Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ready, Set, Go!


Back from Church Life Cohort in Ft. Lauderdale. Here's Christian Life Center, the church we go to for it everytime. What great leaders there. I love their pastors to pieces - they are in our cohort group and we have learned a lot from just sitting around the table with them and talking. Today we did a Q and A with Max Yeary, their pastor and it was awesome. The only problem was, I think everyone wanted about 3 more hours of it... :-) 

You know, I do this sneaky thing all the time...when Doc says, "let's take a comfort break," I usually don't...I run over to ask Max a question that there wasn't time for before. I get all this great info from them, and then when Doc says, "alright, let's come together again..." that's time for my sprint to the ladies room. Ha ha! I don't think anyone has figured out my strategy yet and hopefully they won't. Anyway, I have a way of managing to get whatever info I need -- I'm just tenacious that way and just look for a way to learn all that I can. Larry has talked about how we learn as much from one another there in just the debriefing time together, sometimes as much or more as in the teaching material that is presented.

One thing I'm really amazed about with Pastor Max is that he's such a tender heart even after all these years in ministry. I mean, his heart is REALLY broken for the lost, and you can tell how much he truly loves people, and...he's still doing "relational ministry" despite getting hurt at times. At times I have thought, "maybe I am crazy to be this transparent/relational" but something in my heart just keeps telling me it's right."

To see someone like Max living this out after so many years (and 28 in the same church) ...well, it's just incredibly encouraging. So many people in his generation have given up on the idea of close relationships on staff or in the church because of what they have experienced in the past. Of course you get burned at some point, usually more than once and the enemy tempts you at every turn to give up on trying to stay truly relational...you know, the old, "familiarity breeds contempt" strategy.

The paradigm that they have there at CLC has always been mine and Larry's dream (of how we relate to people/our staff). Truthfully, many pastors don't have that same spirit Max has after doing this for so many years. So many become disillusioned and they lose their passion for people, for souls, and for even helping other people who are coming up in ministry. It becomes to easy to just get "professional". When we went through our split years ago I just wanted to close myself off and forget trusting anyone ever again. But something kept compelling me to stay soft and open. I can understand why even sharing honest information with other pastors is a challenge for some.

There is a transparency with Pastor Max that is just so refreshing. Hard knocks in the ministry have not hardened him. And Nelson is just so...sweet. Everyone just appreciates his kind spirit. He and Pastor Max have the same DNA, that's for sure. You know you can talk to these guys about anything from staff issues to where they get their macadamia nut cookies from that they serve for these "comfort breaks" that I always miss :-) They are just down to earth which is rare for pastors of a church of thousands. I think they have like 4,000 people or something like that now, it's pretty outrageous.

I took a plethora of notes this time as usual. Came home with a head bursting full of information. I wasn't on the laptop much on the way home...Larry and I had too much to talk about. This co-hort was very different for me personally because I came away with something totally different than perhaps anyone else might have taken away from it. What I got was not so much through the teaching in the sessions, but through things that Larry and I talked to Doc about personally at dinner and afterwards. Wow. This was very prophetic for me. Some things that Doc said to us completely set my course on some things I have been wondering about. I feel this is a very real turning point - next level - landmark moment - for me personally.

I had a thought months ago - can't remember the exact time because I thought in my mind, "that is SO crazy, it would never happen..." and I dismissed it quite honestly. But it's exactly what Doc talked to us about when we were by ourselves. I don't think I would have had that "crazy thought" if this didn't mean anything... I think that's how God works many times. He plants a thought in our head, or we get a picture of something, and we think, "nah...that couldn't be" but in reality he's preparing us for something to come.

Well, on the way home I did work on one thing in the car and that was my initiative list for my personal mission/vision. When I was done, I realize God has given me seven areas to focus on. Last night laying in bed mulling over all my initiatives (before I got them out on paper) I thought, "this is way too overwhelming. I'm trying to eat an elephant..." Literally hundreds of things were flooding my mind. But once I got it out on paper today, it seemed possible. So many things late at night when I'm trying to go to sleep seem overwhelming but then in the light of day they don't seem so large and looming. I kind of felt the Holy Spirit nudging me with a plan and I even asked Doc about that a little bit right before we left and got his feedback. Seven is the number of completion...I really believe these seven things are what make up the fulfillment of my life, my purpose, what I'm here for.

Now I realize, I need to keep this mission and vision ever before me on a daily basis and when anything crosses my path I need to ask myself, "how does this fit into my life mission? Is this an initiative I need to undertake?" If it doesn't fit, I need to let it pass and realize, it's not for me. If I am going to succeed at these seven things, they have to be where I spend my time.

I'm coming home tired after this trip, yet very energized in my spirit because I feel like I have direction...course corrections...confirmations...anticipating more than ever, new things for me personally, for Larry and I, for the church, for all things...so...

Ready, set, go!

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