#709 - 71 REASONS I'M DEEPLY GRATEFUL FOR MY SABBATICAL

We LOVE the Huang’s!

We LOVE the Huang’s!

Hate the Dodgers. Absolute LOVE our brother-in-law Donovan!

Hate the Dodgers. Absolute LOVE our brother-in-law Donovan!

BANG. BANG.

BANG. BANG.

  1. Being given the opportunity by my church to take a 3-month sabbatical.

  2. Being gifted additional financial resources from my church to enjoy during the sabbatical.

  3. Resisting the temptation to be pulled back into certain ministry situations which I became aware of.

  4. Watching the Pastoral Team lead the church well (especially in the adversity) in my absence.

  5. Receiving encouraging emails/texts from the pastors and leaders of the church.

  6. Being free (for the most part) of the emotional weight and responsibility of shepherding people’s souls.

  7. Being free of the responsibility of/for the “results” and “success” of the church.

  8. Having six different preachers fill our pulpit in my absence—four from our church and two church planters in Oakland.

  9. Seeing giving increase in my absence!

  10. Seeing Jesus build His church without me!

  11. Seeing our next church plant Core Team gain momentum.

  12. Receiving several future preaching invitations.

  13. Enjoying many moments of feeling the tangible presence of God during private praise and worship unto him.

  14. Realizing early on into the sabbatical that even a sabbatical is not “the answer.”

  15. Letting go of the guilt that comes along with being blessed with a sabbatical of this nature.

  16. Vegging out on multiple movies/series/documentaries on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  17. Being available to assist as an assessor for the Acts 29 US West Network.

  18. Finishing the final draft of Only God.

  19. Receiving endorsements for Only God from leaders I respect and admire.

  20. Making tremendous progress towards the publishing of Only God.

  21. Hearing that Only God will be available for pre-order in January 2020 and will be officially released in February!

  22. Thinking of, creating, and designing several ebooks to be given as free pre-order bonuses for Only God.

  23. Having the time to invest in working on my creative ideas, especially for the book launch.

  24. Being able to sleep in…often.

  25. Enjoying nice, quiet, long walks with my wife and Merritt.

  26. Receiving a Playstation 4 from JR so I could play video games.

  27. Playing video games for hours and hours and hours without any condemnation from my wife!

  28. Enjoying many uninterrupted hours of reading multiple fiction and non-fiction books.

  29. Building our friendship with the Huang’s through our trip to Disneyland.

  30. Watching and investing time with the Huang kids so Chris and Cori could go on a getaway.

  31. Eating Brazilian BBQ with my entire immediate family.

  32. Enjoying Xiao Long Bao with the Yim’s.

  33. Enjoying Korean BBQ with the Kim’s.

  34. Enjoying Peruvian with the Stites.

  35. Catching up with the Hung’s over Chicken and Waffles in their new home.

  36. Making shoe deals at Sole Supremacy with JR and enjoying a Japanese lunch together.

  37. Purchasing and selling several Air Jordans.

  38. Getting approval to sell shoes on the GOAT app.

  39. Enjoying yet another Warriors run in the NBA Finals.

  40. Going to a Giants game with Spencer and Peyton.

  41. Going to my first Giants/Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium with my siblings.

  42. Re-connecting with Chris Jensen—a great leadership coach with the Table Group.

  43. Rest, Relaxation, and Refreshment at the Acts 29 Global Gathering.

  44. Worshipping God with 1000+ church planters from around the world.

  45. Watching my wife thrive in her work for Acts 29 US West and Acts 29 Global.

  46. Hearing from God, very clearly, about emphasizing His worthiness as an enduring motivation for living righteously during my next season of ministry.

  47. Having Christopher and Brittany advocate for Rebekah and I to extend our trip in Italy through our wedding anniversary.

