Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Gift to Go...

It is hard to believe that another Christmas Day will soon be upon us.  As the day quickly approaches so to do all of the final preparations that go into it all.  To be honest, I haven't had much to do with the Auld family preparations as they fall mostly to my wife.  In fact, as the day quickly approaches I find myself somewhat weary as the bucket of ministry has been poured out on so many fronts and yet there is one final gift that must be sought out.

My need to pursue this gift was birthed out of a question posed by a ministry colleague earlier this week when he challenged us to consider what we were giving Jesus this year for Christmas.  At first glance, this many seem like a silly question or one that deserves a pat answer and yet it is a question that has me really thinking.

What do you give the King of Kings?  What do you give the God who loves you so much He willingly took on flesh and entered fallen humanity in order to rescue us from our sin?  What do you give a Saviour who has given everything for you?  These are not easy questions that warrant easy answers.

So... I still have one gift to go.  I am still not sure what I am going to give Jesus but it is proving to be a very soul searching exercise that I want to take quite seriously heading into 2012.  I trust that all who read this will also consider what they will be giving Jesus this year as you finish up your shopping lists heading into Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reflect and Project

As the year 2011 comes to a close, I am preparing to fulfill an annual heart and mental exercise I like to do at the end of each calendar year.  As with most people, I try to grab a few days of vacation/rest and travel to visit with family.  This usually provides me with a few hours of drive time whereby I can usually take some time to think.

Part of this exercise relates to my need to reflect.  I never want to close out a year without reflecting upon the following three things.  First, I want to remind myself of God's faithfulness throughout the year.  I need to pause and think through how God has showed up in love and grace throughout all of the events of year 2011.  Secondly, I need to honestly reflect upon where I am at spiritually, emotionally and physically as the year closes.  How am I feeling in each of these areas?  What has been tested in each of these areas?  An honest awareness of where you are at personally in all three is important.  Finally, I need to honestly reflect upon where I am at relationally.  How are the most important relationships in my life going?  What tested those relationships throughout the year?  What growth and great things took place in those relationships throughout the year?  Again, an honest awareness of where I am at in my key relationships is important.

But I also am convinced I can't live in the past reflecting.  I must also spend some time projecting and asking the Lord to help me set some concrete goals to pursue for the year in each of the areas mentioned above.  I never want to grow stagnant in my life and will constantly look to the Lord for His leading in how to keep growing and becoming all that He would have me become while I have life to do so.

So, I am looking forward to some time out of the office to prayerfully reflect and project as 2011 comes to a close and 2012 launches.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Breaking out of the Squash Box

I am heading out this afternoon to play a bit of squash with a friend of mine.  I haven't played much squash or racquetball in life, but, I do enjoy getting out and trying new sports.  One of the unique features about these two sports is the court upon which you play.  You basically go and lock yourself into a concrete box with only one small door as the way out and then smack a hard rubber ball off the walls.

As I thought about this, I could not help but equate it to the lives so many find themselves living in.  I even find myself fighting this temptation to view life as this box we are are forced into whereby you spend your days trying to keep the ball of life moving as it bounces out of control on the walls that surround you.  There are days when you just want to break out of the box you find yourself in and yet there often appears to be no way out as the ball keeps begging to be hit.  I also believe that many of us naturally return to the box as we at least feel safe and somewhat in control when in it even if we don't like it.

I really don't think the Lord has called us to live lives like this.  We have been set free in Christ and I believe we have been called to be agile and ready to move as He moves within our lives.  So often the daily requirements of surviving and being successful within the North American culture create and force us into the box of life whereby we stop dreaming big for God.  It is here that our faith can begin to shrivel.

I guess my question to self daily is simple, "What am I doing to make sure I never stop dreaming big in Christ and for Christ so that I can move with Christ?"  I don't want my remaining years on this planet to be defined as trapped in the box of daily grind but rather alive, free and moving in faith with my Saviour.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What do I need this Christmas?

Over the weekend, I was speaking with my mom and we were talking Christmas gifts. At one point we found ourselves going around and around trying to figure out what to buy certain individuals in the family who in reality don’t really need anything. We have so much and are so blessed and yet every year the commercials and our own greedy longings make us believe we need more.

This carries over into our spiritual lives as well. How often do we approach our God and complain like He hasn’t given us everything we need to successfully navigate life here on earth with Him and for Him. Isn’t it amazing how often we live out our lives as Christ followers with a poor man’s attitude rather than the spiritually rich people we are. Paul states it so clearly to the believers in Ephesus where he writes “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)
So as we head into the Christmas season, let’s not act like we don’t have much. We have all that we need in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s live like that’s true in our lives no matter what you find under the tree this Christmas. Maybe the answer to the original question above is that we give one another spiritual reality checks this year by spending some time celebrating God’s goodness to us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crossing the Bridge

Recently my wife and I joined another couple and traveled to the quaint little town of Wakefield, Quebec.  It was an absolutely beautiful Fall day and we came across this recently renovated covered bridge.  As we enjoyed a leisurely stroll across the river through this covered bridge a number of thoughts crossed my mind as it relates to my journey with God.

First, there was a need for me to cross over to a holy God and I recognized long ago it was impossible for me to do on my own.  There was a need for someone to provide a "bridge" over to God on my behalf because of my sin.  That "bridge" is of course Jesus Christ who came and made the way for sinful human beings to cross over to the Father.  Jesus paid for my sin upon the cross and I just need to cross the bridge of redemptive work found in Christ by faith.  Praise the Lord there was a point in my life where I responded and took that step of faith towards Christ, our bridge to enter into a personal relationship with a holy God.

Secondly, it required some real pioneers to build the bridge over that river.  In life, God will call us as both individuals and church families to take some big steps and cross some pretty big rivers in life to get to the next God sized adventure on the other side.  It will always take some courageous pioneers willing to take that first step and start building the bridge over the challenges of life by God's grace.  We do so in order for others to one day follow and benefit from what has been created.  May God give me and other leaders the courage to take such steps.

Thirdly, may we all be willing as Christ followers to cross over to the other side where the adventure of God awaits us.  There is no need for a bridge to help us cross if we are unwilling to walk across it.  Sometimes in life it seems much easier to just sit down on one side of the river of life and enjoy the scenery when God is really calling us to stand up, cross the river and experience whatever He has for us on the other side.

