An important question we all need to be asking ourselves is, “How deeply rooted am I with God?”
How blessed is the man
Who does not walk in the counsel
of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates
day and night.
He will be like a tree
Firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
From my perspective, there can (basically) be three possibilities. Since this is about being “deeply rooted,” lets look at trees as the example…
Short thought this time…
A few weeks ago I was leading two Facilitator Retreats; one in Olympia, Washington and two days later in Warwick, New York. I found myself emphasizing to both groups of pastors and lay-leaders the importance of caring for themselves,
“Taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, as a person who is leading others, it is one of the least selfish things you can do because you cannot care for others well if you have not taken proper care of yourself. Not for very long, at least.”
It didn’t hit me the first time I said it. It took me hearing myself say it to others a second time before I stopped myself and I took notice. Then, when I got home from that week of two Facilitator Retreats, my pastor preached on Psalm 90:12. Two days later, during our VP3 Team Meeting, Pam’s focusing thought revolved around Psalm 90:12…
I think God is reminding me to pay attention to something. I guess I better take my own advice and clear some space so I can better perceive what He is saying!
Perhaps you do too…
“Promotion & Recruitment” is my title at VantagePoint3. To be completely honest, when I first started in this role, I very strongly disliked (bordering on hated) my title. I was fine with the “Promotion” part. It was the “Recruitment” part of my title that I did not like. One part of my role is connecting with new pastors and churches and inviting them to partner with us. Technically, that is the definition of “Recruitment.” However, who wants to talk to a “recruiter”? I felt as though that title had a negative stigma attached to it. A “recruiter” is someone who wants something from you…you meet with a recruiter to “sign your life away.” I often wondered how big of a hindrance that title would be…how big of a barrier it would be to beginning a conversation.
In the last couple of months I’ve developed a new passion for both the “Promotion” & the “Recruitment” parts of my title. I have a desire to reverse the negative stigma associated with the word “recruiter.”
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand.
Mark 8: 1-9 (NKJV)
A few weeks ago I read Mark 8. For some reason this story captured my as it never has before. I promptly turned to Matthew 15, Luke 9, and John 6 to read the other Gospel accounts. Since then, I have not really been able to read beyond this. It captured me and I’ve continued reading all 4 of the Apostles’ accounts…
“The Journey has changed the way I think about my role as pastor.
I have a greater boldness about my mission and calling.”
In a recent coaching call with our Sioux Falls The Journey Facilitator Retreat crew, we heard great testimonies of the impact already being felt and seen within Journey groups across South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. At a point in the conversation when the facilitators were talking about how the process was impacting them, the above quote is how one of the pastors replied.
I took the opportunity to talk with that pastor and I asked him if he would be willing to answer a few questions and share about his experience implementing The Journey in his church for the first time…
I had the privilege of attending and leading a workshop at the Apprentice National Conference 2014 last week in Wichita, Kansas. The theme of this year’s conference was “Formation for Mission: Becoming the Change our World Needs”. It was a great couple of days spent with around 250 others with the same shared vision of participating in God’s transforming work in the world, wherever we are.
At one of our team meetings a few months ago, Emily presented a quote from Henri Nouwen’s Making All Things New as part of her devotional “Focusing Thought”. To be honest, I don’t remember what quote she read, but I do remember thinking, “I need to read the rest of that book.” Now, a few months later, I have finally read it and there were a few things that really struck me…
One thing that Nouwen wrote about has been a theme that I have experienced in my conversations with church people (laity and leadership) as well as in my own personal experiences with VP3 processes, both as facilitator and participant, in my own church.
Loneliness is without doubt one of the most widespread diseases of our time. It affects not only retired life but also family life, neighborhood life, school life, and business life. It causes suffering not only in elderly people but also in children, teenagers, and adults. It enters not only prisons but also private homes, office buildings, and hospitals. It is even visible in the diminishing interaction between people on the streets of our cities. Out of all this pervading loneliness many cry, ‘is there anyone who really cares? Is there anyone who can take away my inner sense of isolation? Is there anyone with whom I can feel at home?’
It is this paralyzing sense of separation that constitutes the core of much human suffering (Nouwen, 32).
Society is filled with lonely people. I know there are countless articles and blogs written on the perils of our technological, “social media society” that is both infinitely more connected while, at the same time, more socially isolated than ever before.
My point is not to sing that same tune.
My point is that we, as the church, should be different…
Unfortunately though, we fall into the same rhythm as the rest of society.
