The Pain of the Plan

God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard. – Francis Chan

Doing the will of God is extremely difficult.  Even for people who desire above all thinigs to follow Him without compromise, when it comes to ACTUALLY having to put motion to that follow is very difficult.  Let me try to explain.

I met Jesus in July of 2007.  From that point I knew that Jesus wanted me to be in ministry, and I was willing to do whatever, or go whereever to make that a reality.  My wife and I waited 5 years (three of those once we had a solid confirmation of our call) for Jesus to send us.  And on June 9th 2012 He sent us to Oklahoma.  This meant leaving our home church (MeadowBrook) and everything we had known as a married couple for 8 years.  IT WAS HARD.

  • Before this move I had watched my best friend in ministry leave to follow God’s calling.  So not only is God’s call difficult for ministers, it has an effect on those who are not the ministers as well.

Continuing with my story, we moved to Oklahoma and planted ourselves there.  We were close to my mom for the first time in a number of years, I had access to OKC, but MOST IMPORTANTLY we were blessed with an absolutly amazing group of students at the church we were moved to.  We got to live life with these kids for four years, and it was an amazing four years.  But then in July of 2016, God called us to move again.  This move wasn’t an easy decision.  It meant distance from my mom, and severing ties and relationships that had been built at our church over those four years.  But the faithfulness of God allowed us to plant at our new church and begin to establish new realtaionships with another great group of students.

The truth is we love the students we are currently pouring into, and we love the current church we are planted at.  At the same time we still love the students we connected with in Oklahoma, and we still love those people we connected with at MeadowBrook.  BUT WHEN GOD CALLS US TO FOLLOW HIM, HE NEVER PROMISES AN EASY PATH.  BUT HE IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!

As a Student Pastor you garner unique and personal relationships with your students.  It is not that you don’t establish relationships with others in the church you are serving at, but you establish much more intimate relationships with the students you are serving.  And anytime those relationships have to change because of a call of God it is difficult, but as I said it is worth it.

A couple of things that I want you as my readers to gain from this post:

  1. Above all things, the call of God must be the motivating factor.  That call may mean leaving family, the comfort of familiarity, or a group of students that you are absolutly in love with.  But even in light of these difficulties, God and His glory must be our motivation.
  2. Undertand how difficult it is for the minister who is actually making the move.  While there is going to be hurt in the wake of a change (this hurt can come from both positive and negative separations), there is hurt and emotional pain that the minister carries.
  3. Make the Glory of Christ the focus in the aftermath of change.  This can be something personal within individuals, or something that is pressed forward from the church as a whole.  Mouring is okay (from both sides), but once you move past that refocus your eyes on Christ and know that these situations/circumstances are done by and according to God’s design.
  4. Lastly, don’t sever relationships.  Whie relationships may never be entirely the same, and possibly awkward, don’t disolve them.  I personally believe that it hurts both sides emotionally when we try to pretend the other doesn’t exist.

Let me end with a quote from John Piper on suffering:

[Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.

It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.  It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.

Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.] – John Piper

I love you guys!!  Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Pens In 6

la-sp-sidney-crosby-20160612

Captain Sidney Crosby with Lord Stanley.

Another great NHL season came to an end last night as the Pittsburgh Penguins captured the Stanley Cup.  The Pens defeated the San Jose Sharks who were in the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

This season was a great one overall.  I saw my Preds make it to game 7 of the second round only to fall to these same Sharks.  This is the farest that Nashvile has made it in their history, as a Preds fan the future seems bright.  We saw the President’s Trophy winning Caps (who blew through the regular season like a knife in hot butter) taken out in the second round by these same Penguings.  Two big sticking points from this years playoffs were the absence of Steven Stamkos and Tyler Seguin.  While “Stammer” absence wasn’t as felt (as shown by the play of the Bolts), the injury to Tyler Seguin was an unquestioned sticking point for the Dallas Stars.  And once again the Sharks come up short.  They will have a banner to raise this year, unlike in the past, but this may have been the last opportunity for “Jumbo” Joe and Patrick Marleu.

I am not the biggest Penguins fan, but I can say that this team really showed what it means to have four lines, and everyone contribute.  And while I have been vocal about Sidney Crosby in the past he showed maturity and leadership as the captain this year.  As much as it pains me to say this, this team has the opportunity to be successful for a number of years, but hopefully my Preds will have something to say about that.

#isitoctoberyet

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Phil Kessel celebrates with the Stanley Cup.

The Heart Speaks

45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 (ESV)

Most of us would read this passage and agree with gusto.  Even as I sit here writing this, I know that what you fill yourself with is what is going to come out.  But, do we really think about this truth in our day to day life?  Let me show you why I am landing here today.