  48. Attending/supporting a church service at Inspire Church.

  49. Attending/supporting a church service at Bay City Church.

  50. Buying our first house!

  51. Receiving miraculous financial provision from God to go towards the down payment.

  52. Being financially supported by friends and family members to help make the purchase of our home possible.

  53. Working together with my wife to move out of our home in Oakland.

  54. Receiving our full deposit back from our landlords and maintaining a relationship with them beyond the move.

  55. Getting our July rent back, not having to pay rent or our mortgage in August or September!

  56. Working together with my wife to move into our home in San Leandro.

  57. Working together with my wife to paint the rooms in our new home.

  58. Enjoying the Patty Melt at Whataburger in Texas.

  59. Having a great experience at the shooting range with Rebekah’s family in Texas!

  60. Traveling to several cities and making great memories in Italy with Rebekah over the course of 25 days!

  61. Going on runs in 3 different cities in Italy.

  62. PIZZA IN NAPLES.

  63. And the many other great eating experiences we had while in Italy.

  64. Enjoying many reflective conversations with my wife about our life and marriage.

  65. Enjoying times of reading the Scripture and praying together with my wife.

  66. Celebrating our birthdays and 15-year wedding anniversary in Italy.

  67. Having the financial resources to purchase Louis Vuitton Italian leather dress shoes for myself and a purse for my wife.

  68. Finding the perfect gifts in Italy to bring back to some of the important people in our lives.

  69. Being in town to see my nephew get baptized.

  70. Being in town to see my brother-in-law get married.

  71. Seeing my wife deeply grateful for these 3 months that we’ve been able to spend together in this way.

Praise be to God for His grace and kindness in my life. “I’m so unworthy, but still you love me. Forever my heart will sing of how great you are!” To Him be all the glory, honor, and praise!

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.

You don’t need to have been on a sabbatical to create a list like this. What are the experiences, moments, blessings, difficulties, and relationships from God that you are thankful for from the Summer of 2019? I encourage you to invest at least 30 minutes thinking though and writing them down. Come up with at least 25. Or, feel free to share a few of God’s blessings towards you in the comments below. I’d love to celebrate with you.

God is worthy of the gratitude and praise that will be stirred up within you as a result of your remembering!

Please, don’t neglect doing this. God is worthy!

#708 - THE NEXT 3 DAYS

My Air BnB in Houston with Amazing Architectural Design!

My Air BnB in Houston with Amazing Architectural Design!

Today is Saturday, September 7.

On Wednesday, September 11, my wife, pup, and I will board a plane in Houston, Texas for Oakland, California. When we arrive, it will mark the end of my 3-month sabbatical, and the beginning of a fresh season of ministry.

With that in mind, over the next three days, I have the privilege of being in an Air BnB all by myself, with no distractions, to start strategizing and preparing for my return.

Here are the things I absolutely need to get done in the next 3 days:

By the end of Sunday:

  • Write a list of things I am grateful for from my first extended sabbatical experience.

  • Complete my outline for the 4 sermons I will give at the Living Stones Men’s Retreat next weekend.

  • Complete my outline for the 5 sermons I will give at the North Hills Middle/High School Retreat next week. Send discussion questions to Pastor James.

By the end of Monday:

  • Think/pray through sermons series ideas through the end of 2019.

  • Write outline for my first message back.

By the end of Tuesday:

  • Set work/personal goals for Fall 2019.

  • Set work/personal daily rhythms for Fall 2019.


#686 - PAYING DIVIDENDS

For the last two and a half years, I have worked (and prayed!) really hard for two things to become embedded into the culture of THEMOVEMENT.CHURCH:

  1. 1-1 Discipleship

  2. Corporate Prayer

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see the fruit of my labor (and the labor of the team I serve alongside), in a very striking way.

I preached at a College/Career Winter Camp for a church in Vallejo. Over the course of 4 sessions, I was blessed to be able to share about 4 characteristics of the early church.

  1. Reproducible Discipleship

  2. Corporate Prayer

  3. Repentant Confession

  4. Irrational Generosity

Though, all of the sessions were helpful (at least that’s what I was told!), I was most proud of how the sessions on 1-1 discipleship and corporate prayer landed on the group’s heart.

After my message on reproducible discipleship, I was able to do a workshop on how we do 1-1 discipleship at our church. My wife and three others were able to share testimonies of how being in 1-1 discipleship relationships have positively impacted their relationship with Christ.

After we were finished, many of the campers approached their leaders about discipling them after the camp was concluded. Many of the leaders also approached campers about discipling them as well.

