Monday Kfirst Kickstart: “The Soundtrack to My Waiting” #TrailLeader

Hitting the trail with a group of people is a fantastic way to strengthen friendships or get to know new people. While you’re putting in the miles, the person at the FRONT has a vital role in keeping the group together, focused, and safe. That person is known as the Trail Leader. A good Trail Leader will: 1. Keep an eye out for trail markers to navigate the journey. 2. Manage the group’s pace 3. Pause at crossings and junctions to regroup. 4. Recognize and maneuver through challenges. That brings us to the Old Testament figure Moses. For his story can be summed up as the story of a Trail Leader. His life is an epic tale of one who faces personal challenges while leading an entire nation along a journey of twists and turns, freedom and challenges, failures and victories. Our series will follow this Trail Leader from the beginning of his path to the end. And I hope this series will not only help us come to know Moses, but see how the trail he follows speaks into our lives today.

Check out the service from the website or from the Facebook livestream. 

 

Other thoughts from the Youversion notes from Sunday:

  • Whenever I face a season of transition, I must remember: God is present, His promises are true, and He always provides.
  • “Waiting is the in-between time; it calls us to be in this moment this season without leaning so far into the future that we tear our roots from the present. When we learn to wait, we learn to experience where we are as substantial and precious in our life.” Book – “When the heart waits” by Sue Monk Kidd
  • A season of waiting is the opportunity God uses to help us loosen our grip from control and let Him be God in our lives.
  • Waiting is God’s invitation for us to actively engage into a spiritual formation experience.
  • When God invites us to wait, He invites us to release our demands to His desires.
  • What if “waiting on God” was not some grand inconvenience, but rather the very tool God wants to use to shape & change us?
  • God’s transition seasons are packed with Kingdom purpose. We can trust Him in the waiting.
  • I will work with God by waiting on God. (Psalm 130:5-7)

Love you all. Have a great week.

BTW: Here’s a great song for the week…

Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Spring: The Season of New Beginnings

On Sunday, we continued our series “Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons. (Click here for Sunday’s notes.)

Check out previous “season” posts:

SPRING: THE SEASON OF NEW BEGINNINGS

Spring is exhilarating. After a long winter, there’s nothing like the joy of spring. And it’s the same with the seasons of the soul.

Where “Winter” is a season of loss; Spring is a time of new beginnings. It’s the sensation of getting a second chance, the start of something new.  It may be:

  • A new relationship
  • A new position
  • A new development in your marriage
  • A new opportunity.

And these “new” moments cause tremendous movements to our emotions. It’s for this reason, the two primary emotions of “Spring” is excitement and shock.

Spring is that place where you say things like “I think this is the right move” then, all of a sudden, “What was I thinking?”

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to “Spring.” And for this fickle and wonderful season, I’ve discovered two challenges:

  1. Embracing the “new.”
    • The sense of “unfamiliar” has detoured so many people of the new things God is beginning. It’s so easy to look back (and even want to go back) to a previous place or season because it’s “what I know.” The children of Egypt, in a season of spring, faced a Promised Land. But, that “unfamiliar” feeling made them look at a land of plenty but long for a place of suffering. It was what they knew best but it wasn’t God’s best. It was miserable, but it was comfortable/known.
  2. Develop forward progress.
    • Most of us in the newness of the season of spring, face moments of “Two steps forward, three steps back.” April in Michigan is that way. We’ll have a week of 60-70 degrees. The sun will shine, yard work gets done, bikes come out, and people are happy. Then all of a sudden, the temperature plummets and snowflakes begin to fall. There’s that mass social media panic to wonder if the new season will ever unfold. Whatever you see God developing, be adamant about pushing forward. You’ll face challenge and you might even experience some temporary failure heading into “new territory.” But fight the urge to give up on what God has brought you to.

My challenge for “Spring”: Boldly step into the new.

God is in the business of renewing you and me.  1 Corinthians 5:17 says,

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

He is the God of new beginnings. And I find that each place God brings me to is not my last “new beginning.” He has plans (plural) and purposes (Jeremiah 29:11). His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). Are there some new beginnings in your lives these days? If so, don’t allow Satan to quench your enthusiasm. He wants to send you back to winter. He desires you to live in the season of sadness. ; The Devil wants you to be stuck in a place unwilling or unable to move forward.   Let the Holy Spirit drown out the deceiving voices and empower you to hold onto hope. And hope, no matter how small the dose, can lead you to extraordinary new beginnings.

If you are in the season of new beginnings (Spring), be encouraged knowing this: God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. Tomorrow we wrap up by looking at “Summer,” the season of abundance.

