Archive for the ‘Personal Reflections’ Category

This past Sunday we concluded our Sucker Punched series.  I’m glad.  I’m a little emotionally drained by it.  A few times, as some of you may have noticed, my allergies kicked in during my message and it might have looked like I was a little weepy.  I wasn’t.  I’m too masculine for such displays.  For my concerned guy friends, you’ll be pleased to know I’m now on Clairtin and it should be better.

I’ve enjoyed this series.  Usually by the end of a series, I’ve wanted it to be over weeks ago and I’ve mentally moved on.  But this series I felt engaged all four weeks.  I’ve also received A LOT of response from this series.  More so than normal.  I’ve heard a lot of sucker punched stories.  In addition to the personal e-mails, notes, or Facebook messages, we saw videos of stories here at LSC (thank you to Doug Harsch as filming, editing, and rendering a video is no small task and he did four of them in four weeks).  And finally, we encouraged people to write on half sheets of paper their sucker punch story, a prayer request, or a next step action out of being sucker punched.  In total – it was a lot of stories.

And after reading all of the stories, I just feel humbled.

There are a lot of hurting people here (and that is just from the ones I know!).  It might be a normal amount for a typical church, but it seems like a lot to me.

And in the end, I have this thought…I wish this church had a better pastor.  I do.  If I had to hire a pastor for the Living Stones Church, I’m not sure I would hire me.  I’d look for someone who is a lot more spiritual.  I’d look for someone who is a lot better at counseling.  I’d look for someone who is more pastoral (in the genuine sense of the word).  I would look for someone who had their act together more so than I do who doesn’t struggle with the thoughts I do, or behaviors I do.  I would pick someone who knows the Bible more and prays with greater ease than I do.  I’d hire someone who doesn’t walk around with a perpetual sense of insecurity about how to deal with so many sucker punch stories.

As I read this I worry that you might think I’m trying to communicate some sort of false-humility in the guise of the “I’m not a perfect Pastor” (as if you didn’t already know that) speech.  I’m not.  I sincerely do have these thoughts.  But don’t worry about me.  I have enough pride and arrogance that I’m not overwhelmed by them. 🙂  And even in the midst of these thoughts, I know I’m called to be here at the Living Stones Church.

So, in the end, I recognize that I get to be here doing what I love to do, with a group of people I absolutely love, simply because of God’s grace.  That has to be it.  Because he couldn’t have looked down on the face of the earth and chosen me due to my spiritual qualifications and accomplishments.

Thank you God for your grace.

Thank you Living Stones Church for the honor of allowing me, a sojourner with you in this Kingdom venture, to be called your Pastor.

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Y2K Was Just the Other Day

Posted: December 26, 2009 in Personal Reflections

We are about to begin a new decade!!!  2010 is just a few days off!  10 years ago we were talking about Y2K and all the hype about everything in the world crashing (which it didn’t).  Fortunately, I didn’t waste time stockpiling weapons and food for the cataclysmic event.  But it feels like it was just the other day.  It was actually 10 YEARS AGO!!!  10 YEARS!!  Is time moving faster?

Do you remember what you were doing on December 31, 1999 waiting for the big Y2K?

2010 Resoluting

Posted: December 26, 2009 in Personal Reflections, vision

I’m sitting in a St. Louis Bread Company (Panera Bread in St. Louis) resoluting for 2010.  Yea…I’m a HUGE resolution guy.  That doesn’t mean I accomplish my resolutions, it just means I absolutely LOVE making them.  Lists, goals, plans, agendas for everything.  Don’t be jealous of my personality 🙂 .

Part of the process is looking at the 2009 resolutions.  Brutal.  And yet, I LOVE this sadistic work.

Observations:

  • I have resolutions that have been on my list now for several years with no significant movement.  I now need to decide whether I’m going to re-up for yet another year and be serious about it, or concede that at this time in my life, I need to let it go.
  • My church resolutions have far outpaced my personal resolutions.  This isn’t so much because I’m great at what I do in regards to Pastoring but rather because so many of those resolutions are more dependent on God’s faithfulness than my discipline.
  • I have to live life holistically.  I’ve noticed a decline or failing in any of the following – spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, professional, intellectual, relational, and/or financial tends to affect the whole.
  • You can’t have an infinite number of resolutions (which I tend to do).  You only have 24 hours in a day.  Time management and resolution fulfillment cannot be separated.
  • Perfectionism shouldn’t trump degrees of success.  Even if you aren’t there yet, celebrate you aren’t where you were a year ago.
  • If in 2010 I accomplish my resolutions, will it change the world?  Are my resolutions too small or too “about me”?
  • The status quo of 2009 has to be disrupted.  If I live in 2010 like I did in 2009, I will be in this same place twelve months from now.  So…what gets disrupted in the Status Quo?  What will I resolve to quit doing in 2010 that I am doing in 2009?  What pattern of behavior or issue of time management will get overhauled?
  • What can’t wait?  I have three children.  Isaac is now 13.  Five minutes ago he was 2 years old.  Time is ticking.  And in some areas, I only get one shot. There are no “do-overs.”  I can still learn how to play an instrument in 2018, but I can’t raise my son again.