Is there a river God is calling you to cross today?  If so, by faith and with confidence in Christ the master bridge builder, take some steps to experience whatever adventure God is calling you to on the other side of the river.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pastor's Wives

Recently, a few articles have come across my desk dealing with the pressures a pastor's wife often lives under and the unfortunate outcomes of these real life stories. 

When I was going through my studies in preparation to become a pastor, many wise individuals passed along great insights on how to protect ourselves from moral failings as men within a ministry.  They spoke often of how women would look to their pastor's and see things in them that they did not see in their husbands thus demanding the need to place protections around ourselves in order to remain faithful to our marriage vows.

But, these articles seem to point to a new trend where more and more men are hitting on pastor's wives.  As the divorce rate continues to climb and more and more middle aged people find themselves single again, the number of men looking for a "new wife" is on the increase and the pastor's wife is not immune to this reality.  In fact, many would view the pastor's wife as a vulnerable person because many pastor's are not giving their wives the love and attention they truly deserve.  The ministry has often become the pastor's mistress leaving his wife looking for someone to care and walk alongside of them through all of the pressure's of being a pastor's wife.

As I continue to ponder these readings, I am struck with at least two thoughts.  The first revolves around my need to continue making my wife a priority far above my ministry responsibilities.  She needs to know on very real and tangible levels that I am married to her and not the church.  Secondly, we must be fully aware of the pressures and temptations that so many pastor's wives live under.  So many face what feels like unrealistic expectations and the need and desire to "just escape" can sometimes lead to poor decisions that ruin marriages.

These are sobering realities facing even those who sit in leadership within ministries and all couples must continue to fight the good fight and make marriage a priority.  Here are a couple of great resources that I've come across to help with this; Couples = and Pastor's wives =

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sweet Fellowship and Thanksgiving

It is Friday afternoon and I am preparing to head into my first Canadian Thanksgiving in nearly six years and I have a few thoughts running through my head.  So here we go...

First, last Sunday night I preached on Philippians 1:1-11 and focused in on the sweet fellowship we enjoy and must guard as saints in Christ Jesus if we partner together in the work of the Gospel.  As we head into thanksgiving I continue to ask the Lord to give me a love for the church as He loves the church.  We need to be incredibly thankful for who we are together in Christ and cherish the sweet fellowship we enjoy in Him.

Secondly, I've been thinking a lot this week about my brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic.  As I set up my new office this week, I came across many pictures and memories from that trip that got me reflecting on the things I witnessed and experienced while over there.  I am so thankful for what we enjoy here in North America and must guard my heart against grumbling.  From the material blessings to the spiritual ones, there is so much to give thanks for and keeping this eternal perspective in mind is necessary in order to avoid the spiral downwards into not being satisfied with what we have been blessed with.

Thirdly, I am so thankful for my family.  In a world with so much brokenness within family units, I give thanks for a marriage and family that seeks to firmly plant ourselves upon the principles and truth of God's Word.  It doesn't make everything perfect, but with that foundation we believe we will experience the blessing of a strong family unit which is to be cherished, guarded and celebrated with a thankful heart.

Finally, as I reflect upon the above three thoughts they all have a few things in common.  They reflect our need for others and our need to build those relationships upon who we are in Christ.  May we give thanks for the sweet fellowship we enjoy in our relationships as we strive to keep Christ central.

Friday, September 30, 2011

God is Able

I love music!  Music has always stirred deep emotions within me as it is something I could not live without.  To be honest, I'm not that musically inclined and so I am thankful for those who share with the world the gift of music.

This week, I purchased the latest Hillsong recording entitled "God is Able".  I've always enjoyed the music of Hillsong and have found this latest recording an incredible encouragement and motivator.  Please know that I don't state this lightly as I understand the emotional power found in music that can lead us down paths that stray from the truth of God's word.  I state this because my favourite song off of the recording is rooted in a truth from Scripture (it has a good beat as well). 

The song is entitled "God is Able" and speaks powerfully to the greatness and might of our God.  I must confess that sometimes I get lost in the details and pressures of life and forget this truth.  There are times in both my personal life and ministry life that I lose sight of God's goodness and in His ability to do more than I could humanly dream or imagine and I stop asking and dreaming big dreams in Him and for Him. 

So... I have determined this week to be very intentional about dreaming God sized dreams on a weekly basis.  As I reflect on both the personal side of my life and the ministry side of my life (which are very much intertwined) I am going to be sure to always have one or two God sized dreams rattling around in my heart and prayer life so as to never lose sight of the greatness and power of God.  HE is ABLE!!!

So what is your God sized dream?  Have you stopped dreaming God sized dreams?  What are you trusting Him for that only He can do?

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Approaching a Throne with Confidence

Tomorrow evening, I have the privilege of speaking to the International Fellowship at the MET Bible Church in Ottawa, ON.  When they approached me to speak, they asked that I consider following their theme of "God's grace and mercy."  As I thought on this, I could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed in that this theme runs richly throughout the entirety of Scripture.  But, yesterday I found clarity and determined to speak briefly from Hebrews 4:14-16.  What a beautiful passage of Scripture that speaks powerfully to we who are in Christ and the privilege we have to daily live as recipients of His grace and mercy.

Few quick thoughts from this passage...

First, we can approach the very throne of King Jesus with confidence.  This is highly contradictory to the invitations extended by most earthly kings.  Yet, for those who have trusted Jesus (our heavenly King) to save us from our sin, we have this incredible invitation to approach His throne with confidence because we are a part of the family of God and have redeemed by the blood of Jesus our High Priest. 

Secondly, as we approach the throne we find a King/High Priest who is sympathetic.  As humans, we all long to have people understand and feel our hurts and heartaches with us.  The Bible teaches us that we find a sympathetic High Priest who understands completely the sometimes painful and hard journey we all face on earth.  How good it is to know there is one who understands the deepest feelings and longings of our heart.

Finally, it is good to know that as we approach this throne with confidence we find not only one who understands, but one who has the power to help us in our times of need.  This throne we approach is one of grace, mercy and power.  What a wonderful combination!!!

So, when I think about God's grace and mercy my mind often goes to this Hebrews passage as the very throne of God is a throne of grace where daily I can go with confidence as one of His followers to receive what is needed to navigate this life in Him and for Him.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I've been thinking quite a bit this week about "margins".  For those who know me, I absolutely love "to do" lists as they keep me on track and organized and allow me to accomplish much.  At the end of every week, I take about 15 mins to reflect on the week gone by and prepare my calendar and to do lists for the upcoming week.  With each of these items, the concept of "margin" can clearly be seen in the print out themselves.  Allow me to explain...

