Today is the first day I’ve come to work without having a student environment to prepare at week’s end. Thankfully I have a few meetings that will keep me occupied.
Yesterday went very well. Instead of doing a big hoopla of a sendoff, we treated the final Sunday of InnerMission almost like any other week. The message of being careful to use you words to build others up couldn’t be distracted with ceremony.
One of the questions everyone keeps asking me after learning of the end of InnerMission (my primary job responsibility for the last three years and two months) is, “Did you get emotional or sad?” Being a very open and transparent person, not to mention ridiculously emotional (…yes…I cried in the movie Kindergarten Cop. Back off, I was planning on being a teacher at the time) I expected to be a little emotional. However, I wasn’t sad at all. Originally I thought it was a case of “senior-itis” but this morning I had a breakthrough on the subject.
This is going to sound like a “Sunday School” answer but I honestly believe I’m so okay about the transition is because God has allowed me to keep my heart and mind focused around the truth that this ministry is His. The fact that He chose to use me in this role for the last few years is still a huge honor. I want to be exactly where God is moving. Not where He was. I believe that we are following God as He seeks out the hearts of Middle School students in whatever forum and method He decides to use.
So what’s next? I’m not sure but I’m looking forward to the future of North Point Middle School. I’m still grateful to be here. I can’t believe that I get to continue serving Jesus and introduce Him to students for the first time. Thank you God!!
MAJOR DISCLAIMER!!!! The following is just something I have been thinking about and trying to find a peace point on. It in no way represents the views, opinions or policies of North Point Community Church, North Point Ministries, my family or friends. Again, I am thinking about these ideas and would love to have some educated feedback.
Anita and I recently went to see “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.” Please don’t judge to quickly. This doesn’t say a lot for my Spiritual depth but I am able to watch or listen to something without my faith turning me into a raging legalist. I however do not recommend the movie. The movie’s comedy is a bit rude and vulgar apart from the homosexual themes. Adam Sandler’s character plays the typical “single male” and all that comes with it.
After watching the movie where the Christian perspective is represented with some very rude and self-righteous characters I started wondering if I should be offended. I decided that I couldn’t be. The truth is that stereotypes exist because a large enough number of a group have represented themselves as the stereotype shows.
Another point of my self-discussion is from a statistic I heard on Mark Driscoll’s blog. The divorce rate for Christians is almost the same as non-Christians. On top of that, the divorce rate for Pastors is also the same, around fifty percent. Here’s where I feel I may be getting a bit controversial.
If we as Christians and as Pastors (as a group) can’t keep the Scriptural-sanctity of marriage, what place do we have to tell others that they shouldn’t be afforded the opportunity to be married? I’m not arguing the Biblical model of marriage. I believe that marriage is a God-designed institution between a Christian man and a Christian woman. What I’m asking is why we (as a group) preach at others about the purity of marriage yet continue to demolish our own marriages with immorality, lack of mercy and work schedules.
I don’t have a decided ideal on this. I just think that Christians as a general group, and I have been as big a contributor to the problem as anyone, have picked and chosen certain topics to get all fired up and vocal about while ignoring the issues that we face. I would love to have some dialogue on this subject.
I have health insurance, dental insurance, car insurance, home owner’s insurance, road-side assistance, two types of life insurance, lawn treatment service, pest control service and today I had a termite inspection and am considering what type of termite service is best for us. Granted, some of these items are non-negotiable and some I never actually have to write a check for.
I started thinking about the money that would be available if I eliminated some of these expenses. However, I didn’t spend a lot of time considering that new income because I immediately thought about the consequences if something happened in any of those situations. Okay maybe it wouldn’t be catastrophic if I had weeds in the lawn. But the fact remains that I spend a lot of money in order to avoid paying a tremendous amount more.
I started wondering about that principle in relation to other areas of life. How much time are we saving by speeding yet risking the hour long conversation and the money it will cost in the event we’re pulled over. How many hours do we spend working to provide for our family and many times alienate them? The list goes on, gym membership versus major operations later on in life.
We all say at one time or another that we don’t have time or money or margin to do things to better our situations or improve ourselves. There are areas of life where if we take the time or necessary measures we can have better opportunities, quality of life, or relationships with our family. Take some time to evaluate where the majority your time and money is spent. You’ll find out what those who are closest to you feel is most important to you.
This weekend marks the final Sunday of InnerMission. Over the last three and a half years my primary responsibility has been to direct and implement our Sunday morning environment for sixth grade students. About six to nine months ago we decided to dissolve InnerMission and absorb the sixth graders back into Xtreme with the seventh and eighth graders. There have many discussions, disagreements and opinions with this change. The idea I keep coming back around to is something I believe is very unique in church circles. We are able to dissolve a major ministry environment because our leadership at North Point has cultivated a culture that says, “There are no golden calves.” That means that no program or ministry environment is SO important that it can’t be critiqued, adjusted or even dissolved. In other words, the message is the most important thing, not the method.