I am so thankful that two and a half years of work was able to result in me being able to pass on a way to 1-1 discipleship that is simple and reproducible. I’m so thankful that my time invested in the camp can go beyond my sermons and continue on in the form of discipleship relationships!

But that wasn’t all. My second session was on corporate prayer. After I concluded, we circled up to practice corporate prayer. In just a few minutes the students were able to experience for themselves how “doable” and impactful corporate prayer could be.

I received a lot of feedback on how the group wanted to take corporate prayer back to their church when the camp was over! Praise God.

Then, to cap off the three-day weekend, I returned home to attend our corporate prayer gathering on Monday night.

It was incredible.

The level of faith, desperation, hope, trust, humility, unity, and intimacy that was present in the room was other worldly! There was a palpable sense of the presence of God. There was a palpable sense of the pleasure of God for what we were doing.

Though our church is currently in a corporate fast, I’m convinced many (if not all) of us left our corporate prayer gathering full.

The work is paying off. The prayer is paying off. God is honoring how we are attempting to honor Him. God is using the healthy things in our church to be an inspiration to other churches. God is growing our commitment to and understanding of corporate prayer.

A revival is happening in our hearts. A revival is happening in our church.

I am so thankful.

To God be the glory.

#685 - JOY FATIGUE

Can there be such a thing?

So much joy and happiness that it actually “tires” you? So much of God’s favor that you’re overwhelmed? So much blessing that you actually want it to slow down a bit so you can savor it?

Though this may sound absolutely ridiculous (or for those of you who may not be going through the most joyous season of your life, it may even be offensive), for the last 4 months of 2018 and entering into 2019 this has been my reality!

In this post I want to write about some of the moments that contributed to this “joy fatigue,” not to brag or to boast, but to glorify God for His overwhelming goodness and grace in my life.

I also write down these moments so I can look back and remember all that God has done.

SEPTEMBER 2018

  1. This season of “joy fatigue” actually started with one of the most unexpected, painful, personal experiences I’ve ever gone through. On September 11, while in Portland for work, I had to go to the ER for an excruciating pain in my right eye. It turned out to be a pseudomonas infection which to this day has clouded the vision in my right eye and will require a cornea replacement surgery!

  2. On Sunday, September 16, our church celebrated our 5-Year Anniversary. Though I was unable to preach at the service because of the pain I was experiencing, we heard a testimony from the principal of the school our church meets at thanking us for our service to the school, we ordained a new pastor, we heard a testimony of reconciliation and healing from a couple who had experienced infidelity in their marriage, and one of the pastors I have been mentoring over the last several years preached a phenomenal message.

  3. The week following our anniversary service, I preached a 4-day Middle School/High School Retreat. In spite of my pain, God carried me through, and I received a very generous honorarium.

  4. I officiated a wedding for a couple in our church in Granite Bay.

  5. I fellowshipped with some pastors at Pebble Beach where I was affirmed, encouraged, and prayed for.

OCTOBER 2018

  1. I was blessed to enjoy a week with my family in Lake Tahoe. My eye was still hurting pretty bad, but the time with my family was refreshing.

  2. A bill our church owed to the school district was miraculously reduced by close to $20,000!

  3. The medications I was on began to reduce the pain in my eye dramatically.

  4. I was privileged to preach at the church of another church planter in the Bay Area.

  5. I officiated another wedding for a couple at our church in Burbank.

NOVEMBER 2018

  1. I was given the opportunity to kick-off the Acts 29 West Lead Pastor’s Retreat with a message around Increasing Our Affections for God. Pastor Ryan Kwon gave me an introduction that blessed me deeply. I was also able to have lunch with him and receive some much needed mentoring. I was deeply affirmed in my calling and gifting during this retreat.

  2. I also was able to see my wife shine as the Event Coordinator for this event. Very few things give me as deep of a joy as seeing my wife flourish in her work!

  3. God blessed my wife and I with a new couple in our church who I see becoming very close friends with.

  4. We had a very life-giving Thanksgiving Weekend with my childhood friend and his family.

  5. We had our highest internal giving month ever and an unexpected contribution of $20,000!

DECEMBER 2018

  1. I led our staff through an off-site where I discerned the greatest level of unity, love, and commitment that we have ever experienced as a team.

