Resolutions for the “Dark Night”

Everyone in ministry faces times of trouble – their own “Dark Night of the Soul”. I’m there more often than I’d like to be, & have been hit with a few in 2019. How do we continue to serve when walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Much like Jonathan Edwards, I have made a list of resolutions to strengthen my walk during the hard times:

▪ I resolve to build my faith by reading some simple Apologetics, and reminding myself regularly of the Gospel. I can’t lead other effectively if I don’t believe it, and I need to continue to grow in my faith, even in times of crisis.

▪ I resolves to regularly refocus and put things in perspective, give thanks for the little things, and remind myself both of what I deserve and what God has given me by grace. Not long ago, while crouching near the ground, a number of tiny ants caught my eye. Moving my face closer still, straining to see clearly, I noted that they zipped this way and that, looking as though the fate of the universe were in their hands. From what I could see, they accomplished nothing of note, but they were ridiculously busy-bodied. I heard God say, “Slow down. You’re just a human. Relax. I’ve got this.“

▪ I resolves to step back and note the goodness of God in others’ lives. I live too close to me – constantly in my skin – so I have no objectivity when looking at my own life, especially when things are rough. However, the Bible often refers to God as “the God of Jacob”, “the God of David”, “the God of Abraham” – each time the weight of each of those individual’s lives weighs in on our image of God. Often it’s helpful to look at someone around you who’s life is clearly being touched by God, and lean on that for hope. Sometime we’re just too close to ourselves to see well, so I may need to take a look around to see God’s hand.

▪ I resolve to live authentically, and if I can’t do that in my daily circle, to find someone I can be honest with outside of that circle. Our emotions exist for a purpose, but they shouldn’t be allowed to “lead the train” – they serve us, and are merely one part of who we are. One way we keep our hearts in check is to process with others.

▪ Though it sounds Sunday school, and trite, it is absolutely essential: I resolve to make daily quiet time – just for me and God, in His Word, in prayer – talking and listening. As simple as it sounds, this has done WORLDS for my wife and I in helping us to lean daily on God and not just freak out in the midst of stressful circumstances.

Now introducing: Dollar Fund

Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 1.15.53 PMMy friend Curt Beavers has been blessed & wanted to give back in a way that multiplied the impact he could have by leveraging his network for God’s kingdom. With that in mind, he’s spent the past few years developing something incredible: a simple, unique way to give a tiny portion of what God has given to us, back, in a way that helps the ‘least of these’ en masse.

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Life after Christmas

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 12.12.36 AMWe’ve spent the past few weeks eating sweets, visiting with family, shopping, wrapping & exchanging gifts, on top of planning & executing what are likely the most complex services of the year. Now the hustle & bustle has come to a close of the year: what’s next?

 Well, the birth of Jesus changed everything, so we should expect our celebration of the holidays to change us, as well.

Life after Christmas is a life lived near to God. I remember as a teenager feeling utterly hopeless & alone, as though no one knew me or could want to know me. But Jesus was God-with-skin-On, born to the lowliest & most common. He didn’t see it as belittling to spend his first days in a feeding trough in a backwoods town which would’ve remained unknown if he hadn’t been born there. Emmanuel – literally “God with Us” – is not ashamed to live among us. God has come near, & it changed EVERYTHING! [Read more…]

Worshipping in the Face of Hurricane Matthew

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the “Hope Farm” (Lewis homestead) right before Evacuation

This past week was one of the scariest my family has ever faced. The mandatory evacuation was announced, so we proceeded to clear our yard, board the windows & doors, & pack all of the important belongings we could fit into our vehicle, prepared to never return. The latest updates were calling for a direct hit – quite literally my house would take the brunt of the storm, washed away by a 9 to 12 foot storm surge, & hours of 140+ mph winds. With my children loaded into our overpacked van, my wife & I stood on the porch & thanked God for our little house which has served us so well.

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SEASONING: Finding your Voice

Photo by Chris Moncus Photography

(Photo by Chris Moncus Photography)

I can sing. I can’t even remember a time when I couldn’t listen to a song on the radio & not grab onto each individual part & join in. My mother has a beautiful, operatic voice, & would often sing, “The wind they call Muriah“, belting it around the house in the early morning. My Father could naturally match any Beach Boy on the oldies station. It turns out that even my grandmother once played autoharp & sang in Friday night neighborhood bluegrass jamborees when she was young. Even though I’ve worked on it, singing has always come naturally to me.

I’m very close to someone, however, for whom it has not been so easy.  Imagine your biggest dream being to sing – sometimes your ONLY dream – yet the natural voice just wasn’t there, then being reminded of it at every turn?  Whenever you sing, those present afterward compliment everyone on stage but you.  Some aren’t even so kind, commenting that so-n-so “sings so much better than you do”, and you wonder if they even have a clue.  So you take every opportunity to improve yourself, but it comes in slow, small increments.  You take lessons, and you learn more about your inner life – your heart – than you do about how to command your voice to do what you hear inside your head.  Then one day, you give up – you pray: “God, teach me to sing.”  And not immediately, but almost immediately, something ‘cracks’ when you are worshiping – volume swells up, and faith rises up in you saying “SING!”  It’s a voice you only barely recognize, and though not yet polished, it’s the voice you’ve always heard in your heart – raw, and in need of ‘shaping’, but it’s the voice, none-the-less:  YOUR VOICE.

You don’t need to sound like the CCM star you hear on the radio. You need to sound like YOU. Some of the most compelling voices in music don’t have polished, trained voices, but their voices successfully convey emotion, & move people’s hearts – & ultimately, that’s not that matters.

It’s been a beautiful story for me to see beginning to unfold, but it goes one step further to convince me of something I’ve always known deep in my soul.  EVERYONE CAN SING.  God made us for it, and though your voice may not win on American Idol, you have one – it’s strong, it changes a room when you use it, it says things that were made only for your mouth, expressing ideas that can come only from your heart.  God gave you that voice – it is especially for you: IT IS YOURS.

Never give up – USE IT!  I’ve absolutely no doubt about it: that is what you must do!