20 December 2006
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8.12, TNIV)
Light is essential for making sure I am walking in the right direction. In our house we have nightlights strategically placed in the different rooms. Those lights give us just enough illumination to see what is around our feet as we walk thruout the house after dark. I could probably let my eyes adjust to the darkness and use ambient light from outside to make it thru our rooms, but that takes a little longer. Altho I know my way around the house fairly well and could probably get where I need to w/ my eyes closed - I choose to have the lights there to illumine my path.
Jesus is a much brighter light than a nightlight - he's more of a floodlight or the sun (Son)! Jesus is the source of light to all of creation, yet there are some who choose to hide in darkness and avoid the light. As Christians, we bask in the light of the Son and we should strive to bring others to it. Jesus promises us that if we believe in him, we will never walk in darkness.
Jesus says that he is the light of the world and that light shines into the dark places of our world and uncovers truths hidden deep w/in us. It is a light that brings healing and wholeness and love to all those who accept it and believe in it.
I need to bring Christ's light to more ppl so that lives can be changed, marriages repaired, and desperation ended.
Lord of Light, I pray for the strength to reach out in your name and w/ your love to those who need light. Shine into dark places so that illumination can bring restoration. Amen.
19 December 2006
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We collected funds from the cash we had on hand and then divided up into teams. Each team was given the same amount of money, the same amount of time, and the same general concept of things to buy. We then raced to the closest stores in order to win one of three prizes: first group back; most items purchased; and biggest bargain.
Our team made a mad dash to Wal-Mart in order to spend our loot. We ran thru the aisles to the small appliances section...bought a toaster, a coffee maker, and a blender. We spent $63.33 and made it back to home base in under 10 minutes. Our team made an effort to draw as much attention to ourselves as possible during our outing to Wally World - and we succeeded mightily!
Our team won the prize for "first group back" and would have won the prize for "spending closest to the limit," but there was no prize for that. As the other groups arrived with their purchases, the table to hold the stuff quickly filled to overflowing. It was amazing to see what a group of people can do in 30 minutes to bless the lives of people we will never meet. It was truly a God-moment and I give thanks to Jennifer for spear-heading the activity.
Praise be to God that there will be women who have survived a road of pain and abuse who can live in their own home with some semblance of normalcy this Christmas thanks to a bunch of people running around Lewisville having fun! And the best part came at the unveiling of the gifts...the team that chose the "best" prize ($20 Starbucks giftcard) gets to meet to discuss the next blessing project our staff will participate in. I am looking forward to that!
14 December 2006
Here is an excerpt from my message this morning. I hope that if you are or know someone who struggles with drug issues, please know that I am available to talk anytime.
Paul uses the image of clay pots as a metaphor for the frailty of the human body. If you know anything about clay, you know that it begins as a part of the earth – dusty, sticky, and moldable. When water is added to clay, it becomes a paste that can be shaped into almost anything. Once a particular shape is acquired, the clay can be “fired” in a kiln to harden and solidify the object. Two things happen at this point. One – the object is permanently set in that shape – there is no changing that shape once the clay has been through the kiln. Two – the object is strong, yet fragile – the fired clay can withstand a great amount of pressure, but if you strike the object with enough force, the object will shatter.
The human body is a lot like clay. We have been molded by our Creator to be exactly who we are supposed to be. We have been put through fires that solidify who we are and shape who we will be for the rest of our lives. But, we are oftentimes fragile. Strike us with enough force and we will break, never to be the same again. If we only rely on ourselves for strength, then one good whack can crumble us forever. One blow to the ego and we are done for. One tragic death and you can count us out. If we look to ourselves only, for hope and recovery, during times of crisis, then it is certainly possible that the life that we understand around us can come crashing down, never to be put right again.
Paul offers us more than a “one-and-done” way of living. Paul offers us the strength of Jesus Christ to draw upon when times are tough. Paul offers us the power of the Son of God to surround us during a crisis. Paul offers each and every one of us the opportunity to know that we can be “hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Jesus understood grief. Jesus understood despair. Jesus understood abandonment, loneliness, and frustration. Jesus understands all the emotions that are in this room right now because he felt all of them. Jesus knows what you are going through because he went through those emotions himself as he ate a last meal with his friends, took his last steps carrying the sins of the world on his shoulders, and breathed his last breath and died for the salvation of the whole world. He gave himself up for the forgiveness of sins. He died on the cross to bring us eternal life. He made a way for humanity to be reconciled to God and he did it because he loved us.
Yes, life still has peaks and valleys. Yes, a life lived for Christ may still result in tragedy. Yes, Christians still have pain and suffering. However, those clay jars that hold “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” are able to moderate those peaks and valleys. They are able to see God’s purpose in pain and suffering and are motivated to make a difference in the world, so that our prayer for God’s kingdom to come on earth can be actualized.
