My Intentions for 2011

>> Thursday, December 30, 2010

I work half days on this week between Christmas and New Years. My focus is celebrating the past year and planning (goal setting) for the coming year. I also take extra time to pray, reflect and read. I want this blog to be a place where I pull back the curtain and you can see a little of my heart as I give leadership to our church.

The Seed Goes Everywhere!
I've been focusing on the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:1-15). I've always been struck by the extravagant scattering of the seed (God's Word). It was scattered everywhere--on the path, on the rocks, in the weeds and even in good soil. There was no stinginess or apparent carefulness in how the seed was shared. It just got put out there; flung everywhere.

I so much want our church to sow seed like that. Just put God's Word out there everywhere! But do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). But just do it! Sow seeds of His truth in our families, our neighborhoods, work places, our friendships, our small groups....seed flying everywhere across the Cedar Valley and the world.

Celebrating Christmas Eve
I was celebrating in my heart on Christmas Eve when I was introduced to several people who were invited 'on the arm of a trusted friend" who are far from the church and maybe far from God. Many of you sowed seeds with invitations and I thank you.

The last verse of the parable has really struck me this week.

But seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

My Intentions for 2011
So, I've been thinking about my intentions for 2011. What do I intend to be true about my life this coming year? Obviously, only with God's help and strength can any of this happen! Here are a few of my intentions:

I intend to persevere in abiding with Christ and through that abiding bear some fruit.

I intend to keep my life and our church focused on outreach to those far from God.

I intend to love, serve, encourage and enjoy my family.

I intend to keep striving and risking for impact in Orchard's five communities.

I intend to expand my impact and utilize my influence in my own 6th community (those places where God has given me influence).

These are not so much 2011 goals or resolutions as a prayer that God would help me persevere and produce a crop that would be pleasing to Him. I believe 2011 is an incredible year of opportunity and ministry. I am passionate about what God will do through our lives and our church!


I love Christmas!

>> Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's true. I love the feelings and practices of Christmas. I love the focus upon God's greatest gift and the focus upon family together time. For our family, the Christmas season officially begins the Friday morning after Thanksgiving when we go out to the farm to cut our trees. Later that weekend we decorate and begin playing Christmas music. My wife, Linda, begins to take whatever grandkids are around through the stories of the Jesse Tree.

Last weekend we had our immediate family Christmas. It was a blast. We celebrated from Friday's supper through late afternooon on Sunday. All of our kids and grandkids were home. Our parents (the great grandparents) stopped in to watch, play and hold the new baby. Jackson.
We laughed, told stories, created and played games, opened gifts, and sang Christmas carols. The focus of our time was each other, God's greatest gift, fun and food. (Linda, my wife, does an amazing job on food!)

We make up games. My kids (led by Ben) created a new game I would call family room pong which was something like playing racquet ball off the family room walls with ping pong balls and paddles. I reinstituted for a second generation, the game "refrigerator" which means that grandpa lays on the floor and 8 grandkids climb on him and try to keep him from moving. Grandpa's goal and the way to score is for me to reach the refrigerator (thus the name). It was hilarious to watch the kids wrestle, fight and pull to keep grandpa from moving.

In the evenings, we shut off the lights except the tree and candles and sing Christmas carols. Each grandchild gets to choose which one they want us to sing. Our grandkids also shared favorite parts of the celebration.

Sometimes, I hear great frustation with the direction of our culture and with the commercialization of Christmas. Sometimes, I'm in converstaions with people and their focus can be everything that is wrong with the world. Sometimes, fear and frustration are the driving emotions even Christians want to express.

I love Christmas because it is one season of the year when each of us has great influence over where our focus and the focus of our family will be. Will you and I get the focus right. Will we pour out our lives in service to each other? Will we get the focus on the silent and holy night of God's gift? Will fun be a key element? Will we build traditions that will be passed into future generations?

Linda says we have about 50 coming for Christmas Day. Probably not a lot of quiet in our house that day. But I bet there will be fun!

I love Christmas because the season gives us the opportunity to get quiet, to reflect upon God's greatest gift, and to invest in those we love.


Amazed & Perplexed!

>> Saturday, December 11, 2010

Amazed and Perplexed!

When the church is working right and led by the Spirit of God we find ourselves amazed and perplexed (Acts 2:28) so often by what God does. God is amazing and perplexing! He is good. He is so at work!

"Amazed and perplexed" is exactly how I feel as I reflect upon The Christmas Store and Craft Fair which took place this morning in Walnut Neighborhood in East Waterloo.

235 volunteers arrived early in the rain to both the Boys and Girls Club and Harvest Vineyard Church. We helped 223 families purchase gifts for their children and many other families made gifts and crafts at the Craft Fair. Watching the smiles, hearing the stories, watching our personal shoppers carry gifts around the store for the shoppers, watching hugs, was awesome.

Our volunteers were unbelievable, fantastic, positive, helpful....the hands and feet of Jesus.
Our donors were amazing in this $45-50,000 project. (the estimated cost of these 1770 toys and cash gifts given).
Our Big House, BASIC, and CHAOS gave 259 gifts!
Laura's leadership and the 13 key leaders who made this happen were organized partners working together on an important Christmas project.

The weather worked perfectly. Rain throughout and then just as we were closing down beautiful snow! And tonight I look out our windows at a blizzard! Amazing.
So many people have a story from this morning. Several have already emailed that this event will be a favorite time from the whole season. Many people received "thanks" and hugs.
I was so proud to partner with our fantastic volunteers and leaders. I think my heart grew 3 sizes this morning as I watched, helped a little and prayed for all of us involved.


>> Monday, December 6, 2010

Do you ever get so far behind in your work that all you can do is laugh at yourself? That happens to me sometimes and it happened last Friday afternoon.

The forecast was for 2-4 inches of snow. Some flakes had started falling. I decided if was my last opportunity to do the fall cleaning of the eaves on our house. So I get out the ladder and begin to pull the leaves and pine needles out of the eaves. Of course, they are frozen in place which makes the task a lot more difficult. The snowflakes were beautiful and I couldn't help but laugh at myself. Who else is out cleaning their eaves during the beginning of a winter snow watch?

Here I am fighting the ice. Frozen hands. Cold feet. Frosty ears. People driving by probably thought I was hanging Christmas lights. (I know most people who do lights had them done a couple weeks ago!) Again, I've just gotten behind in my daily tasks at home. How does this happen?

I'm thinking that a whole bunch of my friends and partners are feeling way behind as the holidays approach. I'm thinking that there is much to do and even now the time is feeling short. I'm thinking about those who will shortly have new babies, or those who are starting new jobs, or moving, or those who have over-committed their time to good projects. I'm thinking about school programs, presents to buy, meals to plan, and schedules to coordinate.

Last week at BASIC (the large group worship event at UNI) I taught one of my favorite verses--

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I'm praying that you and I could have peace from Christ as we approach the holidays. And then with peace in our hearts, maybe we can continue to laugh at ourselves as we work to catch up. Maybe right in the holiday rush we can find the peace and presence of Jesus the Christ. I hope that can be true for both you and I.


  © Blogger template Webnolia by 2009

Back to TOP