I am coming off a nine week stretch where I was out-of-town for a couple of days for four of those weeks. To some, that sounds exciting. Seeing new places, staying in a new environment, experiencing new opportunities and meeting new people who I now consider friends. I readily agree – traveling has some exceptional opportunities.
As much as I enjoy all that, I am a person who is balanced by routine. Those who know me well are not shocked by this. (I have stood at the same stairwell at our church for the last nine years.) Where routine is a “rut” to some, to me it is a skeleton that keeps my life and direction pointed in the right way. Here are some routine things I do that may seem insignificant to you but are essential to me.
– Monday – Thursday:
– I spend time with God by reading the Bible, worship, prayer or meditation.
– I work out on Monday and Wednesday. I do cardio on Tuesday. Thursday is rest.
– I say “I Love You” to Kristin every morning – Usually she is asleep when I say it.
– I take the elevator up and stairs down at work.
– I will sit at the end of a table and not on a side.
– I will almost always sit opposite of Pastor Craig, not by his side.
– I will eat some protein before going to bed.
– I will read a chapter before going to bed.
– Friday – Saturday:
– I mow my own lawn and clean my own pool..
– I consider Saturday a work day and will begin thinking of services at noon.
– I will always touch the ceiling in the hallway when leaving the sanctuary.
– I stand at the same stairwell.
– I will talk about life and anything but the church for 15 min. with Pastor Craig
before weekend services.
– We have “Family Lunch” after Sunday services.
Reading through the list, even I will admit – “That’s pretty boring.” Yet, when I travel, this stuff get’s messed up. I enjoy new things. My friend, David, once described himself as a “Finder.” He loved searching and “finding” new things. I am like that as well. I love history and stories of people. Adrenaline junkies are cool but those who have plotted a life of merit by being faithful and consistent in their passion and beliefs are amazing to me. It is mixing the routine and the new that makes life exciting and rich.
If my routine gives me a foundation for embracing the new, then I am going to stick with it. In the end, most of us are going to be remembered for one or two things. (Hopefully, I won’t be remembered for a set of stairs.) I do want to be remembered for loving God and loving people. That’s a routine that never gets old.
This is Hunter – We ate PB& J together when he was two. Now, he has a better beard than I do. One of the many amazing 2015 graduates.
I am older than I was.
Somedays, it is hard to believe that Kristin and I came down to Tampa with our children to a little church over twenty years ago. So many people have come into our lives via Grace Family Church. In the last few years, I am seeing children who were in my children’s ministry growing up.
This year, it seems that so many of them are graduating from high school. These are great young men and women. They are not perfect but they are leaders. They believe in God and his purposes for their lives. Yet, graduation day is far from a day of completion. Instead, they are being thrust into new worlds – college, employment, their own housing and more responsibility than ever before. How will they do? I am confident they will do great. They will make their mistakes but I know they will hit more home runs. They will have questions but they will find answers. They will feel the pain of being away from home, but they will not walk alone.
Today, is graduation day for all of us. Where you are today is not where you were a month ago. You graduated and took a step forward…or maybe you took a step back. Either way, you didn’t stay in the same spot. I am moving forward. I want to continue on the path he Lord sets before me like these graduates. Today, I face new situations, questions, responsibilities and pain. Do I have any more assurances than they do that everything will be “perfect?” Far from it. I am reminded more than ever, that I am in places, situations and decisions like I have never been before. Some are amazingly positive, some are difficult challenges. Where is my hope? My hope is in the Lord – that I will know his presence and follow him
Graduation marks a new beginning…today is your new beginning. What are you going to do with it?
Today, I was reminded many times that I am not the expert in everything in my life. Yet, I am still looked upon to deliver a good direction of leadership and point the ship in the best direction for my team and church.
I have discovered the need for some people to be the expert – to know all the answers and have the plan that everyone needs to follow. I don’t feel that pressure in everything. In fact, I sometimes relish the fact that I truly do not have a clear answer and that I need to go find the best answer possible. For example, today in my men’s group we discussed Romans 6:1, 2. It says, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” This is such a tremendous scripture and it is packed with so many aspects of relationship with God. At some point in the conversation, because I am a pastor and the facilitator of the group, the heads turn to me for the answer to the question. I know my interpretation and what I believe, but I want them to know what they believe. What are they willing to own out of the scripture and base their “God journey” on each day. My kids will tell you, I say all the time, “You have to own it.” Therefore, I cannot be the expert in your life and you just follow along. You have to take in wisdom from trusted leaders and your own discovery, combining them to form your own “expert opinion.”
