Time Is Your Friend

Time Header

It has been nearly a year since I last posted. I’ve had plenty to say, plenty to share, just haven’t been in the mood to share it.

I’ve had some thoughts lately that may help you if you’re in a place of a transition. It could be any type or form of transition really. A new job, a relocation, a new direction, anything that has you starting over or starting fresh.

Here is something I’ve been learning about time. Time is not your enemy. Time is your friend. This is a tough one to accept, because lets face it, we want things to hurry along. We feel like we’re running out of time, and it’s either now or never, but time isn’t your enemy, time is your friend. I understand. I get it. It can feel like, while others lives are moving in slow motion, yours is just screaming by, almost out of control. Way too fast.

Think about it. The reason we are even in a transition is because of something difficult. Either a difficult decision has been made, a new direction has been given, a mistake was made, maybe someone did something terrible to you, and the end result is we’ve been knocked off balance in some way.

  • Something we expected didn’t turn out.
  • Someone we loved broke our heart.
  • A dream we held once is now changed.
  • We made a mistake that can’t be undone.
  • God has given us a new direction.
  • God is leading you to a new position or place.

When we RUSH into something, we make mistakes. We need clarity, we need healing, we need peace, we need direction, we need healing or restoration. That takes time. Time is not your enemy, time is your friend AS LONG AS you keep your eyes focused on Jesus. That’s important.

Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord…” if you wait long enough you’ll be able to hear things later that you can’t hear now. You’ll be able to receive things later that you can’t receive now. Time is your friend. God is at work. God is speaking. God is healing. God is moving. Trust His timing. Don’t rush it.

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5 Things 30’s Josh would say to 20’s Josh

The closer I am to hitting the mid 30’s mark, the more I think about my journey. I’ve definitely gained perspective, but it’s also caused me to realize what a moron I was in my 20’s. To be fair, I wasn’t a complete moron. There were many positives along the way, but I also made some basic 20’s mistakes that thankfully I’ve learned from. Maybe it’s a right of passage, a necessary journey of maturity. I don’t know. Either way, I went through it and have put together a few thoughts I wish that 30’s Josh could slap 20’s Josh upside the head with. I doubt that 20’s Josh would listen, but still, it would be worth it. Also, I don’t want to color myself this totally dysfunctional, disrespectful, irresponsible 20’s something. I was far from it, but I did have my moments.

So here goes. If I could text myself back in my 20’s, here’s what I would say.

Josh, you’re a cool guy, but please…don’t be an idiot. Pay attention to what I’m about to say.

1. You don’t know half of what you think you know, so stop pretending that you do.

If you haven’t walked in their shoes, don’t pretend that you have. “Faking it” is both stupid and demeaning. People already know this. They can tell in the first 15 seconds of a conversation whether or not you’re full of it. You can show real empathy, sincere sympathy, as long as you allow the true peacemaker (Jesus, The Holy Spirit) to work through you. So dwell on that.

Also. Don’t hate on people who HAVE earned it, who HAVE worked hard, just because they don’t agree with you. Don’t dismiss them because they’re “older or out of touch.” Please. It’s exactly the opposite. They have something you NEED. Wisdom. Experience. Just because you’re the loudest voice in the room doesn’t make you right. Just shut up and listen.

Or, consider this.

How about making more of an effort to learn and ASK people who HAVE gone through it, or experienced it, to share some insight with you. And then Listen. Be respectful. Ask intelligent questions. Show honor. Don’t interrupt. Write it all down. Reflect on it. Grow from it.

2. It’s just as valuable to serve as it is to lead.

Don’t worry about position, focus on the relationships. Don’t fuss about a title, focus on the people. Don’t argue about the office, emphasize the mission. In fact, the greatest leaders are those that put the welfare of others before themselves. The greatest leader IS the greatest servant. Locate more areas to serve. They are there, you’re just not looking hard enough or you’ve turned your back to them.

3. Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.

Don’t be so wrapped up in what people think about you. You’re a great guy. I know you’re young and it’s not easy following the big footsteps of your dad. Or the expectations that people place on you. Just remember that he’s proud of you no matter what. God thinks you’re pretty awesome too. Develop thick skin, but keep a soft heart. Be confident in who you are. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t allow that fear to keep you from trying.