As I look at my calendar for any given week, well over half of it will be booked up with regularly scheduled meetings and appointments.  But on most weeks, you will also find two to three large blocks of time that are reserved for me.  I usually call them "study times" or as one of my past administrative assistants fondly called it "Tim time."  Now I understand that there is an incredible temptation to fill that time with an appointment or feel as though you need to justify what that "spare" time is really being used for.  Yet, without some of those moments in my weekly calendar, I would be taking work home with me every night as there are some things that just need to get done on a weekly basis.  I've also always wanted to keep an open door policy with my team and so there must be margin in my calendar to accommodate that.

As I look at my "to do" list, I am committed to keeping it to one sheet weekly.  I am also committed to leaving plenty of space by having somewhat large margins and white space on the print out.  I've learned to do this as I know that things will arise next week that I did not see coming which will need to be added to the to do list.  If I fill the sheet with all kinds of unrealistic goals and leave no room for the "write ins" then I have lost margin and will soon burn out.

To be honest, I am still growing in this as I have a real tendency to over commit if I am not careful and yet God continues to teach me how to utilize simple practices to help me "redeem the time".

"Be very careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16-17) 

Friday, September 9, 2011

O Canada, Consumed and the Faithfulness of God

It has been a few weeks that will not soon be forgotten!  We all have the moments/seasons of life that permanently etch themselves into our hearts and minds and this will be one of them for me.  To summarize, we lived through an earthquake, hurricane, final Sunday at one church, a move, customs, new home, first Sunday at another church, first day of school, first day of work, first staff meeting at new church and that was week number one.  With that being said, I am home in Canada and enjoying my daily Tim Horton's.

But, I can also say that I am enjoying the faithfulness of God as well.  A few blog posts ago I spoke of my need to be a man/husband/father that walks by faith into the seasons of life whereby the only thing you know for certain is God's leading.  Having sought to do that, I now wanted to take time to reflect upon God's faithfulness even when my faith grew weak.

Jeremiah writes; "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

As I thought about the hectic pace of life over the past few weeks, I could not help but think of all the times I felt somewhat "consumed" by the pressures, emotions and fatigue of life as mere mortals.  It is so easy for all of us to find ourselves consumed by the temporal things/feelings/situations of life.  Yet, as Christ followers (those in Christ) we have the privilege of living in the presence of God without being consumed by His holiness.  Instead we find His faithful compassion which allows us daily to avoid being consumed by the everyday situations of life that can bring us to places of fear, hopelessness and even bitterness.

Thank you LORD for your faithful compassion which is new every morning no matter what our day entails!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thank You and Still Blogging

As the time for my departure from Grace soon arrives, I wanted to take a moment to publicly give thanks.  Although the days have not always been easy, there is so much in life to give thanks for daily that one would be remiss to not see and express gratitude.

First, a great big thank you to our Heavenly Father.  He was (and is) faithful on the days full of laughter and smiles and He was (and is) faithful on the days when my faith was weak.  I could not imagine doing life without a personal relationship with Almighty God through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, a great big thank you to the team I got to serve with day in and day out.  You will not soon be forgotten and as the apostle Paul wrote "I give thanks upon my every remembrance of you."  I will miss you and give thanks for the many lessons we learned together and the many lessons you taught me.

Thirdly, a great big thank you to the Grace Church family.  It is not always easy to shepherd a flock and it is not always possible to be in agreement at all times with everyone.  Yet, the privilege of getting to serve the Lord Jesus as a shepherd to His people is something I will never take for granted and will always give thanks for.  So thank you Grace Church for letting me be one of your pastor's.

Finally, a great big thank you to my wife and children.  The life of being a pastor's wife and PK is not always an easy one.  What we as shepherds do day in and day out follows us always and this impacts a family.  Please know that I would not have made it all these years as a pastor without the love and support of a loving, encouraging and gracious life partner.  You are a blessing to me family!

Also, many from Grace have asked if I will keep on blogging and the answer is yes.  I am still "En Route" in this life and until the Lord calls me home I will seek to express myself through thoughts on this blog.  So many thanks for reading and may many of you continue to be encouraged through reading my thoughts on life as a Christ follower!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Transitions and Faith

"And without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Hebrews 11:6)

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." (Hebrews 11:8)

It is well known that my family and I are in the process of a large transition to Ottawa, ON.  We are very excited about this transition in that we truly believe within our hearts that we have been called by God to go to this place.

But, there have been days whereby we have felt the pressure of such a change as there are many unknowns yet to be answered which can lead to stress (especially in those of us who like every single duck in a row).  In light of the pressures, I have found myself continually returning to Hebrews 11 and 12 to remind myself that this journey is not one of "every duck being neatly in a row" but rather an incredible journey of faith whereby I am left with no choice but to trust God to provide and work things out.

I am encouraged by the story of Abraham as he walked and lived an incredible journey of faith.  I am also encouraged that he was considered a man of faith even though he too had his moments of doubt whereby God had to grow Him.  Life is not always easy and transitions can and will stretch us.  But, when we walk in the will and promises of God, you realize afresh and anew that there is no other way to walk but the walk of faith.

I am still striving to get all of my ducks in a row for this transition as I do believe we have to do our part with the minds and bodies God has given us but I continue to ask God to help me walk by faith in the things I can't control for this I know pleases Him.

So, whatever transition you may find yourself in today, walk in His will by faith for this will please our Heavenly Father and grow you immensely.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lessons from my Rafting Experience!

While on vacation, my family and I tried out a new experience together.  We went whitewater rafting as a family and had an absolute blast.  While on our adventure, there were a few lessons that crossed my mind that apply to my journey with Christ.

