Busy Day

6:00 Out the Door
7:30 Toledo Hospital Heart Transplant for Friend from church... delayed until 9:50
10:00 Hang out with the other church friends visiting
10:30 Leave St. V's
11:30 Meet with Friend Dave C. for lunch
1:15 Meet with Youth Worker/Friend Mary to discuss youth, etc.
2:30 Begin hour long phone conversation with youth worker/friend
3:30 Discourgaing Conversation with friend
4:00-7:00 Staring at computer, trying to type something creative, returning calls, doing "busy work", totally drained from day full of constant go, discouraged from last encounter, quite sad

7:00 Phone conversation with that friend
7:30 Dinner date with KELLY!
Good Day

The only problem... I think that 13 hour work days are retarded. That is lost time. I don't get time and a half. I don't get comp time. I can work 7 thirtenn hour days in one week and no one would notice the difference. There is always something that still needs to be done, someone who could use a call, one more thing to write, print or copy.

I had gotten really good at going home at a decent time and respecting my family time, but I have had three of these days in two week, not to mention one weekend retreat, one overnight meeting and now a three day class next week.

Perhaps this is not simple stuff.
Perhaps this is not simple enough.
Perhaps my community gets discouraged from me being gone so much.
Perhaps my wife gets discouraged by the same thing.
Perhaps I need to think about this a little more and act on it a lot more.
Perhaps the hard part its what to give up
Perhaps it is simply returnig to the discipline of in early and out on time.

We both want me to finish my Master's now, before the adundance of kids comes our way, so we will press on. I must relearn the balance...

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The Sermon

It has been a couple of weeks since the sermon, but that isn't due to shock or embarrassment. It is due to the demands of time.

The message of the day was simple... we are called into a LOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. The difficult/scary/nerve-wracking/peaceful in a wired sort of way thing was that the way this was delivered in the two services was similar in nature, but radically different in not only where we ended up, but how we got there.

The best way to summarize what the Lord did is this... after the first service I was approached by several people who shared some way that the message had touched them. The interesting thing is that what they shared was vastly different. . The first service definitely headed toward a call to the love Jesus and love HIS BODY. I talked a lot about my adopted Grandma Dorothy who passed away that week and how she totally, radically changed my life... simply through her love relationship with Christ that radiated from her. I ended up talking about about mentoring and modeling a lot, but mostly about how our love for Jesus should be so evident that anyone and everyone in our church should be able to see it.

The second service the same thing happened. The sermon clearly took a different path and a different emphasis at the end, but it was very similar in the focus on loving Jesus. In fact that is what it was all about. Can others see that you are clearly utterly in love with Jesus? ... the way I saw it in Grandma Dorothy? The same reaction occurred, lots of conversations afterwards, sharing lots of different ways the message spoke to them.

Now I know that this happens in every sermon. Different folks get different things out of it, but this really was way more drastic and way different than that. It felt to me as if Jesus came into that place and guided my words even more than He ever had before. It felt as if He walked through our church family and sat down beside each person and shared some time with them. It was as if He personally invited each person into a deeper, more intimate, more sincere, more obvious love relationship with Him. It was as if He Was There!

I have seen people cry in a sermon before, but never like this. A few people commented on the same thing, that they had never seen such a large amount a congregation moved in that way. Young adults, senior adults, teens and all those in between... there were so many in tears. I promise that the only explanation I could come to was that Jesus was there in a very real way and when we encounter our Christ in that intimate of a setting it moves us. The words of the sermon disappear and face of Jesus takes center stage as He draws us into his arms.

I'm sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense. It is late. I played too much basketball tonight, so I am a little dizzy right now, but I wanted to get this out, to share some thoughts on that sermon, to stop leaving you hanging from my last post.

The Lord really stretched me through this. It was so amazing to me how the use of my gift broke me, stretched me and molded me, while He used it to do the same in others. I was really broken and stretched during that week, even that morning I felt tense when I awoke and realized He was actually sending me up to the pulpit with what He had given me and no more. This journey with Jesus really stretches me so many times, but He knows that when He doesn't do that I get lazy, so I guess I will trust Him, and journey on.

I love Jesus...
but I want to be In Love with Him so much more.
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A Little Hesitation... a little

I preach in the morning and this has been the most difficult sermon preparation I have ever had. I never felt a huge inspiration, an overpowering spirit, an ah-ha. I spent almost all day Thursday and Friday reading most of Paul's letters, some of the Gospels and a alot of other Scripture just waiting for something to jump out at me and .... nothing.

Finally a friend said, "Maybe the reason He hasn't give you a sermon yet, is because there isn't supposed to be a sermon on Sunday." ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?

If I am honest, which I think I am, Sundays without sermons have always been my favorite, whether it is a kid's program or the Spirit intervening, it is just nerve racking to think that the Lord would be clearning the way for that, by putting me in an awkward predicament. I mean, what if the tithes and offering was collected, I approached the pulpit and then.... nothing... no supernatural presence... no instantaneous inspired sermon... nothing.

