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Pause

Pause

The word pause has a very simple definition according to an online search…  “A temporary stop in action or speech.”  As I have tried to “label” this season in our lives, I have landed on this word.  PAUSE… A season of Pause!  We have simply hit the pause button for a moment to recalibrate, refresh and refocus on what is in store for our family and ministry in the years to come.

As many of you already know, we stepped down from the Lead Pastor role of Connection Church in June and transitioned the church to Pastor Chad and Stephanie Graham who are doing an incredible job leading and growing the people of Highlands Ranch.

Over these last 3 months I’ve come to truly realize my role was simply to start and plant Connection and Chad’s role is to move Connection forward.  This was God’s design from the start.  We each play a role in God’s great big plan, a vital piece of the puzzle that in the moment we may not realize its ultimate importance.

I am reminded of the famous scripture Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”…  I KNOW He is God but its the being STILL part that we miss most often.

How long will this “Pause” last?  Will I do “Ministry” during this pause? How will we survive? Why did we move to Fairhope? Will we ever come back to Colorado? Why is being still so hard?   Honestly I do not have answers to most of these questions just yet.  I am truly trying to be led by the nudges of God and the opportunities that are presented before me and my family.

I have enjoyed spending uninterrupted time with Amy and the boys.  I have enjoyed visiting my family in New Orleans as often as we have.  We have enjoyed the beach and this great city of Fairhope.  We have made new friends and reestablished old friendships here already.  All in all this season of Pause has been just that…  a Temporary stop to seek God, to BE STILL and just KNOW.

Let’s all take a moment today and just……………… PAUSE….

Arrows in the Hand of a Warrior

During the past few weeks, both of my sons had a birthday. Mason turned 8 years old and Bryson turned 3 years old. WHEN did this happen?!?! How is it that I find myself almost a 40-year-old man with two boys growing up so fast? The truth is that it helps me realize just how little time I have left with these precious gifts that the Lord has blessed me with.

What am I doing with that time? Am I too busy? Am I putting other things before them? Am I really making the most of the little moments I have with them? What am I being intentional about teaching my boys to help them become men?

That’s the real question. Am I raising boys or am I training men? How am I training my sons to worship and love God, the right way to treat a woman, to look a man in the eye when you are talking to him, to say yes sir, to be considerate, to put others first, to work hard, to be honest and have integrity, to be a man of your word, to be a good friend, to give, to love, to laugh, and to weep?

John 5:19 says, “The son can only do what he sees his father doing, because whatever the father does the son also does.” Now I know this is talking about the relationship between Jesus and God the Father, but what a powerful reminder to our sons and us as earthly fathers. This verse haunts me sometimes, “Whatever the father does the son also does”.

Am I showing my boys with my actions how to be a man? This is what my dad did for me. My dad was not the smartest man I knew, he was not the richest man I knew or even the strongest man I knew, but my Dad was the BEST man I knew and will ever know! He showed me the way by his actions and not just his words.

Psalms says that sons are a heritage from the Lord; they are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. It is my job to “aim” them in the right direction! Dads, how is your aim? What direction are you pointing your children in?

My life commitment is when I walk off the last platform that the Lord allows me to stand on, that those who are the closest to me will still respect me and love me. I want my actions to never compromise my integrity and my character. When I look back on the trail that I have blazed I desire to be happy that my sons followed in my footsteps.

Seven Secrets to a Sexy Marriage

This past Sunday was a great day at Connection Church.  The message was about Seven Secrets to having a Sexy Marriage. You can listen to the sermon here at makeconnection.org. We had a GREAT response! It was fun describing what God sees as “sexy” versus. Genesis 1 and 2 were our main text as we looked at the beginning of creation.

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. He said let there be light, separated light and darkness, created day and night, sky and space, land and sea, trees and plants, sun, moon and stars, fish, animals and birds and wildlife and THEN, the pinnacle of His creation, man and woman!  This is the beginning of God’s design for mankind as well as marriage. This was also the first “union” to take place as God’s first institution and as soon as we see this marriage, the enemy shows up. From day one, the devil has been trying to hurt and destroy marriages.

So what is a Sexy Marriage in God’s Eyes? Yesterday we uncovered the Seven Secrets of a Sexy Marriage and defined them as:

  1. Having honor and respect for one another. We are created in the image of God. Each person deserves honor and respect just as we honor and respect God. Do you truly honor and respect your spouse?
  2. Embracing your uniqueness and differences by learning each other’s language.Learn what fills and fulfills each other! Refuse to let your differences rob you of intimacy.
  3. Know your role within the marriage.The gap between expectation and reality is frustration. It’s your job to close that gap.
  4. Resolve conflict quickly and openly.Conflict will suck the life out of your marriage, but unresolved conflict will kill it.
  5. Work hard to fulfill your purpose in the marriage. Marriage is not all about happiness; it is about work. It is a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something special that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness and purpose will come.
  6. Sex should be sexy.Sex is not an obligation or a reward, withheld as a punishment. Sex should be just as much a part of your marriage as conversation. As a matter of fact, often times the better the conversation, the better the sex.
  7. Trust is a must in a sexy marriage. Have you done anything to break the trust of your spouse or are you doing things to build up that trust?