You would think that with the elimination of 90% of my job I would be nervous about my future. As we went through the discussions about InnerMission’s future, I was surprisingly on board with dissolution. God gave me a peace about this decision. I’ve always tried to operate and perform on a God-approval system rather than job security. My tenure in Mullins, South Carolina, gives plenty of support to that statement. Even now as my job responsibility list sits blank, I am confident that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. On top of that, my coworkers and leadership have encouraged me that I am still needed.
I know InnerMission has been an effective tool over the last three years and there is a bit of sadness as we close out but I am so excited to see what lies ahead. I can’t wait to blaze new trails and push through to find new ways to engage students with the message of Christ. As this door closes, I feel like God is opening a ginormous warehouse door to a dark room full of ideas and opportunities we’ve never considered or dreamed existed. I’m glad I have the chance to boldly walk in and figure it all out. Here goes nothing!
I’ve had a thought running through my mind since my glass shattering experience on vacation last week. I was thinking about the amount of tension and stress the hydraulic had to have been putting on the sheet of glass in order for it to shatter like it did. (Reminder: our Ford Explorer’s back hatch broke last week resulting in the complete destruction of the back window) It took a good ten to fifteen minutes to break. During that time, an incredible amount of tension was continually building.
This made me think about the way tension builds up in my heart and mind. We all have certain people or circumstances that cause tension in our lives. I’m sure I’ve been a great contributor to many people in my life. The question is, how is that tension relieved or released? One way or another it has to happen. Just like the glass on my truck. If I didn’t fix the problem, the glass would break under the pressure.
We have the same problem. If we don’t find a healthy way of releasing the tension in our lives the tension will find it’s way out. That usually leads to pain or broken relationships. For me, exercise and sports is a tension release. For others meditation or reading does the trick. It looks different for all of us but we need to take some time and find a way for God to calm our spirit. Finding the avenue to release tension in your life may take some time but for the sake of your health and for the people in your life, it’s time to figure it out.
I feel like I just did a PSA or something but I really do believe this could help some people. So for now…”the more you know” (ding da do…that was supposed to be the NBC chime.)
We’re home once again and might I say that my “trash bag back window” held up splendidly. For a reminder, our back window on the Explorer shattered while Anita and I were down in Florida last week. We ran into some unpleasant weather around Columbus, Georgia, but the makeshift window kept the rain out and didn’t fly off during the drive.
When I got home Savannah Grace ran out and greeted me. If it’s possible, my daughters have gotten even more beautiful. I know they’re pretty and I know I have a father’s bias, but my daughters are gorgeous. I am going to be such a tough dad to impress. Let me apologize in advance to my sons-in-law for what I am going to put them through.
This morning we are headed to the Ford dealership to put the Explorer in the shop. So far everything should be covered under a recall and Chris and Edgar have graciously agreed to let us use their pickup while our vehicle is out of commission. Thanks again to Chris and Mom for taking care of the girls.
Anita and I had an incredible time on our vacation. I think this was the first time we’ve gotten away, just the two of us, since our honeymoon eight years ago. Sad, but true. I am eager to get back to work and return the week’s worth of emails piling up in my inbox. Not to mention the whiffle ball championship games on Monday afternoon. Let’s go Orange Crush.
A while back I posted about the so-called “McCart Curse.” Well today would give another example for the legitimacy of this legend. I’ve kind of been waiting on something to happen while Anita and I are down here in Watercolor. You see, my track record for visiting this part of the world is not good.
Back in 2003 I came down to PCB as part of a worship band at Centri-Break. My newly acquired 1997 Red Rodeo’s alternator died. In fact, the replacement alternator died before I could come home. Not to mention that the second replacement alternator died once I got back to Mullins, South Carolina.
A couple of weeks later, I brought my students down for a Spring Break getaway. My good friends Randy and Jennifer graciously agreed to pull our luggage trailer down. About an hour away from our destination on the way down, Randy’s battery light came on. His alternator was dying. After spending the week putting in a replacement, his car let us know it wasn’t going to make it back home. I had to leave them behind to get their car fixed. It was one of the toughest moments I’ve ever experienced as a Student Pastor. There’s just something painful about leaving someone behind and being unable to help.
In 2004, Anita, Savannah Grace and I came down here for a little vacation. On our way to dinner one evening, we picked up a nail in one of our tires. Minor and easily fixed, but still an issue.
