Eeyore and Grace!

Do you have any Eeyore’s in your life?

The message God gave me for this past Sunday was on grace. I am a pastor for those who may not be aware. We are studying our way through the book of James on Sunday mornings at RC4SQ Church and had come to chapter four, verse six where James writes, “But He (God) gives greater grace.”

The definition of “greater” means that there is nothing better; nothing bigger; nothing grander; no-thing at all greater than the grace God gives to you or me. Grace is not a concept either; it is a Person, the Person Jesus Christ!

As I was putting together my notes and power-point during the week I had run across this posting on Facebook…

“One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to be happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind, or ask him to change.”  (I added the picture)

eeyoreHaving been, and sometimes still feeling like Eeyore, I thought this statement was fantastic especially when looking at grace as the Person of Christ. You see, Jesus is that friend who invites me along for all the adventures and shenanigans. YES! It is OK to have shenanigans as a Christian, just within reason!

However, Jesus does not ask me to pretend to be something I am not, happy or otherwise. He does not leave me behind. He loves me anyway. As for change, He does that in and through me as He sees I am ready for it, then it is called growth and maturity.

I used Eeyore as my illustration because most everyone can relate to his situation. Tails fall off and we need help putting them back. Dark clouds do sometimes follow us around. People come into our lives that need help and have nowhere else to turn.

God even brought an Eeyore right through the front door of the church as some of us were still hanging around in fellowship. This Eeyore was in a mess. We helped how we were able. Did a follow-up this morning but cannot find the person.

What do we do? We stay available for the next time that tail falls off and we pray for God’s safety to be around and with this person. In short, we love this person anyway.

Look for the Eeyore’s in your life, love them anyway.

Oh, and did you notice…Eeyore does not where socks!

Update on settling in…

Well, the settling in is progressing here in Ridgecrest. We were able to find a nice house with a long lease option that allowed us to get out of living in the travel trailer. We moved our belongings and stuff, but it is still just taking up space in the garage and storage shed. It is interesting when you live in two places for a time and one of those is a travel trailer, we discovered there are things we do not miss or really need on a day to day basis. There will be a large donation made to the local thrift very soon, well as soon as we are motivated to go through it all. While most of the country is enjoying the onset of autumn while here in the RC we are still experiencing upper ninety-degree days. This does not bode well for wanting to sort through boxes in a hot garage!
My Honey is working part-time as a shift supervisor with a local pizza parlor. We are both still taking online classes while balancing ministry. RC4SQ (our new church home) is moving along slow and steady. There is a great core group of people here and we have some good friends who moved here to join us in ministry. They even have shared the experience of living at the church in our trailer! I think that will be the new training ground for anyone wanting to go into ministry; it really builds your faith in God while also building patience in His plan. (They get to move into their new home tomorrow.)
There have been some difficulties with settling in. One thing we are noticing, even though this is a close-knit community and the people are great, we are still the new folks. We have to remember what it was like when we moved to the Kern Valley. We spent almost twenty years there raising children, ministering, and owning a business. We cannot go anywhere up there without running into several people we have shared life with in one way or another. We are making good strides in building relationships with people and have some great neighbors too.
Our fur-babies are happy to be out of the trailer/church living environment also. They have a large yard to romp and play in but they are not very sure of the increase in jets flying overhead. Living in a town with a Naval Air Station brings a renewed sense of patriotism to me but my dogs prefer to bark more when the planes are active.
Another great thing that has happened since being here is our sixth grandchild arrived three weeks ago, another little girl! I have more in common with my son-in-love now that he too will be raising three girls. I am feeling my only grandson’s future troubles as well, him growing up around all girls; he is going to need to be tough!
Even though this community is bike friendly, I have not been as active as I would like. It could just be the heat of summer, but I have gotten out for a few rides and managed to reach a goal for one of the few hills we have here in the desert. I just need to plan on the extra time to get to places or meetings and force myself to go on two wheels!
Another discipline I will be working on is writing more. My class this semester was English Comp and it has been very insightful, helpful, and extremely challenging. The assignments have revived my inner writer so I will be trying to stay up on my posts.
Thanks for stopping by and taking a few moments out of your day to read my musings. Remember…if you cannot do it without socks, it may not be worth doing!

Joining a Ministry Family…12 Days In…

Well, here we are, 12 days into this new adventure of being the pastor of Ridgecrest 4Sq Church! It feels good, very natural so far. I drive around the town and it feels like I’ve been here for a while. Of course it doesn’t hurt that we have had one or more of our kids living here for the past eight years.

It actually got started before the first of the month when I officially took the helm of this dessert ship. I got a message a few days before the 1st from one of the NA members about the toilets overflowing!!! I called my “facilities fix it dude” and he was aware of it the problem. Apparently it has been happening for a while. There is apparently a trick to running the kitchen water and timing it with the flush of the toilets! Gotta love old buildings!!!

So along with the plumbing issues, there have been my first council meeting, internet troubles, water leaks in the swap cooler lines, no air conditioning in what is to be my office…minor glitches (not the council meeting!)…nothing this pioneering spirit and his awesome Honey can’t handle!

The people here are great and very welcoming, ready for what God is going to do! My first message was well received and we’ve even had people who haven’t been around for a while stop by to see what’s going on. Maybe that’s due to the fact that we parked our travel trailer out back of the church!!! Insert “You might be a redneck preacher if…” comment here!

I think our short hairy kids are taking it the worst. I went back over the hill for a school board meeting and took them with me. They were glad to be in their familiar yard and home. They stayed in this position on our bedroom floor though for about two hours…

IMG_1399[1]They are pretty adaptable “kids” though and have fun running around the church property and hanging out in the main building while I do stuff in my office. Don’t worry, they will survive!!!