I have a feeling that [D], like many teenagers, wanted tangible evidence about things. He seemed like a guy who wanted physical proof for what he believed in. I am like that in many ways, because without proof, your case won’t hold up. Without proof, all we have to go on is someone’s word. Without proof, we have to trust that people are telling us the truth. Although I do want proof for the things I stand for in life, I have discovered that sometimes, walking out on a limb is the only way to discover what I should stand for. Believing in God does not require us to throw logic and reason out the window. Believing in God does not call us to abandon reality for a land of make believe. Believing in God calls us to understand that we are not alone in this world and that a life lived only for the pursuit of personal pleasure is ultimately unfulfilling and meaningless. Believing in God causes us to move our focus from “that which is seen” to “that which is unseen.”
The Apostle Paul reminds us that outwardly, we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed each day. He reminds us that the stuff we see is “light and momentary” – this includes our bodies, our possessions, and even the earth we live on; but, that the struggles we face each day with those things are moving us toward an eternal glory that surpasses any amount of pain, grief, anguish, or heartache that we may feel. He challenges us (and I second that challenge) “to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
As we celebrate a life so full of potential and promise, we must keep in mind the reality of what ultimately ended his life. I want to speak to those of you who count yourselves among [D]’s many friends for a moment. As you are well aware, the casual (and addictive) use of drugs has skyrocketed across this country over the past decade or so. It is no longer an isolated group of people on a high school campus who use. Drugs cross socio-economic lines, racial lines, and gender lines. More than likely, you know who uses drugs at your school. You probably even know how often, where, when, and how much they use.
[D]’s mom and dad told me that they had no indication that he ever used drugs before Saturday morning. They wanted me to convey a very clear message to each of you this morning. If you are using drugs, stop. If you know someone who uses drugs, help them to stop. If you have never used drugs, don’t ever start. I want to echo their sentiments because your presence here this morning only confirms the dangers that drugs present....
Again, we are here this morning to celebrate [D]’s life. A life that was cut short, but a life that was lived with passion, energy, and drive. His story is bittersweet and it’s hard to believe that it is over so soon. You all have memories of [D] that will live on in your hearts and I believe, from what I have learned about [D] this week, that he would want you to cherish those memories and smile when you think about him. I will leave you with this: God loved [D] all of his 16 years, through all the ups and downs of his life and God continues to love [D] in life beyond this life...in ways we can't prove or even understand, but simply affirm. And also remember: God loves each one of you. No matter where you are in you life and faith, God just loves you, period. In these days and months to come as you grieve the death of [D], God will walk beside you, giving you comfort and support.
09 December 2006
28 November 2006
27 November 2006
As Melissa says, "welcome to the addiciton" - how appropriate MG, how appropriate.
21 November 2006
15 November 2006
So I am currently finishing up Day 3 at the Institute for Church Planting Retreat up here on beautiful Lake Texoma at the Prothro Center. It has been a grueling 3 days and we still have 1 1/2 more to go. I am glad that I am here among friends, but I sure do miss my girls at home. I have talked to them each night, but it's just not the same as seeing them and kissing their faces as they drift off to sleep.
On a personal note (not that the previous paragraph wasn't) I would appreciate some prayers as I discern what God has called me to do in this crazy world of church planting. My personality does not immediately lend itself to a successful church plant, but there are many models to choose from and one might work for me. However, I have been intrigued by the concept of being groomed to be a follow-up pastor at a church that is transitioning out of leadership from their founding/planting pastor. Thanks!
Ok, I will now go and check some blogs that I am behind on and then read another chapter in a great book, then head for the pillow.
06 November 2006
Anyway, I will pray for all of you who feel behind the 8-ball and I hope that you will do the same for me.
02 November 2006
The running joke of the retreat was that we all wanted things to be done by the end of first quarter 2007. Guess we will have a busy 3 months ahead of us!
BTW - our game time last night was a blast and the big winners were Jennifer and Holly (aka "the Bomb") - fun times!
01 November 2006
I am looking forward to what this evening has to offer - hopefully some great thinking, planning, and strategizing, but most importantly - a whole lotta FUN! We have plans to play "Totally 80s Trivial Pursuit" tonight and I, for one, am like totally psyched, like for sure!
PS - thanks to Alan for letting me use his MacBook Pro to do this post!
I don't know about you, but talking on the phone (or in person) with someone who has written a book is an intimidating thing for me. I feel so unimportant and unintelligent compared to someone who has had their thoughts and ideas printed by a major book publisher. I know most authors are just regular people but I really respect what Mark is doing for the kingdom of God up at Granger. So thanks again Mark, for making me feel important and intelligent when I was talking with you. And thanks for the "wow" moment - at least for me!
30 October 2006
Since I am posting today, I have had more time to reflect and sleep and I have a much clearer head about what happened Saturday morning. Therefore, I neither think of myself as psychic or lame. I do still wish that more people had come to the training, but this just means that I will need to spend more time sharing my vision for hospitality ministries here at Trietsch in forums and at times that are more convenient for team members.
I do believe that I will need to spend 2007 convincing and inviting people to join the team that are on board with the vision that God has given me for this ministry. It will take the full efforts of my leadership team and I to make our transition to a "wow" producing ministry a reality.
Any suggestions on books I should read or people I should talk to about this?