Today Anita and I loaded up to go to the driving range. What a woman! Beach, tennis, movies AND she was going to go the driving range with me!! I noticed the “door ajar” light on and checked the back hatch on the Explorer. When I went to close the door the hinge on top shot off and the hydraulic lift expanded. We tried to get the hinge back on and then finally called the dealership. As Anita was on the phone, the glass shattered. Yep, shattered. So we’re down here with a busted back windshield headed out to dinner with trash bags and white duct tape covering the hole.
Our plan is to come home a day early and try to get this thing in the shop. Pray that the weather is good to us on our drive. We’re hopeful that all the damage will be covered on a recall we found online for our Explorer but you never know. It just seems like “It’s always something.”
Anita and I were able to sit on the beach and watch the sunset the other day. Last night we were sitting at the pool reading as the sun set. Every time I see a sunset I can’t help but think of something someone told me about them, scientifically speaking that is.
I was told, and I’m sure you’ve all heard this as well, that the reason the sunset is so beautiful is mostly because of the pollution in the air. Different types of air quality found in our atmosphere cause the brilliant colors in the sky. I haven’t done any research on this but it did make me reflect on something. How could trash, pollution, impurity cause something to be more beautiful? I believe that’s what makes Christ so incredibly beautiful.
Yes, as God alone He is incredible. But the fact that He took on our sin, our transgressions, our pollution made His love for us all the more beautiful. That is why the cross is so important. Not just the sacrifice of His life, but the transfer of consequence. Steve Fee has an incredible song on his latest album called “Beautiful the Blood.” He captures the heart of what I’m trying to express. Though beaten and abandoned, Jesus took our sin as His own and gave us a chance to be loved. I’m doing all I can to avoid using the corny “Lifeway” phrase that’s running through my head right now. (still being deprogrammed a bit….oh alright it’s ‘Son-sets are beautiful.’)
Anyway, I just wanted to pass on that thought in the event you’re able to see a sunset in the near future. They say that the dirtier the air the more beautiful the sunset. How appropriate for us.
Wow! Vacation is amazing when it’s done right. I can’t thank Chris and Billie enough for watching the girls this week. I also have to thank our good friends who made it possible for us to get away to this amazing place. And while I’m thanking people…thank you to my amazing church, gracious bosses, and incredible team for allowing me to be gone.
Anita and I are having a great time. We’ve gone to a movie, hit the beach twice, enjoyed BOTH pools, walked the shops at Seaside, ridden bikes and played tennis. Not to mention the naps, sleeping in and renting a couple of movies. We have not changed any diapers, sent anyone to timeout, watched Baby Einstein/Georgia Public Broadcasting/Barbie movies/ or anything made by or for Disney. I’m sure I’ll be sufficiently sunburned by weeks end.
We have plans to go to dinner one night and go golfing later on this week. I can’t believe God has actually given us this opportunity. After the last few years of parenting and adjusting to Georgia, Anita and I really needed some time to enjoy the great marriage God put together a little over eight years ago. Thank you SO much!
I’m sitting here tonight going through some of my usual Saturday night activities. For some reason I prepare for Sundays in a very different and unusual way than most communicators or pastors. I look over my talk scripture, re-read the summarizing paragraph about my talk for our small group leaders. One of the other traditions I have is cleaning up all the toys in the living room and then sitting down and reading some blogs.
Tonight I’ve run across two very interesting items. One is a “blog addiction” measuring site. I believe it measures addiction to other things like myspace as well. Apparently I’m 74% addicted to blogging. I really didn’t think I would rank that high. Quite sad when you think of it.
The other is a pastor out in Washington State. Mark Driscoll has an incredible series of vlogs (that’s video blogs for those who fall below the 74% line). The title is “Death by Ministry.” Catchy of course but in the infamous words of Homer Simpson, “it’s funny because it’s true.” This series has some incredible thoughts on how to avoid the said “Death by Ministry.” This strikes a chord in my heart being that this is one of my soapboxes in life. While serving on a previous church staff, I was even “asked to pursue employment elsewhere” because of my unwillingness to “cheat on my family.”
Back in 2001 I believe, I heard my now pastor Andy Stanley speak for the first time. The title of the talk aimed to an audience of some 5,000 youth workers at the Youth Specialties conference was “Choosing To Cheat.” This talk, which started as a sermon at North Point Community Church before I attended or was on staff, simply stated, “there isn’t enough time to get everything done. You are either cheating on your job or cheating on your family.” Anyone who’s spent any time in ministry will attest to the fact that the majority of ministers are cheating their families. Check out Mark’s thoughts and if you don’t have Andy’s book, buy it here.
For now I’ll have to cut myself off. I could go on and on about this subject. What’s really on my mind is the vacation Anita and I are going on tomorrow after church. I’m all packed up and ready to get out of town. I have no idea how much blogging I’ll be doing while I’m gone. For the sake of my marriage and my soapbox, let’s hope I’m not blogging much at all.