Archive for October 2015

Any Given Sunday

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      We're still adjusting to our new normal, which doesn't really have a normal. Sunday's vary, and we never know what to expect. We could be rushing to get more food and print more bulletins, or we could look around wondering where everyone went.
      However, there is a consistency to our Sunday mornings. On any given Sunday, if you stop by our church, you will see our front door with scooters and bikes lined up outside.

     At about 9:30 am, kids start to show up. They love helping set up every Sunday morning. A couple Sundays ago, the district superintendent was here. While I was showing him around the church building, to see the progress we have made with our renovations, one of the kids made coffee, put coffee and hot water in the carafes, brought the breakfast food upstairs, and even remembered to put the milk in an ice bath so it would stay cold. 
      The kids at our church love to serve, they love to be a part of something, and they set their own alarms, and get themselves dressed most Sunday mornings, just to be here to do so. I've learned to never shy from asking "can you clean this up?" "can you fold these bulletins for me?"
      A couple Sundays ago, I asked a 2nd grade girl if she could make sure that everybody had a bulletin and a copy of the song we were singing that morning. This past Sunday, she came up to me, with the bulletins in hand saying "Pastor Robbie, should I make sure everyone has one of these again?" This Sunday, she will probably just do it. 
     If you were to visit our church on a Sunday morning, you won't see crowds, or a power point system. You won't get a praise band, or an elaborate sound system. You won't have the best furniture, or the best preacher (though, I'm not too bad, if I do say so myself). What you will see though, is the kingdom of God in action, where even the youngest are not turned away, but have a place. Not just a place to be babysit, but a place to participate and to serve. They are an integral part of the body of Christ, and they are discovering what that looks like.
     So when the district superintendent looks at me and says "you are raising up the next generation of church here", I am taken aback, and think for a second. That's exactly what we are doing. Sowing seeds with kids, many of whom have never connected with church before, to hear the gospel, and then to take their gifts of kindness, for reading scripture, for passing out bulletins, for singing, and we tell them "you can use those gifts, no matter how small, to be the kingdom of God here". 
    I challenge you, if you've never considered inter-generational worship, and putting children into service positions in your church, do it! They need some training, some mentoring, and they might not do it like an adult would. (many times they'll surprise you, and do it better), and you will truly see the kingdom of God come to life before your eyes. 
     At this point, I can't imagine doing church any other way. 

Pastor Appreciation: Learning to appreciate myself

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       October is Pastor appreciation month. Do not worry if you forgot or didn't know, there is still time to write a nice note and give your pastor a hug (trust me, those are more valuable than any sort of knick knack for her/his office). Also, you don't need a month to appreciate your pastor, invite them to coffee, get them a gift card, again, write a nice note. 
      I tease Mac every October with the same old joke, "It's pastor appreciation month, so how are you going to appreciate your pastor?" 
     Pastor appreciation is great. It's awesome to appreciate the people who mean a lot to us. People who willingly put in day in and day out to help us walk this road called life. Who answer our late night phone calls. Who give up vacations to officiate funerals. Who cry with us, and rejoice with us. Who help us enter into the presence of God. 
     But the question is, do I appreciate myself? People in care giving fields (nursing, doctors, teachers, and yes pastors, among others) care for others. It's our calling, it's our job, it's our life, and it's usually our passion. Only one issue, those are often some of the jobs with the highest burn out rates, with high issues of heart disease, and an assortment of other stress related issues. We tend to be overweight, we sometimes have last year's (or a decade ago's) hairstyle. Why? Because our life is spent caring for others, lifting up others, and not always caring for ourselves.
      We recently got back from a vacation to Florida, and I was again reminded that when you fly a plane with a child and the oxygen mask should fall, you put the mask on yourself first AND THEN your child. Because if you pass out, your child is not in good shape. 
       Here's the reality, I'm horrible at caring for myself, of appreciating myself. I put it off with the rhetoric of "others need me". Or "I don't have time". And while those things might be true, I forget that if I'm a mess, if I'm passed out in the seat next to the member of my congregation with a need... I can't help them! I have to put the oxygen mask on myself first. 
      SO here is the gruesome reality. 
     This is me with Mac in May. Aren't we cute?! I had no idea, but when I went to the doctor later that month, I found out I weighed the heaviest I ever did in my life. I was shocked. I was overwhelmed, and I realized I had no one to blame but myself. I was not treating my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit, I was not appreciating myself, and I was using all of these "good reasons" to neglect doing so. 
     So, I kicked my butt into gear. I prayed a lot. I realized I can't be a good pastor and be unhealthy. I can't be a good wife and be unhealthy. I can't care for others, if I don't care for myself, and I prayed about that A LOT! 
    Then I called my sister in law, who is a registered dietician and overhauled my eating. I told myself that it's ok to celebrate, to have treats, but my body is the temple of the Holy spirit, not a garbage can (sense a theme here?) so I was much more aware of what I was putting in.
     Solely changing my diet caused me to lose 10 pounds. I had more energy, and I felt a lot better. 
     After I got my diet under control, I did something I had no desire to do ever in my life. I started running. Not only did I start running, I started getting up at 5am to run. 
     In fact, I felt so good that in september I ran my first 5k!

      All of this to say, I'm learning to appreciate myself. To focus less on the things I don't like, and more on the fact that God gave me legs to move, a voice to speak and sing, He gave me this tremendous call to shepherd His people, and I am going to do everything in my power to value myself as the beloved of God, as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and put my oxygen mask on  first so I can better care for those around me. 
     I've lost over 20 pounds, and I feel great. I have a long way to go, but I know that I can do it, for my well being, and for the well being of those around me.