Those of you who follow me know I have been working on the slow, constant, intentional thing for years. At certain points in my life I have found momentary success at it and at other points abject failure. I am pondering Judith’s ideas that built into us now as people of this culture, we have defense mechanisms against slowing down.
If you’re old like me, you might remember that song by Simon and Garfunkel, the one that told us to slow down and make the morning last. Yes, we were Feelin’ Groovy back in those days.
I do sing this song to myself a lot while I’m doing art because I have a tendency to rush through things. It’s often part of my defense mechanisms, a way of removing any pressure from myself. If I’m rushing through a drawing or painting, I can’t expect good results, right? Or I can’t be too disappointed with my results.
In recent weeks, I’m been introduced to the concept of slow drawingas taught by Amy Maricle. I’ve done slow drawing also through Zen Doodling and Zentangles, but surprisingly I haven’t felt a sense of peace with it. With graphite drawing I can often achieve that blissful “zen” state of…
“What troubles me is that much of the modern evangelical movement in America does not seem to grasp the priority of the call of apprenticeship to Jesus,” writes Ryan Post. “Rather than teaching people to obey everything Jesus has commanded us, many churches seem to treat discipleship as an optional accessory, choosing instead to focus on selling the basic ‘conversion’ package (afterlife insurance included).”
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to Post about how the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are a solution to the problem of discipleship-free American Christianity. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.
Ryan Post is the lead pastor of Village Church in Burbank, California. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he is author of Jesus People: Communities Formed by the Beatitudes and Healthy Prayer: Integrating Structure, Silence & Spontaneity.
I feel like I have been struggling for perspective these last couple of weeks. I have been managing to keep up with blogging just about everyday with my Digging Deeper Devotionals, but somewhere along the way I felt like I lost my writer self. He got swallowed up by my pastor self. Honestly what I know needs to happen is these two fellows have to figure out how to harmonize within my soul and become one writer-pastor-self or one pastor-writer-self.
This week I have pulled away from the church in order to work on my writing. I have come to a place in the woods called the Grain Bin.
This is a writing and praying break away and a restoration of the slow, constant, intentional rhythm I have been trying so desperately to keep.
As I sit down to my afternoon tea and writing session, I am warming up with a writer’s exercise called SHARE YOUR WORLD. This is a challenge I have been participating in for years and it is a good way to get the juices flowing and even to restore the juices when a three hour morning writing session has sucked the juices away.
Melanie has asked her weekly questions and I have answered them below. So read on and then hop on over to Sparks From A Combustible Mind by using either of the underlined links to see how others answered.
Here we go:
What activity instantly calms you?
There are many: Prayer, getting alone in a grain bin, writing, sipping coffee while looking at water….
What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done lately?
Renting a Grain Bin in the middle of nowhere and coming here to do nothing other than write and pray. I think I need to do this more often.
If people receive a purple heart for bravery, what would other color hearts represent? (Example yellow heart = cowardice)
Green Heart= Life Giving Heart
Orange Heart= Heart Of Fire
Red Heart= Heart Of Healing
White Heart= Heart Of Purity
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done or witnessed someone else do?
I think one of the bravest things I have ever witnessed someone do is to watch my sister go as a single woman to a foreign country to be a missionary.
GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)
How do you show gratitude to the people you respect?
What a powerful question! Again I think there are lots of answers to this one: By thanking them, by giving them preferential treatment, by giving them time.
So it has been another couple of busy weeks in which my time to free write has been a bit limited. Most of my writing time these days has been taken up by doing my daily devotional videos and preparation for sermons or meetings. This week my writing day was absolutely full as I prepped my daily video, wrote out the week’s schedule, my meetings for the week, reviewed board material for Sunday’s board meeting and finished my sermon for Sunday on the topic of positional victory.
All that said I am not discouraged in the slightest. I recognize I am still in transition. I am settling in a little more every week and the time for writing is being restored bit by bit. Here is what we at the Vicarage have been up to since the last time I wrote a “2021 at the Vicarage” post.
April 16th– It’s my day off. So that means housework. Jacopo got a much needed bath and trim today. The thing about owning a Maltese is that one bath and one trim time is never enough especially if you let it go for a while. I am going to have to do more clipping but I went as far as I could before his patience with me ran out.
April 17th-Sermon practice day. As I have said before I try to practice each of sermons 3 to 4 times before I deliver them. I am not sure if this is standard practice. It is just something I have done since I began preaching. I have learned that extemporaneous preaching can be dangerous (when you don’t know what you are going to say you tend to say anything) and most often it is like the first draft of any story written (not very well reasoned). Saturdays have become these days of practicing the preach interspersed with family rides, housework or meetings. Today I had to make several calls and a trip to Starbucks
April 18th- Time for the weekly preach! This one talks about engaging with our real enemy.
April 22nd- Transition always shakes up the church. It is a time of inflow and outflow for a church. People who have been attending but thinking of leaving make their choices and in rural communities (maybe it works the same in urban centers but I wouldn’t know that) people thinking of leaving their churches come to check out “the new guy”. Over the course of the last few weeks I have had opportunity to meet with many people making “the choice”.
April 23rd-24th– Weekend….so it is time to rest…..practice and preach!
April 26th- Our church visions statement is WHILE DOING LIFE TOGETHER, WE WILL REACH THE LOST BY SENDING THE FOUND. WE WILL DISCOVER OUR GIFTS AND CHANGE THE WORLD.
We are beginning as a church to learn what it means to do life together. Monday night is our men’s DLT group, Five Star Man. We are currently studying THE CENTURION PRINCIPLE.
April 27th- I am loving leading our staff meetings. We have a great staff at Cornerstone and we are really learning what it means to be DLT (Doing Life Together) Church. Our devotion today was from Acts 2:42-47. We have been studying this passage for the last several weeks. Today our discussion was based around…. The Apostle’s Teaching.
April 28th-Mom and I got our first Covid-19 shots today!
April 29th– This was a super quiet day of trying to catch up from yesterday’s busy day of shots, meetings and prayer. But exciting news….I got the edits back on my book. I can now finish the edits and get the book ready for publication in the fall
April 30th- May 2nd-This was our final weekend of our sermon series “Entering the Promises of God”. Also I booked a week away to work on the edits for my book and to prepare for platforming.
May 3rd-I teach a weekly piano lesson on Mondays for a beginner student. Covid has put a real dent in these lessons. With school in and out. Busses coming at one time one week and another the next, With parents and child being exposed several times throughout the year lessons have been sporadic at best. This was the first week of lessons in many weeks.
May 4th-Tonight Amanda and I had a Zoom meeting with our midweek children’s group leaders. We are discussing how to go back to midweek groups and really we are at a new beginning with both of these ministries. That might seem daunting but in my heart I am excited. It is a new day and God is ready to do some new things.
April 5th– The beginning of two very busy days of meetings in a busy two weeks of meeting. Here is my weekly prayer meeting from Cornerstone.
I am having some frustrations with these weekly posts. I have been trying to post little blurbs daily (that works better some weeks than others), but if I am not careful about the posting time, the blog posts to the day I started it rather than the day I actually posted it. This causes the post to get buried at the back of my feed so no one sees it. Apparently that is what happened last week.
Well we won’t have that problem this week as this has been one of those weeks when I failed to post everyday. So today is the day I do all the catching up of what each day held for life at the Vicarage.
April 9th- Day off and housework day! I got laundry done, folded and some more hung up. HJave I mentioned that we don’t have a dryer at The Vicarage? I got rooms swept and stairs swept and some yard work done. Then the evening was given to sermon practice because Saturday is going to be busy!
April 10th– The last few Saturdays I have been trying to set aside for quiet contemplation and sermon practice. I like to preach through my sermons at least three times before I deliver them. It’s not always possible but I try.
This Saturday however I had to meet with a group of ladies who make shawls for people going through life trials. They are preparing a large quantity of shawls to give to a cancer ward and so I went by to pray with them and over this batch of shawls going out. Then I went grocery shopping.
It’s funny how my life ebbs and flows between the spiritual and the mundane without missing a beat. I can be praying and preaching one minute and the next I am figuring out what kind of butter to buy. Life is weird like that.
After I finished with the groceries I had coffee with one of my students who is now a minister in CT.
April 11th– I was elected lead pastor of Cornerstone Church today. It is kind of surreal. This is the church where I became a Christian. It is the church I have served for the large majority of my time as a pastor. Even a year ago I did not think I would ever be taking this step, but here I am!
April 12th– Today was writing day. I also had a committal service at the cemetery, a piano lesson a Five Star Man. Around all of that I managed to get my sermon written, my prayer meeting and staff meeting organized, my goal schedule for the week done, some blogging and some work done in my next book.
I haven’t done an update on Pork Chops With the Sentinels Of Azatan in a while because I am in waiting mode. My editor (who is another of my students) just had a baby and so has had to extend our deadline for the completed edits.
April 13th– Today was staff meeting day. I have had the lead pastor’s office converted into a meeting room for staff, pastoral meeting and Bible studies. I already have a beautiful office which was redone just over a year ago and the way we are working now I am not in deep need of an office at the church for everyday use. I work from home at least two days a week and I am on the road a lot more than I was before. So using the big office for me seems a poor stewardship indeed. If it weren;t for the fact that I do music lessons and some of my worship rehersals from my current office I could probably switch offices with my daughter and move to her little cubby hole.