25 October 2006
I am working toward our Hospitality Training this weekend and I have done little else during my office time this week - and I still have much to do! This has become so all-consuming that I dreamed about the event on Monday night. I dreamed that out of 200+ volunteers who could shown up that morning, only 17 did. 17!!! I felt so defeated. I felt like a failure. It sucked. I would consider that a nightmare.
As I continue to plan for Saturday I continue to wonder how many people will show up. I wonder if they will find it worth their time. I wonder if I will actually have my talks together before Friday night. I wonder if I should have brought in an outside "expert" to lead this. I wonder if my team with know that they matter to me (since that is what I am trying to get them to understand about our guests). I wonder.
Please pray for me about this. It is really stressing me out. Pray for me especially because I internalize stress and I don't want an ulcer or something crazy like that.
OK, I'm going home now - yeah Deb and Caitlyn!
18 October 2006
However, the service at this restaurant (which will remain nameless) was again poor at best. The waiter who took our drink order was one of two waiters for the whole lunch shift and he was also waiting on a table of 15 in the back - so we paitently sipped our drinks and talked. We noticed that altho this was an Italian restaurant, the music playing in the dining room was a mix of country, pop, and classic rock - nothing even remotely Italian.
One member of our party had to hunt down the other waiter in order to get our food order taken and then it took another 25 minutes for our food to arrive at our table. We were just seconds from leaving prior to ordering, but decided to stay once we found someone to take our order. My food was hot, delicious, and reasonably priced, but it will be a long while before I go back there - because I didn't feel valued during my 60 minutes there.
It really is true that a guest's experience is all about the whole package - service, atmosphere, ambiance, friendliness, quality, etc. Without a conscious decision to make dining "an experience" that local restaurant has lost a customer who loves their cuisine.
What can the local church take from a bad trip to a local eatery? We have the best message in the whole world and if we do a lousy job of presenting that message - whether through unfriendly greeters, no parking spaces, or unclear directions - we fail people who matter to God and who need to know that God loves them.
10 October 2006
No longer is just opening the doors on a Sunday morning adequate enough for being an effective church. We must strive to offer our communities an experience that connects them with Christ on several levels and at multiple times during their stay on our campus. Tim points out that we must realize that people are no longer just looking for a church based on denominational labels or location, they are asking, "What kind of experience will I have?" and "What vibe do I get from the greeters?"
If we do not connect with the people coming through our doors from the moment they enter our campus, then we stand a good chance of not seeing them again next weekend. As Mark Waltz says, "We have 10 minutes to "wow" them."
This is something we are working hard at here at Trietsch, but we are still learning. We strive to make our worship an experience that leads to life change, but continuing efforts need to be made on the hospitality end of things (my charge) in order to prepare the way for the message to impact the hearers. The members of the church need to realize that we "preach without words" on a continual basis and that our attention to "the experience" will reap benefits for eternity.
I have to say that when Deb brought home a pair of shoes for Caitlyn it took a second for the thought of Caitlyn walking to sink in. And now that we are putting them on her feet daily, she looks even more like a toddler and less like an infant! She is still a little uncomfortable in the shoes (and the socks for that matter!) but I think she is getting used to them.
When we were preparing for Caitlyn's arrival everyone told us that "children will change your life completely" and we sort of laughed it off, but they were exactly right. I continually wonder what we did with all the extra time we used to have.
I plan to take mucho mucho pictures at the party this weekend, so be on the lookout for cake-on-the-face pics up here soon!
05 October 2006
29 August 2006
1) Returned from San Diego with a new energy about starting a church - eventho it will be TONS of work
2) Spent three days being inspired to grow as a leader - check out great summaries of each talk 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
3) Performed the 2nd and 3rd weddings of my career
4) Beginning the fall season of Bible studies
5) Mourning the loss of a great servant leader
Now I am looking forward for my family (Caitlyn turns 1 in October), my ministry (Hospitality training event), and my leadership (covenanted to read 6 books on the subject by next August).
16 August 2006
02 August 2006
I'll be back late on Tuesday night with (hopefully) a better understanding of what all goes into a church plant. If not, I will most likely have some good stories to share about my time in California and my colleagues in ministry.
31 July 2006
We trekked to San Antonio on Thursday afternoon to spend some time with Debbie's folks before heading off to Tapatio Springs for a weekend with our college friends. However, things went south quickly. Debbie spent Thursday night coughing and not sleeping, went to the emergency care doctor on Friday morning and found out that she had a sinus infection.
That nixed our time at the resort - much to our chagrin. We were able to head out for an afternoon get together with our friends on Saturday, but we only stayed a few hours.
We were unable to go to church on Sunday morning because Debbie needed to recuperate from another night of coughing and no sleep. Our trip home that afternoon had us driving through a grass fire in Belton which stopped traffic for about 45 minutes.
Now we are home. Deb went to the doctor again and is suffering from allergies as well as the sinus infection. Tomorrow is her birthday - I think I'll be extra sweet to her since it will not be fun being sick on her special day.
BTW - I don't feel 100% either.
FYI - It sucks being sick!
