Friday, January 27, 2012

Redo please....

I don’t know how your week has gone, but mine has been pretty crappy. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for what I have. I am not complaining about not having, I just wish I had a little less stress this week. I know for me, I find myself in weeks like this not only being stressed out (which is not part of my usual character), but I find myself beating myself up because I am either taking it out on myself or someone else. When you have six kids, like my wife and I do, there is always a high chance for stress and there is always someone who you can blow up on (if you want to). I guess that is my big dilemma. Between the size of my family, the unique situations that come with having adopted kids, the type of job I have, the size (or lack of size at times) of our income and the size  of our budget it can become pretty overwhelming. For a long time, I was a worrier. I worried about everything, I worried to the point that I would lose my appetite, and then I worried because I wasn’t eating. Over time I found myself maturing not only physically, but also in my faith and I started to worry less and trust more.

In Matthew 14, we see the story of Jesus walking on the water in the middle of a lake. At some point, Peter builds up enough faith to get out of the boat and walk on the water. As Peter walks farther and farther away from the boat he begins to focus on the waves in the lake and less on his faith that got him out of the boat. The result is his focus on Christ shrinks and he begins to sink (now I sound like a Southern Baptist preacher...shrinks- sinks…Never mind).

I am being reminded this morning that my focus over the last couple of years has been to have the faith to step out of my/the boat. Over the past couple of years I have done that more and more. My problem is I am currently too focused on the distance of/from the “boat” and not the destination, focus on Christ (more Southern Baptist…distance not destination…sorry).

I think I am writing this for a couple of reasons. First, if you are like me and you find yourself worrying, ask yourself, “I am in the boat?” or “on the lake?” Take a hard look at not only where you are standing, but more importantly what are you focused on.  Second, I am asking that you pray for me. I believe prayer works and is effective in all kinds of situations and to be real honest, I am not sure I can effectively pray for myself because I keep looking at the waves on the lake.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

6 Reflections from Sunday

I find myself thinking…what an amazing day we had on Sunday. It was the first time I ever gave a “vision” talk. I was really nervous and kept thinking to myself, “some of these things are really big. I am setting expectations for the church that I am pastoring, much higher than probably most people in the church expect them to be. Maybe I need to lower them a little so I won’t fail”. Over and over, I had this conversation with myself. Over and over, I kept coming back to the place of knowing that my trust, faith and obedience need to stay in the Lord. The rest will work itself out.  Here are a few short reflections I had from Sunday.
1. We had over 400 again in attendance. This is the first time since 2006, that as a church, we had over 400 in attendance three weeks in a row, without Easter being one of those weeks.
2. Numbers don’t mean everything, but they do mean something and as a leader it’s my job to figure out what they mean.
3. It was super scary to talk about the “future”.
4. I am so excited about the response from Sunday.
5. We have much to do, to see these things become reality.
6. I can’t wait to see what this week will bring.

Friday, January 20, 2012

4 reflections from Sunday

4 Reflections from Sunday

Today is Friday. Sunday seems like it was so long ago. Last week I made a commitment (at least to myself) that I was going to write a few reflections from Sunday each Monday morning. Today is Thursday (one week in and I already didn’t do it…awesome), to say this week as been busy is an understatement. 

1.      We had over 400 in attendance again this last week. April had another week where she had over a 100 kids and volunteers in the children’s area. Again I don’t think numbers mean everything, but they do mean something, and my job as a leader is to determine what they mean.
2.      This weeks message about how the church in Sardis paralell's CHCC was one of the hardest messages that I have had to give. I love the people of CHCC and some of the things I said where tough and hard. I think everyone knows the anxiety and fear that comes with sharing tough truth to someone whom you love very much. I prayed that I would be able to say them in a loving way without watering any of it down.
3.      Since it is Thursday I have had several days to really think and reflect on Sunday. One of the things that I have spent a great deal of time thinking and praying about is the simple fact that we wouldn’t return back to “here” again. I know for myself (and it seems like most of humanity) it’s in our nature to get motivated quickly but after a short amount reverse the decisions that we made and allow things to go back to the way things were.
4.      I was and still am all “fired” up to be a part of moving CHCC into the future.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Here to There week 2