4. You don’t need that stupid shopping trip.

Seriously. Save your money! Or at least spend it on something worthwhile. Take that money and spend it on a weekend with your family making memories. This time next year…that shirt will be ugly, those jeans will be worn (and not in a cool way), your jacket will have a mustard stain, your shoes will be garbage. However, those memories…they’ll last forever.

5. Have faith that’s BIG, but be willing to start small.

Nobody is going to hand you anything, you have to work for it. You have to earn it. Don’t settle. Continue to push. Keep driving for more. Be a learner. But always stay thankful and learn to celebrate EVERYTHING that God does, no matter how great, no matter how small it is. It’s going to take time, a long time, even more time than you ever considered, but God is at work. Never forget that. Don’t burn bridges with people. We need each other more than you realize. So keep that in mind during every tough conversation, difficult decision or complicated situation. You can do this.

There’s more I would tell myself, which may or may not include previous Super Bowl winners and NBA Champs…ok, I’m kidding. What would you tell yourself? What would you say to your 20’s self if you could?

Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

This is a poignant summation of the frustration of many who work in student ministry. As a former youth pastor of nearly 6 years, I can relate. Courtesy of Trevin Wax (original post here).

Dear _____________,

I need to get something off my chest.

When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry.

I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.

The desire for your teenagers to be on fire for Jesus and all about His kingdom is what wakes me up every morning. I long to see a group of passionate, unashamed Christians ready to live on mission. I thought we shared that desire, but I’m not so sure anymore.

It seems to me that you see youth ministry as a supplement to your kids’ lives – not something vital. I’m like a vitamin you hope will keep your kids out of trouble, not part of your weekly exercise routine. You’d never say it like that, I know, but based on your priorities, I can’t help but feel that way.

I got a text from your middle-schooler on Sunday, telling me how much he wanted to be at church, but how you were making him be with the team. He doesn’t know when he can come on Wednesday nights, because he always has practice. He tells me he can’t wait till he can drive, so he can come to church more often.

At the very least, I wish I had the opportunity to equip and deploy your son as a missionary to the sports fields, but there’s just no time left in his schedule. I recognize that sports can be a good character-building exercise, but sometimes I’m not sure whether all these activities are for your kids or really for you. If this pattern continues, you shouldn’t hold on to any expectations that your children will find a good church once they’re in college. When your kids have to ask what you’re doing this Sunday, it’s already game over.

What’s more, your daughter told me recently that you have a “no-toleration policy” when it comes to alcohol, but you’ve given instruction on how to avoid pregnancy in case she was going to have sex. Well, let me tell you that I have a no-toleration policy for both those activities, the first because it’s illegal, and the second because it’s immoral. I want your kids to follow Jesus, not the world. That’s why I am so surprised that it seems like you are more concerned about your children embarrassing you than disobeying God.

When we first met and you told me that you wanted me to help your kids love Jesus more, I guess you were really saying, “Help my children be moral, respectable and religious.” I should have leveled with you then. I have no interest in helping you raise nice, moral hypocrites who love ball more than God or chase pleasure more than His kingdom.

I want to work together, but that means we’ll need to be seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, not our kingdoms or self-righteousness.

Please know that I’m still committed to your kids. I just hope to see them again at some point.

Your friend,

______________

Why Our Mission Matters

Huntington

I’ve never considered this region to be some sort of paradise by any means, but I’ve also never been miserable here. I’ve enjoyed raising my family in this community, surrounded by wonderful people.

I saw online today an article naming my home #2 in a list of the top 10 most miserable cities in the United States. Who is named 1st? Well, that would be our state capitol, which happens to be only 50 miles away.

If you live here and this doesn’t upset you, you need to wake up. I’m fired up about this.

This isn’t just about stress. This isn’t just about obesity. This isn’t just about jobs. This is about Jesus and the life HE called us to live. See John 10:10 and Ephesians 3:20. This is about an oppressed region that God desires to break free.

This is why OUR MISSION MATTERS! This is why our mission is dangerous! Lives are at stake. It’s time to get serious, even more serious than we’ve been. This is why we are here. We are here to ESTABLISH people in a relationship with Jesus, to BUILD their life upon the Word of God and EMPOWER them to live a life of victory. It’s apparent that this is not happening to the majority of this city/region.