God wants all of our marriages to be sexy! If we apply these simple secrets to our marriage, we will see lasting results. My challenge to you is to take your spouse out on a date night in the next few weeks. Carve out plenty of time from your busy schedule and make a huge investment into your marriage. Talk, ask questions, share worries, and use these 7 secrets. Just be open about them with each other. Go and enjoy your sexy marriage!

The Perfect Church Planter

I received a text from a friend the other day that described the “Perfect Church Planter.” When I first read the text I laughed out loud because, what qualities actually determine the “Perfect Church Planter?” My friend’s text had a list of qualities given from the perspective of a seminary professor. It was the professor’s idea of the perfect planter. Here is the list: entrepreneurial, energetic, daring, brash at times, empowered, and passionate. Wow, what a list right? It’s a good list and all of these are a necessary part of being a good, healthy church planter. However, my immediate response the text was cynicism.

Church planting has been the toughest thing I have ever done in my life. It has been the hardest thing I have ever put my family through. At the same time, it has been the most rewarding, the most real, and raw ministry I have ever been a part of. God has felt as close as my own skin and as distant as the stars in the sky. I have heard God loud and clear at times. Other times He just seems silent. Your strengths are tested and your weaknesses are exposed. You also sound crazy to your ministry friends trying to describe your feelings. Through all of it the Perfect Church Planter knows that God has them exactly where they need to be and in the end, that is all they need.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game in ministry. You know, comparing your bloopers and behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. I’ll never forget Scott Hagan telling a group of church planters to “Stop looking at pictures of church crowds. It’s leadership PORN”!!! It is way better to view “success” as a name and a story, rather than a number.

The defining moment for me was on a drive to the mountains one Monday morning after a very difficult Sunday. I was questioning everything and this was one of those moments that God spoke louder than ever and was closer than my skin! When entering a town in Colorado, the town sign does not list the population. Instead, they list the elevation of the town. This is different than most other towns in America. God ripped through my heart with these words, “Shawn, when you become more concerned with the elevation of my people and not the population of your church, I will then be able to bless you beyond your wildest dreams!”

In my opinion, the “The Perfect Church Planter” is someone who is willing to simply help people get closer to Jesus.

Unplugged

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to unplug for 11 days. As a church planter, these times seem to be few and far between. So when the opportunity was possible, and my team was willing to take care of things while I was gone, my family and I jumped at the opportunity. I owe a very special thanks to Dane Hillyer, who preached an incredible message while I was out.  And also to Lee Blakney and Chad Graham who took care of all the church business. I am blessed with a great team!

Believe it or not, unplugging is not easy. We had just left town on our long road trip and at the very first stop, I pulled out my phone to check my email and to look at Facebook.  “What am I doing”, I thought! This is not going to be easy. So I took drastic measures… I deleted my Facebook app from my phone. I then deleted Twitter and Instagram!  Followed by setting my voicemail to be directed to Chad and Lee as well as setting an auto response for all of my email accounts. Just when I thought I had achieved the “unplugged” status I desired, an alert went off on my phone. AHHHH! I turned off all notifications. It was work just to get unplugged!

Finally “Off the grid”

Somewhere along the way, we as ministers have equated busyness with success. This is so wrong and so off base from the teachings and the actions of Jesus. Mark 1:35 says that Jesus woke up early in the morning while it was still dark and went to a solitary place. Luke 5:16 says Jesus often withdrew to the lonely places. Often!

Unplugging for those 11 days has set me up to be a better leader, pastor, husband, father and man. These times have a way of “recalibrating” you and “course correcting” you in a way that could not be accomplished in the “busyness” of ministry.

For your own sake, for your family’s sake, and for your churches sake, please find some time to pull away and unplug. Even if it’s just for a day, make unplugging a priority and part of your routine in 2015. Saying that you don’t have time is really saying that you are a poor time manager. Remember, you have time for what you want to have time for. #offthegrid

Let It Go

While in New Orleans for Christmas, we were around all of our family. One of my nephew’s and Bryson, who are both around 2-3 years old, watched the movie Frozen everyday and three times a day. Even if it was just on in the background, they insisted on having it playing. That song… That wonderful crazy, catchy, HORRIBLE song! Over and over again on the TV, in the living room, filling the house and worst of all, now IN MY HEAD….

“Let it Go”

These three simple words that have truly permeated our culture and our minds, thanks to the little Frozen movie.  (You have to like that snowman though right???)

These words really are valuable when it comes to ministry and leadership. The truth is, these three little words are truly what leadership is really all about. True leadership is about empowering others and helping them become all that God has intended them to be. You cannot effectively do that until you LET GO of some things.