  2. I preached a teaching series on what the Bible has to say about money that God used to bring in over $48,000 in giving above and beyond our regular tithes and offerings! We distributed $14,500 of the giving to needs in our church, and we gave the school we meet at a $12,000 check to bless them!

  3. The engagement and types of prayers that were being prayed in our Monday night corporate prayer gatherings was off the charts!

  4. Enjoyed a very special Christmas service together as a church family.

  5. Enjoyed Christmas with my wife in Texas. Discovered the patty melt at Whataburger! Enjoyed watching my dog swim at the dog park. Ate so much good food!

JANUARY 2019

  1. Finished the manuscript for my very first book (Only God.) and sent it to a publisher!

  2. Have received very kind, unexpected, endorsements for book from people I deeply admire and respect.

  3. Was invited to facilitate a goal-setting workshop for a business team. (Hadn’t done that in a while!)

  4. Found out a pastor at another church is using the content from our December teaching series on money to teach his congregation about money.

  5. Discovered that the first person to give his life to the Lord through our ministry, over five years ago, is discerning a call to go into full-time vocational ministry!

  6. Was invited by another pastor in East Oakland to encourage his congregation.

  7. Seeing the “worship temperature” in our Sunday services increase dramatically.

  8. Seeing my joy and passion for teaching the Bible accurately increase dramatically.

  9. Had an incredible membership meeting where new members were added, a new pastor was affirmed by our membership, and the level of unity and love in our membership was strongly experienced!

  10. Seeing breakthrough in relationships amongst leaders in our church.

  11. Found out the publisher wants to work with me to publish my book!

  12. Seeing very high engagement and excitement around our 21-day corporate fast.

God’s goodness is so overwhelming!

And it doesn’t look like He is going to stop pouring out His love and favor on my life and my ministry anytime soon.

So what is the lesson to be learned?

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

#678 - THIS KEEPS ME HUMBLE

  • God created me.
  • God blessed me with good health and a fully functioning body.
  • God gave me parents who introduced me to Jesus.
  • God revealed Himself to me at a young age.
  • God saved me.
  • God stayed close to me even when I didn't want to be close to Him.
  • God gifted me.
  • God called me.
  • God surrounded me with people who believed in me.
  • God placed opportunities before me I could have never created.
  • God filled me with His Holy Spirit.
  • God delivered me from sin I could never deliver myself from.

But it's not just about what God has done that keeps me humble. It's also about what He continues to do!

  • God authorizes whether or not I take another breath.
  • God brings provision into my life.
  • God speaks through me when I speak for Him.
  • God makes it possible for me to think and act in a coherent way.
  • God forgives me of my sin.
  • God extends grace to me day after day after day. 
  • God blesses the works of my hands.
  • God loves me.
  • God upholds me.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing about me that is self-made.

I am God-created. I am God-ordained. I am God-sustained.

TO HIM BE EVERY OUNCE OF GLORY, HONOR, AND PRAISE THAT I AM CAPABLE OF GIVING, FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN!

#676 - ANOTHER BLESSED SUNDAY

Over the church planting journey, there are many Sundays that go by where it feels like just "another Sunday." There are also some Sundays that go by where it is a "rough" Sunday. Then, there are days like today, where I am reminded that God really is involved with what we're doing!

A few highlights from today included:

  • Feeling obedient to God in how He led me to prepare and preach the Word.
  • Extending public gratitude and honor to the 3 full-time staff members of our church.
  • Welcoming and publicly declaring our support of the Westbrook's who will be planting a church in Oakland in 2019.
  • Leading a discipleship training after church with over 50 people! Seeing God move amongst our 1-1 discipleship relationships is a beauty to behold!
  • Spending time with one of my disciplees after the discipleship meeting and being in awe and wonder of how God is transforming him from the inside out!
  • Running 12 miles with my dad! (Nothing to do with church, but still a blessing to be able to do!)

What a day. God is gracious. And I am BLESSED!

#672 - THE POWER OF 15 TIMES

Maybe you haven't been working out like you committed to. You haven't been spending time with your kids or your spouse like you promised to. You haven't been eating healthy like you should. You haven't been keeping up with your spiritual disciplines like you feel convicted to. You haven't been using your creativity like you desire to. You haven't been managing your finances like you set out to. 

WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE.

I was there just two months ago. It's embarrassing to say, but it was the end of May, and I hadn't exercised at all in 2018. Not even once! But, with the Oakland Half-Marathon less than 75 days away, I knew I had to start running again.

I WENT ON MY FIRST RUN, AND IT WAS EMBARRASSING.

3 miles took me 34 minutes and 5 seconds. That is a pace of 11 minutes and 21 seconds per mile. I don't remember the last time it took me that long to run 3 miles. And it wasn't just the time. It was how I felt too. I was breathing heavy. I was aching. It was bad. 

On that day, I briefly wrote about it here, and decided that things needed to change. 

Over the next two months, I ran exactly 15 times. An average of once every 4 days. Not a super consistent amount of times, but consistent nonetheless. 

And after just running 15 times, I am proud to share that last Saturday (my 15th run), I ran 10 miles in 1 hour and 28 minutes. That is a pace of 8 minutes and 52 seconds per mile.

I HAVE NEVER RUN 10 MILES THAT FAST IN ALL OF MY LIFE!

Though I'm older than I've ever been. Though I'm heavier than I've ever been. After just 15 times, I am faster than I've ever been!

The moral of the story is this:

WHAT IF 15 TIMES IS ALL YOU NEED TO GET BACK ON TRACK?  

With your health. With your relationships. With your disciplines. With your creativity. With your dreams.

Not 100. Not 50. Not 1. Not 7. But 15.

I think many times, we get overwhelmed by what is required of us to get "back on track." So we never do. We either overestimate how long it's going to take (and don't get started) or underestimate how long it's going to take (and quit too early).

15 TIMES.

Pick a discipline, pick a habit, and over the next month or so, commit to executing that habit 15 times. More may come of it than you might think!  

If you feel so inclined to, hold yourself accountable to what you're going to do 15 times by dropping a comment below! I would love to support you in your endeavor!

AUGUST 2018

5 MEMORABLE MOMENTS (JULY 2017)

  1. Enjoying Haig/Ruth's wedding with Movement Church family.
  2. Vacationing with Romero's in Kauai, Hawaii. 
  3. Going to Giants/Cubs with Colton and Giants/A's with Rabuco's.
  4. Experiencing mud baths in Calistoga with my wife. 
  5. Running 10 miles at an 8:52/mile pace.

4 GOALS (AUGUST 2018)

  1. Run Oakland Half-Marathon in 1 hour, 57 minutes or less.
  2. Lead an engaging and empowering Staff/Spouse Retreat at Jenness Park.
  3. Read/Take Notes on Preaching/Preachers D. Martyn LLoyd Jones.
  4. Compile Called to Plant mailing list and send first email.

3 HABITS

  1. Fix bed daily. (31x)
  2. Post to edwardpaz.com daily. (31x)
  3. Floss 3x week. (15x)

2 SACRIFICES

  1. No clothes/shoes shopping.
  2. No soda.

1 COMMITMENT

  1. I run the 2018 Oakland Half-Marathon in under 1 hour and 57 minutes.

2018 MID-YEAR REVIEW (MEMORABLE MOMENTS)

This is one of the ways I remember and reflect on the grace and goodness of God in my life! 

JANUARY

  • Officiated Potts’ Wedding
  • Completed Fast
  • Led Devotional at Mega Metro Missions Conference
  • Brought onto City to City Bay Area Church Planter Incubator Faculty
  • Preached in Texas at Propel Conference

FEBRUARY

  • Appointed Acts 29 Bay Area Co-Lead
  • Preached Compelling Prayer Series 

MARCH

  • Spoke at Main Session for MOVE Conference
  • Developed friendship with Kyle/Lolly Collins
  • Enjoyed trip to Savannah, GA with Rebekah
  • Obedient to God in preaching SEXOLOGY Series

APRIL

  • Experienced an incredible Easter Sunday
  • Officiated Francisco/Harney Weddings
  • Enjoyed trip to Cancun with Rebekah
  • Launched calledtoplant.com 

MAY

  • Led LGBTQ Workshop at Acts 29 US West Conference
  • Enjoyed Acts 29 Us West Conference with 11 of our church leaders 
  • Officiated Laurence/Vanessa Wedding 
  • Blogged everyday for 5 months straight

JUNE

  • Enjoyed Weekend to Remember with 16 couples from theMOVEMENT Church
  • Officiated DeLafuente Wedding
  • Preached at JFBC Sunday Services 
  • Swam with Merritt in Lake Nottely in Georgia

#671 - WEEKEND TO REMEMBER (DAY 1)

On the first day of the Weekend to Remember marriage conference I am attending with several other couples from our church, my big takeaway was this:

RESPOND TO FEELINGS WITH FEELINGS AND RESPOND TO FACTS WITH FACTS.