24 July 2006
I am certainly glad that I didn't find out about the car-jacking/truck-jacking/hostage-taking incident until it had safely concluded. I must say that I was (and still am) appalled at the number of people who left their homes to see the hijacked semi drive down I-20. Honestly, I think that anyone who stopped what they were doing (be that watching TV or driving along the highway) in order to cheer on the stolen semi should be arrested for failure to render aid.
This incident was neither funny nor worthy of cheer.
19 July 2006
# of posts: 70
# of comments: 86
# of profile views: 140
avg # of posts per month: 5.83
avg # of comments per post: 1.23
avg # of comments per month: 7.17
The big winner is "welcome to the internet caitlyn!" with 7 comments
Second place goes to "interesting conversation" with 6 comments
And three posts tied for third with 5 comments each:
"the wait is over" "Here's what I'm wondering..." and "For Sherry..."
Thank you to all of you who have posted comments and helped me to flesh out some of my incoherent thoughts. Maybe year two will provide a post that receives double-digit comments - who know?
17 July 2006
Last week was "action packed" to say the least. I read with kids at PT, married a couple, and preached on Sunday. To borrow a phrase, "Oof!" I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but I am very tired this afternoon and I am desperately trying to catch up on the things that had to be pushed aside last week.
I heard some great news between services on Sunday and congrats are in order for one Jon Rutty! Way to go, bro!
05 July 2006
- Kids Eat Free with Young Adults - 6th
- Project Transformation - 12th
- Officiating Wedding - 14th
- Preaching - 16th
- Kids Eat Free with Young Adults - 20th
- Six Flags with Young Adults - 21st
- College Reunion Trip - 28th-30th
I am not complaining, I'm just saying there is lots to be done and I hope that the "slow" month doesn't go by too fast.
22 June 2006
As I stop to look around and see what my 28 years here on earth have accomplished, I can see many good things...
a beautiful wife of five plus years
a wonderful daughter of eight plus months
commissioned on the elder track in the North Texas Conference
a master's degree from Perkins
a bachelor's degree from A&M
part of the staff of a vibrant, growing church
pastoral experience in two other great churches
I am excited about year 29 here on planet Earth...if nothing else, it should at least be fun!
21 June 2006
Why does a United Methodist church allow it's single-most influential children's event to be driven by Baptist theology?
It seems to me that if the UMC wants to be true to it's Wesleyan roots, we would need to teach Wesleyan theology to our children during Vacation Bible School. It just blows my mind that 800 kids here at Trietsch are learning about salvation using an un-Methodist paradigm. Now, I know that denominational loyalty in the 21st century is nothing like it used to be, but come on - shouldn't we be PROUD of our Methodist roots and want to embrace them?!?!
I guess I am sensitive to this issue, but I wouldn't want Caitlyn to come home from my church's VBS wondering why she was a sinner and needed to repent. I am all for explaining her baptism to her and helping her to understand what Jesus did on the cross, but does singing songs about being a sinner and needing to ask for forgiveness really edify children under the age of 8?
Anyone care to rebut?
20 June 2006
19 June 2006
1 - Last Wednesday she just opened her mouth and started babbling - it was very cute, but very incoherent, but what 8 month old isn't incoherent? Then on Thursday, she was babbling along and out popped "mama"! Caitlyn's first word was "mama"! Debbie was (and still is) beaming about this...and dad's pretty happy too.
2 - On Saturday as she was getting ready for bed, she was babbling again and out popped "dada"! And guess who was sitting right there when it happened...ME, her "dada"! It was a moment I will never forget.
3 - Yesterday the three of us were sitting on the couch in the living room relaxing and Caitlyn seemed a little tired, so we gave her a drink of water from my glass (she really likes this) and we heard this "clinking" sound as she was drinking. It turns out that the "clinking" sound was her new bottom teeth hitting the glass as she drank! Caitlyn is cutting teeth! So then Debbie and I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to see them, but Caitlyn kept putting her tongue in the way, so we were not able to see them, only feel them. They are surprisingly sharp for baby teeth.
OK, thanks for the indulgence.
22 May 2006
Anyway, Caitlyn has double ear infections again and is only comfortable when in an upright position (relieving pressure in her ears) - so laying down in her crib is almost useless. Deb and I were awake about half the night last night consoling her as she cried and sobbed her way thru the evening, late night, and early morning hours. It just breaks my heart to see tears roll down her beautiful face. I want so much to take away her pain so that she can rest comfortably. I want so much to ease her discomfort so that she can smile again, laugh again, and be herself again. It just breaks my heart.
I imagine that's the same way God feels when we are in pain - especially when that pain is avoidable. I'm sure that just as I sat in Caitlyn's room crying with her as she communicated the only way she knows how, God sits with us as we struggle to make sense of the mess we have made of our lives thru sin. Wanting to take away our pain. Wanting to ease our burden by taking it upon Himself. Knowing that the only way to freedom is thru the right medicine.
In the case of ear infections, that's an antibiotic. In the case of sin, that's Jesus' death on the cross. He is the only medicine that can take the screw-ups, failures, and messes of our lives and turn them into hope, joy, and peace. In the "detours" and "wrong turns" in our lives, our ultimate directions must come from Christ because he is the one who can lead us home.
