Tag Archive: calling

Fish Tales

Jon FishingWe have been exploring some of the Fish Tales at Millbrook UMC following Jesus around the Sea of Galilee. So when my friend Jon invited us out on his boat I started reflecting on a few things. I invite you to watch the 2 minute video and to do some reflecting with me.
I can’t tell you how many times I had walked past Jon’s house only to see him in the driveway fixing something on this old boat. He loves that boat and when the weather is right he and his wife could be found out on the water. Soon they will be taking their yearly anniversary trip where they spend the week out on the boat along the Carolina coast. When reading stories of Jesus inviting some fishermen to follow I got to thinking of what a big deal it was that they left their boat and their nets behind to follow. This boat is my buddy Jon’s passion, but for the disciples this was their livelihood. I don’t see Jon easily walking away from his boat. This just highlighted the power of this story seeing how these early disciples of Jesus were willing to drop what they knew to follow Jesus.
Is there something we should be dropping and leaving behind to follow Jesus?
The other thing that strikes me about these fish tales and this conversation with Jon is that Jesus called people just like Jon; hard working down to earth kind of guys. He hasn’t gone to seminary or gotten his Doctorate of Ministry degree or anything. He isn’t some Christian Spiritual guru that has written twenty books on the 10 easy steps to be a better Christian. He is just someone who knows how to be a good friend, and is the kind of guy who is a bit tenacious when it comes to solving a problem like removing a rusty bolt on the transom of his boat or a problem at work. When I think of the fisherman Jesus encountered and called to follow, I can’t help but think of guys like my buddy Jon. It was guys just like Jon that Jesus called, discipled, and then turned loose to transform the world.
What would your life look like if you believed that Jesus called you to follow him?

 Jesus, walking along the streets of our city you see us as we are and you call us. If there are things we should leave behind to follow you, I ask you for the courage to drop it. Thank so much for calling the likes of us to follow you. Amen.

Targets and Movements

I don’t know if this is a me thing, a guy thing or a human thing, but I need a target. Last Tuesday was the first day of my first week at Millbrook UMC. I have felt so energized, so liberated, so excited this past week. Before starting I was feeling in-between and out-of-sorts. Jill, the boys and I had a great vacation visiting the Natural Bridge in Virginia to do some exploring and some canoeing. Canoe TripThis was a refreshing and energizing trip, but still it didn’t take care of the strange in-between feeling of having said goodbye at St. Paul and not being able to start at Millbrook aiming and moving toward the targets God has given me. There is something about having a mission a target to aim ones life at, something that demands my time and energy. I wasn’t leading a small group any more and I had written my last sermon at St. Paul. During the last weeks I would have ideas come up about ministry and mission for St. Paul and the future, but in preparing to leave I would either hand those dreams off or let them go. Starting at Millbrook this past week was refreshing as it gave me new targets to aim my energy and time toward.
Even if the first steps are small it is liberating to be heading in that direction. Having a vision is important and wonderful, but until there is movement toward the vision it is all just just foggy dreams we barely remember.
One of the targets I am excited about that I get to move toward falls under what we at Millbrook call “Belong”. I am looking to explore various intentional discipleship efforts where we practice being a people who belong to Christ and each other.
God, thank you for dreams and visions for the future. Thank you that faith without action is dead, and that by your Spirit inspiring movement we are alive! Thank you for the freedom and the joy of having a mission. Amen.

Well, it has nearly been a month since my last post. (The typical goal of mine is something weekly.) I have actually had lots to write about and many reflections, but moving and preparing for change has left me in a strange place. Seeing the end of one part of the journey and looking ahead to the next has left me feeling like I am in this strange in-between.

I have been trying to think through moments of scripture that would capture what this experience, capture the type of transition I am experiencing. A big story of transition and change for God’s people is deliverance from Pharaoh and slavery, but that sure does not describe where I have been. St. Paul and Duke have not been a place of oppression. So this story doesn’t work. I don’t feel like I am in a wilderness about to enter the promised land. So that story doesn’t work either.

One story, that doesn’t work perfectly, but seems to grab my attention is when Jesus sent out the 72. I feel like one of those guys. I’ve been appointed. (Which is a glorious and strange thing all at the same time.) I am being sent out. There is a harvest – there is work to be done ahead. I don’t know the details yet, but I feel the task ahead and I am looking forward to that feeling of hard work that I hope will bear fruit. Trust in God’s provision. Take only what you need and trust that God will provide. I need to remember the kingdom of God is near, and to proclaim the good news that it is near. My hope is that when I look back at this blog a year from now and read over it I will see stories of what God has done like the 72 reported with joy when they returned.

Jesus, thank you for calling us on this adventure of being your disciples. Holy Spirit lead the way and equip us all. May your kingdom come and will be done even today in this strange in-between place I am in and where ever you send me. Amen.

I wonder what stories of scripture have grabbed your attention when you were in a time of transition?

Book wordsI began this blog in June 2011 as this adventure of being a pastor was truly beginning. Now I sit here typing and I am only days away from receiving a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity. I am only months away from beginning my adventure as an associate pastor at Millbrook UMC. I have been having a hard time describing what I have been experiencing, but I am reminded that it is nothing new. I went back and read my first blog post and it captures some the emotions and things I am experiencing. It might be worth reading again.

I feel like words are falling short to express love and gratitude toward the people of St. Paul UMC. You have graciously and with great patience given me space to explore what this calling to be a pastor means. Your love and support has transformed my life as a pastor and every church that I will go forward to serve from here will benefit from what you have taught me.

Words again fall short when I reflect on these last four years of Duke Divinity school. God has used this school experience to mold and prepare me as a pastor, but underneath all of that I have learned that God’s love and grace is so much incomprehensibly grander that I had ever imagined which has only inspired a greater loving response from me.

Then there are my classmates and especially my fellow student pastors who started with me four years ago. Words again fall short as I want to express the sense of connection and fellowship that I have experienced and am so grateful for. These brothers and sisters have inspired me and have shaped my life immeasurably. I suddenly have a new appreciation for the opportunity to gather at Annual Conference each year as God is sending us out to different places.

Words seem weak and limited to express the gratitude and love toward all of my family which extends from my parents and Jill’s parents branching out in all directions. Along with all the support I have had from Trinity UMC, to all the financial support I have had from brothers and sisters in Christ all over the place. Sometimes words seem to fail when you are trying to describe the miraculous and the mysterious. I thank God for you.

My wife has gone beyond what anyone can ask to support her husband in this adventure of being both a student and a pastor. Her love, grace, patience, support, and encouragement has given me a glimpse of the incarnate work of God in and through her. My two boys of who I am so proud I have watched grow so much these last for years. Their patience and support has been immeasurable as they have watched their Dad run off to go read or write so many times during these years. Of all the people in my life it is Jill, Caleb and Ethan that I feel like my words are the most inadequate. I love you.

As I approach this moment of transition I am coming to appreciate that, as it always is with interacting with the Holy Spirit, this adventure in only beginning. I thank God that you all have been with me on this adventure in following.