These two kids have no idea.  Seriously.  They have no clue what is before them.  They love each other.  They have promised to stay together until death do they part…no matter what.  But they don’t know.  They have no idea what is going to come their way in the next 17 years.  Big highs.  And low lows.  Exhilarating moments.  Moments of despair.  And a large number of days which will feel mundane.  But they will do it together.  And at least from the perspective of this now much older guy…he can’t imagine anyone else he would have rather spent the past 17 years with.  There is no one else on the face of the earth who could have possible stayed with this dude with as much grace, patience, laughter, and love as the woman he promised to be with 17 years ago today.  I love this woman.  She is more beautiful to me today than the day I stood before God, my friends, and my family and said, “I do.”  Happy anniversary Kelly (if you ignore my blog for another week as is normal…I hope we had a great anniversary 🙂 ).

One of Those Nights

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Family, Personal Reflections

How was my nightHOW WAS MY NIGHT!!!!?  Oh…I’ll tell you how my night has been:

1.  After work I went to the gym to lift weights.  Two words – PATHETICALLY WEAK!!

2.  My daughter this evening announced she wants her mother to get remarried to someone else so she can have a puppy.

3.  My wife bought me some conditioner from the store.  When I looked at the bottle she decided to select a conditioner that was for “dull and lackluster” hair.

4.  During dinner, my fat butt was so heavy that it literally broke the chair I was sitting in and I fell backwards (I’m not kidding…and I”m not talking about one of those “wooden peg” that fits into a hole that was loose kind of situations, I’m talking soldered metal!!  Snapped it right off!!  My family feigned concern, but I could see they were laughing right at me).

Thus…I’m locking myself in the bathroom and going to have a good cry for about an hour, then I’m getting in my pajamas and getting into bed to watch Grey’s Anatomy episodes, and if I’m still awake after that, I’m going to watch The Notebook!! 😦

P.S.  Oh…I did have a great LSC leadership meeting in between these events. 🙂

Proverbs 18:21Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

I found out yesterday that Archie Bradford, who was the Principal of Monroe School when I attended there as a wee-lad has passed away.   Mr. Bradford for me will always be an exemplary example of someone who understood the power of words to speak life into the hearts and minds of children.  Mr. Bradford was a big man.  He was about 6’6″ (but given that I was always the shortest kid in the class in elementary school he could have just as easily been 8′ in my imagination).  In the 5th grade I was elected (how that happens I don’t even remember) to be in the Monroe School Student Council for the 5th grade and again in the 6th grade.   Every time I saw Mr. Bradford, he would pat me on the back, or put his hand on my shoulder and announce to me and to everyone standing around that I was going to be a lawyer and then the President of the United States (I assumed at the time he intended it as a compliment 🙂 ).  He did this almost every time I saw him.

You know what happened?  I saw myself as a lawyer and eventually the President of the United States.  I’m serious.  It became my life goal.  It gave me a picture of myself I might not have had on my own.  It instilled in me confidence and a future-orientation.  The power of his words shaped in me goals and actions (e.g., I took Latin in High School to help with legal terms, joined the debate team…eventually became captain my Senior year, was announced during the homecoming court my senior year that I was going to be the President of the United States (I’m sure in jest…but I believed it to be true), got a debate scholarship in college, went on to major in pre-Law and Public Administration).

I discovered later that God was going to use some of those skills and abilities for another purpose than law and politics (thank you God)!!! (no offense to Mr. Bradford) 🙂  But the point is this…words have power.  And he spoke words of life into my life that truly transformed.  They allowed me to hope for more, attain more, shoot for more, and expect more out of myself by his continual affirmation that I was capable of being a lawyer and the President of the United States.

I can’t help but imagine what might happen in our schools if there were more Mr. Bradfords around to speak directly into the heart and mind of kids.  My guess is those kids are getting barraged by “words of death” (e.g., you’re stupid, you’re not smart enough, you’re an accident, you’re just like your dead-beat father, (and by subtle and not so subtle actions) you’re inconvenient, you are a disruption of my life.)  And they begin to believe these words of death.  And they lose all future-orientation and hope.

Like Mr. Bradford, we need to speak words of life to say…you can be…  Announce it to them.  Announce it to those around them.  Say it loud.  Say it again and again.  Say it with confidence.  Say it until you can see they believe it for themselves.

This is the power of words.  Mr. Bradford understood this.  And I hope before his passing he was aware of the fruit of those words that exist all over this community and world.

Rex Butts attended and was married in this church (it was the Donmoyer Church of Christ then).  He has experienced the pain of suffering more so than most his age.  He wrote a reflection on the goodness of God, unanswered prayers, and the death of his son, Kenny.

I know many are struggling through the same questions.  I would highly recommend an article he wrote that was just published.  You can find it here.