This was a principle given during the session on communication, and I can see how this can be super helpful to how my wife and I communicate moving forward.

If she shares feelings with me, I need to share feelings with her. If she shares facts with me, I need to share facts with her. Nothing is worse than having your feelings responded to with facts, and your facts responded to with feelings!

So simple, yet so helpful!

#669 - A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER

In 2 days we will take 17 couples from our church to A Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference in Burlingame. 

To think that over 5 years ago we started the church with 20 people and now we are taking nearly that many married couples to a conference to invest in our marriages is a blessing. 

I am excited. I am expectant. I am praying. 

I am praying God speaks to us clearly. I am praying the Holy Spirit convicts us deeply. I am praying that Jesus meets us intimately. 

I am praying that during this time away from the normal routines of life that God would give each of our couples a renewed sense of intimacy with and passion for each other.   

I am praying that not only our marriages would be strengthened but that, also, the relationships and bonds between the married couples in our church would be strengthened and deepened as well. 

Marriage is to be a reflection of God's covenant love for His people and His people's covenant love for Him. May the married couples at theMOVEMENT come back from this conference being a more accurate reflection of that love!

Heavenly Father, do a deep work in our married couples this weekend. A work that is marked by the power of your Spirit. A work that transcends conference information. A work that can't be explained by anything else than Your sovereign hand. Do it Lord. In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

#668 - RUNNING AGAIN

Today, I did a timed run for the first time since I ran my last marathon in December of 2017 in under 5 hours.

3 miles in 34 minutes.

I am not a fast runner by any means, but this was particularly slow for me. (This is what happens when you don't work out for a while! "If you don't use it, you lose it!"

But, with 74 days to go (Sunday, August 12) before the 5th Annual Oakland Half-Marathon, this was a good reality check for me. My goal is to run my fastest half-marathon yet, and to do so, I've got a lot of work to do! 

I'm inspired.

LET'S. GO!

#667 - MEMORIAL DAY

The freedom to sleep in. The freedom to enjoy good food. The freedom to buy new furniture for our home. The freedom to be entertained by NBA playoff basketball. The freedom to enjoy a good movie.

These were the freedoms that myself and many others enjoyed on this Memorial Day.

Honor, respect, and gratitude are due to those who died to make these freedoms possible.

Thank You. 

#666 - THE JOY OF DEVELOPMENT

Today I had the privilege of, once again, sitting under the teaching and preaching of someone who I've had the opportunity to disciple and develop over the last 5+ years. 

I laughed. I cried. I learned. I fell more in love with Jesus.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again...

THERE IS MORE JOY IN DEVELOPING THAN THERE IS IN DOING.

To pass down your love, skills, and motivations to someone and then to be able to watch that person take what they've learned to impact others for the glory of God, in ways you never could, is an incredible feeling. 

So satisfying. So fulfilling. So meaningful. 

There are very few things that gives me a sense of purpose and meaning like developing leaders does. With this in mind, to play a small role in the "shine" of another leader is a thing I pray I never grow weary of doing. 

#664 - THE PASTORAL LEGACY I LONG FOR

"He walked with me."

When I was skeptical...He walked with me. When I was ready to make Jesus the Lord of my life...He walked with me. When I was hesitant about being baptized...He walked with me. When I had trouble understand the Bible...He walked with me. When I grew weary of believing...He walked with me. When I committed one of the most shameful sins of my life...He walked with me. When I was ready to repent...He walked with me. When I sinned again...He walked with me. When I didn't want to repent...He walked with me. When I repented again...He walked with me. When I began to enjoy some of best days as a follower of Christ...He walked with me. When I began serving in ministry...He walked with me. When I contemplated marriage...He walked with me. When I started a family...He walked with me. When I struggled in my marriage...He walked with me. When I got a life-threatening illness....He walked with me. As I found myself on my deathbed...He walked with me.

