Breathing Room!

February 28, 2013

Wednesdays tend to be long for me with ministry programming for Middle School and High School students.  As I awoke yesterday, one thing was for sure, I needed to get a little time out and about despite the pending list of work to complete.  In many cases each of us face this same challenge, our work load results in added pressure at the start of each day.  I knew what I needed, a little walk in the snow-covered wilderness…

Snow View of Saylorville

I turned on the iPod and the podcasts began.  I often like to listen to podcasts as I am exercising and I find it to be a great time for me to connect with God while listening to messages given by other pastors.  Yesterday in particular as I was walking in the woods behind my house I listened to two messages, the second in particular was one given by a pastor in Atlanta, Andy Stanley.  Stanley’s message, Breathing Room : Ex-Squeeze Yourself, helped me evaluate again the margin in my life.  Do I have breathing room?

Sometimes we have to force ourselves to find breathing room, getting away from work or the busyness that our world sells as important.  How many days do we get to step away and just say, “ahhhh”?  Are we living too fast paced lives?  Something I have learned more and more about myself, breathing room is important for me to be able to give my best to others and the work I do.  As I continually evaluate my schedule, I find very little margin.  As I review my finances, little margin.  Stanley’s message affirmed for me why I am working to create margin, because I know the importance of margin; to increase space for God to speak to me, to allow the Holy Spirit to move me and for rest that will allow me to bring my best.

Oftentimes I find myself rushing from one thing to the next, never feeling completely ready, even experiencing guilt when I don’t complete everything I had wanted too.  Sometimes when doing something for myself, to refresh and renew, the creep of the “to do’s” interrupts.  I have to be reminded of the importance of margin, “breathing room”, to help me overcome any feelings of guilt and avoid the interruptions.  Do you have breathing room?  How important is breathing room?

I like what Stanley says, “Our lives are busy and fast-paced.  The lack of margin increases our stress and shortens our tempers.  It can distract us from the most important things in our lives…and our relationships suffer.  It can even affect our relationship with God because there’s a connection between our willingness to create margin and our faith.  Life is better with breathing room.”  I have experienced in my own life the more we consider what God wants for us, His people, helps reshape our perspective about the need to always do more. The result is freedom from the burden of doing more and always being in control.  We are able to relinquish control all the while giving our best with trust that God to carry out His plan!  I like “Breathing Room”, do you?


A Holy Restlessness!

February 21, 2013

We have all had those nights when we find ourselves unable to sleep, and then our mind goes racing.  For me, the most recent was this past Monday.  I spent 2 hours thinking about life as I processed more of my experience from the retreat I shared with you last week.  I continue to experience God speaking to me as He continues to encourage me to live out the life He has called me to lead.

I was reminded again this past weekend during worship as our Campus Pastor, Scott Rains, shared his message(click to listen).  God has plans that are far bigger than mine could ever be.  A quote that Pastor Rains shared was from Pope Benedict, “We must be inspired by a holy restlessness: restlessness to bring to everyone the gift of friendship with Christ,” resonated loudly!  I am inspired by a holy restlessness that calls me to inspire and encourage others to discover their personal purpose leading them to an abundant life.  It is the holy restlessness that helps me look at life from a different perspective, that God has so much more for everyone if we allow Him to guide our steps.

I truly believe that the best life is centered on a relationship with God.  He is helping me become a man chasing after His own heart who is living life on purpose.  What is our purpose in life?  We all have a different purpose to serve.  Together we have the opportunity to transform the lives of those around us as we discover and live out of our purpose.  Why is this the most difficult question we ask ourselves?  Originally it was difficult to discover my purpose because there were many distractions and influences that led me to chase after the purposes of others or the temporary things of this world.  It wasn’t until I started asking God what His purpose was for me that I began seeking advice and guidance from others rooted in a strong relationship with God.

Ultimately we all have something that keeps us up at night!  We find our heart racing when we talk about certain needs or challenges in this world.  We are motivated to take action, because of what we witness.  For me personally, I often think about why our world leads us to a place where we find ourselves settling, becoming content, taking care of ourselves and avoiding risk, never taking steps of faith.  I love others and truly wish the best for everyone, which to me is leading a life putting God first, investing in ourselves so we can fully invest into the lives of others, all the while enjoying the journey regardless of circumstances.  Our purpose is at the core of who we are, drives our action and is affirmed by A Holy Restlessness!  What is your Holy Restlessness?  Please share!


Retreat and Refocus!

February 14, 2013

It has been just over 8 months since I last shared one of my experiences with the purpose of encouraging and inspiring you to be challenged and grow in new ways!  I am excited to begin sharing again, with the goal of posting at least every Thursday, which is my day of rest each week.  God has made it very clear to me that His purpose for my life is to inspire and encourage others to experience the most this life has to offer through discovery of their own purpose or mission.  It was during my time away on a personal retreat in Jugville, Michigan last week that I was reminded of this call on my life.  I was blessed with the opportunity to take part in a pastor’s retreat organized by Broom Tree Ministries.  Their mission is as follows:

The Mission of Broom Tree Ministries is to provide a gracious environment, secluded and private, protected with prayer, to which Christian leaders and their spouses can retreat from frantic schedules and become intimate with God so that He can refresh, refocus, restore, encourage, energize and equip them for the task to which He has called them.

2013-02-04_17-10-57_46

When I arrived at The Shack(photo above), I knew God had created the opportunity for me to meet Him in a new way at a time in which it was needed.  I came away refocused and reenergized for life and ministry.  How many of you have taken a personal retreat like this in your lifetime?  The reality is, many of us go on vacations each year experiencing time away, yet we have never scheduled time away to invest in ourselves.  We have difficulty setting aside even one day a week for Sabbath, for rest and rejuvenation.  As a result we miss opportunities for reflection and evaluation of who we are and who we are becoming, where we have been and where we are going.  Our busy lives keep us from considering these types of experiences.  Case in point, this was my first personal retreat in 31 years!

This week away was far to important for me to keep from you.  I hope to be able to share more about the specifics of the week with you, yet at a minimum I hope you will consider what it would look like to take time away for you(and your spouse, if married).  A personal retreat for anyone can have great impact not only on the life you lead, but the lives of those you impact.  It was clear to me as I evaluated my personal mission, vision and values, I became very aware of the impact this clarity will have in my relationships and my work.  If I could encourage or challenge you to start with a one day retreat with the purpose of spending time connecting with God in prayer, reflecting on where you are in life and who you hope to become, or simply planning for the future considering the dreams and passions you have.  Take my lead, my strategy for investing in myself for the purpose of impacting the lives of others is to take a week-long retreat each year and set aside monthly personal retreat days to create the consistent space for God to speak to me.  I look to the life of Jesus as He demonstrated for us the importance of spending His time in the wilderness as He prepared to do ministry.  Do we take God seriously when it comes to rest?  More specifically do we set time aside for Him to speak to us and lead us to the life He has for us?  When will you schedule your first retreat?