Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ category

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These last few weeks have been unusually busy for me. With Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent this past week, leading a marriage workshop with Becky the weekend prior, people in our family getting sick, a 3-year-old birthday to celebrate, and more, these last few weeks have been non-stop and my blog was put on the back burner.

My hope is to start putting out new content again next week. But in the meantime, here are a few quick things that I want to pass along.

  1. Lent: This year for Lent I’ve decided to give up social media. I’ve started to notice a major dependency on my phone that’s pretty unhealthy. The things that I’m drawn to are Facebook and YouTube. Ever since starting on social media over a decade ago, I’ve never been off. This seemed like a good way to create space in my life for Lent.What you will notice is that I’m still going to blog, but I’m not going to be interacting with it. Sorry. That will open up too many temptations to get sucked into all sorts of different social media platforms. You will notice that my blog posts will be posted on Facebook, but that’s because I can automatically share them via my blog and don’t actually have to get on Facebook to post them.
  2. Meadowbrook Church Blog: One of the reasons for my silence on my own blog is because we started a church blog in the last few weeks. I’m excited to have created a place for people in our church to share the stories of what God is doing in their lives. You can check it out here. We hope to be posting every week on Tuesdays.
  3. New Posting Day for My Blog: Now that I’m involved with, and oversee, two different blogs, I’m switching the day that I will be posting on my blog. Those who’ve followed my blog may have noticed that I’ve traditionally posted every Wednesday. In an effort to create some space between posts from our church blog and my blog, I am now going to be posting on Thursdays.

Thanks to everyone who’s been following, reading, and engaging. I’m grateful for your engagement with my blog.

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The house is quiet and still. It’s 6:00 am. I’ve been up for the last thirty minutes in our home office doing my final review for my sermon later that morning. I relish these moments knowing that the silence will soon be broken by the pattering of tiny feet coming down the stairs.

A few minutes later, our youngest appears in the doorway looking for a sign that it’s okay to enter. I give her a nod and she comes running. I put my Bible and notes aside as she climbs into my lap.

“Did you sleep well?” I ask.

With her head resting on my chest and thumb firmly inserted into her mouth, she gives a nod in response. While this moment is precious and peaceful, it’s the final calm before the storm that’s about to hit.

By the time everyone in the house is awake, it’s 6:20 am. That’s when Becky and I go into “game on” mode.

Sunday mornings are a frenzy of activity in our home. Between getting breakfast for the kids, battling over what clothes they will wear for the day, brushing all the knots out of all the girls’ hair, and making sure they actually put their shoes on before they walk outside, some mornings Becky and I are left with 10 minutes to get ourselves ready.

On this particular morning, Becky’s leading worship, I’m preaching, and our three young kids are extra moody, whiny, and crabby while trying to get them ready and out the door. In order to be to church on time, the entire family needs to be out of the house by 7:30.

While getting the kids ready, they change their breakfast orders multiple times and then won’t eat. They resist putting on the clothes we’ve laid out for them. And instead of putting on their shoes, they throw them across the room.

The morning is hard and stressful. When we finally get the kids strapped into their car seats, Becky and I fall into ours giving a sigh of relief, “We did it.” It’s 7:33 am.

However, as we roll down the street and exit our neighborhood, something in the car shifts. The relational temperature and mood changes from stress and exhaustion to eagerness and anticipation. Everyone, the kids included, are glad to be going to church.

For the better part of pastoring for the last decade, church has become a safe place for our family, most importantly for our kids. It’s a place where they’ve been able to be themselves.

As soon as we walk in the door, the first thing they do is shed their coats and kick off the shoes that, fifteen minutes ago, we forced them to put on. They quickly leave us behind and run to the cafe. Climbing on the counters, with wide eyes and excited taste buds, they scan the box of donuts for the one that’s just right. By this time, Becky’s already in the worship center rehearsing with the music team.

It’s an hour before our church family will begin to arrive. I leave our girls to eat their donuts while I go print a fresh copy of my sermon. My mind is racing with thoughts about my sermon, the flow of our morning services, people I need to connect with that morning, and a bunch of other logistical details.

