The Journey Home

Next week I am flying down to spend a week with my parents in Indiana. They have lived in the same house all of my life. I haven’t been to their house in over 2 years and I have not seen them in almost a year. Even though I am now 42 years old I am still excited about going home.

Coincidentally this Sunday I am preaching on Jesus return. Last week’s sermon and this weeks both focus on the hope of eternity that we will see after death or when Jesus returns – whichever comes first. So today I am reflecting on this journey to my hometown but also to my eternal home.

There are several reasons I am excited about going to either of my homes – the one in Indiana or the one beyond the blue.

1. I am excited to see what my parents have done with the place. They are always making little improvements and buying new things. I love to see what home looks like.

2. I am excited to see my family. I have an older brother and sister that I have not seen in over 2 years. It will be nice to have a family reunion with loved ones.

3. I am excited because it will be a break from my work. I am spending the week just enjoying life. No pressure, no stress, and no clock to punch.

4. I am excited to “feel” like I am home. I have now lived in 4 states and numerous houses. In some ways they have felt like home and in other ways they have not. My father’s house satisfies something in my soul that no place else can.

There are other reasons I love going home, but these times remind me of the journey I am making in life to my eternal home. I am so excited to see home both now and forever.

Pastoral Timing is Everything

This has been a crazy busy week. This morning I am packing and preparing for a teen program called “Feed the Kids.” Several local Churches take turns providing a meal for High School students once a week through the school year. We took a day in the fall and now a day in the spring. It is a great experience but it takes a lot of work. While I was running around this morning I have received a couple emails and a phone call that I will need to handle later.

This is what I have learned about myself in 20 plus years of ministry. I am not very pastoral before any big event, including Sundays. Let me be 100% honest – I do not handle people well before Church.

It happens almost every week. Someone comes in before Church and they have had a rough week and they want to talk. Or maybe they have even had a great week and they want to share. I am sad and I am happy for them … but I am a terrible pastor at that time. I listen halfheartedly. I give awful advice.

The reason is obvious, I am focused on what I have to say, what is going on at the sound booth, and how everything is flowing. I am distracted by the immediately event.

The flip side to this. I am a much better pastor after an event. Most weeks I stay at the Church for an hour to an hour and a half after the program is over. I talk, listen and share with great joy. Personally, I feel like I can be a pastor because the event it over and my mind is clear (usually).

I do not know if this is true for every pastor, but I know it is true for me. People seem to get frustrated with me because they have had something big happen through the week so they show up early to talk to me about it. Then I don’t have the time, so they leave right after worship when I do have the time. I am not sure if this happens to every pastor, but my guess is that it does.

So my advice for any Church member today is to remember that pastoral timing is everything. If you choose the right time to open up, I bet your pastor will handle it well. Don’t know what that time is? Then ask him, I bet he knows. Honestly, we all want to help each other … when the time is right.

More Than Meets The Eye

Recently I have had two experiences with movies that have me thinking about context.

First – I recommended a movie that I really like to a couple. They watched it and did not enjoy it. I knew he would not be crazy about it, but she surprised me. As she explained her dislike of the movie I realized it had more to do with her training and occupational background than the story line.

Second – A movie was recommended to my wife and I. Last night we watched it. It was okay in my eyes. Then I thought about the guy who recommended it. It touched on a part of his life journey that I did not have in common with him or the movie.

This experience has me thinking about what I enjoy in life. Maybe the movies and books that I enjoy say far more about me than I would like to admit. I am attracted to stories that touch my life experience.

So I was thinking last night:

1. What do your entertainment choices say about you?

2. What could I learn about other people from the entertainment they choose?

Just some food for thought.

Not Always the Direct Route

Recently I ran across this verse and it spoke to me in a way I had never noticed.

Exodus 13:17 (NIV) When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

God is leading Moses and the Israelites out of their Egyptian captivity to the promise land. There was a short and more direct route through the Philistine country to their destination. And yet, God does not lead them that way. God knew that if the children of Israel had to go to battle immediately they would give up their journey and return discouraged to Egypt.

The rest of this story is even more interesting to me. Instead of going through the Philistine country God leads them to the Red Sea. All the while the Egyptians are coming up fast behind them. God then parts the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to flee and in turn destroying the Egyptians.

So catch this, God leads his people the long way out of captivity to a dead-end street so that he could do a mighty work in their lives. I don’t know about you, but I find this greatly encouraging. Many times I have found my life on a path that was not very direct (maybe all the time). Often I have found myself heading in a direction that seemed like a dead-end. There is no counting how often I have asked, “God, what are you doing?”

The reality is – God often uses indirect paths and dead-ends to accomplish his will in our lives. Sometimes our second chance story is simply God leading us through the desert so that we do not get discouraged in Philistine country.

The Fading of Easter

Today I raise my voice and shout out something that has bothered me for years and years. I hate that the resurrection of Jesus is largely forgotten the day after we celebrate Easter. I hate that the Church stops talking about Jesus’ resurrection until Easter season next year.

Today I have looked at about 50 blog posts so far. The only mention of Easter by any of them was to address how Churches should follow-up with guests that came on Easter Sunday. Most of them are off writing about the next big thing. In fact, several emails came to my inbox today about how my Church can plan or I can preach on Mother’s Day. Easter quickly fades into yesterday and we will talk about it again this time next year. Hope to see you then.

I have tried for years to fight against this type of thinking. I didn’t this year (This year Easter was in the middle of a sermon series on Jesus), but in many previous years I have started a sermon series on Easter. I have preached on “Resurrection Living” and included the topic of resurrection events, friends, meals and hopes. I have preached a series called “Open” and I talked about an open tomb that in turn will open hearts and minds. I have preached on “Resurrection Power” and “The Transformation of the Resurrection.” Usually I preach a two to four week sermon series about the resurrection of Jesus because I want to make it the center of our understanding of Jesus and the Church.

Think about it Biblically. When Jesus resurrected, the disciples did not know about it till late Sunday evening. (I wonder if they slept that night) Thomas will not believe it for another week! It took forty days for Jesus to show himself and to teach before he ascended. Now, we celebrate for an hour or two on Sunday morning before we head off to a family gathering with ham or some other type of pork product.

So today I just want to raise my voice and say, “Don’t let the Resurrection of Jesus fade with the season.” Keep it in the front of your thinking as a believer. It validates the cross, it affirms Jesus’ message, it demonstrates the power of God, it gives us a living hope and it is the defining event of Christianity. Don’t forget. Don’t ever forget.

Good Friday

Today is the day in the Christian calendar and the Holy Week that we call “Good Friday.” This is the day we remember Jesus death on the cross. This is the day we remember the great sacrifice of Jesus for our sin.

My school system takes the day off and I am not going to the office. This might not be true for you, but I hope you set aside a few minutes today to remember the cross.


The good news is “It’s Friday … but Sunday’s coming.”