever imagined. 

So this morning, I turned scripture in the hopes that something might lower my blood pressure. I read these words: “So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over questions — they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. (Matthew 6.31-34 The Voice)”

My prayer is to better live these words. I have discovered that Jesus is correct (imagine that) and I cannot add to my life by worrying about it. At every step of the way during this transition, God has been faithful and every prayer has been answered. And answered big! I’m discovering that it is when we do not trust in God and allow “control” are the times when our lives begin to fail, not vice versa.

So, I ask you to pray for me and my family and I will pray for you. Let us remember together that God is sovereign and God is good. Everything else is everything else.

The List

Posted: January 22, 2009 in advocacy, books, change, church, grace, humility, life, theology

It’s official. I”m out!!

The Christian Chronicle (a paper to which I contributed last month) is running an article noting that my new congregation, Redwood Church, has been omitted from the 2009 edition of The Churches of Christ in the Unites States.

The reason: Redwood (along with Farmer’s Branch and Richland Hills) has at least one instrumental worship service of Sunday morning. In the words of my friend, Kraig Martin; “This is stupid.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Though it is stupid,  I do have some questions about my newfound “unchurchofchristiness:”

1. Do I still have to pay all my ACU student loans?

2. Am I disfellowshiped? And if so, who has the power to do it?

3. Does anyone use that directory anymore, or do most folks simply look up churches on the internet?

4. Should I get together with Chris Seidman, Rick Atchley and the other church’s minsters to commiserate or celebrate? I say celebrate. Let’s get a tee time fellas.

5. Do the compiler’s of the book believe the churches of Christ (the little “c” is deliberate) can live with fewer members. I can imagine that meeting. “Hey guys, we’re a part of a dwindling movement. Let’s do our share to dwindle it some more.”

At any rate, it is apparent that some people have no bigger fish to fry. I do. I have to get prepared to pastor a church with a heart for the poor, a love for their city, and a desire to bring people from darkness to light, even if that means using a guitar.

First and Last

Posted: January 13, 2009 in change, church, family, friends, life, Malia, ministry, perspective

Today is my last day in the office at Bering Drive Church of Christ. I’ve come to the same office, sat in the same chair, had the same view out the window and cluttered the same desk for over nine years. Today will be the last time I do that. A new chapter is beginning — as I’ve mentioned before. But before newness can break in fully, something must be done with what has passed. So today, I offer some random reflections on my time at Bering Drive.

1. Bering will always be precious to us because this is the church that our daughters were born into. Much of what they’ve learned about God, Jesus and the church came from Bering Drive. Malia, my 5-year-old, speaks about how much she’ll miss Bering. I’ll miss it much more than she. In 10 years she will hardly remember ever being here, but I will remember God sending her to us here.

2. The time I spent preaching at Bering in the interim (August 2003 – June 2004)was the greatest time of my ministry life. Rochelle was pregnant with Malia (a pregnancy that wasn’t supposed to happen); the church had it’s highest attendance since the hey-day of Dr. Bill Love’s preaching; staff and congregational morale was high; I was working nearly 60-hours per week and loving it; and each week it seemed like there were new young or minority people in the pew. For ten months we caught lighting in a bottle. One church member described it as “Camelot,” an older member said “It was the most meaningful church experience of my life,” a single, middle-aged woman said “You’re changing my life,” and the wife of an atheist said, “My husband doesn’t believe, but when he hears you preach, I think he’s close.” Those times can’t last forever, I know. It was a great ride, though. Thank you, God for using me.

3. At Bering I was challenged to think in new ways and allowed the freedom to challenge others in new ways. Thoughtfulness was encouraged, and I am a better minister for it. I know far too many ministers who are subtly told to not think, and merely replicate whatever is fun and popular. I became “theological” here, and it has changed my life. The commitment to theology was so deep here that some very good men and woman paid for me to get my masters. How many people are willing to do that?

4. The kids, the kids, the kids. Each of them deserves an entire blog post. Suffice it to say they are genuine, talented, funny, and beautiful. I am more proud of each of them than they’ll ever know. I will forever love them, and not being able to think of them without moist eyes, a broad smile, and my greatest hopes.

5. At Bering I met some older Christians (many), whom I truly respected; people who were wise and steady, yet forward-looking. I was 25 when we moved here McAllen, TX, and in so many ways entered adulthood at Bering. Thankfully, there were some helpful guides along the way. You can’t go wrong surrounded by people like Edward Fudge, Bill Love, Rolfe Johnson, Bill Ward, and Rob McRay. They taught me much that I will carry forever.

6. I will desperately miss my T.R.I.B.E. (The Right Individuals Believing Endlessly). Every minister needs a fan club. These people were my unwavering supporters. Folks like Sara Faye Fudge, Jean Worley, Laura Bard, the Hughes, Leah Snyder and so many others. The trusted my heart and accepted my humanity while believing in my gifts. If you don’t have a tribe. You should get one.

As I move on to the next phase of life and ministry; the phase orchestrated and ordained by God, these are just a few of the things I enjoyed in my time here. My God bless the believers who meet in this place.

Texas/Ohio Tears

Posted: January 7, 2009 in blogs, kids, sports

A friend of mine, Russ, recently wrote a post about “When Prayers Collide.” It was a helpful reminder than many good people are often praying for opposing things, as is the case with the video below.

I have to admit, I was pretty happy when Texas’ Colt McCoy and Quan Cosby connected for the late go ahead touchdown Monday night, but this little boy felt differently. You have to hurt for him!

Man, I have to teach my kids to take sports with a grain of salt.