Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to School Special Video

Our ministry in Kaufman County and with the Kaufman Church of Christ began two Sundays ago, on August 21st. It was a great day of committing our school year to the Lord and surrendering our "in the beginning" moments to God.
This is the video that Troy Martin and I put together for the day. It was our editorial debut so the product can only get better from here! Regardless of the quality, it was encouraging to here the dreams that others have for the future here. God is creating new things!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Performing under Pressure

Pressure is an interesting thing. Some people always seem to thrive in pressure situations. Others wilt.
I was thinking the other day about Tiger Woods. That guys has had a rough year. Used to be the greatest golfer in the world. And then everything in his life became public and his golf game has suffered ever since. There is a lot of speculation about what all the factors are exactly as to why his golf game has suffered so much. My speculation is that it has something to do with the unbelievable pressure that he feels to redeem himself-his image-his game-his family- all while playing a perfect weekend of golf.
The pressure is to perform at a high level every single week and never appear to be flawed or human or weak. Who can stand up under that?

All of THIS...has been on my mind as I work to find my rhythm with preparing to preach on a weekly basis. After serving in other ministry roles for 10 years I know the preaching role is unique and comes with a different level of pressure. As I work to find the rhythm of preparation, I'm realizing the overwhelming pressure to "perform" like a "pro" each and every week.

Once I read on Mike Cope's blog and think he's been known to say for years that (and I paraphrase) the goal in preaching is to get base hits. If you hit base hits, you'll eventually score runs. As I begin, I'm committed to base hits. The trouble is that there is a such a strong draw to swing for the fences every time you're up to bat. Maybe every preacher/pastor doesn't struggle with this but I do. What do I need to say? How can I leave THAT important point out?

Andy Stanley & Lane Jones book Communicating for a Change has been helpful to me in this regard. The big idea in their book is that sermons just need one point and they talk about a method to make that happen.

I for one like pressure and the challenge of standing up under it. But what I like more is knowing that my job is to remain in Christ and let him do the work! There is great freedom in knowing that we bear fruit because we remain on the vine. (Jn 15:4) And it is the vine that gives life to the branches to be carriers of fruit to the world.

What if instead of relying on our own power, we rested in the power of the Spirit and wait in expectation for God to reveal all that He is capable of doing?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Decision Making and The Will of God

One of the most helpful pieces in discerning our decision to begin a new ministry in Kaufman was Wade Hodges' book, Before You Go. I'm grateful to Wade and his influence on my life over the last several years. I've told him before that even though we haven't spent a lot of time together I appreciate him. His book is a thoughtful reflection on making good transitions and I appreciate his transparency about his own failures and wisdom he learned through the journey.

As I read the book, I realized that I was praying that God would make the decision about whether or not we should leave Huntsville. I was praying that God would provide a "burning bush" or a "light from heaven" that would have made the decision very clear. This type of praying is often utilized in decision making situations. However, I wonder if it is actually how we should be praying?

Think about this way: If there are multiple doors for a person to walk through, praying for a "sign" seems to suggest that we need a sign in order to pick the right door. But what if the sign never comes? Or what if I misinterpret the sign?
What if, instead, we saw the "doors" as possibilities that are available to us and instead of worrying about choosing the wrong door, God just wants us to have faith to walk through one of them?
(Of course praying for wisdom and asking others to join you in praying for wisdom and listening to the Spirit's leading and going to Scripture are all necessary parts of the process. I'm assuming that is already happening. Uninformed, blind, decision making has never been a great option.)

But somewhere in the process I realized that I was praying for God to make the decision so that I would not have to make the decision. And this is very different and seems to require much less faith.

And then I read the line in Before You Go that nailed me: "You can’t take the chance out of life."

I wanted God to make the decision so that there would be less risk involved on my end. If God made the decision then I have no skin in the game, no investment. Doesn't it seem that we need some investment in the risky business of following God? Eliminating risk in a move (or in any decision) so that everything would be smooth and easy doesn't seem to be an honest approach to decision making.

What about you? What have your experiences been in praying about decisions?

The Journey Begins

We "officially" began our journey yesterday with the Kaufman Church of Christ. I say officially because we moved on August 1st but have spent the last two weeks unpacking boxes and enjoying some vacation time with Lana's family. Kyle and Larissa came in from Peru and we had a great week.

It has been quite a process as we wrestled with the decision to leave Huntsville, came to the decision to leave and now are settling in here in Kaufman. I've wanted to get back into the blogging world and figured now is a good time to start trying to re-establish the discipline of writing. I imagine it will still be sporadic for a while as I learn routines here in Kaufman and establish some rhythms with my schedule.

Moving has been a new experience for Lana and I. As we came to the decision to leave one ministry and begin a new one it occurred to us that moving was something that we had not done much in our lives. We basically both grew up in the same homes our entire lives and moved only at those moments when I person has to move. We moved after high school graduation and after graduating from ACU and other than a short time in Ft. Worth have lived in Huntsville ever since.
Even with everything being new, we are extremely excited about God bringing us here and believe that great things are in store for the future. Over the next couple of posts I'd like to try and share some of the process that led us to the decision and the ways we saw God working throughout.

In the meantime I'll share a song that has spoken to our hearts quite a bit recently. It's a new song by Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant and is a part of a larger project that is released to come out later this year. We experience God through other people. When everything is new in life, the waters are uncharted, or things are good or bad, others are often the carrier of God's presence to us. That has certainly been the case for Lana and I as we begin this new adventure. We're excited but grateful we're journeying together. I'm With You: