“I am kissing texting goodbye!”

 

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The time has finally come for me to say ‘goodbye’ to texting. I can hear some of you laughing even as I type this, you are thinking “Yeah right!” I have talked about it for a long time, even made some feeble attempts to stop, but this time I’m serious and quite determined. I am weary of the pressure of not answering texts as fast as the communication platform of texting demands and I find that the only time I really like texting is when I am the one waiting impatiently for the immediate answer. I too get frustrated when it doesn’t come fast enough. That just doesn’t seem right does it?

Months ago I heard a quote from someone I highly respect and it has resonated with me ever since. I have it written out on a sticky note on my computer and it is a regular item for prayer and meditation on my prayer list. It simply says, “We need to learn how to slow everything down.” I find that text messaging does just the opposite, it speeds things up.

The older I get and the faster and more numerous the various messages this brain receives, the greater the struggle to keep up. At times it is exhausting. My mind gets overly cluttered with so many alerts and demands on my attention that I either forget to respond, or respond too quickly to cultivate the relationship I desire. As a result I may never get back to the task, the text, the email, or the project that warrants my undivided attention.

What happened to the personal touch of actually interacting with people? What happened to using meaningful and thoughtful words to describe our lives and feelings, developing relationships rather than trying to decipher the barrage of ‘texting shorthand’ amidst the myriad of ‘emoticons’ which are supposed to help us better understand who we really are?

Emails replaced handwritten letters, and now it seems as though texting is replacing emails. Our communication is growing with such volume and speed that we don’t slow down long enough to really get to know one another. Is this really the quality of communication we want? I certainly don’t. In a book I have been reading, “The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication,” the author writes: “One of the greatest human experiences; receiving the gift of another person’s attention.” I might add, ‘undivided attention’. I believe that a well thought out email can effectively communicate the writer’s care for the recipient far more than a text.

And so, I do hope to hear from you, via email (ron@thechapel.church), and I will do my best to respond in a timely and thoughtful manner.

Question…
Have you ever thought about texting less, or not at all?

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Europe Trip 2017

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While I had hoped to post a few blogs while in Europe over the past two weeks, I should have known better. There was scarcely a break from the time we left on Monday, October 30th to our return late Monday night.

Having said that, I intend to do a brief post of each part of our trip, over the next few weeks, which included visits to a few of our missionaries, in Austria and Croatia as well as a quick trip to Edinburgh to visit Derek Prime, a dear saint who has had played a significant role in my ministry; Thomas Breimaier, my church history professor; as well as an unexpected visit with a German pastor, Matthias Lohmann, in Munich, Germany. I love the excitement of divine appointments which only the Lord could orchestrate.

This trip marked my 6th trek to Europe in almost as many years. My first venture in the Spring of 2012 was with a brother from our church to scout out the land so to speak. I will never forget that trip, as we watched the Lord  open the doors for some wonderful ministry opportunities. It is hard for me to believe he has given me such a privilege to minister in Europe. I never dreamed such a ministry would be possible. At times I feel so ill-equipped and ever so thankful. Each trip brings with it unique characteristics and this trip was without exception.

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” – Acts 15:36 (ESV)

I have been greatly blessed on three of those trips to have had my wife Jenny accompany me. Every time I have visited without her I have been gently reminded that I should have brought her and must not let leave her behind again.

On one particular evening, at our last stop, I was sitting in a meeting with the elders of The Chapel, Salzburg. As I listened to my Austrian brothers I was overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord to have allowed me to be a part of these young pastor’s lives. It is easy to forget how important our visits are until we are there and the people begin to express their gratitude for the relationship they have with our church. In many respects they consider The Chapel Church as their home church even though we did not initially send them out. It is a humbling to be introduced to their congregation as “their pastor.” I cannot thank the members of The Chapel Church enough for their love and support to have allowed us to visit these precious saints over the years.

One of the things that made this trip unique and distinct from all others was the addition of Clift and Gabby Barnes. Clift is the Senior Pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship in El Paso, Texas. I have known Clift and Gabby for over 21 years. I first met Clift when we were both youth pastors at churches in our respective states. He, along with his church, graciously hosted our team of 19 people in the summer of 1996 when traveling to do missions work in a small town of Bachiniva (Chihuahua) Mexico. He has been instrumental in all the Lord has been doing in Mexico from that time to the present day. I have often remarked that he must regret the day he said “yes” as he has spent countless hours hosting teams, not to mention other missionaries of our church who have been serving in Mexico.