This is not some simple puny little mission. God’s plan is not meager, weak, pathetic, or small. He redeemed us for a purpose and it is glorious! It’s time to love enough to speak up. To speak the truth. It’s time to settle for nothing less than a sovereign move of God, with the people of God, the church, living for Jesus and giving their lives to help everyone else do the same.

My faith says this: That none will be satisfied until everyone in Huntington surrenders to God’s LOVE and follows Jesus. That our purpose is consuming. As long as we draw breath we’ll serve God – and God is calling every man, woman and child in this region to follow Jesus.

I am not afraid nor intimidated by the enormity of the challenge. It’s just another giant God is setting up for us to take down.

Prepare yourself. Get ready. This has to change. This can change. This will change.

 

 

Pastor’s Appreciation

This blog post is going to be all about my mom and dad. Have I mentioned before that my dad is also my Pastor? Did I also mention that he’s also my boss? Thats right. It’s a triple play. The tri-fecta. 🙂

Working with my dad is something that I love. I really do. Thats why my wife and I have committed to helping him in ministry. We have our up and down days, (mostly up) and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A lot of (pk’s) preachers kids have a hard time getting along with their parents in a working environment, especially ministry. Our relationship definitely demands a certain type of balance in order to stay healthy and we both work extremely hard to keep things in perspective. Here is the one thing that we both know at the end of the day. We love and trust each other. We’re family. That never changes.

I very much love, respect and admire both my dad and my mom. So I want to take a few moments and honor my dad for the great pastor that he is. I also want to honor my mom for the tremendous woman of God that she is. I am extremely proud of my parents, so here is a list of qualities and characteristics that I love and admire about both of them.

  • I love that he still gets excited over a brand new Bible. Especially one that has the right font size and translation. He found a new one this week and hasn’t stopped talking about it.
  • I love that my mom prays her heart out. There’s not a day that goes by where I know she HASN’T prayed for our family, me and my family and the church family.
  • I love that he loves people. Genuinely loves people. He knows the best way to show that love isn’t just by saying it, it’s by doing what God has instructed him to do…teach them God’s Word.
  • I love that she is thoughtful. She’s always taking ladies out to lunch to love on them, and spend time with them.
  • I love that he’s strong. I’ve watched people walk away from him, break his heart and still he stands up on Sunday morning and delivers God’s Word with strength, passion and faith. THAT is a big deal.
  • I love that she still cares whether or not I eat healthy. I don’t, but that’s besides the point. 😉 She’ll never stop encouraging me to be a healthy person, and that’s a good thing.
  • I love that he’s just as passionate about God’s Word today as he was when he started preaching almost 30 years ago.
  • I love that after 27 years, she still takes time to cook meals and deliver them to people in our church who have been sick and need extra care.
  • I love that he takes great care of his employees. We are paid well, have good benefits and this is a great place to serve/work everyday! New Life Church is awesome!
  • I love that she goes out of her way to make people feel special. She works hard planning special events like the “Princess Warrior Event” for breast cancer survivors.
  • I love that he believes that NOTHING is impossible with God. It’s a fearless faith. It’s a Godly faith.
  • I love that she dances during praise and worship, no matter where she’s at, and no matter whether other people are dancing too. Mom has some moves!
  • I love that he takes pride in being a mans man. Dad is a John Wayne kindof guy. This quote sums it up. “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” John Wayne – the Shootist
  • I love that she is so creative. My mom writes songs, poems and yes even some hip hop. You know what? She’s great at it.
  • I love that even though dad comes across like a tough guy, he still sings. Like Elvis.
  • I love that she hears from God. God has used my mom to help me make the right decisions so many times I’ve lost count. So has dad. Countless times.
  • I love that he’s a coach. Dad went to college to be a teacher and coach before answering the call to preach, but he never quit coaching. He coaches the church to be disciples and he coaches his grandkids in sports. When my son wants to know something about football, I tell him to call or text his pawpaw.
  • I love that she has supported him through everything with everything she has. What a powerful example of a woman of God. He wouldn’t be where he is without her either.
  • I love that he’s sarcastic. You may not see it all the time, but in the right environment, he’s gonna say something that will get you laughing. I had to get it from somewhere, right!? 😉
  • I love that they are both serious about serving Christ with their lives, their marriage, their family and their ministry. They have built their life upon the foundation of God’s Word and have taught us to do the same.