The first lesson had to do with the river itself.  While on our journey the river had many different twists, turns and levels of rapids.  There were portions of absolute calm where the kids hopped out of the raft and gently floated down the river and other portions where we hit level four rapids and the kids (and I) held on for dear life.  It just reminded me of what life is really like.  We would love for it to always be calm and yet there are all sorts of seasons that God allows us to live through.  "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

The second lesson had to do with our river guide.  I could not imagine going down that river without him.  As we approached some of the rapids, his ability to give us instruction and navigate our boat kept us safely afloat and on course.  Just as I could not imagine going down that river without our guide, I could not imagine going through life without Christ Jesus as my Shepherd.  He is there to lead, protect, teach and walk with me through every season (twist/turn) of life. (John 10:1-18)

The final lesson had to do with our need on the raft to listen and act upon our guides instruction.  As we got aboard and prepared to head down river, our guide gave us three simple instructions.  Our only task was to listen for and then act upon his instruction to us.  Failure to do so could lead to trouble on the river.  How true for us as we live out our lives for Jesus.  He simply asks us to trust Him, listen to Him and then act in obedience upon His instruction to us. (1 John 2:1-6)

How wonderful to live out our lives in the Lord Jesus Christ as our ultimate guide in life no matter what part of the river journey we find ourselves currently on!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rest, Rekindle, Recalibration, Recreation

The other day I was speaking with a friend and we both commented on how we feel like the summer is half over.  We've just celebrated the fourth and now we start gearing up towards the Fall.  But, somewhere in there are a whole lot of vacations planned by families including my own.

As I think about another family vacation and time away from the office, I always make sure to think through the primary purposes of getting away.  I've touched on some of these before, but thought these four were worth sharing as I contemplate them for my life.

I continue to learn that my need for physical, emotional and spiritual rest is necessary.  One can only live off of adrenaline for so long without crashing.  Sleep is necessary and the chance to sleep in for a few mornings will be wonderful.  Emotional and spiritual rest is also necessary.  It is far too easy to get caught up in just going through the motions and time is needed to just stop and think about where one is at emotionally and spiritually.  God rested on the 7th day of creation not because He was tired but because He was establishing a pattern for us as His created to follow.  Rest is necessary.

I believe immensely in the importance of families stepping out of the ordinary patterns and systems of life to enjoy time together and rekindle relationships.  As the family unit erodes within our current culture, there is something special about getting away from the routines of life to just enjoy one another over hours in a car, playing games or experiencing new things together.  Time away from the office with my family gives my an opportunity to focus the most important relationships of my life.

By taking the time to rest and remove myself from the normal business of life allows me the time needed to recalibrate spiritually.  I try on a regular basis to pause long enough to make sure I am still on track for the Lord.  Time away where I am feeling rested gives me the opportunity to set goals for myself that are not being tainted through a mindset of weariness or pressure that can lead to unhealthy or unrealistic personal expectations.  We all need to pause long enough to recalibrate spiritually once in a while.

I am also a firm believer that families need to find time to intentionally step away from the routines of life to just have some fun.  Please know that I don't buy into the current culture that believes you can only enjoy yourself if you spend lots of money.  Time away allows families to spend time trying many news things as well as doing the things they love to do.  Whether it involves spending money for a new experience or just laughing together in the car while Dad sings to the radio (its true... I do it and can still bring my wife and kids to tears from laughing so hard), families must learn to have fun and just enjoy being together.  God did not create us to never laugh or enjoy life.  In Him we have such freedom and joy with every day being viewed as a gift from Him.

So there you go... some of my thoughts in the season of vacations.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not for Self

I recently received my quarterly copy of PBU Today from Philadelphia Biblical University.  The focus of this current publication revolved around the graduating class of 2011 and the call for them to leave the University and make a difference in this world for God's Glory.

The president, Dr. Todd Williams, wrote an article entitled "Not for Self" as noted in my title above that tied so well into all that has been going through my head as of late.  Here are a few thoughts from the article that have struck a nerve and are worth chewing on I believe;

"A vision of the true God leads to a belief that His purposes and glory are the things for which we live and work." I would guess that most Christ followers would nod their heads in agreement with this statement, but what if the rubber were to hit the road and we all had to start evaluating our lives one piece at a time in light of that statement.  Do we live in the house we live in for the glory of God or would something smaller work just as well in order to give away more for His glory?  Do we work to build more into our retirement plans so we can someday cease to work and just enjoy life or do we work to build more into our retirement plans so I can spend the last 20 years of my life on the mission field for His glory?  To truly evaluate our lives based upon the above mentioned statement may have both our lives and our churches looking quite different if we truly believed it.

"The idols of self worship, self gratification and self service must be torn down and destroyed.  They have no place in the Christian life."  There is not much need to say anything here other than OUCH!  We may not set up wooden or golden idols in our backyards that look like a bull but we have bought hook, line and sinker into the worship of self above the one true and living God here in America and fail to acknowledge it is a form of idolatry. 

A few weeks ago in a previous blog post, I quoted the following Scriptures which speaks powerfully to the above statements; "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." (Romans 1:22-23).  The troubling part about this verse in light of today's blog post is that we don't even bother worshipping images of mortal man.  We have moved right to worship of mortal man, namely self.  Sobering and yet I have to believe God will honor those who seek to honor Him.  So let us live for His Glory and not for self.  Counter cultural... YES, but that's OK in light of eternity.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blessing and Purpose: A Disconnect?

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am currently reading Radical by David Platt.  As I work my way through this book, I find myself continuing to digest my February experience in the Central African Republic in order to somehow connect the realities of what I saw with my daily life on a radically different continent.  One concept that came out of the book that is helping revolves around the belief that there is an honest disconnect here in North American between God's blessing (as we define it) and His divine purpose for our lives.

For those of us who have seen and experienced (even if for a very short time) the poverty so many within our world live in, we cannot help but wrestle with the question "Why did God bless me and allow me to live in North America?"  We have fresh water, food to eat, the American dream to pursue etc...  For many of us, we spend a lifetime grappling with this concept because you never go to your refrigerator or step into a hot shower without some tinge of guilt when you think about how the rest of the world lives.

On the flip side, we spend millions within our culture seeking to explore our purpose in life.  Whether we do so with a spiritual perspective or not, so many daily wrestle with why they exist and long for life to have some sort of meaning.  This is as true in the church as it is anywhere else.  People who fill the pews speak often of trying to find meaning and purpose in their current level of education, promotion at work or the latest vacation home purchased for retirement 30 years down the road.  And yet, they grapple as well because this stuff just doesn't lend itself to the longings of our hearts that cry out for divine purpose.

Is it possible that we need to make a connection point with these two concepts?  Is it possible that the simple answer is this; God has blessed us in North America so that we can connect, merge and mesh it together with God's ultimate purposes for our lives.  Is it possible that you have received a fine education to use it somewhere else in the world for God?  Is it possible that God has blessed you financially so that you can have your one home and spend the rest on helping others place some sort of shelter around them?  Is it possible that you have been gifted in an area (finances, medicine, handyman, music, teaching, leading, administrating etc...) for the purpose of not only earning a living here in North America but rather to be used somewhere else in the world.

