Friday, June 21, 2013

The Most Transformative Part of Preaching

I wouldn't be the disciple I am today were if not for being a preacher.

And that statement isn't a judgment about preachers being more holy than other Christians. Preachers know they aren't the best disciples in their congregation. Instead, it's a confession about who I would be without the structure preaching brings to my life.

I need the weekly rhythm of studying Scripture and listening to God on behalf of my congregation. I need the positive peer pressure that accountable Christian leadership brings to my life.

I would be a much worse person were it not for God's call on my life to preaching.

But what has transformed my life most as a preacher isn't what you think it might be.
-It's not the hours of prayer, though that would change anyone.
-It's not the hours of study, though I'm grateful for knowing the Bible.
-It's not the hours of elders' meetings...which needs no explanation.

What has changed me most is the daily Front-Row seat I get each day to the awful tragedies that occur in the lives of people in my church and my community.

I see the pain of couples who have experienced an affair.
I see the pain of parents who lose children to suicide.
I see the pain of widows/widowers who are lost in life without their spouse.
I see the pain of addicts who waste half of their lives to a bottle, a poker table, or a computer screen.

I can't help but hug my wife and tell her I love her after counseling a couple that is struggling to find their love for one another again. I can't help but squeeze my kids a little tighter after the funeral of a 17-year old child. I can't help but call my parents and express my appreciation for the way they raised me after hearing addicts explain that their addiction started as a way to numb the pain of their father's abuse or their mother's neglect.

And I'm starting to realize that I get those reminders much more often than others do.

Our culture teaches us to hide from the pain of others.

But I would encourage you to:
-Attend more funerals. Funerals change your outlook on life.
-Visit people in hospitals. Hospitals change your outlook on health.
-Comfort friends who are going through divorce. Divorce changes your outlook on marriage.
-Walk beside friends with addictions. Addictions change your outlook on the value of moderation.

Each of these activities are part of my job description. And without them, I would look much less like Jesus.

Some preachers need to preach. Otherwise, we might not be disciples of Jesus at all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man Trip to Nebraska

Maddox and I took at man trip to Nebraska this past week.

I was the theme speaker at SoulQuest, a Church of Christ youth camp at York College in York, NE. The theme for the week was "Unmasked." Andy Spell led a packed house of 600 teens in worship. It was a powerful week of transformation and fun. SoulQuest is the highlight of the summer for most of our teens from Littleton.

Several students made the decision to commit their lives to God through baptism. Many others recommitted their lives and made a decision to live life without their "masks" on.
After my chapel talk, Maddox and I took daily adventures throughout Nebraska.

On Monday, we played golf at York Country Club. It was the most fun I've ever had on the golf course. I imagine there will be many more days of golf between the two of us. In the words of Maddox,  "I beat you because I got more points than you did!"
 On Tuesday, we went to Omaha's zoo. Make sure and go there if you're ever near Omaha. After several hours at the zoo, Maddox and I went to Rosenblatt Stadium (former site of the College World Series) and T.D. Ameritrade Park (new home of the College World Series).

On Wednesday, we went to Lincoln to tour Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska. We decided to leave our burnt orange in our suitcases. We saw 5 National Championship trophies and 3 Heisman trophies. And Maddox was cute enough to get a lady to take us on the field.
We also sneaked in a couple of rounds of miniature golf while we were in Lincoln. Maddox "beat" me again.
On Thursday, we stayed in York and swam at the hotel pool. And Friday we made the drive back home. We were so ready to see mommy and Addison!

It was a great week! God did great things among the teens.

Man Trip #1 is in the books.