Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

9 Years Ago.

Posted: April 21, 2012 in Life
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On April 20th, 2003, I woke up and went to an Easter Sunrise Service in Hanford (Calvary Chapel) at the Fairgrounds. I was pretty tired – I don’t even think Jesus was up yet…but it was a gorgeous morning, and a wonderful time of fellowship. After it was over, I had breakfast at my friend Luke’s house here in Lemoore – where his mom (Kathy) made these incredible breakfast scones. Have mercy, those things were good.

Shortly after that, I headed back to Hanford for Calvary Chapel’s Easter Service at Hanford High. It was a great service as we reflected on Jesus’ tremendous sacrifice for us, and His rising into heaven. The Pastor gave a gospel presentation, the worship leader was playing/singing “All Who Are Thirsty,” and I realized something:

I was thirsty.

Thank You for prompting my heart that very moment, Lord Jesus. I am so humbled that you desire a relationship with me, and have never abandoned me – even through my stupidity!

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We’ve got a midweek (or….beginning-of-the-week) program called CLUB 456 at SVCC.  It’s a discipleship ministry designed for 4th-6th graders who want to dig deeper in their relationship with Christ.  The typical format for Monday evenings at club = fellowship time, large group game, and small groups.  As you can see, we had some serious [modified] dodgeball action a bit ago 🙂

This recent Monday, our Children’s Director/Club 456 Ministry Leader facilitated a large group lesson for the kids.  It was a lesson on serving, which originated from Beth Guckenberger’s book entitled “Tales of the Not Forgotten.”  Check out her book and her leader’s guide.  Some really encouraging stories to utilize as resources to encourage others to serve.

At the end of the lesson, the kids were given a plastic ziplock bag, a snack to put into the bag, and a card.  The card held information about local establishments that provide food services for those in need.  The kids (and their families) were encouraged to meet a homeless person, and give this snack bag to them.  They were even able to write a note of encouragement to them – which was really great to see.

This simple activity was a great way to help the kids connect with how they could actively serve others around them.  It’s certainly easy for us to do things like this every once in a while, but the real challenge lies in how we perpetuate the spirit of service to those around in us in the name of Jesus continually.  What can you be doing – in your family, your school, your church, your community, your whatever – on a consistent basis?  Pray about it – and act on it!  It’s through God-centered love and service that we make an invisible God, a visible God.

This morning/early afternoon was pretty active.  Stressful…and at times – and even a bit too much.  However, God still brought joy!

  • Worked on a project with some 5th/6th graders where they had to describe God by cutting out words/pictures from newspapers/magazines.  It was really amazing to see how creative they got, and to see the words/pictures they used.
  • One of my kids today asked me about healthy ways to express her feelings.  So awesome!
  • A couple of shy kids came out of their shell a little bit, which was great to see!  I especially loved seeing the relief their parents had to see their child happy.
  • 1st/2nd graders are some of the funniest kids on the planet.  Period.
  • Sang happy birthday to 4 kids during service; one of them turned 12 today…and I remember holding him when he was 2!
  • Had a meeting with some of our Toddler Room staff today.  So great to hear them talk about ideas on how to improve our system and our environment for the kids.  It was also great to see how much they’ve enjoyed some of the already-established improvements!
  • Had lunch with two wonderful people who volunteer in children’s ministry.  It’s so refreshing to hear how they’ve been enjoying their marriage, and how they are embracing their call to ministry.
  • Got to hang out with a friend who has just undergone shoulder surgery recently.  Been praying for him a lot, and I am glad to see him recovering well.
  • Cuddled and had tickling wars with my favorite 3 & 5 year olds.  It really warms my heart! :’)  It was also wonderful to be able to just relax and hang out with the family…and eat Popeye’s Chicken (holla!).

I’m so thankful for these joyful moments.  It’s tangible moments like these, that make our invisible God more and more visible to me.

Since July of 2009, I have probably gone to church maybe 8-10 times.

Some of you might be saying right now:  “How can that be possible, when you’re a Children’s Pastor?”  Well…

When I came on board as the Children’s Pastor at SVCC in July of 2009, I was determined to really get to know my ministry.  I began by running both services on Sunday so that I could focus on some things.  In my mind, there were some great advantages to doing this:

  • I got to know the kids and their parents.  I saw each and every person that came to that check-in kiosk, and had personal interaction with them.
  • I could “control” consistency of the material being taught.  There was no mystery as to whether or not both services got the main Bible points.
  • I was able to observe how my volunteers were doing in all of the different areas (not just Elementary – but also in the Pre-K room, and the Nursery).
  • If there was a concern/issue, I could be right there to address it – and take the fall instead of any of my volunteers.

Just like anything else, there were also some disadvantages to this:

  • By doing so much, I was doing several things  ‘ok’ instead of doing a few things with excellence.
  • I wasn’t being open to what God had in store for other people who could do a better job at certain areas of our ministry.
  • And here it is:  I WASN’T GOING TO CHURCH. *le gasp*

By doing this, I was missing out on being a part of our faith community.  I wasn’t in fellowship with the people of our church as I had been before.  I was missing out on the messages.  I would listen to our church’s online messages, but I’ll admit – I didn’t always get to that. I would rationalize by saying “I don’t want to burden someone else with running our children’s ministry, just so I could go to church.”