I love that she’s my mom. I love that he’s my dad. I love that they’re my pastors. God has blessed me and my family so much and we wouldn’t be who or where we are without them. God is good.

I love you!

If they have made an impact in your life in ANY way, let them know it today. Submit a comment that I’ll share with them or let them know on facebook. Dads facebook. Moms facebook.

Living Faith Crusade Notes

Pastor Kenneth and Lynette Hagin are in for a Living Faith Crusade this week. If you are anywhere near New Life Church, you need to get here. He spoke tonight and shared some things that made a HUGE impact on my life. I thought it would be cool to share some of the bullet point notes I took. His message was on Obstacles and Opportunities.

  • Don’t focus only on the spectacular or you’ll miss the supernatural.
  • All obstacles aren’t necessarily from God.
  • Obstacles are temporary.
  • God is able to restore joy, passion, direction & overcome your fear of being left behind.
  • All opportunities are not from God.
  • Knowing/discerning the difference between a God given opportunity & the appearance of one determines whether you stay in Gods full blessing/will or permissive blessing/will.
  • God is bigger than missed opportunities.
  • Before you step into a new opportunity, it requires prayer AND fasting to clearly hear from God.
  • Gods primary way to guide isn’t by how great the opportunity appears, but through Gods Word and through your spirit. (Proverbs 11:12, John 16:13, Romans 8:16).
  • Trouble is more of an indicator that it is God than it isn’t.
  • The reason God can’t speak to you is because you’ve already made up your mind.
  • He doesn’t force, He leads.
  • Stop and listen, He wants you to get it right.
  • Sometimes He leads you through obstacles to prepare you for your next opportunity.
  • Confessions of an Associate Pastor – Part 3

    Confession #3

    Sometimes I wear hats that don’t fit.

    Sound a little weird to you? If you only knew… When I saw this image online I couldn’t help but laugh.

    It’s a mini miracle that Pastors have any hair at all, considering the outrageous number of hats they are required to wear each week (whether they fit or not).

    Random Church Member: “You mean to tell me that you don’t get to wake up, drink your Starbucks coffee and then study and pray for 6 hours and then just go home everyday?”

    Just once I’d like to respond with this: “Well, you know, Tuesday is always prep and party day at the office. Wednesday is always sleep in until 10:00am day because we drank so many Red Bulls the day before and are TOTALLY wiped out. Thursday is Wii team building competition day. Ministry is soooo hard…”

    I don’t preach every week, but the weeks that I get the opportunity (though I relish it), I’m completely swamped. None of my other responsibilities go away…it’s just a matter of tacking on anywhere from 15-20 hours of total prep time based on the message (even though I know most people probably don’t believe that, but it’s true).

    Trying to piece together a picture of what a typical week looks like for a Pastor isn’t easy, because there are so many different tasks that we are expected to complete. The moment I start to work on a message (which is a BIG priority), my phone rings off the hook to either create a design, update the website, take a counseling call, handle an emergency related issue, answer a question, or a request to come watch some inappropriately hilarious youtube video that Shawn wants to show to the youth 🙂 .

    I have a list of all the job descriptions I’ve had to take on and wear that hat, even though a bunch of them were loose or pretty tight.

        Preacher
        Counselor
        Leader
        Financial planner
        Designer
        Interior Decorator
        Project manager
        Entrepreneur
        Videographer
        Supervisor
        Volunteer coordinator
        Cheerleader
        Theologian
        Receptionist
        Greeter
        Webmaster
        Community activist
        Writer
        Recruiter
        Life coach
        Mediator
        Drama Coach
        Construction Worker
        Strategist
        Social media-ite
        Problem solver
        Dreamer
        Yard man
        Student
        Disciplinarian
        Teacher
        Social activist
        Events specialist
        Chaplain
        CEO
        COO
        CMO
        CFO
        Operations management
        Janitor
        Salesman
        Communications specialist

    I’m sure I left a few out, but you get the idea. It’s a good thing I like hats. Seriously, the next time you see your Pastor, HIGH FIVE him!