Navigating the Seasons of the Soul – Fall: The Season of Transition

This week, we are not doing our normal “kickstart blog,” we’re doing something a bit different. Instead of using the blog as a recap of Sunday, we’ll use it an extension of the message from Sunday. So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We continued our series”Catching Foxes” with our Kfirst community. Our focus has been on what the Word of God says about our emotions. This past Sunday, we looked at the seasons that our emotions can go through.  And we’re taking days this week to specifically focus on each one of the seasons.

(Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Fall: The Season of Transition

This is my personal favorite; I love September-November. From the blazing colors of the trees, football, ciders mills, and football. But as we start to rake leaves and put on our hoodies and jackets, we realize that change is coming.

It seems these moments of change/transition happen when, it seems, everything in our lives is going kind of smooth and stable. When the “norm” is altered, we find ourselves feeling shaken up. I mean, if we’ll all admit it, we are creatures of habit. We like a flow that we are used to; a pattern of life we can control and/or predict. Yet transition is something we all face.

Generally, there are two types of occasions that can trigger a “Season of Transition”:

  1. Developmental Transitions – These natural changes we ALL go through (adolescence , early adulthood, midlife, empty nest, etc)
  2. Life Events (Moving, job change, health challenge, adopting a child, etc)

Change happens, but “transition” is the deeper work. William Bridges says,

Transition is the natural process to which someone dies to a new life.”

You and I cannot do well in a transition unless we recognize that something is ENDING and we are willing to LET IT GO because of the new life/journey ahead. That time of “letting go” can be both stressful and excruciating as we step out of our comfort zones into a new season of life. It’s for this reason that the primary emotions of this season is fear/worry/anxiety.

Bridges goes onto say, “(in transition) we are disoriented because our identity is being challenged.” In the “Fall” season, people might say something like, “I don’t even know who I am right now.” The “Fall” challenges the basic sense of who we are. Why? Because we’re afraid it will be the end of us.

In the season of fall, you need to ask yourself some KEY QUESTIONS:

  1. What is it time for me to let go of?
    • Maybe God is wanting to transition you to marital health, but you need to let go of some selfishness in order for your marriage to transition.
    • Perhaps God has been wanted you to get rest, and for that transition, you need to let go of some busyness.
    • Could it be that God wants to close a season at a job or a ministry in order to prepare you for a new season?
  2. What is over now?
    • Name it. Write it down. Be specific. We will never be able to embrace new beginnings if we don’t loosen our grip on what is done. I think of Isaiah 43:19 where Israel couldn’t perceive the “new season” because they were so focused upon the situation they had been in.
  3. What am I learning?
    • I need to constantly learn and relearn that my identity isn’t about a job, a role, or title. My identity is grounded in THIS: I am a treasured child of the Most High God. Life will shift and change, but that will never change.
  4. Who am I trusting?
    • Everyone on the planet goes through change. But the differences with followers of Jesus is that we can choose to trust God while we are IN transition. The very essence of our faith is to trust God, not just when things are stable, but when the winds of change are blowing.

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your lifeThe Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go (transitions), both now and forever.Psalm 121:5-8

If you are in the season of transition (Fall), be at peace knowing this: God knows you’re in transition and He will “stand beside you” in it and “watch(es) over your life” during it.  If you are in this season, remember our final lessons from Sunday.

  1. You were meant to process your season, not be possessed by it. 
  2. Don’t get so consumed with the next season you missed the work of your present season.
  3. Unnecessary pain results from remaining in a season long after it changed.
  4. Your season is not your story; it is a chapter in His beautiful story for your life.

Love you all. Tomorrow we look at “Winter,” the season of loss.

Pastor to Pastor: 5 Questions About Pastoral Transitions

Yesterday was the anniversary of my resignation of my last pastoral position. The transition was fantastic as was my tenure there. Serving at Christian Celebration Center were 7 of the greatest years of my life (thank you to Facebook and their “memories” feature for the reminder). 

These past 24 hours, combined with the past few pastor-to-pastor blogs, has brought up a thought of pastoral transitions. 

Do all pastors know how to leave churches appropriately? Judging by numbers of congregants I’ve encountered: no.

I’M NOT AN EXPERT IN THIS. Why? Because I don’t have extensive experience with personal resignations (which I celebrate and give God the glory for). In 19 years of ministry, I have held 3 positions including my current one. But being a Lead Pastor and being networked with numbers of other pastors, I have had extensive experience in talking men and women through this tough experience. 

5 Questions you should be asking when it comes to pastoral transition: 

What does your spouse say?