Here is a video from my message from Sunday. It feels weird to post a video of myself on my blog (real humble huh). I guess I do it for a couple of reasons. #1 I don't know who (if anyone) will read this crazy thing. #2 I want whoever sees it to know that the video is online because of who I talk about, not because I am the one doing talking.
01-15-2012 from Cherokee Hills Christian Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2 Years Later....

A lot can happen in two years. Two years ago my life changed in so many unexpected ways. Here is a short list of a few of the things . . .

  • Two years ago, I got rid of my bikes, my pool table, my huge BBQ grill, and my patio furniture because my family and I were moving to be missionaries in Haiti.
  • Two years ago, a country we have loved, spent time in, prayed for, adopted from and were moving to was rocked by the second most deadly earthquake ever to be recorded.
  • Two years ago, over 300,000 people died because of something that lasted only a few seconds.
  • Two years ago, the mission organization my family and I were joining was trying to figure out how to deal with the losses in the country, but also in their organization.
  • Two years ago, a friend and I went to Haiti several days after the earthquake to try to “help”.
  • Two years ago, 2 young boys we were trying to adopt, who I thought we would never be able to legally adopt (me of little faith, I know), arrived at our home in Oklahoma City.

These are just a few of the changes in our life because of something that lasted a few seconds two years ago. Even though it was just a short amount of time many hundreds of thousands of peoples lives were changed forever, including mine.

I have seen and done some pretty crazy things in my life.  But if I was to be honest, that couple of weeks while I was in Haiti after the earthquake are not only the craziest, but they changed me in ways I think will stay with me forever.

When I returned home, I had PTSD from the aftershocks. For months, anytime our bed would move from Tiff rolling over, while I was sleeping, I would run out of the room because I thought there was another earthquake. For many, many months I cried (in secret) over what I had seen and heard. I became very ill after I came home with a weird and unusual virus; I lost 20 pounds and was hospitalized for a week. I found myself becoming bitter, almost hateful, because people forgot about Haiti so quickly. I found it easier to act like everything was okay, than to be frustrated; because I didn’t have the words to help those around me understand what it had been like, how I was feeling.

In the last two years, I find myself unable to complain (almost). I can’t throw food away at all, two weeks ago, one of my sons burnt his frozen pizza he was making for lunch and threw it way. I am not proud of it, but it is who I am now, in so many ways. Later that day, when I went to throw away some trash, I saw it and pulled it out and ate it. All of that is because of a change inside of me two years ago.

I don’t write this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I am blessed, warm, fed, and have a 50” HD TV. There is nothing in my life that is worth the energy to pity me. I guess I write this to help you as a reader (and me as the writer) to:  1. Take an honest account of our love for our neighbor. For me two years ago, I didn’t love my neighbor very much at all. However, those couple of weeks in Haiti changed my love for my neighbor more than I can even communicate. 2. Take some time and pray for those who have been affected by the earthquake two years ago. 3. Thank the Lord for all the good that has come from such a terrible tragedy.

I now think, in many ways, I am a better husband, person, steward and lover of my neighbor (not in a weird way) and follower of Christ because of my time in Haiti.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good Book

I am not much a follower (okay, I guess I am a follower, but I follow in a much different way). For the last 6 months or so I have been intentionally working to be a stronger leader. One of the things I have quit doing these last 6 months is reading the most popular books, and spending a lot more time reading the most popular book of all time (the Bible, just in case you were wondering). I am not going to go on about how you should care less about what Francis Chan says about God's love and care more about what God says about God's love (even though I often feel that way). I am not going to get on a soap box and talk about how we often are not feeding ourselves, but we are just recycling what we have learned from others (even though I see that all the time).