Becoming a desert rat is not something I ever real figured would be in a description of me. I’ve always been a cool weather person. But hey, my shorts and flip-flops fit in very well here! And besides…there is beauty in the desert that happens no other place…

IMG_1400[1] Even with the wires of the city, there is beauty that only God can provide when you stop to look around!

Shalom peeps!

And remember…always remember…try something without socks…life’s just too short!!!

Joining a ministry family…part two…

In the first segment of this series I mentioned that in ministry we often ask the question, ‘What is God saying and what are we going to do about it?’

When we merged our church with the Family at Faith Community we joined something larger than just a local church family, we joined in with The Foursquare Movement. Founded as an interdenominational organization with the intent and focus of evangelism, this larger family has now brought us into the fold. As I had shared previously, I have been going through the licensing process. Last month was my interview and recommendation before the board of directors. On April 30th the board voted and approved me and today I received my official License to Preach…

Officially Certified!

Officially Certified!

The original plan was that I would get licensed and be installed as associate pastor with Faith Community. That was until that phone call back in January, the one from our divisional supervisor about a church nearby that was in need of a pastor. Well as it turns out the pastor who has been there for over fourteen years is retiring this month, he was supposed to retire last year but didn’t feel right about it plus this year his wife is retiring from nursing so they get to retire together.

The church in need of a new senior pastor is in the community of Ridgecrest California. A small city in the Mojave Desert with a Naval Weapons Base as the main employer. It just so happens that our oldest daughter and son-in-love have lived there for several years, and our middle daughter and son-in-love go over there for visits quite often. This is a bonus as we will get to see them all more often together.

Well if you figured it out by now (and I know you have because you are all rather intelligent people who read my stuff), I am now the new senior pastor of Ridgecrest Foursquare Church!
Chuch pic
A small church with a rich history, loving people, and a hunger for what God has in store for us and the community as we serve together to advance the Kingdom of God!

This journey has been like no other I’ve experienced with changing leadership in churches before. Most of the time it has been a long drawn out process of resumes and interviews, this however has been so chill that it just feels so natural and planned out ahead of me for years. That is how God works after-all!

So after just a few short months of planning and prayer, my Honey and I will be starting another season of life and ministry as of June 1st! Prayers are appreciated for us and our new church family as well as our extended family at Faith Community!

And yes, this journey will be done mostly without socks of course! Is there any better way to live?

Joining a ministry family…

Last year ministry wise was a big change for me. My Honey and I had pioneered a non-denominational church plant way back in ’04. This came after my graduating from seminary classes in ’03 and some friends posing the question, “So, how do you start a church?”

We had opened our business, a Christian Coffee House the previous year and things were going well, why not plant a church too! Fast forward ten years and the demand of business owner and shepherd to a small church was taking its toll on us. Our marriage was struggling and we had began counseling in late 2012 to get that back on track (we were given a clean bill of health just a few months ago!).

The decision came to sell the shop and focus on ministry. My Honey threw out the question, “Why are we still here in this area? Maybe God has something else in store for us. Do you still get those listings for churches needing pastors?”

I had been subscribed to church job search websites for a long time, so we began to look again. I dusted off my resume, wrote a new cover letter and began sending out feelers. We came close to going to Central Washington around March of last year, but that was not where God wanted us to be. When that was a possibility I had contacted a long time friend and fellow pastor (Neal) who had just merged his ministry with another church he had grown up in.

Their plan was to have three campuses serving together in the community but they didn’t want to move into my area of the valley without partnering with us or if by chance I wasn’t going to be in the area. I had asked him if we did move North if they would bring our church into the fold and carry on the ministry. Well when Washington didn’t come through I sat down with God and had a long talk.

I came away with the sense that I would just be content in waiting for His timing and direction. It was closing in on Easter and I figured that no church would be going through the process of finding their new pastor for a while. I had it in my heart that sometime after Easter I would get another call for an interview or something.

Well the Monday after Easter my buddy Neal calls me to talk. It had been a few weeks since he had found out the Washington position had not gone through and wanted to see how things were going and what I thought God was doing now. We met for lunch the next day and then with the other pastor (Jon) and his wife that following Friday. God was at work and we talked about making the full merge with them.

The timeline was aggressive to make the merge, plus we had our trip to Alaska planned right in the middle of it. But it was what God wanted to do so we followed. It has given me a chance to reflect on my ministry calling and gain a fresh perspective as well.

When we joined up we still felt as though God was calling us out of the area and that this new merge may not be permanent. The plan was to get me licensed in Four Square and then just see what God was going to do. Well I started the process of licensing and we were six months into the merge. Neal, Jon and I sat down for a focus group kinda meeting…where are we, where are we headed, what’s the plan for the next six months?

Well, a couple weeks later I get a phone call from Jon and he’s telling me that they heard from the divisional supervisor of a position open about an hour East of us. They warned me when I joined up with Four Square that it was a family type relationship and that things like this happen a lot. Things like getting a phone call instead of the whole resume and searching process.

One of the big things we ask about life in ministry is this – What is God saying and what are you going to do about it?

A big part of my ministry family! Amie, My Honey, Me, Jon, and Neal (Stacy wasn't up there with us but she's a big part too!)

A big part of my ministry family!
Amie, My Honey, Me, Jon, and Neal (Stacy wasn’t up there with us but she’s a big part too!)


We decided to see what God was saying at that point. You’ll have to wait for my next post to see what I am doing about it though…

Enjoy your life and try it without socks!