If we are all about bringing glory to God (which I'm not sure we are in the American church), we must connect the dots between God's blessing and His divine purpose for our lives.  Life is too short and too many people still need to experience the tangible love of Christ around this globe for us to have a disconnect in this area.  Something worth chewing on I believe...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Heart of Compassion?

Over the next few weeks, I have a feeling God is going to continue working within my heart in respects to reaching out to the helpless victims of our world in the name of Jesus Christ.  I have been praying lately that God continue to show me how best to lead a church/ministry leaders in ministries of compassion that will set the captives free.

Here is what transpired yesterday alone that makes me think this...

I was doing some reading in a College magazine and came across Proverbs 21:13 that states; "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."

I have begun reading "Radical" by David Platt which will no doubt challenge my thinking on what it is to radically abandon ourselves to the person, heart and ministry of Jesus Christ.  There is little doubt that Jesus spoke often of the need to care for the poor and I am guessing He really meant it.

I went with my children to renew their passports last evening and we got looking at mine with the markings from my trip to the Central African Republic.    That trip has shaped me for the rest of my journey here on earth and I am hopeful that I will always feel challenged to keep the lessons learned there at the forefront of my mind.

Finally, we received our Compassion magazine in the mail yesterday that was dedicated to showing how that ministry is making a difference in the lives of preganant HIV positive women who until recently have been losing their newborn infants/children at a rapid pace when it ought not be.

All that in one day... Surely the Lord is trying to get my attention on this matter.  The more I think about it, the more I continue to believe that if we as the church are truly going to claim that God has raised us up to be the "Hope of the World" then we better take that call seriously. 

I hope the church will continue to wrestle with finding the balance in both proclaiming the Gospel and showing the realities of it through compassion type ministry.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trials that do not end...

I have been thinking recently about how I respond to trials that don't seem like they will ever end.  I believe part of our human response that helps us cope is to believe within our hearts that the various trials we face all have a shelf life.  But, some are called to live with something hard for their entire lives and we need in our humanness to know what to do with that.

This has come to bear as of late as I have been thinking often of my experiences in the Central African Republic and listening to others talk about their mission experiences in some of the poorest places on earth.  Many of these people will spend the remainder of their lives on earth living through some of the hardest things any human being will face.  I've also been thinking about Paul who pleaded with God to take away his perpetual "thorn in the flesh" that literally "tormented" (beat him up daily).  This seemed to be something that was with him for a lifetime.

As I think on these things, I am becoming more and more convinced that we must determine early in our journey with God to find our hope securely in Him.  So often our hope is rooted in a belief that the trial will end or that there is some magic bullet to fix it all when in reality God is calling us to find our hope and purpose in Him and Him alone.  It really comes down to a simple decision.  Do I really believe that the ultimate purpose of my life is to bring glory to God which is often done through how I trust and reflect Him back to the world through my response to trials. Paul sets a good example for us and gives us the truth to hold on to in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 

Until we acknowledge that our spiritual sufficiency is in Christ alone, our hope lies in the empty desires that no trial will last too long before we can feel good again.  I believe it is very important that all of us determine early in life how we will respond to trials that may never end this side of glory.  A book that has helped me process this is called "When Life is Hard" by James MacDonald.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exchanging the Glory of the Immortal God

I have recently been working slowly through the book of Romans as I am desirous to remind myself of all that believers have in Christ Jesus.  I am also desirous to continue growing in my understanding of what it is to live life moment by moment under the control of the Holy Spirit.

As I approached this endeavor a few weeks back, I was tempted to glance through Chapter 1 as I reduced it to the chapter that is written to all of the people outside of Christ who will experience His wrath.  As I began to do this, I was reminded that before being in Christ, I too was an object of God's wrath as Paul notes in Ephesians 2:3.  So, with that in mind, I slowed down and began to work my way through the first chapter willing to see what God wanted to teach me.

Then it hit... Romans 1:23 where Paul is talking about those who knew of God, but willingly chose to move away from Him.  I was convicted with the thought that I am tempted daily to move away from God even as one of His children.  In fact, 1:23 states that many chose the path of foolishness and exchanged the glory and life that comes through a relationship with an immortal God for something else which only and always leads to destruction.  As I read that, I became convinced that there are times where it seems much more enticing to "exchange the glory of our immortal God" for something of this earth.

Isn't it funny how rich we are in Christ and yet so often settle for the cheap substitutes of this world.  So, before you and I as Christ followers judge those who blatantly reject the glory and majesty of our immortal God, let us pause and think about those things of the world we readily pursue and in essence exchange the glory of the immortal God for them.

May the Lord help all of us live and walk in His power and promises as anything else is a cheap substitute!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cause Oriented vs. Christ Oriented

I have been thinking quite a bit lately on whether or not I am (and the church is) more cause oriented than Christ oriented.  There is little doubt in my mind that we live in a culture that is very much cause oriented.  Through social media, the potential of rallying people behind the latest cause, program or product can be almost immediate.  It would also seem that people are quick to jump on one of these bandwagons because there is an unwritten expectation that the commitment will make me feel good and won't last long which then allows us to move on to the next cause, program or product. 

This may work to a certain extent in respects to getting things accomplished, but do we really want to be a people whose lives are defined by the latest cause we've attached ourselves to.  Is it possible that it is far easier to be cause oriented rather than building upon the foundation as Christ followers by being Christ oriented in all that we do.  I sometimes think that in both my personal life and in the life of the church, we find ourselves spinning our wheels because we have given ourselves over to the tyranny of the urgent and bounce from one cause, program or product to the next because we've moved away from a centralized focus upon Christ.

Imagine what each of us as individuals/church families could accomplish for God if everything we do is rooted in who we are in Christ.  A proper understanding of this will only come if we are daily spending time fixed upon (gazing intently) unto the Author and Perfector of our faith and listening to Him.  I would think that the natural outflow of a person/church that is Christ oriented would accomplish all that God has called us to accomplish.  I really believe churches would be much more productive for the Lord if we spent more time helping one another better understand Jesus and our lives in Him instead of seeking to rally people to the latest cause.

Still much to chew on in respects to theses thoughts and the practical implications of them for the church...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Selfish, Shallow and Starving

This past week I heard a great statement that has given me pause.  It went something like this; "The problem with many ineffective churches is that we have selfish shepherds which leads to shallow services with the end result being starving sheep."