Later in the day, I had a very good example of this. I sat in a two-hour architectural building meeting for our new campus. I marvelled at the experts around the table. The group included all the people needed to make sure we developed a building and campus that would meet all the needs of our church. As the questions developed, someone had an answer for each one. And if we didn’t have an answer, someone took the lead to get more information so we could make a strong decision. Even the architect, who drew all the plans and renderings, asked questions because some of the men around the table understood the construction process or building codes better. It was tiresome but in the end, the results pointed to a tremendous surge in action in the right direction.
If I had to be the expert in all these areas, we would be in big trouble. Why would I try to do that in all the areas of my life. Honestly, I enjoy the journey of learning new things. The moment I relinquish my right to “know it all,” I open the door for others to pour into my life. Then, I am empowered. Empowered to take it all in, throw out the “sticks,” and own what I am willing to firmly believe.
I am writing this because I have been challenged enough by my wife, family and friends to write…again. They have heard me talk about “books” that are in me – short stories, quotes, life nuggets and just good, old fashioned wisdom moments that have made me think…again. I want to impact more than those I see everyday…again. I want to talk about a loving God, who cares deeply about where you live each day – the joys, struggles, victories and pains…again. I am not an evangelist, but I am sold out to live for Christ where people have no doubt whom my core is centered upon…again.
So, I am starting another writing project…again.
A Day in the Life of a Pastor…if you ever wondered what a pastor’s life is like, you might want to read it. If you are looking for a “perfect world,” you might want to look elsewhere. But if you want to see the the journey of being a husband, dad, grand dad, leader, mentor, pastor and mind blower…read on. And for some of you, you might begin to see the “hope in the journey”…again.
That question changed my life for the next 72 hours. Kristin asked me to finish our morning long task of weeding, pulling down vines and cutting down limbs from our back yard. The little pile got me when a palmetto branch stuck my into my eyeball. It was pretty painful. After finishing the last bit of work, Kristin took me to the doctor’s office and it was not good. The penetration scratched the eyeball and made it feel like sandpaper every time I opened it. Doc put some antibiotics in the eye and said it heals quickly but I will have to keep the patch on it for a day. It ended up being a two and a half day journey like I haven’t experienced before.
Here are some random thoughts from the journey:
– It is hard to keep one eye open when one is closed.
– I am not sure if I am awake when both eyes are closed.
– I was worn out from trying to keep one eye opened – too much light, to much focusing.
– I had to hold my patched eye closed to see clearly.
– The sound of rain without sight is amazing!
– I can get around my house with my eyes closed really well – the benefit of waking up at 4am almost every day.
– I love listening to my wife talk with my eyes closed.
– I know the dog was giving me funny looks the whole time.
– Weird being driven around without site – scary every time someone brakes.
– What a joy to see my family without blurry vision.
I was blessed to experience temporary blindness. I spent just as much time with my eyes closed as I did with one eye open. I see things in a new way!
Doctor Cromer has been my doctor and great friend for over 16 yrs. We laugh a lot!
I was the kid who wanted to go back to school after a Christmas holiday.
People scoffed then…you are probably scoffing now.
I understand that most people will verbalize how they dread getting back into a new year of work or schooling. I relish it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time off – spent lots of time with family, doing things around the house, reading and playing. But there always is a “draw” back to the part of my life that challenges me. I find that in my work.
Let me ramble off a couple of reason’s why. I like the structure it brings. It causes me to get into a routine time of waking up, spending time with God, exercising and doing things to accomplish goals. I want to do something. I have noticed on days where I just sit around, I get headaches and feel terrible. When I get moving, I don’t feel like a fish. I truly like interacting with the people I work with each day. I am so blessed that I get to work with a staff of people who are hungry to see God’s work done in the Tampa area and abroad. They work tremendously hard each day and it is humbling to work along with them. I love making an impact in my world. I am blessed that my work goes beyond writing a report or creating something for purchase. I get to help people get to know Christ – my work has eternal value. Finally, I love what I do. I have always held the axiom – “The time it is no longer fun to go to work is the time to stop.” Now, there are many days where I don’t “skip off” or come home “whistling Zippity do Da.” Work is still work. However, I love the vision and people of Grace. I still get charged seeing how the God, who created the heavens and the earth, interacts with people. Amazing!
There is a song put out by Hillsong United that is burrowing into my walk with God these days. “With Everything” is an amazing song that starts slow and ends with a crescendo of praise and worship that rockets a worshipper to the presence of God.
It has great lyrics throughout the song but there is one line that is jumping out to me. “So let hope rise, darkness trembles in your Holy Light.” For some reason, this line is what God is ringing out in my heart. Before God came into the picture, there was no hope other than what I could make happen with my own gifts and talents. With God, all things are now possible because He is all knowing, all powerful and all present. 2010 was a tremendously difficult year with challenges and growth. I know I have grown in my relationship with God because where there wasn’t a whole lot of answers – there was hope. When answers did come, I can see His hand moving in hindsight. In other situations, hope continues to well up that God will show up in a big way.
