Friday, March 30, 2007
Yesterday an e-mail came into my inbox that turned me upside-down. I read through the note and thought about how much time I am going to be away from my family the next week and a half from my over-extending myself. I thought I might be losing my marbles.
You see, I love worship music. I love worshipping God through music and playing with my NorthBranch worship team. I love worshipping at the Lutheran Church of Hope's Easter service and at Kingdom House of Prayer. But yesterday I forgot all of that because I was so focused on what day I might actually be free.
Our worship team from NorthBranch is leading worship tonight at Kingdom House of Prayer and I am really, really excited about it...except that 4 hours ago I didn't have a drummer. I seriously called like everyone I knew to see if they would drum for me. While everyone expressed an interest to play sometime in the future, they weren't available for this evening's worship. It gave me butterflies. What's an electric band gonna sound like without a drummer? This is no good, especially since this is our first time leading worship there.
Then I thought about my schedule the next week and some change.
Saturday: Dinner with the parents
Sunday: Lead worship at church followed by Easter practice followed by Alpha training
Monday & Tuesday: Free (Phew)
Wednesday: Easter practice
Thursday: Easter practice
Friday: Lead worship for Good Friday services
Saturday: Lead worship for Easter Vigil
Sunday: At Wells Fargo at 6 AM for Easter service and sound-check
My wife tried to talk some sense into me. I think it helped a ton she was okay with my crazy schedule and that we'd get through it together. But none of this helped me until it was bedtime with my kids. We all took our turns praying and when it got to me, I handed it over to God. I prayed for my friend walking through the mountains on his way to California...praying for our country. I prayed for my friends Mitch and Melissa Matthews and their game "Q" which was going to be featured in the paper the next day. I prayed for my friends Bill and Ronja Butler that God would pour out His favor and anointing over Thomas Lift so they can begin making apparel that glorifies Jesus. And then I prayed for a drummer and that my schedule would seem easier.
Today I got a call that we have a drummer. And I learned that it will be easier for me to get to practice this week since it's downtown where I work and not way out west.
My family came for lunch today and it put things in perspective. I got to spend some time with them and love on them. We're there for each other no matter what. And God is there for us.
Friday, March 23, 2007
My church has been focused on community this year and especially during the Lenten season. We've embarked on a 40-day journey about community that's got me thinking.
I struggle when I hear the goal for community is to do life together. It seems that all of the small group communities I've been exposed to over my Christian years do not last much longer than 2 years. And when the small group dies a slow death, I'm not sure it ends very healthy. Friendships are no longer and you fall out of touch with one another. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I just think that we go through a season of relationships throughout our lives.
There also seems to be this expectation that we're going to become the best of friends as a result of being in community with one another. I don't discount that I genuinely care and love the members of my small group, but I wouldn't say that we're at the BFF point in our lives yet. It takes a pretty special person to fill this role and truthfully looking back in life I can count on one hand the number of best friends I've had in my life. More on that later...
I wish we wouldn't sugar coat the idea of community. Maybe we just need to be straight talkers for a change and not say we're going to do life together. Maybe it makes more sense to say, "We're going to likely hang out for the next two years exploring life's questions together."
Just because I am not a presence in your daily life doesn't mean that I'm not in community with you. I think giving up a Saturday evening is pretty precious when you're living a busy life with a full schedule. And I think you can be in daily community with one another through prayer. Sure touch points are nice throughout the week but we need to remember that our ministry priority begins the home first.
And can't we be in multiple small groups? I would venture to say that I am in three: my church small group, my accountability partners I meet with weekly, and my worship team. Each one offers something different that the others don't. Along those lines, I contribute differently to each one as well. I think they each serve a need and are equally important.
Sorry this is kind of a rant, but it's been on my mind. I wanted to get it written down to remember my feelings on this particular day.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
On Monday, March 5th one of my dear friends, Craig Leaming set out on the third leg of his journey across the United States. His goal is to wlk across America (follow his journey online at www.acrosswalk.com) starting in Des Moines, IA and carrying out four separate journeys to the far edges of the US.
In the fall Craig walked from Des Moines, Iowa to New York City in about 35 days, averaging around 40 miles a day. At one point on his trip to NYC, he actually walked 73 miles while traveling through the Appalachians. This humble friend will tell you that Jesus is carrying him the entire way. I have to believe him.
After he completed his journey to NYC, he took a short break before trekking north to the Canadian border from Des Moines. He tackled this trip in about 2 weeks and had some amazing stories to share about the beauty of God's creation and the folks he met along the way.
Despite everyone's concern for the weather, Craig was faithful to his calling to leave on Monday, March 5th from Des Moines in his quest to reach the Pacific Ocean in northern California.
My family has been blessed to offer him the opportunity to call our voice mail system and I've been posting his audio journal entries to his site after he calls. Today was his first call and he's already to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Praise God! He sounds like he's in great spirits and that God is once again carrying him west.
In checking the weather, it's going to be pretty decent the next week and he should be blessed with 40-50 degree weather...perfect for walking 40 miles a day!
Now that we got all of that out of the way, I wanted to share with you what was really on my heart. You see, on Sunday before his journey, many friends and family members gathered at the Leamings to pray for them and show their support. My wife and I got there a little late as things were winding down but we were blessed to be a part of the closing prayer. I happened to stand next to one of Craig's sons, Joey who is in his mid-20s and living for God. He and his beautiful wife are actually planning on heading to Jamaica at the end of the summer on a 5-year missions journey.
As we slowly went around the circle praying for Craig and Diane, the folks he would meet, revival in the US and more, the prayer time finally reached Joey. Choking back tears, he prayed his heart out for his daddy who Joey mentioned was the perfect example of how to be a father and live faithfully for God. He continued to pray words of affirmation, encouragement and love for his dad.
And as I stood next to Joey gripping him with my arm around his back, I asked God in my heart if I could stand in the same position and hear that from my three sons. God said it was possible if I continued to faithfully live for Him.
That short time in prayer made me realize the impact I have on my beloved children. It made me realize that life is too short and we should NEVER take for granted these blessings bestowed upon us from God. It made me realize the importance of loving and serving my family as Christ came to love and serve the church.
Thanks Joey for the words from your heart. Thanks Craig for living out a life of faith and obedience to God. Thanks Diane for your banana bread. hehe. She's an awesome baker but more importantly a VERY supportive wife and Godly woman! =)