I leave the girls for no more than five minutes. By the time I’m back they’re not where I left them. The evidence of them having been there, empty plates and juice cups and crumbs on the floor, is apparent, but they’re gone.

I clean their mess and go looking for them. I have a good idea where they’ll be.

As I approach the worship center, through the glass windows, I can see their tiny heads in the distance bobbing up and down behind the pews as they run laps around the perimeter of the room.

I open the door and lean against the door jam. And for a few minutes, I stand and soak it in. What I see warms my heart. I see Kate, Emma, and Lucy running, laughing, dancing, and singing along with their mom as she practices. As they pass me standing in the back of the room, I get a high five and a quick, “Hey dad!” with each lap. As they pass the stage in the front of the room where their mom is singing, they skip, hop, jump, and do their best ballet twirl.

You’d never guess that about thirty minutes prior an all-out family war was waging at our house. It seems like a distant memory. The two moments are such a bizarre contrast but are not at all unusual for any given Sunday morning.  The sweet moments with our girls are fairly frequent around our church on a Sunday morning, and if I’m not careful, in the busyness and chaos of the morning, I’ll miss them.

While Sunday mornings can be crazy and stressful, and even though the battles of getting ready for church make me wonder if I’m failing at being a parent, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.  It’s a joy to raise our family with church being such a major part of our lives, especially for our kids. They are growing up knowing they are loved by so many people.

Pretty soon, another frenzy of activity will begin. A few hundred people will pass through the doors of our church. We’ll have an incredible opportunity to love, serve, and encourage them as we begin another week.

As I stand, leaning against the door jam, a few people start to trickle in. I feel the tug of needing to go over and say good morning and welcome them to our church. But before I do, I linger just a little bit longer watching a few more twirls, hops, and jumps and I appreciate this moment, and this morning, for what it is, a gift.

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When I get sick I resist going to the doctor at all costs. At most, I’ll try to catch a few extra hours of sleep on the front-end or back-end of my day, but typically, I just push through.

A few years ago I was more sick than I could ever remember. When it was all said and done, I was laid up for about six days. On day one (a Monday), I left work early thinking by the next day I would be back to my normal self. On day two (Tuesday), I came into work late still trying to tough it out. I spent the first two hours of my day trying to get some things done while lying on the couch in my office. Eventually, my co-workers convinced me to go home and not come back until I was fully better.

By day three (Wednesday), my wife had rightly lost all compassion towards me saying I was a fool for not scheduling an appointment to see a doctor.

I hate going to the doctor. I hate the thought of wasting a day making an appointment and sitting in a waiting room when I could be getting stuff done. I hate admitting that I can’t muster through on my own. And I hate the thought of identifying with the sick. Admitting I was sick would be admitting defeat.

At the core of it, I tend to live with the belief that it’s not okay to not be okay. I’m not sure where I developed this belief. And while I don’t intellectually believe it’s true, practically, I live as though it is.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. As a pastor, I find many people in the church believe the same thing. Maybe not with regards to our physical well-being, but definitely with regard to our spiritual well-being.

But Jesus has a different belief. He believes that it’s okay not to be okay. He’s quick to say in Luke’s gospel that he’s not interested in spending time with people who have it all together (Luke 5:31-32). People who never struggle. People whose lives are in tip-top shape.

He actually says he’s come to spend time with the spiritually sick and needy. Those whose lives are a mess. Those who can’t clean up their act or pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.

There is an old hymn that speaks to this very idea. The song goes:

Come ye sinners, poor and needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore
Jesus ready stands to save you
Full of pity, love, and power

My favorite line in the song is:

If you wait until you’re better
You will never come at all

With Jesus, it’s okay not to be okay, because he’s the one who can make you well. Jesus isn’t okay with us staying not okay forever, but he’s always willing to meet us where we are, no matter how bad it is.

However, you have to take the first step. When I was laid up in bed for six days, I had to be the one to make the phone call to schedule an appointment with the doctor. I had to take the initiative and admit that I needed help. It was only when I did that I was able to turn the corner and get well.

So, don’t wait to come to Jesus until you’re better, because without him you can’t get better. With Jesus, it’s okay not to be okay. He’s ready to receive you just the way you are.

* Photo Credit: keeperofthehome.org

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