The other part that jumps out is that “darkness trembles” in the present of an amazing God. No matter how bleak a situation is, I can believe that God can do something in it. I find myself saying the famous line from “Dumb and Dumber” – “So you are saying there’s a chance!” God gives me a chance when everything else says, “No way!”
Finally, I am writing this after riding 20 miles, an hour of lifting and an hour of tennis. When I got home, I felt totally spent physically. I gave as much as I could during all three legs of my workout. But did I give everything? If needed, I could do more. I think that is what God is showing me these days – there is more I can give, there is more to do. I actually commented to my tennis partner – “I love the feeling of being drained physically, it tells me that I worked hard.” I want that in my spiritual walk. I want to impact the people and world that God gives me with the very best that I have (and all that I have, as well.)
What is it like to lay it all on the line for God…are you ready to give Him everything?
As a bonus, this is our IO band singing this amazing song.
In a day and age where we are compelled to do more, see more, be better informed, learn faster, achieve higher results, it is hard to believe how loud silence really is. Truth is, silence is uncomfortably loud. There is a greater comfort in being on the go and doing than there is in sitting in silence. As I continue to grow, I am finding the importance of allowing silence to be a bigger part of my life.
Why do I make silence a crucial part of my life?
I don’t know everything and the only way I am going to continue to learn is by listening more and talking less. This can be as simple as enjoying someone share their insights or even just sitting silently and letting God unpack his thoughts to me. Also, I need to enjoy the solitude of taking in my surroundings. Recently, this has become a great sense of enjoyment. For example, my three children are in their late teens and early 20’s. To watch them do life – everything from finding the cheapest gas, the newest song out, or even playing a board game until the early morning hours, they are making their strides into adulthood in a cool way. I also find environments fun to watch – supermarkets, church, airports, gyms, even Home Depot allows people to be amazing. Finally, I need to recalibrate more. There are times where I need to get alone, stare at an ocean, a forest or some open space and get away from my world. When I do, it resets my mind. I enjoy musing over a teaching, my day or even a challenging situation in a silent time. I am continually amazed what a few minutes out of the stream of life will do to foster a new sense of creativity and renewal.
Silence is loud…it sets the environment for my ears, eyes and heart to reopen. In a life that is barreling ahead with many people, noises and responsibilities, silence can be one of the loudest of all.
“What would you do if you had a blank whiteboard and you…?”
That is one of my favorite questions to ask a person. So many times, you feel like you are imprisoned by the situation, people or even the culture of your world. Whether it is taking on a new responsibility or role, it always brings a fresh perspective when you takes it down to the bare essentials. It causes you to clarify what is most important. It forces you to develop a strategy to bring those pieces into play and even how they will work together.
“But, what if I can’t change the situation as it is?”
Great question! The answer is “you already have!” When you begin to think from a different perspective, you actually already changed the dynamic of the situation. Stay there a while – you will be surprised to see all the new ideas that will begin to flood your approach. Creativity has to be fostered. It will stagnate if you stay in the same mind set. By changing it up, you are inviting a thought process like never before.
It is January 1, 2011 (aka 1/1/11)! So let me ask you a question about you. In your life, “What would you do if you had a blank whiteboard and you…?”
Today, is the day we celebrate the life of Ezra Matthews. He lived for 800 days. Many of those days were spent in hospitals, with doctors – pushing, probing and testing his little body to see how it could beat cancer. How can a little boy who didn’t have all his teeth, fight for his life? In a world where God can do anything it doesn’t make sense.
Here is where he was the catalyst to change my life. In my journey with he and his family, God has given me a great truth to learn and lean on. On the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross, no one embraced the cross. Nobody ran to the cross and exclaimed, “This is what I have been waiting for! Salvation is coming to man today! I will be able to have a personal relationship with the God of the heavens and earth today! Thanks you for the cross! Thank you for the cross!” Instead, it was chaotic, bloody and painful. People quickly distanced themselves from Jesus and the cross.
Yet, a few weeks later, the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to speak out the message of the cross. People’s lives were changed. The movement continued and town, cities, and nations were changed. The message continued and it began to span decades, generations, cultures, eras and it is still today the most common message of hope and love.
All because of the cross…
Let that sink in for a moment. Without the cross, there is no message of Jesus Christ. The bloody, wooden tool of torture is now hung on homes, churches, cathedrals – even people’s necks and is celebrated as the symbol of relationship with God. God took the most hideous moment in the history of man and made it the most beautiful capture of his love and grace personified.
So what about Ezra? I expect God to do the same. I will not put him in a box of defeat, despair or question about Ezra’s passing. Although I wanted with all my heart to see him healed and healthy, I will set my hope on a God who will take this most difficult situation and make it a life changing experience for everyone.