Jesus, those who love you still feel the pain and discomfort of a life lived without you as it's center. Guide us to make you the driving force behind all that we do, so that we can leave behind the sin that so easily entangles us. Thank you for drawing near to us in our pain. Thank you for making a way thru the pain. Thank you for being our strength when we feel like we have given our all. Amen.
11 May 2006
OK - I promise never to post about American Idol again.
09 May 2006
Many of you reading this are going thru final exams right now and are still tied to the school calendar. Please know that I am praying for you and wish you the best as you study for and take your exams in the next few weeks. Please take care of yourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually thru these trying times.
PS - Let me know when you are coming home so that we can celebrate in style!
18 April 2006
In the last 100 years, who do you think has spoken with the loudest prophetic voice? What issue(s) did/does this person speak to? Why do you mention this particular individual?
I really want your honest feedback on this question, so think about it and post your comment.
10 April 2006
On Friday, Deb, Caitlyn, and I went out to eat with my parents, grandparents, sister, and brother-in-law. They were all in town to celebrate Caitlyn's baptism on Sunday morning.
On Saturday, Deb, Caitlyn, and I hosted Deb's parents and Caitlyn's godparents, Morgan & Rachel Schilhab at our house for dinner. Again, they were in town for Caitlyn's baptism on Sunday morning.
On Sunday, I had the privilege to baptize my daughter. And not only did all of our immediate family get to witness the event, but our Trietsch family joined us in celebrating Caitlyn's welcoming into the body of Christ.
I must confess that I was rather nervous all morning long - mostly because I didn't want to forget anything (like my new stole or my "lines" in the liturgy) or drop my little girl (not that I would in a million years!) or cry too much. I was successful on all fronts, but the crying thing did take some effort to avoid! What a great joy to be able to baptize my own daughter and to share that with so many people that we love and respect. It was truly a magical weekend!
PS - Elevation is off to a great start!
22 March 2006
On to the day's festivities...
Workshop Five began promptly at 9am this morning (no rest for the weary). The session was entitled, "Preaching, Teaching, or Talking for Life Change in Young Adults" and was presented by the very funny Randy Jumper. He talked about "the 7-11 rule" for transformation in young adults: 7 ways to lead young adults thru transition and 11 needs of young adult communicators. Very helpful stuff! Kudos to you, Mr. Jumper!
Next we went to worship - led again by Nobility Obliged - and featuring Mike Kelsey (from D.C.). Mike talked about vision and the essentials of leading young adults in any part of the country and in any size ministry. Good stuff!
Jon and I then headed to Fajita's to partake of their namesake for lunch. The conversation was better than the meal, but the atmosphere was great. Thanks again Jon for good convo and insights.
Workshop Six awaited us when we returned from lunch and this time Jon and I actually attended the same session, "Dating with Pure Passion" by Rob Eagar. I picked this session because I know that I will need to lead a series of talks on dating/relationships in the future and I wanted to get some groundwork laid for those talks...especially since I am no longer in the dating scene (thank you Jesus!). Rob had plenty of good insights - all of which led to his book (titled the same as the seminar and available for purchase outside at one of the tables...coincidence, I think not).
Our last workshop, Workshop Seven, called, "Maximum Impact: Making Your Gathering Significant" was led by the Two Chads of CCV. The Chads gave us many good tips and suggestions on making your gatherings a time that people remember: closing with a question, giving them a "takeaway", involving movement/visuals/atmosphere, etc. We ended the session with a brainstorming time where we made up an event that our church was going to have. We ended up with a battle-of-the-bands block party, hoping to attract 150 people with food, games, giveaways, music and fun. I don't know if it would work, but it was fun visioning the event.
Closing worship featured Todd Phillips and he talked about social justice issues that the evangelical branch of the Church has long ignored in favor of orthodoxy and biblical knowledge. I almost got up and walked out about 10 minutes into Todd's talk because he was close to saying some fairly inflammatory statement about mainline Christianity and the churches that existed within that realm. However, he brought it back around and made good on his point. I absolutely agree with the need for the Church to be more involved in the lives of people who are hurting, oppressed, downtrodden, or outcast in favor of having tons of people in Bible study each week. I believe this mostly because those who are not Christian generally do not see us when we are locked away in ivory towers of knowledge. They see us when we cut them off in traffic, when we ignore people begging for food, when we verbally assault them for having different beliefs than we do, etc. I want those who are outside the Church to see Christians who care about other people, who lift up those who are down, and reach out to those who need a helping hand.
And so endeth the conference...but not out time in Phoenix!
Tonight we headed for Oregano's for some famous pizza with another couple of Molly's friends: Meg and Michelle. The food was amazing (go ahead and splurge for the cookie dessert - it's worth it!)! We had good conversation with two relatively unchurched people and I think that Jon and I did a good job of representing the Christians who live out their faith in tangible ways, not just say things and then never act on them.
Earlier in the week I told you that we might have a chance to play some Texas Hold'em and tonight was the night. But, when we got to the bar, the games had started an hour earlier and they were only playing one round. So Jon and I headed back to the hotel and here we are now preparing to leave Phoenix tomorrow morning.