There is little doubt that we live in a culture that places self first with a huge desire to be comfortable and happy which unfortunatly leads to people seeking to fill the God sized void in their lives with everything and anything other than God.

As a pastor, I will be the first to admit that there are incredible pressures upon us.  There is the pressure of knowing we will one day be held accountable by God's holy standard on how we fulfilled our calling.  But, there is often the unspoken pressure of not only pleasing God but also the sheep and this can be exhausting and not always possible.  This at times can lead to selfishness, discouragement or other forms of coping for shepherds.

Unfortunately, the end result can be unhealthy churches because both the shepherd and the sheep settle for second best (shallow services) because it is just easier and feels better.  If we are not careful, we then begin to measure success by worldy standards.  Or, success is measured and talked about with what I like to call "psuedo spiritual speak" that sounds godly but is really just masking what is going on in the hearts of all involved.

Once we've reached this point, we have starving sheep who don't know how to feed themselves with the Word of God and they spend their days with their mouths open whining and crying to be fed.  I would suggest this is one of the reasons church hopping is so prevelant in the American church.  Is it possible that we have reduced attending church as just another means to filling our happy, feel good quotient?  Is it possible that people just want to be entertained and fed what they want to be fed and will continue moving from church to church like they are choosing a restaurant rather than a body of believers to belong and work alongside.

As you can see, the above statement has me thinking and these are nothing more than a few initial thoughts related to it.  There are so many more rambling around in my head and yet the heart of the matter is truly this, shepherds must have the heart to serve and live out their lives like the Chief Shepherd.  In fact, the Chief Shepherd is soon coming and prayerfully He will find all those who claim to be a disciple of His possessing a heart like His.    

Monday, May 9, 2011

Elephants, Bones, Emotional Health, Tuna & Friends

Elephants:  I just received my copy of the "Elephant Room" DVDs from the conference held a month ago.  I wasn't able to participate in the day but look forward to taking some time over the next few weeks to watch 7 pastor's debate and grapple with ministry philosophy.

Bones: I appreciated Dr. Jim Ayer's message on the importance of every member of the Body of Christ in accomplishing together God's purposes for the Church.  He used an analogy that spoke of the four types of bones in the Body of Christ.  There is the jawbone, wishbone, knuckle bone and backbone.  I will let you define each of those as you wish as they are somewhat self-explanatory.  The reality is that we need everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ to engage and be a part of the backbone of a ministry for the sake and glory of Christ.

Emotional Health:  I am about half way through the book "The Emotionally Healthy Church" that was recently recommended to me.  It is really helping me process and think through how I view people within the church and their discipleship within the church.  So much of my training revolved around the need to provide people with a place to grow in their spiritual intellect while growing in their spiritual disciplines without giving much thought or credence to the individual as a holistic person uniquely created by God.  God continues to grow me in my understanding of viewing ourselves and one another as holistic people who need to place priority on our spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional health.  These four areas definitely intersect and are worth giving attention to.  This is well worth pastor's thinking about as the premise of the book very much builds off of the truth that as goes the leader so goes the church.

Tuna and Friends:  Just enjoyed an appreciation lunch with my wife (Teacher at Lititz Christian) and other good friends put on by a group of parents from the school.  Couldn't imagine doing life without solid relationships within my life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finishing Well

As I sit watching some hockey, I find myself reflecting upon my day.  It was a fun day as I spent time at Messiah College watching and cheering my children on at their track meet.  I am also looking at my bright red skin as the sun was shining hot today but that is another blog post...

One of the things that stood out most to me today was how kids finished their races.  There were three basic finishes I noted.  The first was the athlete who was obviously new to the sport as they had to work hard to just finish.  There were a few longer races whereby the majority of the field was finished and one last athlete was struggling to stay on their feet and finish.  Yet, every single one of them did finish to the cheers of the crowd and through their own determination to finish well the race they set out to run.

The second type of finish I saw was from the athlete who was obviously very talented and had every reason to win the race they were in.  Yet, on two occasions I saw these gifted athletes lose their race because they did not give it 110% the whole way.  They coasted across the finish line and it cost two of them the win.

The final type of finisher I saw were the athletes who knew how to run their race well.  From start to finish they maintained a sustainable pace and gave it their all until they crossed the finish line.  Some won their races and others did not, but it was incredibly motivating to see so many work so hard to finish well the races they set out to run.

As I watched all these races, I could not help but think about the race we as Christ followers are called to run.  Like these athletes, we all have a choice on how we will run it.  I was motivated by those who gave it their all to finish a race they weren't necessarily equipped to run and reminded myself that we all need to strive daily to keep adding to our lives the tools and truths needed to finish the race.  I felt a sense of sobriety as I watched how quickly very gifted individuals did not finish their race well.  We are all prone to sin and it is far too easy to disqualify ourselves from the race.  Finally, I felt the need to commit once again to running well the race set before me like so many of the atheletes.  It was a call to daily make the right choices in order to sustain, maintain and attain the rewards that await those Christ followers who run well the race God has set before them.

Thank you Jesus for being our ultimate example! (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Realist and the Resurrection

This year I turn 40 and as the years go by, I continue to learn more about myself and what makes me tick. It's a fresh reminder of my need to continually be submitting my life unto Christ and seeing myself as He sees me.

One of the things I know about myself is that I am a realist. I tend to see the world in which I live through a very realistic lens. Like all of our tendencies, they can have positives and negatives to them. The negative is that I can get lost in the details of reality and forget to dream. One of the positives is that I don't seek to sweep hard realities under the carpet and live in a fantasy land where things are always good.

As Easter quickly approaches, I thought about this character trait in relationship to the resurrection and saw both the positive and the negative that can come from it. The positive is that I firmly believe and hold to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as historical fact/reality and that won't soon change. It requires an element of faith but the historical proof is also overwhelming and leads me to seek to live in the confidence and power of a risen Savior.

The negative is that I can sometimes get lost in the details of arguing and building my argument for the resurrection of Jesus that I lose sight of the power of it. In the name, person, work and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is life, power and the ability to dream big dreams in Him and for Him. If I am not careful, Easter can become another Sunday where I put in my religious duty and then check it off until the next major holiday comes the churches way.

This Easter season I am praying that I not only celebrate and acknowledge by faith my belief in the resurrection as a real historical fact (which many of us do during Easter services) but also experience the fullness of Christ and the resurrection power in my real life. That would be the best of both worlds for this realist.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Waves, God and Helping Japan

This past week in light of the tragedy in Japan, I have spent some time thinking about just how BIG our God really is and how quickly we love to put Him into our little spiritual boxes in order to feel as though we are in control and thus comfortable with our image/view of God.

