Monday, March 31, 2014

Growing Spiritually

The summer of 2009 was a time in my Christian walk where I felt spiritually stalled; it was like my relationship with God hit a wall.  Looking back, it shouldn’t shock me I was feeling like this.  There was so much that had changed in my life and it all impacted my relationship with God.

For example my work situation had changed.  The church I was serving in had just announced the resignation of our Lead Pastor due to moral failure.  Being one of the longest tenured staff members I was put on a team of five men who helped lead the church during the transition.  This meant preaching on a regular basis on Sunday mornings while still leading my regular ministries: High School Ministry and Missions.  Our family dynamic had changed.  Our beautiful little Sophie Marie was born just nine months earlier and it was taking time getting adjusted to being parents.  Being a dad was like being hit in the face with my selfishness and it was tough to bear.  Did I mention Charity was pregnant also?

In addition to work and family I was currently enrolled in seminary.  I was at this place in my graduate work where I was too far in to quit but the light at the end of the tunnel was extremely dim.  To be completely honest, I was at a point in my life where I wanted to quit seminary, leave our local church and move to Hawaii with my family.  I didn’t know how to manage the new responsibilities in my life and therefore my spiritual growth was quickly shoved to the back-burner.

Have you ever felt how I felt that summer?  Have you ever felt like with all the responsibilities of life you’ve shoved your spiritual growth to the back-burner only to forget about God?  Maybe the time you once set aside for morning prayer became stale so you quit waking up to spend time with God.  Maybe you were twenty-seven days behind in the Bible reading plan you committed to so you stopped reading God’s word.  Maybe you once clearly heard the voice of God but your life situation has changed and you’re struggling to hear your Savior’s voice.

This week I want to talk about three ways we can grow spiritually, check back tomorrow as we look at having regular times of prayer.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Responsive Reading- Discouragement

This Sunday we used a responsive reading in our time of worship (Thanks to Kathy B for helping making this happen).  If you haven't done a responsive reading before I encourage you to do some research on them and incorporate them into your worship service.  Responsive readings have been used in worship services for hundreds of years.  You may think: "Aren't they old and outdated?"  I would say, "yes, they are old.  But just because its old doesn't mean its not meaningful."  Using a responsive reading is an opportunity to bring meaningful response to your worship service.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
Psalm 42:1

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:6-7

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me. Psalm 42:8a

I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:9-10

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Psalm 43:1,2

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5

You might think: "How do you use a responsive reading?"

We have the person who is our regular host come up, after a few worship songs, and invite the body to read with them.  The Leader starts out with their part and then invites the congregation to read the All section.  We put the readings on the screen to invite everyone to involve themselves in the reading.  One great thing is for those who choose not to read, they still get to see God's words on the screen and hear God's word being read.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Steelhead Fishing

A few weeks ago I did something I rarely do, I woke up at 3am.  Now if you know me, you know that me and 3:00am are not friends!  I woke up, slid out of bed, brushed my teeth and headed out the door.  I arrived at my friends Frank's house around 4:00am where we jumped in his truck and drove North to Santa Rosa.  Now to be honest, I tried to sleep in the back of the truck but it was a little tough.  We arrived at the Russian River about 5:45am, it was still pitch dark outside.  By the time we had the boat in the water the sun was barely coming up over the river and it was time to fish!

I would guess we started fishing around 6:45am and it wasn't long until I had my first bite, but it wasn't a keeper (it was a baby fish).  See I grew up fishing with my dad on small streams, but nothing as big as the Russian River.  We didn't have a boat growing up so most of my fishing was from the bank of a lake or stream.

After hours of fishing it happened; I had my first Steelhead on line!  I was shocked when I had this fish on.  I've heard the stories of people fishing for steelhead for 2-3 years before catching their first one.  I had been steelhead fishing for about 7 hours when I finally had my first one on.  This fish hit hard and ran quick.  I started reeling in my line and have never fought a fish like this (better fighting than tuna fishing in Mazatlan).

After fighting the fish I finally saw him.  He got close to the boat but darted the other direction.  Every time I thought I had won the fight he took off.  Thankfully my buddy Frank knows how to row a boat and when the fish took off upstream he rowed upstream to keep me close.  We had another guy with us, Gino, who netted the fish for me.  It was an amazing feeling holding this fish in my hands!  After reeling him in, my hands were shaking from the adrenaline rush!

Another picture showing my joy of landing this fish!