Another long one...sorry...lots of stuff happening...see you back in Big-D (if that's where I see you)!
21 March 2006
On to the day's activities...
We started with our first workshop at 9am. I went to "Reaching the Unchurched Male: Programming and Planning with Guys in Mind" led by the Two Chads (as only I refer to them...and then only in my head and here on this blog). I was interested in this workshop because for some reason I personally have a harder time connecting with guys that with girls on a relational/pastoral level. Maybe its just my personality. Maybe its that I feel threatened. Maybe I'm just a moron at talking about "guy things." This session helped me to learn that I need to be intentional about offering programming opportunities that appeal and attract men - tailgate parties, meetings at Buffalo Wild Wings/Fox & Hound, and hunting trips. The only problem with that is that I do not currently do any of those things. I don't hunt, fish, go to many football games, or hang out at sports bars. Should I? Not sure about this one, but I am willing to do what it takes to make guys feel welcome and comfortable.
The next scheduled activity was worship...which Jon and I proceeded to blow off in favor of Starbucks and conversation (very emerging if I do say so myself). We talked about our churches and our visions/dreams for their future and what we would do differently if we could start over with our current ministry situations. It was time well spent. Thanks Jon!
We then went to lunch outside on the patio of the resort where the conference is being held (did I mention that it was cold and windy?). We sat at "regional tables" which for us meant that we sat with a bunch of other people from Texas....it is a big state after all. Enjoyed the conversation, but the food was just OK, nothing spectacular. We soon retreated to the inside in order to prepare for our next workshop, but also to defrost (did I mention that it's a little chilly here?).
Workshop two was by far the best one of the day. The session, entitled "The Attraction Factor: How Leadership Really Happens" by Aaron Stern, gave me hope that I can manage the growth of my ministry and be prepared to lead people in new directions. Aaron gave us five "ideas" which he used to mold and shape his leadership team into the mighty force that it is today. Each of the "ideas" is not really anything new to me, but in combination and if used strategically, the possibilities are almost limitless. I look forward to visioning the future of the young adult ministry at Trietsch with those ideas and that leadership structure in mind.
Workshop three took me on a quick trip thru the world of the Alpha course. I chose this session because Trietsch already offers an Alpha course and I was thinking about encouraging a core group of my "constituents" to attend this fall and then look for people outside our church to invite to the next session (in the spring of 07). I still think that idea can work, but it needs some tweaking and refining. Please pray for me to continue to seek God's direction with that particular piece of my ministry.
My fourth workshop of the day was "Spiritual Formation thru Community" with Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, MN. His approach to spiritual formation (holistic) and his understanding of what the body of Christ should be about were not technically new to me, but they were just enough foreign from what I know and understand for the session not to resonate as fully with me as it could have. I truly enjoy what Doug has to say about preaching, but I guess I need some more time to process his ecclesiology.
Our evening culminated in a trip to Christ's Church of the Valley and dinner and worship. This church hosts over 12k people each weekend and they have gone to great lengths to intentionally program for 25-45 year old males (the Two Chads work there) and it shows in their worship space, their Cafe, and their campus in general. (Check out their website too!) Dinner was excellent. Worship was powerful and authentic. The speaker, Ken Baugh challenged us to be leaders and to overcome the doubt that so easily plagues our ministries/lives/relationships. He used the example of Gideon from Judges 6-7 to illustrate the doubt we have and the way God can use us inspite of what we think we can or cannot do.
Ok, if you have read this far, I applaud you. Thanks for your time. More tomorrow!
20 March 2006
Opening worship was great! The band played loud and with passion. They played the way I would want the band that will lead worship at Trietsch's new worship service. Any musicians out there interested? They sang from their hearts and they poured out an offering of music to our Creator - fantastic! EDIT: the band's name is Nobility Obliged - very cool!
The first speaker was Trevor Bron - who has an amazing testimony to God's faithfulness and grace in the face of major human SCREW UPS. He lost his pastorate (he never directly told us why) five years ago and told us stories of how God has used his time on the bottom for self-revelation and self-realization. He challenged us to strive to be REAL in every part of our lives so that our efforts to be RELEVANT will come as a natural outflow of our lives.
God, I pray that my ministry and my calling are always avenues to be real with people who are living real lives with real pain and real needs. May I never lose sight of that because of my office or work schedule. Amen.
Tomorrow will include four sessions (no, I have not yet chosen my workshops!) and more opportunities for worship and prayer. Also, it looks like Jon and I will have a chance to try our luck in a Texas Hold'em tournament on Wednesday evening after we are finished with the conference.
More tomorrow - and I'll see if I can take some pictures with my phone and get them uploaded here. In the meantime, if you have never been to Phoenix before, be prepared for the many shades of tan...trust me!
19 March 2006
Leave me some love. See you next Monday for sure!
Countdown to April 6 - 18 days!
16 March 2006
I have two major change efforts that I would like to lead my sphere of influence thru over the next year:
1) restructuring/reorganizing the hospitality ministries
2) revamping the Thursday night young adult gathering
I am in the beginning stages of these efforts, but I have already felt pressure to "leave things alone" from within and without. Please pray for me as I follow God's lead on these action items. Pray that God will clear out the internal distractions by giving me the confidence to know when to move forward and when to hold back. Pray that those who will be affected by these changes will catch the vision God has given me and will be willing to forge ahead in new directions.
