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Friday, June 12, 2009

Let the Games Begin

For the last few months I've been praying and waiting, waiting and praying, to see what's next. First of all, I think I've realized that I'll never really know "what's next." But I do know that I can put one foot in front of the other, and do the next thing that feels right.

So starting in June, there will be some adventures and opportunities that are going to stretch me - but I think they are also going to fit me well. This last week I went on a consulting trip to the town of Norfolk (pronounced "Nor-FORK" thank you), Nebraska, pop. 22,000, hometown of Johnny Carson. On Monday I flew into Omaha -- did I mention that I have never been to Nebraska -- rented a car and drove northwest for two and a half hours through miles and miles of corn and soy fields, and past a whole lotta cows. Early on I pulled in to a Dairy Queen, and just for grins I asked them if they made their burgers "protein style." The woman in the booth said flatly, I'm sorry, I've never heard of that.

That's OK, I said, and took my burger and fries and headed on road. I made a few phone calls to catch up with friends as I drove... and the calls would drop about every fifteen minutes. Later I was told that the cell towers are not too close together out in Nebraska, because there just aren't that many people to merit the coverage.

I spent three days in Norfolk for Youth Ministry Architects with another consultant to assist a church there in searching for a full-time youth pastor. I met some really great students, and some very dear church members. Warm, godly people who, as my friend Cameron Carey tells me, wear sandals, black socks and look you in the eye when they meet you. I fell in love with them, and prayed for them this morning as they press on in loving Jesus. My favorite was an elderly woman named Sonia on the search committee for the new youth pastor. When I explained how different members of the committee could collaborate through using Google Docs to craft the job description, she interrupted and said, Honey, I got dial-up! I doubt I can use those Google Docs. I loved it.

Next week I head out to another town an hour outside of Chicago for the same sort of work. And then starting on June 22, I will start meeting with a few lead pastors in Southern California one-on-one to coach them through strategic development for their churches. This will be through the Free Methodist Church. I've been coaching one couple all spring already, and that has been a real pleasure. A couple of other projects are in the hopper as well, and I will post some details about them soon.

But I want to end with yet another great section from the Book of Matthew that I sat with today. Jesus sent out his disciples with these words (again, from The Message, chapter 10):
"Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously...

"Don't think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

"When you enter a town or village, don't insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave.

"When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don't welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way....

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't connect with some of these words as I head out on these projects. I am so grateful. His care is so creative -- and surprising in the turns it takes. I wake up each day and try to just have open hands, keeping my eyes wide open to see what he'll bring my way. As he counsels the disciples, my goal is to Travel Light. Amen.

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