This was our final Sunday at the faith community called, Friendship Celebration in Meridian, Idaho. Over the past two years, we have had the pleasure and blessing of establishing deep friendships, taking HUGE spiritual risks, and growing with the people of the congregation many of which have become not only new brothers and sisters but now a vital part of what we call our family in our life's journey. I have stated in previous posts how challenging it has been to follow the Lord as He has moved the "pillar of cloud and fire" and called us to a "new country"…we love the newness of the adventure that God is leading us on…we look SO forward to all that is on the horizon…but as we leave people whom we love, I remember the words of Paul as he shared his prayer for people he loved. If you don't know the complete story, read Acts 20. But for now, this is my prayer for our fellow followers of Jesus as we all take new steps of faithfulness, fellowship and kingdom living – we give thanks to God for all of you – we will always have a portion of our hearts at home with yours! Be the light on a hill and the salt of the earth that is your identity in Jesus!
"For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a
spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having
the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope
to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious
inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far
above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every
name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."
It would be hard to completely communicate and actually post about all that is going on in our lives these moments. As I have posted before, the "pillar of cloud and fire" has moved and we are moving with the Lord's presence. As of October 1st, Vicky and I will be living in Monroe, Washington and serving Peace Lutheran Church. We will continue to live the life that the Spirit has equipped us and blessed us to live…but there will be a new "country" to inhabit…new relationships to build…new adventures to embrace…new challenges that will be laid before us that will continue to call forth from our hearts and lives the fullness of what God has created us and equipped us to be. There is excitement in the journey…sadness in what we leave behind in memories, victories, our children and grandchildren and the numerous friends who have helped us to know more of God's love and intention for our lives in ministry and in life. The Community that the Spirit has enabled us to realize while in Idaho has been a huge blessing…life hasn't always been "easy" while we've been on the ground in the Treasure Valley…but we trust that the good work that God began in us years ago has been more fully embedded in us through a plethora of experiences during the past five years. We do know for certain that God is in this move…that realization does not make the move easier to navigate emotionally but it does make it exciting because the steps ahead are bound to be ones where we are amazed and surprised in how God continually acts and how He continues to use and move in and through us. So, give me a few days to get caught up with the blog…I might post more this weekend…I might not. In the meantime, I leave you with the words of Philippians 1:6 which inspire, motivate and challenge us to trust God in how, when and where He acts:
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
It has been almost a week since my last post. I wish I had something interesting, provocative, encouraging or uplifting to share…I know I do…it just must be hiding someplace and I can't find it for the moment. Many of you know that we are moving…and I have boxes everywhere. This type of reality in my causes a mental meltdown in my life…I am OCD enough to feel most comfortable, most creative, most at peace when life is relatively organized. Since it is not, my mind is a mess of knots. So, I'm leaving it at that…and I'm praying for some breakthrough over the coming days. Believe me, if something needs to be said, it will be until. Until then, well, this is about all you'll get!
All I can say now is that life is busy…I've got tons on my plate. Now, let me say this – I'm not complaining…it is, to quote an overused phrase, "what it is". Many of you know that we are moving…we have boxes to pack, things around the house to get ready, as well as a ministry journey to attempt to "end well." But the key issue is that of the heart…there are many emotions that you feel when you get to be a bit older and you look at another transition. I pray I'm a bit wiser with age…that for many of you is debatable…but we have the maturity behind us to be able to put a move to a new home and adventure in perspective. We know God is in this…that is for sure. We are excited about life in a new "country" because we have experienced all the blessings we have in every new place where we have been. There are opportunities for growth, new relationships and friends, new experiences, new victories as well as the lessons that accompany the unforeseen and predictable trials that await us. But in a move we are also leaving those we love…we have roots, friends, family, memories, places we love, events that we anticipate every year…from the trips to McCall to the closeness to Yellowstone and the Tetons…from "Alive at 5" to "Art in the Park" to bike rides on the Green Belt…from each of our wonderful kids and grandgirls to the pals and comrades that we have in Kingdom work @ Friendship Celebration as well as the numerous other relationships we have through the Treasure Valley that have built our hearts and lives over the past years. Yes, all those things and more…so it is a bit frustrating to try to find an emotional balance between these two strands of life…the pull of the excitement and anticipation of the steps ahead as we trust God and look forward to His blessings and new adventures ahead and the sadness of leaving behind the treasures, memories, lessons, depth of love and friendship that He enabled us to develop in the past. So…you wonder about the picture…really? Do you understand now?
