Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Does My Quiet Time Look Like?

I have often wondered what others do when they spend time with the Lord. Do they kneel down to pray? Do they read the same scripture for a week? Do they work through a pre-made devotional? How do other Christians meet with God, and what are the practices they use to grow deeper in their faith? Since I have often wondered what others do, I thought I would share what one of my typical mornings spent with God looks like.

I am an avid coffee drinker and find that there is something special about having a fresh cup of coffee during my time with the Lord. Also, since I am usually just waking up and tired it helps keep me awake most mornings. So the first thing I do before sitting down with the Lord is grab my favorite coffee cup and pour myself a cup.

After I grab my coffee I usually sit in our big comfy arm chair and take a moment to pray. I thank God for the chance to meet with Him and ask that He would guide my time this morning. Then I will take 15-20 minutes to read scripture. Currently I am reading the Psalms with my church which has been a rich experience.
After spending time being challenged by scripture I will do one of two things. I will either take time to pray and listen to God, or I will journal my thoughts and prayers in one of my many journals. I love to journal because it allows me to read what God was doing in my life in the past and see how He has always been faithful even when I couldn't see it. (When I do journal I always grab my favorite fountain pen)

Outside of reading my Bible and journaling I will sometimes use other devotionals to challenge me and help me to grow. One of my favorites is The Message SOLO which provides a Lectio Divina (Latin for Divine Reading) type format. Also this week I have been guiding me journaling through the book Journaling As A Spiritual Practice

Well there you have it. These are some of the ways I spend my morning connecting with God. I have been challenged my mentor to strive to make meeting with God in the mornings a consistent part of my day. It can be challenging to wake up early; however, it can also be one of the most rewarding times of my day. May you find time to meet with your creator today and be filled by his presence!

God Bless,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Energy Vampires

This past Sunday Pathways @ Washpark started a new series called "Energy Vampires". Throughout the series, we are looking at what things suck life from us and from our relationship with God. Our main teaching pastor, Susie Grade, kicked off the series by talking about the regrets that we hold on to from the past, especially our guilt, grudges, and grief. At the beginning of the message they showed this Igniter Media movie that spoke to the regrets many of us have. One of the quotes from the video that resonated with me was "I Regret Consistently Missing Time With God Yet Somehow Never Missing My Show On TV." This resonated with me because there have been many times that I miss my time with the Lord; however, it is fairly rare that I miss watching the shows I follow. As I watched the video I felt convicted about how I chose to use my time and how little I give to God. Check out the video below.


Monday, March 5, 2012

The Need to Write

I have been thinking a lot about writing lately, and I have realized that despite my desire to write I often neglect to create space in my day to practice writing. I have had this blog for almost two years and have only published 43 post. Too often throughout my week I am reminded of my desire to blog and yet I chose to fill my time with other activities. I thoroughly enjoy writing and was reminded of this as I cleared out one of my drawers to find 6 journals that I am currently using. This doesn't even count the new journals I have waiting in boxes to be used or my journal with Amy to our much anticipated son.

Needless to say, I enjoy having the space to write down my thoughts. I enjoy being able to read a blog entry from last year or a prayer from 2007 and see both how my relationship with God has changed and how I have changed. I wish I wrote more; however, I believe that the writing requirements of grad school have made me feel as though I have nothing left to say. At times, I ponder what I could blog about and am left questioning if I have anything to offer. Tonight I am trying to remind myself of why I write. While I hope that this blog can be a place of encouragement for those who read it, the real reason I write is to record my process of growth, record what God is teaching me, and remember where I have been. I thought about taking up writing for Lent this year and committing to write daily throughout the 40 days. Despite missing the first week and a half perhaps I will still try to write more this Lenten season.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meeting God in the Morning

       This Spring semester, one area I am working on in my life in that of discipline. I have realized that I want to lead a more disciplined life, and so I decided that I would make this the focus of my character contract. One of the ways I have been putting this into practice is waking up at 6:00 A.M. 3 times a week to spend time with God. The other week, during my meeting with one of my mentors, she challenged me as to why only 3 days a week? Why do I not wake up Monday thru Friday(or everyday) to spend time with the Lord. I honestly told her that it was due to laziness. She asked that as part of our mentoring I spend one week waking up at 6 and having a quiet time.
       As of this morning, I have spent the last week successfully waking up at 6 and spending time with the Lord. The time with God has been good. I have been reading through the Psalms, journaling out my prayers, and leaving space to just sit and listen to God. Nothing radical has happened, I didn't hear an audible voice or feel God leading me into something crazy, but I have seen my relationship with God grow through the repetition of spending time with Him. It was nice to know that Monday thru Friday I will wake up and be with the Lord. There were some mornings that I was so tired that after I had my quiet time I fell asleep in my chair and Amy had to wake me up, but I faithfully continued to wake up each morning.
       One thing I did see throughout this last week is that I actually spent more time with God than I normally do. Usually when I would have a quiet time I would spend 30 minutes, however, this past week I spent an hour most mornings. It has truly been refreshing and a time I have valued.

