Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Things Change for the Busier

During the Sunday morning service, I had the privilege of baptizing a guy named Steve. I met him for the first time at his apartment on Friday. After listening to his testimony and going over some Scriptures with him, I was convinced that his commitment to Christ was (and is) genuine. However, earlier in the week I was not expecting to do anything during the Sunday service other than sing on the praise team... let alone baptize someone. Things change.

My management position at a major telecommunications company brings many responsibilities, many of which help prepare me for leadership in ministry. Yet no job experience is fully adequate to equip a minister for the unexpected busyness that a Sunday morning can bring. Among the fun surprises:
  • Expected: Singing on praise team as scheduled; Unexpected: Being asked on Saturday night to lead congregational worship the next morning (our worship leader was stranded in Reno); I was also scheduled to give announcements during the service
  • Expected: Teaching Sunday school; Unexpected: Being called out during my Sunday school lesson for a meeting regarding the praise song setlist that Kathy and I had crafted the night before
  • Expected: Baptizing Steve (well, we decided on Friday) immediately after leading the congregational singing; Unexpected: running up and down the church hallways searching for Steve, as the service chairperson was introducing the baptism
  • Expected: Relaxing over coffee and donuts after the service with my church family; Unexpected: Leading a parent/ student meeting after the service regarding this summer's International Youth Convention (Kathy and I forgot about this one until that morning)
  • Expected: Catching some of the NFL playoffs before making up comp time at work on Sunday afternoon; Unexpected: hauling two carloads of teenagers (gotta love 'em!) to our apartment for pizza and Fantastic Four before work

Of course, each of these changes for the busier brought about additional unexpected (and occasionally unflattering) public moments. But as Warner Pacific's Dr. John Johnson preached from the first chapter of Colossians, who we are in Christ should be our central focus.

Our response to unexpected busyness is affected less by what we think we can handle than it is by who we are. When we identify with Christ, we come to realize that His greatness eclipses our challenges. Life's mini crises are revealed to be just that: mini.

Epilogue: Pastor Ellie, who resigned as Senior Pastor last week, approached me after the service with some encouraging words. She told me that I deserved an "A" for the way that I handled Sunday morning. I'll give myself a pass.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Breakin' All the Rules

Many well intentioned people make New Year's resolutions each January. They hope that setting goals, restrictions, or rules for themselves will help shape their lives for the better. I am one of those people. But rather than list out my own resolutions for the new year, I think it would be more amusing to list how I broke each of them of them over the course of a single New Year's Eve youth all nighter... at a church, no less.

So here are all five infractions, each committed at Insomnia 2008 while the year was merely hours old:

1. I did not begin my Bible reading plan, or bring my Bible to the party at all for that matter . In recent years I have actually been pretty consistent at reading through the Bible each year (and after the party I started reading through it again). But I suppose hundreds of teenagers screaming in my ear, hanging off of me (literally), and randomly snapping cell phone pictures in my face does not create an ideal environment for Biblical study and reflection.

2. I did not arrive early for everything (although I was on time for everything). Our youth group arrived at Vancouver First Church of God way before the party kicked off with the inflatable prop challenges and Comedy Sportz troupe. After that, the only thing I arrived early for was the 1 a.m. pizza feed. And you can bet I stayed late for that.

3. I did not blog. My only quality computer time was spent receiving "professional" lessons on the mastery of Halo and Madden Football '06. A gamer I am not.

4. I did not get seven hours of sleep. This was an all night party. I didn't even drive the kids back to Aloha until 8 a.m., and then I worked my day job on New Year's Day. 'Nuff said.

5. I did not regularly lift weights with a newly added commitment to occasional cardio. Dodgeball balls just aren't that heavy, even when hurled for 3+ hours without a break until 6 a.m. High Schoolers, on the other hand... okay, so maybe I actually kept this resolution.

Happy New Year!