May my pastoral legacy be, walking with others, in the same way, Jesus Christ - the Good Shepherd, walks with me.    

#663 - THE BENEFITS OF NOT PREACHING

Due to someone else preaching this Sunday, a cancelled service next Sunday, and the week after that me being out of town to officiate a wedding, I am not going to be preaching for the next 3 weeks. 

Though I absolutely love to preach, four days into the week, I'm already starting to see the benefits of getting a preaching break. Here are a few:

  1. I can focus my thinking and work on other aspects of pastoral ministry. During any given week my thoughts and energies are on my upcoming message for at least 30 hours. I am so grateful that this week I am going to be able to spend many of those 30 hours thinking through and working on our leadership development process - another very key element of growing a healthy church! If I didn't take a preaching break, where would I have found the time to put this much intentional thought into such a critical piece of the pastoral leadership pie!
  2. I can give others who are gifted and called to preach the opportunity to do so. Though it may seem obvious, it must be stated: If I don't ever take a break, when will others get the opportunity to take a turn?! I love that taking a preaching break doesn't only give me rest, but it also frees up the platform for others to step up and into what God has called them to do!
  3. I can experience a Sunday from the vantage point of someone who attends. This Sunday I look forward to sitting in our service to experience and enjoy it without the thought of preaching on my mind. I look forward to singing without worrying about preaching. I look forward to interacting with the others who attend. I look forward to receiving from the preaching. It's gonna' be great!

I praise God for the blessing of serving alongside other gifted communicators of God's Word! Not every pastor has the luxury of feeling comfortable with other people in their church preaching on a Sunday, but that's not me! I. AM. BLESSED!

#662 - NEW FRIENDS

Tonight my wife and I had the opportunity to go on a double date with a couple from our church. We went to the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco and had a great time. We then shared a meal together at a ramen restaurant close by and it was delicious. 

As I reflect on the events of the night, a few things comes to mind:

  • One of the ongoing joys that my wife and I get to experience as a result of starting theMOVEMENT Church is meeting so many great people from various walks of life with various stories and various backgrounds. If we never took the step of faith to start the church, we would've missed out on meeting so many awesome people!
  • Shared experiences (especially new ones) are strong catalysts for developing new friendships. The laughs, the memories, the conversations that take place over a meal - all go a long way in strangers becoming friends. But, this requires intentionality. This shared experience happened as a result of us reaching out for this couple to join us. Very rarely do strong friendships develop on accident. 
  • Because my wife and I have developed friendships with people in our church before who have gone onto leave us (and sometimes hurt us in the process), there is a certain hesitancy about investing in new ones. I hate that hesitancy and hedging is present, but I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't. But, I can't stop trusting people with my time, effort, and emotions just because others have abused it in the past. I must continue to trust that long-lasting friendship with others is possible. Never trusting again is never a good idea. 
  • God is faithful. He gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. My wife and I needed a good time out with people who we could be ourselves with. And we got it. God is good.

If you are a church planter in particular, I recently wrote a related post entitled: 5 Relationships Every Church Planter Needs to Thrive. 

#658 - BOWLING

Today I bowled for the first time in a while. 

124. 137. 158. 169.

I was definitely reminded of how much I love it, but then I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. I want to "get back into it." There is a deal right now for 3 free games every day from now until mid-September for only $40! There would be no better way to improve my game than by taking advantage of that deal!

But, I don't have the time. 

Unfortunately, bowling doesn't provide very much exercise, and I need to exercise! If there is anything I should be doing with my spare time, it's starting to run again. 

I have the type of personality that if I get into something, I go "all-in." I can't just bowl every now and then. If I start bowling again, I'll want to take it seriously and get better. Same with running. I can't just run to run. When I start running again, I'm going to be working towards running my fastest half-marathon time yet. 

These are all thoughts you probably don't care about, but I find it interesting how my brain works in this way!

Do I bowl? Do I run? Do I do both?

Or do I just come to the realization that time doesn't always allow you to go "all-out" in everything you do?