       Do you have a regular quiet time?  What time works best for you to meet with God? What sort of things has God been teaching you lately?



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A quick update

Hey everyone,

I have been very busy lately as I am writing the biggest paper I have written to date (30 pages). My paper is for my Greek class and is taking a lot of time which is why I haven't been blogging. I wanted to post a Psalm that I have been thinking a lot about lately. One of my mentors shared it with me the other week and I have been thinking through how it affects my life.

Psalm 106:13
"But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plans to unfold."

What does it look like for us to wait for God's plans to unfold?

Is our tendency to try to make our own plans, find our own jobs, or wait on God's plan to be revealed?

Do you think we miss out on God's plan because we forget He is working?

Just some questions I have been wrestling with and for you to ponder on this beautiful Tuesday.



Friday, February 3, 2012

A Good Reminder For Pastors

A sense of hurry in pastoral work disqualifies one for the work of conversation and prayer that develops relationships that meet personal needs. There are heavy demands put upon pastoral work, true; there is difficult work to be engaged in, yes. But the pastor must not be "busy." Busyness is an illness of spirit, a rush from one thing to another because there is no ballast of vocational integrity and no confidence in the primacy of grace. In order for there to be conversation and prayer that do the pastoral work of meeting the intimacy needs among people, there must be a wide margin of quiet leisure that defies the functional, technological, dehumanizing definitions that are imposted upon people by others in the community. Henri Nouwen writes:
Without the solitude of heart, our relationships with others easily become needy and greedy, sticky and clinging, dependent and sentimental, exploitative and parasitic, because without the solitude of heart we cannot experience the others as different from ourselves but only as people who can be used for the fulfillment of our own, often hidden needs.

Eugene Peterson-Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Ministry

May we all remember our need solitude and rest.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Should We Pastor

      Classes are in full swing here at Denver Seminary, and I find myself adjusting to an abnormal schedule. Due to the much anticipated arrival of my son I have chosen to take a lighter course load this spring. Amy and I decided that it would be wise being that we will have a newborn while I still have at least one month of school left. In addition to my classes this spring I am also trying to find a job to help support our growing family. I find myself extremely excited for this season and anticipating the many wonderful things God has in the works for my family. 
      As part of my studies here at Denver Seminary, I am required to take part in a mentoring program during five semesters of my studies. Each semester I create character contracts and skill contracts, to help me work on areas of my life that I believe I need to grow in. For my skill contract I will be spending the semester looking at what skill set is needed for a pastor today. To complement my conversations with pastors and church goers, I am also reading Eugene Peterson's Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Leadership. I started this book last week and already I have found my nuggets of wisdom that Peterson has learned through his many years as a pastor. One of the aspects of the first chapter that has shocked me was the theological significance and depth he has shown exists in the Song of Songs. I have read through the Song of Songs many times, however, I always read it through the lens of marriage and physical intimacy. Throughout his first chapter Peterson explains that while there is a relational element we can learn from this book, we must also look at what the Songs tells us about the character of God and our relationship both to Him and others.
      One of my favorite quotes from this book came when he was describing the pastoral themes found within the Songs and how these show a type of "saving love, the kind of love that rescues from nonbeing and creates being-in relationships." As he continues describing how we should approach the Song of Songs he profoundly states;

The love lyrics of the Song are a guard against every tendency to turn living faith into a lifeless 'religion.' They make sure that as we proclaim the truth of God, we do not exclude faith in God. The Song provides correctives to our tendencies to reduce faith to a tradition, or to make an academic dogma of it. It insists that however impressive the acts of God and however exalted the truths of GOd, they are not too great or too high to be experiences by ordinary people in the minutiae of the everyday."

What a picture of the importance of our relationship with God and the necessity of remembering not to exclude faith in God as we proclaim him. As I look forward to obtaining a position as a pastor, it is important to remember that we must not reduce our faith to merely a tradition. Tradition is important, but we need to remember that we serve a living and active God, one who must be worshiped whole-heartedly! I am excited to continue reading this book and see how many other ways I find that Peterson challenges my preconceived notions about pastoral ministry.



