My Routine

I preached today. Whenever I preach I tend to have a routine for preparation.
1) Start asking the Lord sometime that week what in the world He is going to have me preach on.
2) Something is revealed to my through Scripture and often through a conversation with someone else.
3) I set a slot of time aside (preferably 5-8 hours) and get away. This time is usually a lot of fun. If it is later in the week (Friday or Saturday, which is often is) then I get a bit nervous and pressured while I am preparing, but I am usually calm. I typically go to either a coffee house or a library. While I am there I give myself breaks every hour or so to check e-mail, go to espn, call someone... basically anything. This time is always alone though.
4) If this time is cut short (3-4 hours) I will go out one more time for 2-3 hours alone.
5) When it is finished I print it and then go through it with Kelly, usually this is Saturday night. This is actually quite funny. I would never do this part of the process in front of anyone else, because it is basically me practicing my sermon, without the calming presence and power from the Lord I feel come over me when I am actually preaching. I am wound up when we do this. I am moving all over the room. I say things like, "Uhmmm...sooo...then I will probably say something about such and such and then... well, I'll just do it... listen". I laugh non-stop. I say, "this part is probably stupid alot." I basically just a big goofball who doesn't know what to do with himself.
6) After I get through it we talk about it. She gives some awesome insight and helps me see where it wasn't connecting, and how it could a little better. She let me know which parts seem long, or more likely, parts that could go long because of the potential for story telling... which I love. Her feedback is so comforting, so helpful and so fun. It is probably my favorite part of the prep. I think we both look forward to it.
7) The final phase is putting the finishing touches/reviewing it that night in lieu of my time with Kelly. I usually take the five pages and condense them to an outline of 2 pages, so that I can simply look at my notes on my way past the pulpit.
8) The morning over I review my printed outline a lot; during tithes and offering or a special, etc. I am on that edge of excited and nervous the entire time.
9) Finally, when the time is coming close a calm comes over me. I am excited to share, but not nervous in the least. I continually ask the Lord to take my words out of the equation and make it only his words. I can actually sense the power of the Holy Spirit filling me as the time comes.
10) I always surrender the sermon to God in prayer before I begin and then off we go.

I wrote this more for me than anything else. It is fun to sit back and see how it all cycles through. I never planned it, it isn't scripted, but this is generally how it works every time I am asked to preach. It is a bit different or camps/retreats/etc.

It was fun preaching today. I could really sense the Lord close. I could sense His Spirit releasing power as we got deeper into the Word. It feels bad or wrong to say that, like I am somehow exhalting myself or being cocky, but I don't mean it that way at all. I could just really feel HIS POWER and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it wasn't my message, my words or my power. It was His time, and he allows me for some crazy reason to be one of His messengers at times. I am honored for the privilege. I struggle with the responsibility. I usually feel unworthy of the call, but I surrender, I seek, I serve, and sometimes that means I preach, but I refuse to ever do it without HIM!
Read more

I have thought I added comment to this blog numerous times, but they never start showing up as an option. I am going to post this simply to check it out on this third or fourth attempt to do so. I am so out of it, and so unblogcool aren't I. I know that is what you are thinking!
Read more
Beer & Bull

I was writing on Kevin P's blog last night and shared some stuff I should have put on here, so I thought I would:

I have been meeting with a mentor/friend in my church lately on Tuesday mornings. It has been an enourmous blessing on my life. I look up to Him so much, he challenges me so much, but it feels like I am sitting down with one of the guys from our apartment in college. It is relaxed, amusing, sometimes hilarious, often really challenging, but in a shared way.

I told him about Beer and Bull a couple of weeks ago. He came back last week and said, "I talked to my wife about it and we think you need to start it!" He mentioned it three times before we left. I think he is serious. It struck a cord in him and his wife. The cool thing is that Kelly and I pretty much do that every night as it is, but his response showed me that we need to share the depths of it more, and not just the food. Folks are hungering for that interaction. I am hungering for that interaction.

Our dinner group is still meeting every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. We still invite other over and have actually had more guest in the past few week than we had in a while, but something is missing. I feel the need to share more, to lay more on the table, to share more Scripture, lessons learned and struggles experienced. I feel we have been a little unintentionally guarded lately, because we don't want to be negative or whiney and some of our community is hurting a little bit. I feel that when others join us they would want in on that... the soul bearing. I met with a good brother today and he shared those very sentiments with me, the longing for intimacy and brotherhood.

Beer and Bull is something my apartment did every week for a while in college. On Tuesday night, I think between 10 or 11 we would meet and do whatever together. Sometimes we met earlier and went to Columbus for Skyline Chili and a Movie. Sometimes we talked about deep, hard to share stuff, sometimes we talked about what the Lord was doing, sometimes we talked about whoever didn't make it that night. The constants were two things: 1) IBC Cream Soda 2) Great conversations. We covered every topic imaginable during those times, from silly to sad to sadistic (not too much of that). It was an awesome time of brotherhood and bonding that I have always cherished and often longed for since. The idea is from a bunch of Bostonians I think from the 1800's who used to do it... only at a pub with the real brew. I think the likes of Benjamin Franklin, George Whitfield and some other names some/most of your would know. I will research that little and post it on here sometimes.

Everyone needs a little Beer and Bull in their life. Time to relax. Time to listen. Time to share. Time to hear. Time to Be.

Our church is actually moving in that direction full steam ahead with our small groups... although I think that they will avoid the name :-)
One group has already made the switch. Others have been encouraged to do so. We want to focus more of our teaching during the Sunday School hour and leave the small group time for fellowship, sharing, hearing and living life together, with our neighbors, family and friends. We want it to be open to anyone and comfortable for everyone. We will see how it goes, but the release has happened and the small groups are free to transition from lesson based to community based at will. Sounds like a great movement for our church, especially for me. We will see. Wow! The Lord is doing some cool things.
Read more

About 2 months ago I misplaced my journal. Although I record some of my thoughts on here I had been relying pretty heavily on that little leather bound beauty for a quite some time. It kind of sucked the desire to share right out of me. I hate the thought of my more intimate thoughts floating around out there somewhere. I have only sort of dabbled in blogging compared to many of my devoted blogging friends, and reserve that next level of soul-bearing for the written page. I actually really want to open up more on here, bear more, share more, be more consitent. I think it is a great way to share with those we love about the things we love... and hate... and are indifferent to. I think that I always feel a pressure to write a lot or write all of what I am thinking, so then I rarely write anything. I couldn't possible catch you all up on the past 2 months, but I will begin to write a little by a little.

I really want to share my cup. I guess I just have a few inhibitions. So, I must make some blogging declarations for myself. I will cast aside my fears. I will promise to blog at least once every month, and then if/when I blog more I will feel like an overacheiver. I will not be afraid to post something that sounds stupid or isn't well-thought through or is too risky. I won't feel that writing two sentences isn't enough to log on. I will share the high lights and the low lights.... and if I live up to at least half of this I will give my blog out to a couple more of my friends and truly begin this blogging adventure with them and their friends.

We'll see.
Read more