But, this last week, I began a 7 month experiment against living in excess. This experiment comes from a book written by Jen Hatmaker. The book is titled, "7 . . . An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess". What I love about this book (at least up to this point) is it is more about "doing" and less about "reading". So often when I read a book it's about getting through it, reading every page, completing the task, learning what information I can and then moving on. Not this book, it's about taking a few minutes to read about the 7 areas most people are excessive in and then spending the next month focused on getting away from living in excess and relearning a healthier, more normal range of living within that particular area.

I am going to challenge you to really consider two things:
1.      Do you live in excess?
2.      Would you be brave enough (or stupid enough, whatever works for you) to spend 7 months reestablishing healthy boundaries?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Here to There Week 1

Here is a video from my message from Sunday. It feels weird to post a video of myself on my blog (real humble huh). I guess I do it for a couple of reasons. #1 I don't know who (if anyone) will read this crazy thing. #2 I want whoever sees it to know that the video is online because of who I talk about, not because I am the one doing talking.

6 reflections from Sunday

As I sit here on Monday afternoon, I am still thinking about yesterday. I once was told that that the things that make us great often become our weaknesses if we aren't careful. I am a person who can't sit still very well. I am a person who often has an unlimited amount of energy. I am a person who never really wants to quit (even though I have a lot of half finished projects around my house). I am a person who is consistently thinking about something. I find myself on Monday often thinking about Sunday. The things I think went well, the things I think we want to be better. This Monday is no different. I guess since I am trying to use social media in a more purposeful way I am going to share some of those thoughts.

1. What a powerful service yesterday. I truly felt like we are on the road of returning to our first love and I am so excited to see what the future is going to look like.

2. We had our first Sunday since Easter, where we had over 400 in attendance. I am not one who dwells on how many people are in church on a Sunday, but I do think attendance says something. My job as a leader is to figure out what is it says. I guess right now, this weeks attendance is a confirmation of my prayer this last week that we would have a big group of our church family in attendance to be part of the first message in my “Here to There” series. I also write about that attendance, not to brag or boast, but to celebrate and thank the Lord.

3. I thought Randy and his music team did an awesome job with our worship through music; his leadership of song selections, his heart that was visible while he led and his creativity to combine a section of a hymn with a newer song. You all did a great job, worship team.

4. We had over a 100 kids and adult volunteers working in our Children's Ministry. I am so proud of April and all she is doing with our kids. She has a lot of plates in the air and I think she is doing a great job spinning them.

5. It was fun to have my Mom and Dad, and one of my older sisters, Anna, and her husband visiting our church, from Kansas. It's a little weird to be the "baby" in my family and to look from the stage and see my parents and one of my older sisters.

6. The Lord is good . . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year.... New Things

The new year always seems to bring new things into peoples life. New goals, new challenges, new desires, new resolution. The new year is also a great time to not only look forward but to spend a little time looking back at the last year.

As I spent a little time looking back over my last year I am overwhelmed with how differant it really was from what I expected. 12 months ago my wife had a major back surgery that we thought would take a few months to recover from, a those few months turned in 11(just a few more than a few). 12 months ago a little girl who we have now fostered for 8 months, and who is sooo much a part of our lives wasn't even born yet, much less someone we thought . 12 months ago I was 20 lbs lighter (dang it). 12 months ago we had no idea that we would find our teenage daughter would be diagnosed with a rare and severe form of Junivelle Arthitist. 12 months ago our oldest son was just getting his first car (even before he had his liscense). Those are just a few of the things that were significantly differant and challenaging in 2011.

2012 will bring new things into our lives that we weren't expecting and probably at times we will feel like we aren't ready for. Some of them will be things that we can control (like my extra 20 lbs) and some of them will be things that our completly out of our hands (like my daughters health). Regardless of the changes and challenges I am ready to see what our 2012 will look like and how the Lord will work despite my expectations.