Too often in my leadership in the church, I have hoarded ministry. I held onto it too tightly, not trusting people and not helping them be all God wants them to be. Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…”

God has called me and He trusts me to equip the people He chooses to send my way. I have learned that most effective, biblical leadership is about letting go of the credit and the “important” things like the pulpit and roles that are seen in public. This allows others to rise up to the challenge. To train, disciple, lead, pour into, trust, and equip those around me to “do the work of the ministry”. In short, we have to -Let It Go!

 

Family and Fun

We live in a society that praises money. We all have bills and debts to be paid and somewhere along the way we try and save, so that one day, we can break the cycle.

Money is a scary word to most people because of the overwhelming pressure to have as much as possible. Between life, family, jobs, and whatever else we manage to squeeze in, this life can get so over bearing to the point it would seem easier just to quit and move on.

On top of money to balance, we have family that looks up to us to provide and to make this life enjoyable. In all this commotion of life “Fun” is not a word that sometimes fits in to our busy schedule. Fun is just another idea that you hope to one day achieve. Wait a minute though, Fun is what its all about.

The question is: Can we balance all this life, family, money and fun into one day. I believe we can, but some of us make our lives too busy. We all need to just take a moment to sit and enjoy the day the Lord has given. I know that sounds a lot easier said than done.

I encourage you; make a plan to have fun. Gifts will go bad or out of style. But the memories you make in this time will be remembered. Sit with your spouse in your favorite coffee place and just talk. Maybe you and a friend walk could walk around the mall and try one thing form every dessert place you can find. Make today fun. Make today exciting.

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” This year make sure to run to the Lord with your family, with your finances and with your fun. He wishes you an enjoyable life but it is up to you to accept that rest that only he can provide.

 

New Year Resolution #Fail

I just read a stat that says 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail in the first 30 days. To be honest, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. It is almost as if you make them knowing that you will not keep them. I know that it might just be play on words but I do not make New Year resolutions, I make New Year’s commitments. That word just carries a little more weight when you hear it. If I make a commitment, there is a greater possibility that I will keep it!

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established”. This year I am committed to be a better husband, father, and man. I am committed to studying the Gospels and the Book of Acts. I am committed to reading books that challenge me and teach me. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle that honors God with my body.

By the time you read this blog, many New Year’s resolutions have failed. What about you? Have you already given up? Have you already slipped back into your “old” ways? Will you commit your work to the Lord? Will you allow Him to establish plans for your life?

Let us not grow weary in well doing but let us keep fighting the good fight of Faith that our Lord Jesus has called us to. So go ahead and resolve, commit, promise, pinky swear, whatever you want or need to call it, but whatever you do, do it with all of your might!

Starting with the End in Mind…

It’s the beginning of the year. It’s New Year’s Resolution time.

Some people like the idea of creating resolves each year. Others feel like they are just going to fail, so why even try. Some of you reading this may have even given up on what you said you wanted to do on January 1, 2015!

But what if you were to think about the end of 2015, instead of the beginning? What if you were to start thinking about how you want to reflect on 2015 and what you’ve accomplished?

Here are three ways that you can set some goals to be proud of accomplishing by December 2015:

  1. Start with the target in mind and then take small steps to work your way there.
  2. Be as specific as you can when setting your goal. Don’t just say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to save more money…” Put a specific number and a date of when you will have it accomplished!
  3. Write your goals down AND put them in a place where you will see them often…even daily. Make the effort to make it happen.

We usually have resolutions or goals that cause us to change. Change is not easy. It is not natural. But it is something that is necessary if we do not want 2015 to look exactly like 2014.

What is one goal or one resolution that you would like to look back on with pride, having accomplished it in 2015?

God is Great and God is Good

Most of you will know that dinnertime prayer we all heard growing up. Say it with me: God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food ….

Now the first two phrases are the most important things you need to know about God. When you are financially stressed, your family isn’t the best, and when life seems to just be coming down on you; God is still great and God is still good.

He made all things and was there in the beginning of time laying the foundations of the world (John 1:1-5). We have a God that has everything in the palm of His hand and yet, He comes down to our level and delivers Himself up as our replacement. God is great. He made us and he could be a God that is far from us, non-personal and out of touch. Instead He comes to where we are at in life. He brings himself down to our level and loves us unconditionally. He does not ask us to be perfect or flawless. He comes to us with arms open and wanting to have a personal relationship with us. God is great.

Thinking about the goodness of God you must think about the cross and the sacrifice that was made. He sent his one and only son to die for our sins that we commit because He loves us (John 3:16). He could have let us die in our own imperfections but He came as a perfect man, fully God and fully man, to take our place in judgment. He gives us immeasurable mercy and grace. Mercy is Him sparing us from what we deserve and grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. God is good.

I encourage you to take a moment and think about how God is great and how God is good. Thank Him for the love he has for you and how much He has brought you through. Always remember He has a plan that is more exciting and amazing than you could imagine.

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