Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Keeping a journal has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I can go back to old journals from ten or fifteen years ago and see what I was thinking, what was happening in my life that day, and what God was doing in me at the time.

On New Year’s Eve, just a few days ago, I sat down and looked back at what was going on in my life over the previous year. One thing that jumped out at me was how much of what I was experiencing and struggling with back in December of 2008 and January of 2009 was exactly the same as what I was experiencing in December of 2009 and January of 2010.

So, what does that tell me? I suppose the most obvious thing is that I haven’t grown very much over the last year. If I’m still having the same internal dialog a year ago that I’m having now, it must be because I’m still asking the same questions and wrestling with the same issues. It also tells me that spiritual growth and maturity don’t happen overnight. Sometimes – maybe all the time – our process of learning and re-learning what it means to trust God takes serious time to sink in. There are no easy answers. There are no get-mature-quick shortcuts to spiritual maturity.

Honestly, for most of last year I was deeply saddened and empty. I read over my journals from 2008 and over and over again, I read about my feelings of being alone, of being empty, of being in severe emotional pain. Much of that stemmed from being rejected by brothers and sisters in Christ who I had poured my heart and soul into for several years. It hurt – really, really hurt – to be told I wasn’t welcome anymore to teach or encourage people who mean so much to me. I also endured the loss of having two dear friends move away in 2008. These were people who inspired me, loved me, and connected with me in ways that only my wife Wendy could rival. When they moved away it left a very large hole in my heart. I can’t say I even expected it to hurt me so much, but it really did. And it still does.

Last year at this time I was trying to finish my third book, “This Is My Body”. I’m still trying to finish it. Although, I am in the final stages now. The book is all written. I just need to finish it and get it ready to publish.

Last year I resolved to disciple my sons each week and spend time with them one-on-one to teach them about the Kingdom of God, and encourage them, and pray with them about their walk with Jesus. I was also having to start, and re-start, this on a regular basis as other things began to crowd out our time together. I am still having to fight to keep this appointment on a weekly basis, but the fight is part of the resolution. It keeps me in the battle for my sons and their spiritual development every single day.

Last year I was concerned for the direction our house church was taking. We were growing larger, and to me, this signified a need for us to plant a second house church. I prayed about this, I voiced this concern to the group, we met and discussed this as a Body, and then God showed me how I needed to let go of this and allow Him to worry about it. So, I did that. Now I’ve just begun to realize that part of what God was doing in me last year was loosening my grip on this church. He was showing me that this is His Church, not my church. I am a member of this Body, but it’s His Body. I am a brother among brothers and sisters in this Family of God. I am not the Father. There is only one Father and one Lord. We are all called to submit to His Headship.

This year, I’m excited about experiencing life in the Body as one of the functioning members and not as “the Pastor”. This year, I’m resolved to disciple my sons and teach them what it means to follow Jesus with their whole life and to love Him and love others – and to demonstrate to them how those are all really the same thing.

This year, I know that I will journey deeper through the valley of the shadow of death with my friend, Robert Higgins who is dying of bone cancer. He has no family but me and a few friends. He has nothing but a few belongings that could fit into the back seat of my car. He has barely enough money to afford his motel room and a little food each month. I already know that I will be with him on the day he dies. In fact, just yesterday I made a few phone calls to investigate cremation services for him and to make arrangements for all of it. The reality of this is looming nearer now. I know that he, and I, cannot avoid what is coming. My only prayer is that I can be the friend, and the pastor, that he needs right now…and on the day he breathes his last.

This year, I am looking forward to finishing up my book and having that out of my hands and into print. Twice now I’ve nearly abandoned the entire project. Thanks to the encouragement of my mother-in-law, Ellen, and author Jon Zens (who contributed the Foreword and did a lot of proofing for me), I have made it this far. Now, with my wife Wendy’s help, I will finish it this year. Already I’m looking forward to experiencing life without this book hanging over my head.

This year I look forward to seeing God do more incredible things at the Church that He is building at the California Studio Inn in Santa Ana. I’m grateful to be included in the team of men who teach there and I’m humbled to see what God is doing to change lives and bring healing and hope through this Body of believers. It truly is a work that God is doing and I love seeing His joy as people learn to “be the Church” and love one another.

Above all, this year I’m looking forward to letting go of some of the things that have held me back from walking by faith. I look forward to embracing Jesus more and more. I look forward to what new things Jesus has in store for me and my family as we follow Him daily.


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