Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a meaningful and peaceful Christmas holiday. Ours was mostly meaningful, mostly peaceful, mostly fun and mostly restful. Restful, except for the part where we moved 11 days before Christmas day. But even that, although a bit scattered and hectic, would be a stretch to be seen as anything but a blessing. After renting a place since we moved to Jackson 19 months ago, we finally found a place to settle into and call home. We’re still in lots of boxes and a bunch of mess. You know, the kind of mess where there are small piles of random things scattered about in every room. Stuff you don’t know what to do with. Stuff you could probably part with, but for some reason can’t bring yourself to. Lots of that stuff. But we are getting there.

We were blessed with so much help in our move. Our church family jumped in by the car loads to help us get moved quickly. There were people here helping us practically every day for the first week. Community can overwhelm the heart with gratitude when it operates to bless. And we were blessed. Being a pastor has its perks. :-)

So after our church Christmas programs and our move, we had Christmas here in Jackson. Then on Christmas day, we hit the road to visit some of Angela’s Tennessee family and then my North Carolina family. We were away for 6 days. I look back on those days and realize that we didn’t do a single thing but eat, sleep and fellowship. And we did lots of all three. 

I like to work and I like to stay busy. The past two years have been the busiest of my life. So it isn’t without notice from me that on night 1 of our Christmas travels – night 1 of vacation from any work, any computer, any singing or worship planning – I slept 10 hours. 10 HOURS. I haven’t done that since before having kids. And to top it off, I fell asleep on a couch in the middle of a family Christmas party. This old man was t-i-r-e-d. 

The rest of the nights followed suit. Got lots of much needed sleep and deep rest. Ahhhhh. It was nice. 

As nice as it was, it is indeed good to be back home, and getting ready for routine to settle in. I love routine. My expectations are high for this week. I’m ready to be intentional about my days…my tasks…my assignments…my encounters…my relationships…my yes’s and no’s. I have so much I want to align and do better this year. Don’t you?

And I want to be more intentional about my blog this year, too. It seems I’ve lost my writing voice since our move here to Jackson. Not completely. But I definitely have not only been lax in how frequently (or infrequently) I’ve written, but also with what I’ve written. I’ve used this as a place to throw up ministry announcements and video recaps and the like. And those things are necessary and good. But I haven’t really said anything on here in a good while. It’s not like I’m a theologian or breaking any literary ground with this wee little blog. But I do like to dialogue with you all about the things of life and ministry and music and worship and family and the walking out of our faith in this generation. 

Part of my silence is obviously due to the fact that our move and my new calling here at Englewood re-distributed the margin of my life. It didn’t completely take away what margin I had. But it did bring so much more “must do’s” into my days that I rarely had any time to sit down and write. And when I did have some time, I would be so exhausted I couldn’t put two sentences together. 

There has been this other weird thing about me these past couple of years that I can’t really define. It’s been a fear, maybe? No, not fear, really. Well, maybe a little. But it’s been what I guess I would call a hyper-sensitivity to peoples’ perception of what I say or do. Yeah, I guess that would be a fear of sorts. Fear of man. It’s always been something I’ve dealt with (and often times not dealt with). Does that make sense? I’ve crawled into this hole of not saying much of anything, because I’ve let the fear of what people would think or how they would respond cause me to just keep my big mouth shut. And I guess in some regard that can be a good thing. An ‘accountability’ thing. But I have failed to take those moments to step out and dialogue about the things of ministry and life that aren’t as easily segmented into black and white. I’m not exactly sure why. It seems in this blogging / facebooking / tweeting generation, a sense of hyper-criticism has set into our tones. And everything that anybody says is held under such a critical light, it has made me shy away from saying much of anything at all. And before you think I mean that I have not fallen prey to this critical spirit myself, let me say that I have, and that is why I have seen it so clearly. Do people just annoy you sometimes because of what they blog or tweet or say in print somewhere, and you just kind of develop a question in your mind of their character and motives? Yeah, me too. I’ve annoyed myself a thousand times. And I have feared people perceiving me that same way, and so I’ve sort of just shut down.

But shutting down in fear of man is not ever in the plan of God for our lives. Not in any regard. We can be careful, methodical and sensitive with what we say, without neglecting the things God has called us to say, and the personality He’s given us with which to say it. And without letting criticism dictate our tone. 

All of that to say…I do want to be intentional, purposeful and obedient with the voice God has given me. And I want you to, too. There’s something about that flip of the calendar that gives us that little push we need to do something different…to do something better. Take this moment in time, and ask the Lord to use your voice to really speak like He’s called you to. With intention. With conviction. With purpose. With consideration. With hope. But without fear. And without a critical spirit.

You in? I’m in.