In light of that, I took some time to read Job 38-39 again in order to remind myself of the vast power and might of our God. I was also reminded of this as a fellow team member was sharing with the ministry leaders of Grace how God had been working in her heart through the account of the sun standing still in order to grant Joshua the victory in Joshua 10. God is that big!!!

Take some time to read Job 38-39 or at least the snippet included below;

"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt." (Job 38:8-11)

Also, if you are looking for a safe place to help the victims of Japan, you can do so through our partners at GBIM (Grace Brethren International Mission).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Always Enough

I rejoice today in the truth that God in His love is capable of meeting the needs of all on our great big earth many times through the work and ministry of His Body.

Thankful for the opportunity Grace Church has to partner with believers in the Central African Republic where orphans are learning of God's love and His promise to meet their needs both physical and spiritual.

Enjoy this video:

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Special Song

While in Africa, we had the opportunity to visit a number of orphan schools and were blessed many times with some wonderful singing. At one school, the orphans sang a song for us that moved me greatly.

They sang a song that they had made up that was firmly rooted in Scriptures like James 1:27a which states; "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." As these young children sang out to the Lord, their words spoke of the heartache they've all lived through with the loss of their parents which was very sad. But, their words were also words that gave thanks for the wonderful truth that they have a Father in Heaven who now cares for them and loves them. They sang it with absolute conviction and confidence that their Heavenly Father would meet their every need acknowledging that currently it was through our partnerships with them.

I could not help but sit in the midst of the greatest poverty I've ever seen and think to myself; This is some of the most pure religion I've ever experienced as these children simply express with heartfelt thanksgiving what is going on as they live life with a childlike faith in their Heavenly Father.
Much for us adults to learn from a group of children whose young faith exhibits such a confidence in their Father in Heaven...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little is Much

There is an old saying that states "Little is Much when God is in it." This became very apparent while in the Central African Republic as what we as Americans would deem as so little is so much in the hands of God's people as God works in the C.A.R.

It may be true that a jump rope, soccer ball, mud brick building and rice for lunch on a good day doesn't sound like much to us as Americans, but to the orphans, widows and churches over there it meant the world. To see the sheer joy in the eyes of 50 orphans when we handed out 1 jump rope and 1 soccer ball moved me in ways that can't be described as I thought about how many balls I have sitting in my garage at home.

It was wonderful to realize that our partnership of $4000.00 per school is going to educate, feed and teach the Bible to nearly 50 orphans who have nothing and they are full of joy and pray for us often because of it. We blow $4000.00 on many other "things" here in America that prove far less spiritually profitable than this. Little is definitely much when God is in it. Thanks for giving Grace Church and thanks for making a difference in the lives of these orphans. They are so grateful and I believe God is pleased as well. Let's be praying for them!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Worthy Partnership

Pastor Doug and I are safely back from Africa and have no doubt been changed and challenged for life. It was a wonderful experience that stretched us on many fronts.

One of the blessings of our trip was to witness first hand the impact our partnership is having in the C.A.R. To see the pastor and a local church taking the lead to educate, feed and teach nearly 100 orphans about Christ is incredible and resources well spent on our part. As these kids grow physically, spiritually and mentally they possess the potential to impact their country in years to come as they may well be the next movers and shakers with a Biblical worldview guiding them.

In the pictures above, you will see Pastor Doug and I with Pastor Jeremy who is the pastor of the Bodali Church and Schools we partner with. You will also see pictured Samuel (in white shirt) and Marc (blue shirt and jeans) our two teachers along with some of the very children God is working in. Please be praying for Pastor Jeremy, Samuel and Marc as they minister daily to these orphans.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What a week!

Pastor Doug and I have safely made it to Paris after a wonderful and hard week in the Central African Republic. It was a wonderful week of seeing what God is doing in our orphan schools through the Grace church partnership. I am looking forward to sharing more upon our return as the lessons God has taught me far outnumber what can be contained in a few words here. So enjoy the pics and be ready to hear more upon our return.

Please be praying for our continued safety and health. We still have many miles to go and both of us are still sick from our time in the C.A.R.

Ok... Here is the deal, I am struggling to download my pictures from my iPad into my blog, so I am guessing I better get with the times and get a facebook account to better communicate in a more timely fashion.

Love and appreciate you Grace Church family. Your prayers for us have meant the world to us. See you soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Paris

It is Wednesday morning here in Paris while everyone back home is sleeping. We are getting ready to take the last leg of our flight into Bangui after two great flights already. Thanks to all within the Grace Church family who have been and are praying. Will attempt to keep everyone updated when we can. Pastor Doug has been updating his facebook as well if you want to follow along.

We should arrive in Banguj around 5 PM our time (11:00 AM) for you. We are praying for a good nights sleep for we head up country first thing tomorrow morning to visit our two schools in Bossangoa. We are truly honored to be representing the Grace Church family with our brothers and sisters in Christ half way around the world. Can't wait to share more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Central African Republic... Here comes Grace Church

On Tuesday, Pastor Doug and I leave for the Central African Republic. It is a missionary journey we have been preparing months for and the time has come for our soon departure. As we prepare to go, there are many people who have made this opportunity possible. Many have given sacrificially to financially support this endeavor. Families and individuals alike have been praying hard for God's will to be accomplished on this trip. Medical visits to get shots and medications to prepare our bodies have been taken. Visa's have been granted and are now in our Passports. Our hearts are open to God and the lessons He wants to teach us and have us bring back to the church family.

It is my desire to spend some time blogging while away in order to update the church family on God's activity during our trip. Due to where we will be, there is no guarantee that regular updates will make it through, but check back often as we are desirous to keep you informed and praying throughout our journey.

It is also my heart's desire to know that we have a church family praying hard for us as we go. Please be praying for the following items as we take this trip;

First, please pray that God would use this experience to draw us closer to His heart as we see His Sovereign hand at work half way around the world.

Secondly, please pray that God would give us a deeper love for the orphans and widows. This James tells us is pure religion both here and abroad.

Thirdly, please pray for our families as we leave them for 12 days. Pray that God would give them His peace which passes all understanding while we are apart.

Fourthly, please pray for all of our travel arrangements both to and from the C.A.R. work well. There are some narrow windows we need to make and it would be wonderful to have all of our luggage make it as well.