I play hockey with a great group of guys, it has been such a treat to have fun and make some new friends.  The other night before I left to come home I made a comment in the room that I shouldn’t have.  I made it because I thought it made me “cool”.  (Yes even at 34 years old I still struggle with wanting to be liked.)  Anyway, this statement came out because I wasn’t full with the things that I needed to be full of.  Since I was full of less than good stuff, less than good stuff comes out.

Now here me out, I am not saying that you have to be in your Bible 24/7, or that you should neglect your job or family to fill yourself with “good” things.  As a matter of fact we can fill ourselves with the “knowledge” of God and His word and not actually be changed.  The life we should live should be so consumed and transformed by Christ that the overflow of the heart will naturally be the things of God.  This overflow will not be a forced response to our  oppressed obedience, but rather it will be the natural outflow of a life that is filled with the only thing that can truly satisfy us, and that is Christ.

So next time before you speak, take just a second and consider what has led to this outflow, is it the things of the world, or is it Christ.

12 Years and Counting

wd005wdw201414578475974

Twelve years ago yesterday I stood before this beautiful woman and vowed myself to be hers for the rest of my life, and 12 years in, with the exception of my salvation, is the greatest decision I have made in my life.  She met me when I had thin and really bad hair, and all I wore was kaki pants and 2x t-shirts (I had style).

EPCOT_WRLDSHW1_7226388592

This woman has stood by my side through some of the most difficult times of my life, and what probably turned out to be extremely difficult times for her as well.  She has grown tremendously since our move to Oklahoma, and our marriage and friendship are better because of it.

MK_ENTR_7628959528

She has also become my greatest companion to my “happy place”, Disney World.  She is by far the greatest blessing in my life, and is the perfect fit for me.  She puts up with my late night hockey, my love for Disney, and my weird quirks.  Laura I hope that I make you as happy as you make me everyday.  Waking up next to you every day is the greatest thing. I love you my dear!!

Why I Deleted My Bible App.

As with most Christians today most have a Bible app of some type on their phone or tablet.  These apps have often quickly taken the place of an actual Bible.  I’m not a huge fan of this reality, but that is not th main thrust of this post.  I had the YouVersion of the Bible on my phone and began the “read through the Bible in a year”.  I started this reading plan to be able to keep up with the reading that my home church in Alabama was doing.  I was a little behind so I did not start till February.  As of last Thursday I was 284 days into a 340 plan, about 50 days from completion.  Today I chose to delete the app.  The reasoning, I have read up to this point simply to read and check off the next box on the list.  It is true, spending time in God’s word everyday is vital to a growing relationship with Christ. But the truth is if all we are doing is reading just to read than we are missing the boat completely.  So starting tomorrow I am engaging in a new method of study and digging into the word.  I am praying that I will be able to have a greater understanding and deeper relationship with Christ by mining the word rather than just skimming through it to to finish off a reading plan.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Joshua 1:8

My Guitar Timeline

Since I started playing guitar in the 10th grade I have had a lot of them.  And now that I am older I am looking back and realizing that I should have kept many if not all of these guitars instead of selling or trading them away.  The first guitar I had was an Alvarez Dreadnot.  I had that guitar for about two years before I began collecting other.  The following are all the guitars that I have owned/own in the order of how I have obtained them and why I no longer have them.

My first electric guitar.  A Peavey Raptor.  Even though it was not an "expensive" guitar it is still the favorite electric I've owned.  Pawned it for cash.

My first electric guitar. A Peavey Raptor. Even though it was not an “expensive” guitar it is still the favorite electric I’ve owned. Pawned it for cash.

Epihone Chet Atkins SST, the "Dave Matthews Guitar".  My most favorite guitar I've ever owned.  Known in our house as Chet.  Owned this guitar then traded it for my next guitar, then got another one only to sell it.  Biggest regret in regards to my guitars is that I still don't own this.  They no longer produce these.

Epihone Chet Atkins SST, the “Dave Matthews Guitar”. My most favorite guitar I’ve ever owned. Known in our house as Chet. Owned this guitar then traded it for my next guitar, then got another one only to sell it. Biggest regret in regards to my guitars is that I still don’t own this. They no longer produce these.

A cheap acoustic/electric that I gained by trading my Chet Atkins.  Not really sure why I ever owned this guitar.

A cheap acoustic/electric that I gained by trading my Chet Atkins. Not really sure why I ever owned this guitar.

Epiphone Les Paul Custom, the "Brad Avery Guitar".  I've owned this guitar twice as well.  I originally got this guitar because one of my favorite guitarist played it.  Sold the first one for cash, then traded the second one.

