Monday, June 27, 2011

life and death

There are some things you never get used to.  Most of those involve a life difficulty that causes pain to those you love and care about.  Yesterday evening I received word that a loved friend died suddenly.  He was by all accounts healthy, working to help his kids with some projects, and enjoying the joy of being a grandfather and husband.  Last night he was ushered in to the Holy of Holies to see the majesty of His Lord!  
No matter how of those notices I receive, I never get used to them.  In ministry you often get that call as a need to be there for the family.  There is no doubt it is a sacred trust to be present with a family during a season of loss.  Being twenty four hundred miles away doesn't soften the pain you feel for a family.  As I was thinking about my eight years of relationship with Rex England and his wife Valerie, I couldn't help but smile.  He was just a fun guy.  He loved his family.  He was crazy about his wife.  He was a great friend.  Rex was just fun.  
As his family and friends grieve his loss, I imagine most will say the same things about him.  There will be stories and reminders of how he impacted so many.  There will be a void in the England family for a guy who lived his life well.  The comfort and peace the family needs will come from the Holy Spirit.  That isn't a foreign thought the family though. They know in life and in death that God is still on the throne and will not abandon them.  Life and death.  Rex, you are loved and will be greatly missed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

live and think differently

I'm just curious, but is anyone else out there wanting to live and think differently?  I am thinking of hosting a public gathering where we share our dreams of living out a new way of "feeding the hungry" in our community.  There are many different hungers and we need creative and passionate ways to provide bread that last.  In John 6 Jesus says it is our calling to find a way.
Let me hear your dreams....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

old and new

I'm thinking back on nineteen years of ministry and amazed at how our lives have connected with so many different people.  In this new season of our life, the one thing that keeps coming up huge is relationships.  I love staying in touch with people and hearing how their journey continues to progress.  The story of God being lived out in individual lives is so profound.  When I think of the stories and people that have impacted my family and me it is really hard to take in.  Over the past couple of days I have had some great conversations with people from our past.  They inspire and encourage me, but also remind me of the challenge of remaining in touch.  These are people who live over two thousand miles away, yet in our conversations it is like they are next to me.

As we make new friends and experience new lives and new stories I continue to be reminded that relationships matter.  It matters who you influence and who is influencing you.  I love that about ministry.  I  get to walk along side people as they walk along side of me.  We get to invest in each other and help promote growth and transformation.  Whether it is old friends or new friends, relationships matter.  Most people have six people who will carry their box when they leave the earth.  How many have six people who they can call day or night, good or bad and be fully engaged in each other's life?

The further we get into connecting with the community of Auburn California the more I see that is what many people are missing.  We have hundreds of acquaintances, but very few intimately connected friends that are fully invested in sharing life together.  I am grateful for my "old" friends and learning to love my new ones!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

Today has been a good day.  But then again I say that about most days.  That doesn't say there haven't been plenty of challenges, but all in all I have far more than I deserve.  I heard from my daughters who are in other states, my boys all made me cards, and my wonderful, beautiful wife continues to love me.  What more can you ask?  
I was able to talk with my own dad yesterday for quite a while.  As the years go by, perspective and appreciation continue to become more intently focused.  My dad has been an amazing source of wisdom and stability.  He continues to be a very present and influential part of our life.  For that matter so is my mother.  It does sound weird though to hear those words, "Happy Father's Day".  I know what is intended. I realize it is a "hallmark holiday".  But each day I find myself thinking how happy and fortunate I am to be a father.  And yes, there are days where I think about how tough that is.  I think that is why each day brings the opportunity to find gratefulness for my children.  
This past weekend we experienced the great joy of celebrating our Chance's fourteenth birthday.  He is a sweet little guy that loves to talk and ride dirt bikes.  At the same time though we were reminded that his birthday is also the anniversary of our beloved nephew's death.  Alex was such a part of our lives.  So when I hear "Happy Father's Day" I am reminded that each day needs to be celebrated for the gift of children.  Life is fragile.  We are given a great responsibility and opportunity in being fathers.  
Don't wait for the "hallmark holidays" to express your joy for your father or your children.  I know today, I am grateful.  I am hopeful that will grow as tomorrow comes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Last night Jennifer and I sat on the back deck and talked about our transition.  I had spent the afternoon in bed with a fever, so being outside in the evening was a real treat.  Thinking through the last nine months was pretty revealing.  Last October we were overwhelmed with a sense God was calling us to leave what we knew and were comfortable with to move across the country and plant a church.  Now having been here for three and a half months it was a good time to discuss the transition.

The move has been fairly smooth.  Our kids have settled in well and are adjusting better than we had hoped.  We are making friends and investing ourselves in the local community.  Our Sunday services have been really great.  Our gatherings are very simple in format, but growing in depth and number.  There have been many opportunities to minister to various people and see others ministering in Jesus name.  We are both connected to powerful prayer groups that meet during the week.

We discussed events that disappointed us, challenged us, gave us hope, as well as organizational things we have to do.  It was really amazing having that discussion with my wife and teammate.  Her perspective and insight is amazing.  To hear her heart and desire about this church plant was a joy.  In all the reflecting that happened last night, none was more powerful than me reflecting on how blessed I am by Jennifer.  She truly is the reminder of God's grace in my life.  Far too many people in ministry don't have their spouse as their most intimate partner.  I was profoundly reminded that God called both of us to plant this church.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

real life disciples

For the past five weeks, our church plant has been looking at what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  As we walk through the story of Jesus and people, it amazes me how very different I now see His ministry.  Today we looked at Jesus calling Matthew and the ensuing dinner party.  Jesus made a priority of intentionally being with those the religious world looked down on.  He was called a "friend of sinners", a "glutton and a drunkard" and who knows what else.  His compassion and love for the sick is inspiring our group to really think differently about how and who we love.

The tendency is for Christians to love those who look, smell, and act like themselves.  We have called people to meet us on our turf and respond to how we live.  Jesus met Matthew on his turf and wasn't offended by who he had been.  This radical way of loving "those" people is a pointed mandate to live the way of Christ and impact our community.  We are looking for new and creative ways to meet people on their turf and live the way of love.  This makes discipleship about authentic, compassionate living.  There isn't a list of things to do nor a class to learn how the real disciples do it.  Simply, it is real people living transparent and humbly for the sake of Christ in the lives of others.  What is being a disciple mean to you?