Finally, please pray that God would give us the wisdom needed to bring back the lessons He desires to have us as the Grace Church family learn.

We love and appreciate you Grace Church and are honored to be representing you and your generosity to those with so little. May our Lord continue to bless this partnership with our brothers and sisters in the C.A.R.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Spring boarding off of my latest post, I want to look at another word that Maxwell referenced and is carrying some significance at present. It currently carries some significance because the Grace team is looking to spend some time next week doing some beginning stages of strategic planning.

Maxwell defined it this way, "Being intentional means that you think on the front end and reflect on the back end." It is far too easy in life to find yourself behind the eight ball and living a very reactionary lifestyle. This is very true organizational as well. For a season, this type of organizational living might seem exciting, but it eventually catches up and can lead to significant challenges. Taking the time to intentional dream big, plan big and resource big to accomplish God's purposes is crucial and provides a greater opportunity for long term success. I also believe it is equally important to take time to reflect. We always state that hindsight is 20/20 as it is important to take time to pause and evaluate that which was pursued with great intentionality in order to grow and improve off of what was learned.

I would agree that any personal life or organization needs to be flexible and go with God's leading as that is very important, but so too is intentionality. Intentionality doesn't speak to a lack of faith but rather God sized faith to dream and plan big in partnership to God's movement in a life and/or organization for long term stability, productivity and success.

I would suggest that a life lived without intentionality is a life that is not going to be as productive in the long term for God. Having a clear picture of where He wants you to go and how He wants you to get there can lead to great results as long as we keep HIM as part of the entire journey.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Charisma vs. Commitment

I've recently signed up to receive John Maxwell's "A Minute with Maxwell" daily video where individuals send in a word and he responds to it with a leadership snippet. They are all very good, but there have been two that have really caught my attention and I want to speak briefly to one of them in this blog post.

The word of the day was commitment. His video's are usually not more than 60 seconds, so much has to be accomplished in this short span of time. Thus with this word, he helped me better define it in my thinking by linking it to the word charisma.

I believe we currently live in a culture whereby people are drawn very easily and quickly to a charismatic leader without much thought given to the persons character, beliefs, convictions and commitment to any given organization or group of followers. I confess, I too can be drawn to the charismatic leader as there is something very engaging and enticing about a leader who can create much fanfare and enthusiasm for something. But, I do believe there is also something to be said for leaders who possess a steadfast commitment to something even when the charisma fades (and it will fade in any given situation as there will always be another charismatic leader arise calling people to something else).

If this is true, then I believe that John Maxwell was right in stating that leaders with charisma can bring people in the front door but struggle to keep people over time from leaving through the back door. That's where commitment comes in. Leaders who possess not only charisma but a steadfast commitment even when the charisma wanes will produce longer term gains.

This particular talk has me really beginning to formulate a position of leadership that speaks to longevity in any given leadership scenario requiring a steadfast commitment and not just charisma. Charisma in a leader without commitment leads to a wide open back door. Those following a leader without commitment will never become committed themselves.

In the same way, commitment without charisma can lead to great difficulty in calling people to commitment. I guess a well balanced approach helps!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Excitement is Building!

It is hard to believe, but in just a little over three weeks, I am headed to the Central African Republic to represent Grace church and visit our sponsored orphans, schools and centers. I am blessed to be going with another Pastor from our church (Doug Kegarise) and we will be connecting with another church from Ohio in Paris.

As we've been preparing for this trip, I have been praying for a number of things and would invite you to do the same if God would so lead you.

First, I've been praying that God would teach me what it is He believes I need to be taught throughout this experience. Experiences like this stretch and grow one's faith if in tune to God's leading throughout.

Secondly, I've been praying that God would comfort my family back home while I am away. We do most things together as a family, so this will be the first time in 17 years of marriage that I've been apart from my wife for so long. Please pray that God would sustain and keep them while I am traveling. I am so thankful for their support and excited to bring my experiences home to my family.

Thirdly, I've been praying that God would use both Pastor Doug and I to communicate well to our church family our experience. The church in America must continual battle against an isolated/Western approach to doing church and following Christ and develop a more global perspective on what our Great and Sovereign God is doing all around His globe.

Fourthly, I've been praying that God would meet our financial needs. This trip when it is all said and done will cost each of us approximately $3000 with all of the expenses of the trip and preparations (i.e. medical visits, shots) for the trip. We have both committed to going but are also trusting God to provide for us.

Finally, I've been praying that God would teach me what true joy really is. I recently sat down with my wife and watched a video of the orphans we will be visiting opening up their Christmas gifts. It touched me greatly and I can't wait to give them a hug when we get over there. If you want to watch it, click the title "The Excitement is Building" above and enjoy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year with New Goals

It is hard to believe, but here we are in 2011. I am not really one for New Year's Resolutions, but I do seek to take time when the calendar changes to reflect upon the year that has just passed and look to the new one. So here are a few thoughts as of tonight...

I cannot help but rejoice and give thanks unto God for His faithfulness. I know this sounds corny, but it is true. Through the good, bad and ugly of life this past year, God never changed and always remained just and faithful. Thank you Lord!

I am determined to continue taking not just my spiritual health seriously but my physical, emotional and mental health. I spent some time at the end of last year to reflect upon how we have been created as human beings. God has fearfully and wonderfully created us and called upon us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. This includes my body, emotions and mind. So often we as pastors fall into the trap of only taking care of the spiritual that we lose sight of the other areas which in the end doesn't help the spiritual. I am thankful for my wake up call that got me back to eating well, exercising and taking steps to remain healthy in all facets of life towards the end of 2010.

I am really open to God's leading in my life. I am really beginning to recognize how short this journey upon the earth really is and I want to make the most out of every moment for the Lord. I am praying that I would have eyes to see the doors and opportunities He places before me whether small or large and be willing to walk and/or run right through them if I know He is leading. For example... I am so excited to be heading to Africa in just over 4 weeks. God is already doing great things in my heart as I prepare and yet it took a while to really take this step. Lord may each of us live life daily with an eternal view rather than temporal.

Finally, I am turning 40 this year which means I have almost finished up with my thirties which was an interesting decade to say the least. My prayer is that the lessons learned throughout my thirties will not soon be forgotten and be used to bring even more honor and glory to Christ.

Praying we all spend each and every day of 2011 fully anticipating and looking to the return of our Savior and living in His strength and power until He comes again.