A guy I like but have never met posted today on his journey of blogging. I liked the post so much that I thought I would re-post some of his main points. I've been blogging for almost four years now…yeah, long time. I've loved it, been bored with it, been bugged by it and sometimes even regretted it…but it has never been something I felt led to drop out of my life. I do it primarily to build community, "converse/debate/encourage" friends in my life, work out my abilities to write and express myself accurately and deliberately as well as to engage in some technological banter. But this list is helpful to take a peek at especially if you blog or read blogs regularly:
- Blogging helps me clarify my own thinking.
This is probably the primary benefit of blogging for me. Sometimes I am
not sure what I think about a topic until I have written on it. Writing
helps me untangle my thoughts.
- Blogging has given me first-hand experience with emerging technologies.
I have listened to many CEOs pontificate on this or that technology.
But they are not speaking from personal experience—and it shows. When
you actually use a technology, your learning and insights go to a
- Blogging has provided me with a mechanism for instant feedback.
I love the fact that people can comment on what I have written. Whether
the comments are good or bad, they help sharpen my thinking. As James
Surowiecki said in The Wisdom of Crowds, the “many are smarter than the few.”
- Blogging has given others a “peek behind the curtain.”
Some people are interested in the behind the scenes of an
author’s work, whether they be books, conferences, or messages. This
blog gives me an opportunity to share that with you all.
- Blogging has given me a way to engage my readers. I
receive a lot of mail from readers, mostly encouraging. But sometimes
from critics. In both cases, I’m asked questions about the things I’ve
written. The blog gives me a venue to converse with them directly. One
of the things that I find sad, however, is that some critics will blog
or critique something I’ve allegedly written, without coming to me
about it or asking for a response. One wonders why they won’t appear on
this blog to discuss it directly and see if their criticisms hold any
weight. But such is life.
- Blogging has helped me bypass traditional media when necessary.
I didn’t really understand this at the outset, but it has proven very
helpful. When the media fail to get the story right, I can quickly
address it and provide my side of the story. This has been particularly
helpful when we make big decisions that cause people to speculate. A
blog post can stop a rumor dead in its tracks.
- Blogging has made the ministry I participate in more visible.
- Blogging gives me a sounding board for future ideas and projects.
- Blogging gives me a venue to push the limits on the blogosphere by experimenting with various innovations.
- Blogging has helped me answer my critics with the graciousness of Christ. I
hope this is true. One way to view unjust criticism is to get upset,
reject it out of hand, defend, or attack back. The other is to view it
as an opportunity to reveal Jesus Christ in one’s response. Over the
years, God has given me an instinct to view it in the latter way. I
hope that I’ve been faithful to respond in a gracious manner at all times.
- Blogging gives me an opportunity to learn from others. I
happen to believe that some of the sharpest people in the world comment
on my blog. I’ve been sharpened a great deal by you. Anytime I’ve had a
question about something, or asked for feedback on an idea, I’ve been
impressed. I’ve learned a great deal from the folks who have taken the
time to make comments. Thank you!
In the book of Exodus, a pillar of cloud and fire was a manifestation of the presence of God in the lives and journey of the people of God. God's instructions were clear…when the pillar moves, you move. That's the reality that Vicky and I are facing and embracing in these days of our journey in the life of Jesus. Many of you know that we have been seeking the Lord for a place in which to do life where we would be able to use as many of the gifts that God has so graciously given us as possible. For more than a year, we have had the honor and privilege of launching a disciple-making Project within an existing, local church. Over that period of time, we have made dear friends, experienced a lot of joy and challenge and continued to seek God on how our next steps in life would be used best to His glory. In addition, prior to these last months, we have built many deep and fulfilling relationships with people whom we have come to regard as family. And I would be remiss if I didn't included the fact that four of our kids and two grandgirls live close to us in the Boise area…while we have been here, we even gained another daughter when Aaron got married last year. So, we have roots and "love" on this ground. But God has opened another "country" for us to inhabit and in which we pray we will be able to be faithful, fruitful and fulfilled in living for and serving in His Kingdom. Peace Lutheran congregation in Monroe, Washington (northeast of Seattle) has called us to share our lives and gifts and passions with them in a new era of our life's journey. I will serve as the congregation's pastor…Vicky will serve as she always has – as an encourager, gifted relational presence and through many of the ministries in which she has a passion. A new chapter is beginning…a new aspect of our journey in following Jesus is opening up for us to be able to experience…and we do it as humbly and as openly as we can…trusting that these next steps will be God-glorifying as well as fulfilling in ways that we have yet to even imagine. Despite what the ground that we are moving from has and does bring to our lives, we are moving to a place that we are excited to be able to inhabit and establish new roots, relationships, memories, and Kingdom victories. No, the people of God didn't know exactly where God was leading them…but they knew who was leading. That's exactly where we are…we know the Spirit is leading…we pray we will follow faithfully, joyously and expectantly!