13 March 2006
On Friday, Debbie, Caitlyn, and I went to Landon and Erin's wedding rehearsal, but because Caitlyn wasn't feeling well, we did not get a chance to go to the rehearsal dinner. It's OK, because now she is feeling much better and I knew what I needed to do for Saturday.
On Saturday, Landon and Erin's wedding took place without a hitch (both showed up and both said "yes"). The reception afterwards out at Circle R Ranch was very cool - excellent food choice! I want to echo Nat's sentiments of congratulations.
On Sunday, I was liturgist at all 3 morning services so I arrived early and did not have a chance to eat before leaving the house. Mistakenly, I ate something that was on the workroom table (probably from Friday) without even thinking about it. As my morning wound down and I drove home to prepare for dinner with some friends, my stomach started churning. I'll spare you the details, but needless to say, I did not make it to dinner (that had been planned for 6 weeks) and had to stay home with my good friends Tylenol and Pepto.
Still a little woosy this morning, but getting better with each passing hour. Hope my readers out there had a good weekend. Looking forward to seeing those of you who will be home for Spring Break this week. Stop by the office anytime - I'd love to catch up and hear how your semester is going.
08 March 2006
Mark 1:9-15 (NIV, Msg, NLT)
From childhood, the desert has held a lure for me. To the superficial gaze, the desert landscape is barren; but when you spend time there, its rich variety becomes evident. As the sun goes down, it comes alive with many kinds of creatures. The desert is a wonderful, complex ecosystem that yields its mysteries slowly over time.
Since the fourth century the church has observed forty days of preparation before the great feast of Easter. And on the first Sunday of those forty days, the church proclaims the story of Jesus' temptation in the desert. Set in high relief, with its spare, stark language, Mark's temptation scene strikes us with its austerity. Washed in the waters, Jesus hears himself addressed as beloved son; then, he is immediately driven out into the wilderness.
So it is with us. To be a Christian is to be incorporated into the body of Christ. We enter that mystery through baptism. As in the Gospel narrative, we are called to the fullness of our baptismal promise through a kenotic process: temptations, struggles, reevaluations, new and often painful learning and unlearning. To be a Christian is to be driven out into the desert. Yet the desert is not barren but full of life, a rich and complex environment that reveals itself as beautiful, healing, life-giving, and restorative. So too our Lent. We are called to sacrifice, to self-denial, to radical reorientation. But we are called thus because we are beloved sons and daughters, because we are infinitely loved and called to more than we can presently imagine.
Suggestion for Meditation:
Consider the struggles or temptations you bring into this Lenten season. Know that you are not only present to these struggles with the beasts but with the angels as well, as was Jesus. Into the barren loneliness of your desert, bring the knowledge that you are deeply loved because you are a child of God. Allow yourself to explore this desert place in its unexpected richness, its potential to bring you to insight, healing, and new life.
02 March 2006
01 March 2006
27 February 2006
I want to thank those of you who wrote letters....Debbie, Caitlyn, Melissa, Alexis, David, Pam, Landon, Mom, Dad, and many, many more. They spoke to my heart and they touched my soul. Your words of encouragement and inspiration will sustain me on days when life gets me down and I don't feel like living for Jesus.
During one of the Communion services (those of you who have been on Emmaus know what it's called) I laid down my self-reliance for my work, my family, and my walk. I left it there at the foot of the cross and I would like to enlist your help in keeping me accountable to my commitment. If you see, hear, or identify a point in my ministry, my family time, or my personal walk with Christ where I am relying on my own power, rather than the strength of the Holy Spirit, please get my attention and correct me.
Denton Area Emmaus Walk #21
Table of Matthew
23 February 2006
See you Monday!
06 February 2006
One of the areas I am doing some research in is preaching. I have mentioned Doug Pagitt's work in Preaching Re-Imagined before but I offer up another quote for discussion. In his chapter on "centralized control" he makes the argument that preachers need to be willing to acknowledge that crafting sermons by themselves in their studies without influence from the church at large (the audience for said sermon) leads to one-way dialogue and rather generic, catch-all sermons that have little chance of impacting the members of the community in a personal way. He says this:
"Why would we call people to a personal connection with God and yet be content to give them generic, universal experiences with the message of faith?" (p 124)
His question, for me, strikes at the heart of the goal of preaching. If we are content to preach messages that touch on "issues" that "people" may be facing in their lives, are we really doing all we can to reach the "people" in our congregations? Or are we just doing what we need to to get by?
I ask this question because I have preached a generic sermon with a "universal...message of faith" in my church without blinking an eye. I did it because I was asked to preach and I did it because that was the model of preaching I was taught. However, there seems to be a great amount of credence to the practice of involving the members of the congregation in the creation of sermons. I mean, how better to speak directly into the lives, hearts, and minds of our people than to know what is going on in their life and giving them a chance to bounce ideas off of you?