Monday, January 30, 2012


      Throughout this past week, one of the things that God has been teaching me is about control. We all would like to believe that we are in control of our lives, however, I have been learning just how little control I actually have. I have been looking for a job lately, and while I hope to find a job working as a pastor or director at a local church, I have also applied at Starbucks, Panera, Home Depot, Dish Network, Tattered cover, and many other companies.  Out of all of those applications I received one interview, which is not that abnormal from my experience of trying to find a job this past summer/fall. Lately I have been left questioning if perhaps the reason none of these jobs applications are producing anything is because God has a job in store for me but it has not been the right timing yet.
      With our son arriving in April (and our income ceasing) I have tried to remain patient, trusting that God is in control. I believe that God will provide, and I have seen Him provide for Amy and I many times throughout our marriage. Despite this knowledge there are times when I get nervous and realize that April will be here before I know it, I need a job quickly. After thinking about this a lot last week, I have realized how little control I actually have. I can pretend that I can take matters into my own hands and find a job, but when I apply to countless companies, only to never hear from them again, I realize that God is the only one who is in control. I was talking with one of my mentors last week about my lack of control in life and how much Amy's pregnancy has made me realize this. Amy can do everything in her power to protect and nourish our son throughout pregnancy, but ultimately our babies health is out of our control. I have read many stories of miscarriage and know that these mothers were doing everything in their power to keep their babies healthy.
      The reality of our life is that we are not in control. Of course there are certain elements of our life that are within our power to control, but as a whole God is the only one who is control of our lives, what jobs we will get, and if our children will be healthy and safe. I am thankful that I have a my faith in God to help comfort me during these times when I realize how little control I have in my life. Praise be to God that He is the one in control for He truly knows what I need more than I do. May we all recognize that despite our desires we are not in control of our life, and in recognizing this may we turn to God even more, recognizing our deep need for Him every hour of every day.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap not gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do your worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' FOr it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Matthew 6:25-33 (NRSV)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do you have silence in your life?

       Throughout my adult life, I have asked myself this question on numerous occasions, do I have enough silence throughout my daily life? Far too often, my first instinct in the morning is to retrieve my coffee, sit-down with my iPad to read my e-mail, read the paper, and check Facebook. I find that my natural response to times of silence is to fill it with noise, for example turning on Pandora while I am home studying. When I am not at home, I am usually either interacting with people or listening to the radio in the car. Case in point, while I type this I currently am listening to the Mumford & Sons radio on Pandora. The question of if I have enough silence in my life is an important question, one that is worth taking the time to ponder.
       In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster states, "If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation." As I read Foster's classic work I am left wrestling with the lack of silence in my own life, and asking how I can "move beyond the superficialities of our culture" and mold my life to reflect Christ. I believe that we all need to consciously create spaces of silence within our daily lives, in order to allow ourselves the opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord. Many have questioned whether or not God still speaks in the twenty-first century, but I want to challenge this idea with the notion that we are asking the wrong question. The question is not if God still speaks, but do we as Christians still listen? I for one know that I am guilty of not listening and then becoming frustrated that I do not hear the voice of God in my life clearly. If we began creating spaces of silence I believe that we will find God speaking just as clearly as he always has.
       I want to encourage you to join me in creating more silence in your life throughout the next week. Make the effort to turn off your music, shut down your computer, and embrace the silence. I guarantee that it will be awkward at first and you will feel pressure to return to the noise, but I urge you to recognize the awkwardness as a sign of your need for silence in your life. As Christians, it is important that we work at deepening our faith and fight the societal pressures to fill our lives with noise. We must seek whole heartedly after Christ, but in order to do this it is imperative that we stop what we are doing and listen, perhaps then you may hear the soft voice of God speaking in your own life.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

A New Semester

     Here I am again at the beginning of a new semester. I cannot believe how quickly my Christmas/J-term break flew by. This year I decided to spend my break being productive instead of just sitting around the entire three weeks(don't get me wrong I still relaxed a lot). Once Amy and I returned from our Christmas in Seattle I made a to-do-list to ensure that I would remember to actually do something productive. It has been a great break and has included a lot of walks with Amy, hanging some new pictures in our home, painting furniture for the nursery, translating the book of James from Greek to English, cleaning our carpets, rearranging furniture, journaling, quiet times with God, running, and beginning our childbirth preparation class. Overall I would say that it has been a really good break, and I feel ready for the semester to begin on Monday.
     This semester is going to be a little bit crazy with my son being born sometime around the beginning of April, my last semester of Greek, my first preaching class, and finding a job to help support our growing family. I am excited for all that I believe God has in store for me this semester and hopefully I will find time to update this blog to keep you all in the loop. Part of my requirement for this semester is the mentoring program, which includes writing a skill contract and a character contract to work on throughout the semester. I have chosen to focus my character contract on the topic of discipline. As I thought about my life and my relationship with God, I came to the conclusion that I want to lead a more disciplined life. This desire applies not only to carving out time to pray but also committing to exercising and eating healthy. My skill contract will be focused around figuring out what is the skill set that a pastor needs in order to effectively minister to his community and congregation. I will be reading a few books on pastoral leadership, as well as interviewing both pastors and church goers in order to gain their perspective on this question. It is my hope that by the end of the semester I will have a clear list of the skills that I want to pursue working on in order to become an effective pastor.
     I am looking forward to what a crazy ride this semester will be and would appreciate your prayers as I seek to do well in my classes, prepare to be a father, and possibly start a new job. I am so thankful for the season that I am in, and I look forward to seeing the many ways I believe God will stretch me and help me grow throughout this semester.

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