I have a confession to make. It seems that I have killed a lot of time in my life. There is no way to measure the amount of time that has been slaughtered by my carelessness. I have been a killer of time and I am not happy about it. You see, time is a commodity that seems to become more and more important the older that one gets. When I was in grade school I looked forward to the day being over. I looked forward to the weekend, to summer, and to that vacation my family had planned. I looked forward to getting to high school, getting my license, and finally getting out on my own. All of those things came quickly though and now time seems to be moving along faster than I can watch it fly on by. It bothers me because I know that one day I will look back and wish that time I murdered when I was younger is able to be brought back to life. It bothers me because I keep getting these things on my Facebook feed reminding me of how quickly my kids are growing up. I have no time to waste! Every minute actually matters. Every second must actually be savored as the most important moment of life. It seems to me that life was meant to be lived right now, not for something in the future — an idealistic dream world that never actually comes anyway. So then I wonder how it is that we can talk about how busy we are in one moment with no time to spare and then spend an hour “killing time” waiting for our children to finish their event, or our plane to board.
Stop killing time and start living your lifepurposefully. Wait with purpose. Meet new people. Take up a new hobby. Read a book (an actual one with paper). Do something for someone else. Pray. Turn off the notifications on your phone. Find something to do. Just don’t kill time. It will be gone before you know it and you have none to spare.
Have you ever been so tired that you couldn’t keep your eyes open or really move very quickly? So much of our life is about doing something that it can be very difficult to find time to rest. But it is critical to your life. James 1:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
The Word of God is not an optional part of the life of a believer. This is not just any other word that has been written down on paper. This is the word that is implanted in you as you trust Christ and can save you. This is life for your soul. Take a drink and be refreshed! It is one thing to feed the physical body, but it is another thing to feed the spiritual. You need food for your physical body to live and you need food for your soul to live. This food is from the Word of God.
The Word of God is as essential to our spiritual life. So if you go from Sunday to Sunday without opening up the Word on your own, it is like holding your breath for 7 days. You are harming yourself when you do not open this book up and sit under its teaching and authority in your life. The Word of God is life for your soul and is the most valuable thing there is beyond God himself.
Take off moral filth
The word therefore indicates a conclusion based on what was just said. So if you look there you see that if we are talking and determining in our own minds and hearts what is right and wrong, we are never going to challenge moral filth in our lives. But if we sit under the authority of God’s Word, it is hard to wiggle out of it.
But it isn’t just taking off the moral filth, but it is replacing it with something else.
Put on the Word of God
It says to humbly receive the word of God. It is a picture of a father and a child, as the father imparts something to the child and the child listens intently to what the father is telling him or her. My kids like to do a lot of fishing with me and naturally that means we are keeping all kinds of fish to fillet. Of all my kids, the one most interested in this process is my daughter. She will sit with me, poke the fish, talk to them and ask me questions about everything. What is that? Why is the fish making that noise? What does the fish eat? And she is very, very interested in what I have to say. She will take whatever I have to say as truth because she has no reason to believe otherwise. This is how we receive the Word. The difference is that this Word can save you. This Word can help you make sense of the chaos in the world.
So take time in the Word today and everyday. You will find new life for your tired soul.
We are beginning to settle into our new home even with the adjustments of a new season of the year. If I reflect a bit I am amazed at the faithfulness of God through the whole journey. On the day after Christmas we packed up a large moving truck and took an early morning departure the next day to make a long journey to Wisconsin. We managed to make good time and the cat even managed to travel well. It all happened so fast, but turned out so perfectly. The day we arrived in Wisconsin it was quite warm only to drop in temperature significantly the following days. It is the little things that we often overlook but I am grateful.
It has taken some time to find true rhythm to the week here. As pastor my week is rather unpredictable even if I do know that Sunday is always coming. We have found the church to be a great fit.
My kids are thriving in this new setting. The two older boys will do little league this summer and the two younger kids are looking forward to their own things.
So as we start to settle in, I have a lot of things to write about. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts again. The kids seem to never stop giving me things to think about. My 7-year-old son tonight asked me why his sin deserved death? He then asked me why God created the world? These are some great questions and what a joy it is for me to be able to talk with him about God.
For those that have prayed for us, thank you. God continues to lead us along. I never thought I would be here. I have learned that when you are obedient to God the destination is not as important as the one in whom we keep our eyes on. One step at a time he has led me from Cape Cod to Wisconsin. Everyday is a new adventure and opportunity to be faithful. That is the biggest transition we all need to make — to go from my will to His will.
It has been a while since I have written one of these. We moved to Wisconsin the end of December, which gave us many things to do in a very short time. Moving is a stressful endeavor. Moving in the middle of a school year is difficult. Moving to Wisconsin in winter seems kind of crazy. But since when have things made sense?