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Clift & Gabby at Pike Place Market

Clift and Gabby came a couple of days early, on Saturday. It was their first visit to Seattle so had to take them to Pike Place Market for some clam chowder and fish throwing. Earlier that day we were greatly encouraged by the word through a message Clift taught from 2 Peter on “The Sure Word of God.”

 

Over the years the Lord has had Clift and me on separate yet parallel journeys in our churches as it relates to some organizational changes we have felt led to make, both seeking to be the healthiest church possible. Clift planted his church just a few years after we planted ours in 2001 and the similarities of our journey have been uncanny and to say the least a wonderful confirmation of God’s heart for his church and an encouragement that we’re not alone in where the Lord had been leading us.

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Gabby, Jenny & Clift at Munich Airport

This is the kind of trip when being with another couple for 14 days straight, in such close settings, will either make or break a relationship. I had little doubt that it would go well, and this proved to be true. Clift an Gabby were real troopers and a tremendous blessing to have along. They are humble servants whom the Lord used greatly, though they would be the last to say such a thing. On our return home they expressed that the favorite part of the trip was meeting the people. They hope to return one day.

 

Up next, our first stop…The Lindsay Family and City Chapel in Klagenfurt, Austria…

Musings & Miscellany

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I got a real kick when I read this text which a dear friend of ours sent to Jenny. In it she was saying what she decided to do to celebrate “Reformation Day” and share it with the trick or treaters who came to her door. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“This yummy candy bar you have is actually not to celebrate Halloween but to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! In the old days, when we went to church, the teacher would tell you what the Bible said but on this day, five hundred years ago, the people decided  ‘Hey we want to read the Bible on our own and in our own language please!” and in doing that they learned that the way to Heaven was not to do good things and try to be good  (which is what the teachers were telling them) but in belief and faith that Jesus died for all the bad things that they had done in their life! So cheers! And enjoy this yummy candy bar in celebration of us being able to have the Bible in our own language and study on our very own!”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I’ve often reminded people that heaven is not only a destination, it’s a motivation. When you and I are truly motivated by the promise of eternity with God in heaven, it makes a difference in our lives.” Warren Wiersbe, On Earth as it is in Heaven

Perhaps you have heard the saying, “he is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good.” How can that be? Aren’t we supposed to be heavenly minded? Aren’t many of the problems we experience on this earth a result of putting our faith in the temporal things which consistently let us down? Being heavenly minded, eternally focused, will bring about a sense of purpose which we will not have otherwise.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) – Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I couldn’t help but think of this verse as I was reading the article “When Rejoicing with Others is Hard.” What a wonderful verse this is, especially when you find yourself in seasons of “discontentment.” The key to this verse is in the “learning.” Contentment doesn’t come naturally, it is a lesson learned through the supernatural strength of Jesus Christ.

SOMETHING GREATER THAN US

“I am not her Savior. I have crossed oceans for her; he crossed galaxies. I will sign a covenant with her in ink; he signed his in blood. I would die for her; he has died for her. I desire to love her perfectly; he has done so and always will.”

This will no doubt be one of the most beautiful things you have read about a man’s heart for his bride on their wedding day, and God’s heart for the church, his heart for his bride.

WHEN REJOICING WITH OTHERS IS HARD

“Sometimes joy for another is hard, especially when the blessing in his or her life reminds us of a blessing missing in our own. When God provides for our brother in Christ, answers his prayer, or blesses him in some way, our first response isn’t always to rejoice.”

Though it is hard to admit the times I have been envious of others, I find a peace in what is at the heart my envy. The writer of this article states, “At the heart of envy is seeking contentment outside of Jesus.” How is it that this brings peace? The conviction of the ugliness of my heart, by the Holy Spirit, draws me to Jesus, the only place where true contentment is found.

6 TIPS FOR READING THE BIBLE WITH YOUR KIDS

“Two questions I’ve tried to keep asking my kids are: “What does this teach us about God?” and “What does this teach us about salvation?”

Though I have not read this book, “Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids,” I would highly recommend it. For two reasons” 1) I trust Crossway Publications, and 2) I failed in this area with my own children and don’t want to see any parent make the same mistake.

While I was great at creating those “happy childhood memories,” how much better it would have been if those memories had been grounded in the Bible. As I think back on my years of parenting, no adventure I could have made up, and I created some doozies, could have matched the adventures of God’s word.