Epiphone Les Paul Custom, the “Brad Avery Guitar”. I’ve owned this guitar twice as well. I originally got this guitar because one of my favorite guitarist played it. Sold the first one for cash, then traded the second one.

Taylor 314.  This was my first purchase with my teaching paycheck.  This was a great guitar and I owned it longer than any other.  Had some problems with electronics so traded it  for Taylor 414.

Taylor 314. This was my first purchase with my teaching paycheck. This was a great guitar and I owned it longer than any other. Had some problems with electronics so traded.

Epiphone Les Paul Studio.  This was the guitar that I picked up after I sold my frist white Les Paul.  Wound up trading it for a Gibson Les Paul.

Epiphone Les Paul Studio. This was the guitar that I picked up after I sold my frist white Les Paul. Wound up trading it for a Gibson Les Paul.

I had always wanted a Ric since I was introduced to the Beatles, when I was presented with the opportunity to own it I couldn't pass it up.  When I recieved it the neck repair wasn't as nice as I wanted and the guitar was MUCH smaller than I planned.  I returned it after owning it for five days.

I had always wanted a Ric since I was introduced to the Beatles, when I was presented with the opportunity to own it I couldn’t pass it up. When I recieved it the neck repair wasn’t as nice as I wanted and the guitar was MUCH smaller than I planned. I returned it after owning it for five days.

My final and current electric, Gibson Les Paul.  Picked this up after I traded the Les Paul Studio.  My wife liked the look of this one when I bought it which helped with my decision.

My final and current electric, Gibson Les Paul. Picked this up after I traded the Les Paul Studio. My wife liked the look of this one when I bought it which helped with my decision.

Gibson Hummingbird Pro.  This was the guitar I picked up after trading my first Taylor.  This was a great guitar that I only owned for 10 months.  This guitar traveled with me to Kenya before I sold it so I could but hockey equipment.

Gibson Hummingbird Pro. This was the guitar I picked up after trading my first Taylor. This was a great guitar that I only owned for 10 months. This guitar traveled with me to Kenya before I sold it so I could but hockey equipment.

My current guitar, Taylor 414.  I bought this before I sold my Gibson.

My current guitar, Taylor 414. I bought this before I sold my Gibson.

I’ve owned a lot of guitars, and as I said regret the sale of many of them.  However, looking back over the last 20 years, I have learned a ton about things, money, myself, and a lot of other things.  Moving forward I pray I can do it with a little more wisdom.

My Tweet, Then My Delete

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 4.55.51 PM

My wife informed me this afternoon that we have to renew or health insurance soon.  Our new policy will see our payments increase by 50% to over $300 a month.  In the five minutes that this post was up I had a favorite on Twitter and a like on Facebook.  Now a lot of you will look at this tweet and think: “What’s wrong with you saying this, it’s true.”  I am not going to argue with you over the factual nature/validity of the statements in this tweet, because my reasoning for deleteing this goes a lot deeper for me personally.  Almost as soon as I posted this, it didn’t take long for me to be confronted by the Holy Spirit.  Let me explain in a little greater detail.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34b

Here are the ways that the Holy Spirit confronted me:

  1. Do you love President Obama?  To answer that question, yes I do.  I don’t necessarily agree with his politics or decisions, but I love him.  How?  Because the Spirit of Love dwells in me.  And if I am going to post tweets like that out of anger, then it shows that my care for him is emotional or situational based, which it must not be.  My love for others must never be based on anything but Jesus and in that case I should love all people at all times.
  2. What will your current/future church think of you?  Now this isn’t an observation toward my own self preservation, but rather to the thing I am portraying to others.  There are many people in churches that would read that tweet and give it a hearty AMEN.  And if they do that, they are welcome to do so.  But for me, if others see that this is the response of a “church guy” specifically one in leadership, then what would stop those people from responding in the same way as me?  So this second rebuttle from the Holy Spirit has more to do with the Jesus I am projecting rather than my own social status/popularity.
  3. Where is home Jaime?  This is where the Spirit hit me the hardest and why He led me to that passage of scripture.  Jesus is in total control of EVERYTHING, and that everything includes my finances.  I am not going to lie, it is frustrating, but this is not home for me.  One day Jesus is going to rescue me from this foreign land that I am in.  But until that point I know that He is going to provide for me and my family as we NEED, not necessarily as we want.  That provision may find us lacking some things in the physical world, but so what.  That is main reason that I had to delete that post.  I just felt Jesus speaking to me saying, “Don’t you trust me?”.

And to answer that question, YES, I do trust Jesus.  Not only with my eternity, but (as hard as this is) with my life here on earth as well.  And a rash reaction just points out that maybe my heart isn’t where it needs to be.  Thank you Jesus for forgiveness and reminding me that you are what really matters, not the junk on this side of eternity.