When I talk with pastors, I always ask about their spouse. Why? The two become one. And listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit on transitions, I believe, should be done in the oneness of the marriage. Any transition I have done, I refused to do without the prayer and input of my wife, Anne.  There should be red flags going up if you and your spouse don’t/won’t communicate and work together during these times.  We do not move anywhere unless we both have the peace that passes understanding.

Pray IN the oneness of marriage. Hear IN the oneness of marriage. Walk IN the oneness of marriage.

Why are you leaving? 
– Are you sensing the Holy Spirit leading you in a new direction?
– Do you sense a close of a season of ministry where you are at?
– Are you being transitioned out because of a change in leadership?
– Are you in a place of fracture?
– Have sinful decisions put you in a place of having to transition out? 

The answer encompasses two things: listening to God and honesty with yourself. First, how closely are you listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit?Have you and your spouse spent time fasting and praying over this? Do you both have a peace about leaving? It can be quit easy to listen to our emotions.  Being wanted by another church/pastor is flattering and (if I can say it this way) seductive.  I have to always remind myself: open doors do not necessarily mean they were meant to be walked through. On the other side of our emotions, we can allow hurt and frustration to fool us into thinking a door is closing.  I’ve been there.  And I have to remind myself that my emotions are real and important but were never designed to rule my life. Like the Psalmist (Psalms 42-43), we need to steward our emotions and make sure we’re listening to the Holy Spirit for direction.

Secondly, sometimes we pastors can over-spiritualize the departure and never be truly honest about the “why” of our leaving.  An honest approach makes us confront the issues at hand and help us move toward the healing we AND a congregation needs.  Are you needing the transition? Is the congregation needing the transition? Has God brought the season to a close? The answer can vary but it needs to be honest. And the more forthright you are with the reason, the greater opportunity for God to help.  Bring it into the light. Are you hurt? Be honest with yourself about it. Do you feel a release? Be honest with yourself about it.

Who is advising you?

The bible says, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” I learned a long time ago, the enemy works in isolation, God works in community. Bring community around you that has a heart after God, a love for you, and the guts to shoot straight. It’s not about seeking voices to make you feel better, but you need Godly wisdom to help you through this. Find two types of counsel. Get some “Barnabas” people (peers).  These are encouragers who are in similar places where you are at. They’ll connect with you because they’re in somewhat identical elements.  BUT…make sure you get the other type of counsel. Get some “Paul” people (mentor). These are wiser people who, perhaps, are people who have walked this road before. I value the input by older wiser pastors. Their wisdom is of immense proportion to me and decisions I make. 

How are you leaving?

There’s a couple of statements I make to every person who contacts me regarding a resignation: “Don’t leave in a way to make yourself feel better or justified. Leave in a way that is going to give God glory.”  You leaving shouldn’t invoke any type of spirit of retribution or anger. On the other side, don’t leave like a diva (trying to center everything about you).  The church you are leaving is staying put and they need to think about the next step. If they want to honor you when you leave, that’s fine. It’s a good thing. But when you start making diva-demands about how you are to be honored, you are treading on dangerous ground.

This isn’t YOUR church. This isn’t YOUR ministry. This is the Lord’s church.  Just as much as you expect those who leave the church you pastor in a respectful, Godly way…you are no different. We walk in submission to His Lordship. Leave in a way that leaves a Christ-like taste on the pallets of people’s spirits. 

What’s my next step? 
– Where are you going?
– Do you, your marriage, or your children/family need healing? 
– Do you need a sabbatical from ministry?
– Should vocational ministry the right next step?
– Are you seeking/needing help?

The highest calling isn’t a ministry title; it’s obedience.  Be obedient to the next step that God has for you and your family regardless of the “title” (or lack thereof).  

I’ll never forget what my dad spoke into my life back in high school. “David, no one can tell you God’s will for your life. You need to hear from the Holy Spirit yourself.” I’ve valued that wisdom. It doesn’t mean I don’t seek advice of other pastors and leaders. It doesn’t mean I reject counsel. But Anne and I need to be sensitive to His leading on what the next step is. Do you need healing? Before stepping back into vocation ministry, get some healing. Is God leading you away from vocational ministry? Then be obedient.  Having “Pastor” in front of your name does not make you a second-class minister in the Kingdom of God. Just be obedient to how and where the Holy Spirit is leading.  Find the next step and take it no matter how small or big it is.

Your responsibility: obedience to the next step.
God’s responsibility: everything else.

He is faithful. He will equip you. He will guide you.  

Regardless of the reason, transitions are difficult. There’s a lot going on and a lot of pieces moving.  But in whatever you face and whatever changes happen, do everything in a manner that exalts the name of Jesus.

I love you all.  I pray that God would bless you, keep you, and make His face shine upon you. Let His countenance turn toward you and grant you peace.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…