Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Specks, Planks and Conviction

I love podcasts! This morning I was listening to the latest message from Bruxy Cavy, lead pastor at The Meeting House in Ontario, Canada. The message was titled "Love, Lust and Loyalty #2" from their Marriage & Family" series and started with the humorous quote from psychologist Dan Wile:

When choosing a long-term partner, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years.

Bruxy went on to highlight a critical misunderstanding of the famous passage in Eph. 5 where Paul is describing the relationship between husband and wife. We have always heard, "Husbands are the head of the household; wives submit to their husbands." (Eph. 5:22-32)

Many churches have used this portion of scripture to justify a lordship or authority over their wives. This theological bias can be seen in the latest August 2016 update to the ESV. Gen 3:16 reads:
To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

but in the latest revision to the ESV, this passage was changed rather significantly to read:
To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to[a] your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.”

This unfortunate translation bias leads the Church to believe that men have authority OVER their wives which simply wasn't the intent of the text. Wives are being called to submit to their husbands as we (the church) submits to Christ. It's a natural part of being a follower of Christ. Husbands are being called to love like Christ loves the church. Our 21st century reads that as a pretty great deal for the guy. But in 1st century Jewish culture, submission was natural and loving like Christ was not only counter-cultural but nearly impossible!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Josiah is turning 8 tomorrow!

Wow. How did we get here so fast? I can still remember almost every detail of that night in 2008  when we got "the call" from labor & delivery that Patricia was going into labor. That we needed to hurry and get there! Those were some of the most confusing and joyful moments of my life! Would we be good parents? Would Josiah love us? Would we love him as much as a biological child? Are we ready for a trans-racial adoption?

Fast forward to today. Josiah is a Cub Scout that loves his siblings. He loves school and church and drawing and singing. And although he has his moments, he's almost always happy! He loves to make his classmates laugh (much to the chagrin of his teachers. He climbs into bed to snuggle with me and likes when I hold him close.

Happy Birthday, Josiah bear! Here's to the best 8 years of my life! 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Greener Pastures (literally!)

I spent four months as worship pastor and communication director at Crossroads.  As much as I loved serving there (especially working with senior pastor Mike Haub) God had stirred in me a restlessness.  I wanted more than anything to serve full time; to really dig in and give my all to that which God had called me to do.  Problem was, both Mike and I knew that Crossroads would never be able to provide a full time position for me.  If I were to stay, I would be foreced to be bi-vocational, which means my attention would be divided.

Through Pastor Mike's Bretheren in Christ (BIC) cluster group, a pastor from Manheim BIC approached me and asked if I would consider applying for a position there.  Moving away from our family and selling our home really wasn't on our radar, but we agreed to pray about it and seek God's guidance.  At the same time, I was taking a good hard look at the available options in the town where we were living, and we realized that all the doors were seemingly slammed closed. 

We realized that our house–while beautiful–was just "stuff" and God would provide what we needed.  I went through the formal application process and met with the staff and the board of MBIC, and it just seemed like a perfect fit!  A great facility, lots of young families, lots of adopted kids, a contemporary service and a great staff.  Not too big; not too small.

Now the hard part: we had to sell our house.  In addition, our tenants in our old house that we were renting out let us know that they were moving out.  So Amy had to give notice, we needed to get rid of two houses, we needed to find a place to live in Manheim and I really wanted to find a worship leader for Crossroads.  No problem.

Well it may come as no surprise, but that's excatly what happened!  We sold out house in 23 days.  We found tenants to sign a 2 year lease on our rental property. We found a great house to rent in Lititz, PA which is a short 10-minute drive from the church.  And a friend of mine named Russ Long agreed to step in as the worship leader at Crossroads.  Amy's employer even agreed to let her work remotely until they found a replacement for her.  Absolutely incredible!

It was clear that God had ordained and directed this move, so on Sept. 28th, 2013 a group of men from the church came down and moved everything in our house in 2 1/2 hours, drove to Lititz and unloaded into the new place!  The sense of community was incredible, and it was even more affirmation that we were heading in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


After leaving BranchCreek, Amy and I took a few months to explore some of the other churches in the area.  When you're in ministry, you don't really get to see what your brothers and sisters in your community are up to on Sunday morning, and we relished the oportunity to visit.  