I guess I am of the opinion that if my sermons are not deeply rooted in the character of the congregation they are presented to, then I am only a passing wind or a brief noise in a hearer's ear.
What do you think? Am I crazy? off-kilter? what?
01 February 2006
The BOM changed the format of the P&Q interview process for 2006, so I have no experience with the previous set-up, but from my experience, the new format was smooth, well-organized, and helpful at every step of the way. I appreciate all the elders, deacons, and lay persons who were part of the interview process on Monday.
I want to thank all of you who were praying for me on Monday afternoon - I definitely felt the prayers and the presence of the Holy Spirit during my time at the Prothro Center. If any of you are interested, the Commissioning Service will be at 9:00am on June 5, 2006 at the Plano Centre in Plano. It will only take about 30 minutes, but it would mean a lot to me if you could be there.
23 January 2006
I can't really express how nervous I am at the thought of being grilled for 2 1/2 to 3 hours about all matters theological, doctrinal, worship, and more. I am hopeful that the newly instated "retreat" format will make the process a little smoother/less nerve-racking. I've never gone through the previous format, so I really have nothing to compare it to, but I have heard horror stories about the pressure cooker that forms when its just you staring at 15-18 people who are trained to pepper you with questions about your written work/sermons/Bible study plan/Discipline.
Unfortunately, Debbie won't be able to come with me (its at Lake Texoma) because month-end is her busy time and she can't get away. My candidacy mentor will be there for support, but she will only be able to pray for me during my interviews, not sit in on them. I would ask all of you who read this to do the same - pray for me between 1:00 and 5:00pm on Monday, January 30. I would covet your prayers in this matter because as much as I know God has called me to the ordained ministry, it is up to me to spend 3 hours convincing a panel of my ministry colleagues.
Ok, that's enough of that. Have a blessed day!
20 January 2006
What a defeated way to live - from holiday to holiday. Living like that just seems depressing and worthless - I mean, Christ calls us to live lives of empowerment, not entertainment. It seems that living for the "high" of the holiday (and I use that term loosely around Valentine's, St. Patrick's, and other greeting-card-fueled days) would lead to bottoming out during the off-peak times, with the possibility of listlessness and feelings of impotence during the stretch from MLK to VD (almost a whole month!!).
This phenomenon was demonstrated clearly to me last year when Debbie and I went to Fredricksburg for our anniversary in early January. I want to preface this story with the fact that Fredricksburg is a very popular tourist destination in Texas, lots of local color, lots of history, and many, many, many great B&Bs. We only stayed for a short while, but we wanted to soak up as much of the local culture as we could before heading to San Antonio for a few days, but half (if not more) of the places we had picked out to visit during our stay were CLOSED for at least the next 10-14 days! We called a nice restaurant in town to have dinner - closed for another week. We stopped by a chocolate factory for a sample - closed for another 10 days. We walked up and down the main drag in town - at least one out of every 3 doors had a "closed until..." sign on it. We ended up having dinner at a local Italian restaurant and there were only two other tables occupied by patrons during our 90 minute stay. On a brighter note, the B&B we stayed at was WONDERFUL - the owner served a delicious breakfast in the morning and was a great conversationalist. I would recommend her establishment to anyone who needs a place to stay in Fredricksburg. One caveat remains - go during the summertime, much more to do/see/visit and the peaches are in season too!
Ok, all that to say that I hope you are not suffering from the "blahs" this January while you wait for the next holiday "high". May you realize that we were meant to live for more than just what this life offers - we are meant to go beyond and to live in eternal relationship with Christ.
09 January 2006
Sorry I have not updated in a few weeks - the holidays and visiting families can do that to a person, but I have tried numerous times to get an update on here, but only managed to update the devotional site.
Caitlyn's first Christmas was filled with love, presents, and grandparents. She made it through about 20-25 minutes of opening presents before losing interest and needing a nap, so we didn't make her "unwrap" any more presents, but let her sit in Debbie's lap and watch us have fun for her. What a trip! She doesn't have a clue about what was going on, but we treated her like she was totally into it.
New Year's was good - I actually made it all the way to midnight before passing out from exhaustion (first time in four years!). I woke up Debbie, kissed her and Caitlyn, then fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Another year began and I can only hope that 2006 brings as much joy into our lives as 2005 did.
Debbie and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on the 6th with presents, flowers (for Deb), and dinner - without Caitlyn. We also spent some time with friends of ours who live in Frisco and have a 2 year old son. It was nice to talk to each other without having to worry about whether Caitlyn was awake, sleeping, fussy, or content - we could just have a conversation and focus on each other. Although we were very excited to get back to see Caitlyn once our outing was complete.
The next day we went a looked at houses in several different parts of the metroplex - without too much luck, but it is early in our search, so we have some time to look and find the right place to live. I think we ruled out building a house at this point, merely for the fact that we have to make about 1,000 decisions about flooring, carpet, tile, windows, paint, fixtures, and on and on. It was exhausting just looking through the showroom of possible choices!
I guess that brings you up to speed with what is happening is my world. Best of luck for the Spring semester to all those who are studying to better themselves! Let me know how I can help you.