I grew up in Wisconsin, but 3 of my 4 kids were born on Cape Cod. That means their idea of winter is snow that melts in two days. That has made for some minor complaining and wondering about the deep freeze and the cold. I have been asked on more than one occasion if we will ever see the grass. The sunsets are beautiful though.
We do have some snow.
The kids do amaze me with what they come up with. My daughter told me one day that she wanted to cut my hair “all by herself” and then ran off to get a knife. One of my boys came home with something that made us smile. His dream is that everyone would read the Bible. How can you not smile?
The kids have been making new friends. Last Sunday after church we went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Somehow we managed to have a whole bunch of young kids with pool sticks running around. Well, actually, they were attempting to play the game. I just stayed out of the way.
As I reflect on the last year, I am amazed at where we are today and especially God’s faithfulness to us. For example, we moved from Cape Cod to Southwest Wisconsin in the winter and had no problems with weather. In fact, the day we unloaded the truck was really warm. It was the last warm day before some very cold weather. I mean it feels a like we have turned the page on a different life. I know that sounds weird, but things are much different here. We are so grateful for how God lead and planted us here.
But for some of us, it will be nice when summer comes.
It has been a few weeks, but we have started to settle in here. Of course it has been below zero much of the past couple weeks, but God has been good to us. As we get started here, I just wanted to share something again that the Lord has been teaching me. I look back at the past year and am amazed at how God led us to where we are. I would not have placed myself here now, but there is such a peace that comes from knowing this is where God has us. We were able to pack up our things, drive out here, get unpacked, and make meaningful connections without having too many melt downs. That is God’s work, no doubt about it.
Today I am walking in the confidence again of knowing my calling and resting firmly in it.
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve.” – 1 Peter 5:3
Even more amazing is that way that sun has been coming up even in the cold. It is like God is smiling on us and reminding us of His blessings to come. I look forward to them and all that He will accomplish in 2014.
We are in the middle of a move to Wisconsin. This has made life a little different. But I thought I would share a few highlights from the past few weeks.
We have been taking various hikes in the park. It involves some exploring and climbing of the hill a few times.
I took a trip to Wisconsin last week to move a few things and I ended up at the Packers game – front row.
I dressed up for the occasion. It was a cold day so the beard was helpful.
The thing on my head is a noodle. I came home with free gifts for my kids.
We have a couple weeks left before we pack up the truck. This makes for some disruption to the normal way things go home. But I leave you with this today because this was something I found one day in my office. It is amazing how something small like this can bring some calm.
It was over a year ago now that I started to feel a bit unsettled here. It is not that I didn’t like something about the ministry, but I just sensed God stirring me to something. I remember asking the Lord to make His will known in my life, but I really did not want to move. The truth is Cape Cod is a nice place to live and we have established ourselves here. We had three of our four children here and currently have two kids in school. Moving with youth children adds a while new level of stress and fear. I had no idea why I was even thinking like that. I prayed and set it aside.
Then in November of last year the church burned down. I thought maybe that was this stirring I was feeling. Maybe God was somehow preparing me for this big change. In the midst of all the chaos it definitely was set aside. I was very busy with day-to-day ministry items that all of this was forgotten. But God does not let something drop and one day there it was again. God, by His Spirit, pressing this on me once again. It was at this point that I said, “okay, Lord, whatever you want.”
Over the course of time God has led me to a place where I believed He was asking me to become a Senior Pastor. That made me laugh because I was only about a year removed from my Master’s degree where I did a thesis on longevity in youth ministry. I spent a considerable amount of time researching and thinking that whole thing through. My conclusion was that I was a youth ministry lifer. I did not want to be one of those guys who started in youth ministry and then moved on. God likes to surprise us, doesn’t he?
In the beginning of this year I started to feel like God was loosening the roots here. I recall hearing from a pastor friend of mine that before God moves you He needs to loosen the roots. That very thing was happening and I didn’t even know what that very thing was. This was new territory for me and I was being stretched.
I started to bring this subject up with my wife who always seemed to bring me back to reality. She did not have the same sense I did and I was okay with that. In fact I was looking for any excuse I could to get out of it. We went to a conference in June and God spoke very clearly to me that it was time for me to take this step. Of course my wife was not there yet, or so I thought. It was amazing how many different people and speakers during this conference brought this to mind.
I got home and was praying for God to make the path He had for us known. One night the flood gates opened. I had been on the phone and when I came out and talked with her she admitted that she had the same sense of stirring. That left us at an interesting place because what do you do with that? What was I supposed to do? Who was I supposed to contact? How does someone even try to process this all?
Little did I know that was just the beginning of a journey for us where God would open doors very obviously. There is much more to share from there. For now I just want to leave you with a thought that I had during this time period. I kept thinking about how God shows up in unexpected ways but with amazing results. I wasn’t even looking for it, but when God calls it needs to be noticed. Perhaps it is that we need to expect God to do the unexpected. Maybe we get a little too comfortable with our mapped out lives. I know God has put together something amazing for us and we are just getting started.