I was amazed at the number of church plants that we found!  Smaller churches that were setting up and tearing down week after week.  And there was a joy and excitement there that I didn't expect.  It was a far cry from the large auditorium where I formerly served, but we saw the New Testament church lived out among people all over our community.  Varied expressions unique to their city and people, as I would expect in the early days of the church.  It was refreshing and wonderful.

One such community resonated with me, personally.  It was a small Bretheren in Church (BIC) church plant of about 60-80 people and the pastor was doubling as the worship leader every week.  So he was preparing the message and the music, rehearsing the team, and doing all of his regular pastoral care duties every week.  My heart was immideately drawn to him and to the congregation.  I knew that I could help and sow into this church and ease the pastor's burden allowing him to focus on his love of teaching and leading.

After several wonderful meetings with Pastor Mike Haub, I joined the staff of Crossroads Community Church as in April 2013.  While I enjoyed my four month hiatus from leading, I was eager to get back in the saddle and lead His people in worship once again! The worship team welcomed me with open arms and were very receptive to my leadership and enjoyed not having Mike run around on Sunday mornings trying to manage everything.  And what brought me the most joy was seeing Mike smiling in the back while I was leading.  It wasn't a "one man show" anymore; we had a team–a staff–and we were both in heaven!

Because the church met in the chapel of Biblical Seminary, our staff meetings were held in coffeshops and Wi-Fi cafes around town.  Our "office" was wherever our laptops could connect. It was a kind of freedom that I had never experienced, and honestly I loved it!  We talked through the service and various church matters, but Mike became a great counsellor, coach and friend.  He recognized that Amy and I were realy struggling with our separation from BranchCreek and helped me navigate the challenging emotions and stay focused.

During this time, God revealed my own pride and arrogance. He tore away my feelings of entitlement;  He challenged the value that I drew from my title and reminded me that I can do only that which His grace has allowed me to do. It was a painful lesson, but one that has forever changed my thinking, and while I wince at the thought of the pain, I can be thankful for the transformation that it brought my life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

When It's Time to Move On...

This Sunday, Dec. 30th will be my last Sunday at BranchCreek Community Church.

I can’t tell you how excited I am excited about what God is doing at BranchCreek as they join the LCBC family! I have been honored to interact with some amazing people through this journey, especially Matt Goss and Phil Schwartz.  In getting to know them and listening to them share their hearts, it is clear that the music ministry at LCBC is strong and vibrant with gifted leaders that care deeply about their teams.

As I thought about where I might fit in the new landscape, God began revealing that my leadership gifts are desperately needed in other local churches.  So I faced a really difficult decision:  I really wanted to be a part of LCBC and all that God is doing.  The leadership, staff and vision are exactly what I’m all about!  But there are no opportunities for me to use my gifts and calling leading and facilitating worship–now or in the future.  In fact, taking a technical director or producer position at LCBC would mean that I might never sing in the church again!  

That didn’t feel like God’s plan for my life.  What made more sense was pursuing my gifts and calling as a Worship Pastor; stepping out in faith knowing that God has something for me in the future . . . even if I don’t yet know what that looks like.

The decision was hard.  I mean really hard.  But just like Saul and Barnbaus in Acts 13,  God sometimes calls us out of a really good situation to further His work and fulfill His purposes.  While leaving is painful, I cling to the hope that God has work for me to do, and I’m honored to be His instrument.

I’ve been leading worship at BranchCreek for over 9 years.  I have learned so much under Dave Detwiler’s gracious leadership.  He’s been a true friend and mentor.  He has watched  me grow from a self-centered, hot-headed worship leader into a someone that strives to die to himself every day and simply live in obedience to God. 

I love my BranchCreek and LCBC family! I will miss them so much!  From the very beginning, they have been warm and welcoming.  I've enjoyed the interactions around the table at staff meeting, the friendly and encouraging e-mail exchanges and all the great relationships I've made along the way.  It has been a joy, honor and privilege to serve alongside them!

I can’t wait to share all that I’ve learned at BranchCreek wherever God leads me next!

“Beginning empty-handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them.”  Gene Edwards, "Tale of Three Kings"