My hope is that we, as God’s church, may be able to create a new current of authentic community. I know “authentic community” has been a buzz term in churches for years, however, I feel we have missed our great opportunity…
Community has little to do with mutual compatibility. Similarities in educational background, psychological make-up, or social status can bring us together, but they can never be the basis for community. Community is grounded in God, who calls us together, and not in the attractiveness of people to each other (Nouwen, 82-83).
We have been so focused on creating opportunities for people to connect that we have neglected what (who) truly unites us as one.
My experience has shown that true, authentic community occurs when we place God in the center of a table surrounded by people who are hungering and thirsting for something more. I have seen how The Journey has helped create a place and an opportunity for a group of very different people to unite around our God. Through my Journey groups, I have seen and experienced God’s love, grace, mercy, compassion, discipline, refining, transformation…
How do we overcome this new kind of pervasive loneliness that, at first glance, doesn’t actually seem like loneliness?
We gather around God’s table with others who may or may not be anything like us in
any way, except for the fact that we have all come to the same table with a similar desire to get to know more fully the One who sits in the center.
We are in the midst of the Facilitator Training Retreat season here @ VantagePoint3. 3 Retreats done (by the time this posts) – Glendora, CA, Kelowna, BC, and Indianapolis, IN. There are still 6 more Facilitator Training Retreats on the schedule…Atlanta, GA – in 5 days – and, in August, we will be in Dyer, IN (just south of Chicago), Grimsby, Ontario (the Greater Toronto Area, or, the southern end of “The Golden Horseshoe” ;), Sioux Falls, SD, Kelowna, BC, and Calgary, AB. So…It’s not too late to join us at one of our Retreats!
As we are nearing the “home stretch” for Facilitator Training Retreats, we are also thinking about what we can do to help all of our “Tribe” who has been trained to facilitate groups gather the people to experience the transformation that comes from intentionally walking with others through The Journey, A Way of Life, the Equipping Experience, or an Enriching Conversation.
Here is where we need help from you…
One thing we are working on to help our facilitators invite participants is a “Starting a Group” page on our website. The plan is to put sample invitations, ppt slides, notes, and letters that our partner churches have used in the past to invite participants and form groups. Ideally, these samples would be easy for people to download and edit with their church/organization information to personalize it for their unique context.
(…not really sure how I “drew” Holy Week for the blog post…)
On Palm Sunday, my pastor voiced something that I have also always felt. He talked about how he always feels a little weird celebrating Holy Week…we, essentially, celebrate the brutal torture of our Savior. I know, we actually celebrate the resurrection of our Savior and all that means. However, leading up to the resurrection is the brutal torture and death of Jesus. I have also felt a little weird celebrating Holy Week. Easter Sunday (Victory Sunday), yes…the rest of the week, however, is such a bizarre turn of events from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.
For each of the last few years during Holy Week, I read something I wrote on Good Friday the Easter after God turned my eyes toward this new path I am on…
Good Friday – 2011
Thank You for today, Father.
Thank You for what you did for us today.
Thank You for the [Maundy-Thursday] service last night…
Thank You for working in my heart last night.
I have always had a hard time accepting your love and forgiveness…
thinking that I didn’t deserve it.
I still know that I don’t deserve it,
but I understood last night,
how much you really do love me.
I’ve talked it before.
I even preached it at Camp J last summer.
But, now I am learning to accept it for myself.
Every year for Easter, we are running…
and the whole week is a little crazy.
Every year I lose sight of You.
Saturday comes and I had forgotten
about the sacrifice You made the day before.
I never want to take that for granted.
This past Sunday our pastor’s message was on the story of Jesus and the woman at the well from John 4. What is resonating in me this week as we head into the Easter season is…why did Jesus stop at that well and have the disciples continue on into town to buy food?
What was Jesus’ real reason for stopping THERE of all places. John 4:6 says, ” Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.” I get it…yes Jesus was tired from the journey. I’m sure the disciples were too. But, if you are tired from a long, hot journey in the desert, why would you stop to rest by a 100 foot deep well (without any way to draw up the water) in the midday heat? When I’m tired from a long, hot journey, I don’t stop THERE. It’s almost more like torture to be that close to water without the ability to refresh yourself with it. I find a shady, cool place where I can actually get a drink to cool and rejuvenate myself.
Obviously, I am not Jesus! However, Jesus’ actions are not even remotely logical…NOBODY goes to the 100 foot deep well, outside of town, in the middle of the noonday heat of a sun scorched day!
Nobody except that Samaritan woman.
Why did Jesus do such an illogical thing?
Jesus took a break in an illogical place at an illogical time for the reason of THAT woman. According to Jewish tradition, Jesus should not have been anywhere near that place!
But he was.
Illogical place…illogical time…