Over time, God really began to convict me.  I came to the point to where God had me realize a few things:

1)  My personal walk with God must come first.  Initially, I thought this to be a little selfish to think.  I thought to myself: “I’m a pastor – I’m supposed to think of others’ spiritual needs before my own.  I need to build other people up in their faith.”  The fact is, though, that I can only go so far with that – when I am not fully seeking God myself.  Part of growing close to God involves being in fellowship with other believers, as is mentioned in Acts 2: 42-47.

2)  I’m coddling my volunteers. One of my best friends in the entire universe, Jeff Loven, once told me: “You know your ministry is healthy when it can run without you.”  Our volunteers can definitely run services without me – but my desire is to see them thrive as leaders, whether I am there or not!  I used to worry if I had to leave town and have my leaders run service without me there.  Not that I doubted them – I just didn’t want them to feel burdened with all the details as they served.  How dare I stifle their growth as leaders?!  It’s like parenting:  If a parent did everything for their child, then the child will most likely have some difficulty being self-sufficient.  I need to give my leaders opportunity to grow as they serve.

3) I can do more by doing less.  I’m not that good.  There are others who can do things better than I ever could.  Each one of my volunteers is gifted in something – and if I were to really pay attention and highlight those gifts, then 1) they feel more valued as they serve, 2) the kids truly benefit from the leaders’ giftings, and 3) God gets the glory.  The fact is, by doing just about everything, I am more susceptible trusting in God less, because I am leaning on personal talent rather than on God’s Holy Spirit.  He needs to be the star, and we need to be in the supporting role with our God-given gifts.

With all of this in mind, I went to church today.  Last month, I asked a few key leaders to lead services once a month, and during the service they’re leading…I am worshiping “in the big church.”  I got to encounter God in a special way, I got to meet new people in our church, and a fellow co-laborer for God and his children had fun leading kids’ church today!

Gimme a break…

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Life

Today was a day of rest for me.

Last year, I decided that I’d take Fridays off from work to be able to just relax and collect myself before the busyness of the weekend could arrive.  While the intent of it was good, I was horribly inconsistent in terms of keeping my Sabbath.  Eventually, I found myself always back at the office on Friday – to the point to where I was working every day. Don’t get me wrong:  I love what I get to do!  However, if I am going to be at my best at work and in my relationships – I need to make sure that I rest.

So today, I decided to try again.  And here’s what I did:

  • Woke up, and did some exercising.  Zumba Fitness 2 on the Wii.  Don’t judge me!
  • Had a great devotional, and spent some time in prayer.
  • Had lunch with Chris Morshead at the Cafe Connection.  Great food, and really great conversation.
  • Watched The Lorax.  It was pretty good!  I’ve never read the book, so I’m not sure how it compares.
  • Did a bit of shopping.  Target.  Holler.
  • Did a bit of reading.  Big God (Britt Merrick).  Hoping to finish it by this next week.
  • Watched an Indoor Guard & Percussion show in Tulare.  Got to see some former students perform.  Great job to Haze, Kymbra, Jazmin, Alexis, and Thomas!

It was a real nice change of pace today.  I hope to stay more consistent this time around! 🙂

Waiting on God…

Posted: March 6, 2012 in Life

Read this segment from Britt Merrick’s book, Big God (p 137), tonight:

Waiting on God never means paralysis…when we wait on God, we are to be engaged with God…

Our faith is to be active, not passive.  That means we’re to study the Word of God – and seek the God of the Word.  We’re to be thoroughly engaged, worshiping, praying, asking and seeking.  We’ll find Jesus when we do these things.  When our prayer life increases and our Bible study increases and our worship life increases, we discover that it’s all about Jesus in the final analysis.  So everything else becomes peripheral and it gets easier to wait because we’re already working towards the goal, which is knowing Him!  Knowing and loving Jesus Christ is the goal of our existence.  And when He has us in a posture of waiting, if we refuse to be passive and seek and ask and press in through prayer and worship, we will find Him.  And in that moment, the soul is settled.  Abraham had to wait 25 years, but in the final analysis the Bible says that he was a friend of God.  The totality of his life was not summarized by the fact that he waited, but by the fact that he was a friend of the living God.  That’s what life is about.

Amen.

Yes, Man.

Posted: March 3, 2012 in Life

I was just at the Children’s Pastors’ Conference in San Diego, which is an amazing kidmin conference put on by the INCM.  I was attending a breakout session by Craig Jutila, entitled “How To Lead When Life Gets Busy.”  When I saw that this breakout was being offered, I just knew I had to check it out.

Craig said something very interesting during the breakout:  “Whenever you say yes, you are also saying no.”  Sounds counter-intuitive, yeah?  It does, until you think about it this way:

Right now, I am saying yes to writing this blog…which means I am saying no to sleep.

Craig’s complete quote was “Whenever you say yes, you are also saying no…to someone or something else.”

As I sat in his breakout session, I really began to think about how much of a “Yes Man” I really have become.  I’m a people-pleaser (check out this blog post from Ryan Frank, which addresses the dangers of people-pleasing in ministry).  I get asked to do a lot at times…and I will most likely say yes.  I’ll say yes because I’ve got the time, because I could make the time, because I want to help, because I don’t want to let folks down…the list really continues!

But I can’t help but think – by saying yes so often…what am I saying NO to?

Truth be told:  the busyness in my life is the direct result of my constant saying yes.  To a degree – even though the things I am saying yes to are good things – I am saying no to a lot of things – like spending time with God, spending time with family, building a relationship, or fulfilling what God’s will is for my life.

What’s the solution then?  For me, it’s to be prayerful in my decisions, and to pursue balance.