To make the long... shorter... I finally surrender through another 1/2 hour of lights off, music playing, face-down prayer to do whatever the Lord wanted.

Then tonight he gave me something. It doesn't feel like normal. It doesn't feel as clean cut, definitely not as "deep", actually really simple, but it feels REALLY right and a little scary, because once again... He has to move, since it will really suck if it simply my words.

I trust Him, but I guess the point is that the purpose isn't to make me look good. It is for lives to be impacted for the Kingdom. That could happen through me sounding, looking, seeming really stupid tomorrow. The question is then, am I ok with that?

I think so.
I hope so, because I have a feeling that it might be just what happens in some way.

My only comfort, Mary and Joseph were in the same boat. I bet most people thought they were a bit crazy spouting off that they were the proud parents of God. I bet that for many of those folks that never was resolved. They always thought the Joesph & Mary clan was a little off, and their Son was a little crazy. But, they followed the Lord's will anyway.

So will I, whatever that will may be.
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Dorothy Williams : Hero

One of my heroes in the faith passed away last night, Dorothy Williams. The one lady (other than my mother) who I think has prayed for me the most... every day for 17 years or so, usually 3 times a day, as she told me countless times. She was my adopted grandmother in my church's Adopted Grandparents program when I was in fifth grade or so, and we never let one another go. She taught me about pray, the Holy Spirit, a joyous spirit amidst hard times, angels, demons, the reality of the spirit realm, simply faith, love and life as a Christ follower. I bought her cheezy Christmas gifts, called her with questions about my faith, escorted her down stairs and out to her car each week at church and hugged her every chance I got.

She was at least 50+ years my elder and proved to me that no one should ever "retire" in the church, because they can always have an impact. She changed my life and set the example for much of my faith.

Grandma Dorothy,
I am little nervous to be without your prayers.
I am a little intimidated to not have you around for advice.
I am extremely happy that you are finally not in pain.
I am excited that you can see clearly once again.
I am overjoyed that you are sitting at the feet or your Savior, gazing upon Your Best Friend, worshipping Our Lord.

Thank You.
I love you.
I'll miss you.
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Beer & Bull. Version 2.72.2005.F

Tonight was awesome. Kelly and I, Benji and Sarah, Dave and Kathy C. and Jeff C. gathered together at Dave and Kathy's home for our version of "Beer and Bull".

On Sunday night we had a family service and there was an awesome spirit there. We actually had an open forum on what a church would look like if it were more communitycentric and less programcentric. This led to a great time of discussion and ended with a laughable, but extremely interactive intergenerational game. These once a month family services have been fun, but this one was special. It was the best yet. The spirit in there was so good, so communal, so family-oriented, so natural that probably 75% of the 100 some folks there stayed for at least 45 minutes afterwards fellowshipping. It was amazing. It was a celebration. It was new for us.

Dave came up and asked me if we were going to get together for Beer & Bull soon, and we said this week. We decided on a day with Benji and Sarah and then asked the Coles to join us. I was really anticipating this gathering and it was all I thought it would be. Dave and Jeff have so much wisdom. Benji, Sarah, Kelly and I have so many questions and opinions. It led to a fun discussion that went everywhere. Ex:

How does the Old Covenant apply to our lives?
If "children are a blessing", then should we use birth control, or is that a sign that we only want so much of a blessing?
Are we open to allowing the Holy Spirit to do anything it says he can do in Scripture, or do we limit Him?
Is gambling ok? (popular question from my teens lately)
Is the modern-day church making the same mistake as the Jews of Jesus' time made, by creating extra-biblical laws and judging other by them?
Should the focus of the church be to reach others or to BE GOD's People, to simply be His Body?
If we are truly His Body, wouldn't that be enough to draw others to Him?
If our churches were smaller (25-50) would it be more natural for the New Testament church to be alive in our midst?
What are the benefits of true community to the believer?
What sacrifices would have to be made in our lives for Real Community?
And so much more...

The radical thing is that we were on all sides of these issues, in and out of Scripture; stating our opinions, citing references, rebutting someone else, but it was so natural, so comfortable, so communal. We were living out the very thing we were discussing a lot of the time. We were entering into each other's personal space, taking of our masks and sharing the beat of our hearts.

I was challenged so much. I was taught so much. I shared too much probably. I learned a bit. I have a lot more to learn. This was one of the most challenging few hours I have had in a long time. The Spirit was so gentle, even when I was dead wrong. New insights were revealed to me with clarity and Scripture.

I hope it was just the beginning. A friend of mine said, so the Guys will call it Beer and Bull, the girls will call in Wine and Wisdom and in public you can call it Coffee and Conversation. For those of you who are wondering... the latter is what it truly was.
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An Erased Entry

I just journaled on here for an half hour about he past year.
I talked about how hard this year has been, and yet how rewarding it has been. I talked about lessons learned from the community of believers that we eat with almost every night. I talked about the transition I am in the midst of and the millions of questions that beckon for my attention. I was more vulnerable than I have ever been.
I tried to check the spelling.
It erased it all.

That really hurt.

It really did.

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