April 14th– Today was our Wednesday night Prayer meeting. I love these meetings even if they are currently on line. I look forward to the day we can gather together again. It won’t be long we just have to create the team which will help us carry out the protocols, to keep our people safe as we gather.
April 15th– Today was meeting and visitation day. It started with a voice lesson.
I don’t teach many students at a time because of time constraints but over the last several years I have contiually taught one or two the craft.
After that Amanda and I had a meeting about what ” Doing Life Together” means for the next generation ministries of our church. “Doing Life Together” is the new model of ministry we are pursuing for our church life.
After meeting with Amanda I took one of our elders to a Drs. appointment and then finished the day in our new meeting room with our church treasurer preparing for our board meeting and our board staff meeting. We spoke about the launch of Five Star Man as our men’s “doinbg Life Together” model and then we spoke about how to build deeper relationship between the board and staff. I really love strategizing!
Share Your World is the weekly challenge where our hostess, Melanie, asks us several questions. In answering them we all share our worlds a little bit. The questions and my answers are below. You can see the rest of the sharing posts by clicking on the underlined link above.
What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?
My daughter Amanda says the worst for her would be…Buy one get one free beach trips (she is allergic to the sun).
Me…. Buy one get one free seminars to become a better extrovert….No thank you I am comfortable in my introverted skin.
Have you ever gotten a really bad haircut? Do share!
No. But I have had the barber cut my ear with the razor. Ouch!
Isn’t Disney Land and Disney World (and all the variants) just a people trap operated by a mouse?
Yes but I it turns out many of us love being trapped for a week or two.
What if Batman got bitten by a vampire? What would happen?
Man- Bat of course!
What do you want your final words to be if you could choose?
“This was lovely ….really, but I must go now.”
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always optional)
I am so grateful that the people of Cornerstone Church elected me lead pastor of Cornerstone Church this weekend.
Welcome Pastor J.
It gives us immense pleasure and happiness to announce that Pastor J Lillie has been unanimously elected to serve as the Lead Pastor of Cornerstone.
We want to sincerely thank all of you who have prayed for God’s direction during this time, and it is a matter of great privilege to come alongside Pastor J as we move forward Doing Life Together.
As we look forward to what God has for us in the future, we are expecting God to use each of us to help bring many into the Kingdom as we allow Him to use us as He sees fit.
Let us continue to pray for Pastor J knowing that he is on the front line, and a target for the enemy.
Lord, we ask that as Pastor J is preaching the Word faithfully from the platform You have given him each week You will continue to guide him as a completely sold-out servant to You. We ask that you empower him this day to boldly proclaim the truth of Your Word. Help him not to grow weary in well-doing or to fall away but provide grace upon grace. We are thanking You in advance for what You will do in and through our Pastor this very day, in Jesus’ name.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
It is time to SHARE MY WORLD WITH YOU. This is the weekly challenge where our hostess Melanie asks several questions and in answering them we all share our worlds. When you have finished learning about me, click the underlined link and go and see how all of her other contributors have answered the questions.
Do you think psychic abilities exist?
Yes, but those gifts are not what they think we are.
How would you describe peanut butter to someone who didn’t know what it was?
Why does an octopus squirt ink?
To provide cover for a quick escape.
Who are two of today’s greatest entertainers in your opinion? (can be actors, musicians, singers etc)
As we go deeper into this new year, God’s vision for it becomes more clear. I suppose that is as it should be. I see this as a year of aligning vision and beginning its execution. As I prepare myself for the role of lead pastor of Cornerstone I see that much of my work will be about preaching people onto the page God wants to unify us on. The steps to our goal are beginning to reveal themselves. Oh there are lots more conversations to be had around our vision but at least we are talking with the mindset of coming to understanding.
Here are some of the things that God is doing this week.
April 2nd– Today was my sabbath. I did rest. I took a nap. I watched the Falcon and Winter Soldier episode 3 and a documentary on William Wallace. I also attended the funeral of one of our long time parishioners.
April 3rd– Today is my son, Joe’s 32nd birthday. have not gotten to his bank in Keene yet to deposit his birthday check yet….next week. It seems there is not time to do all I want or sometimes even need to do. I think I am really learning the lesson of just how little power I have to accomplish my life. If I am ever to do all God has put in my heart it will only be through total reliance upon Him.
April 4th– Easter Sunday! We had 110 in service this morning and 30 on line! A Great day.
Then we were joined by the Franklins for Easter lunch and supper. Amanda arranged an Easter egg hunt for Daniella and we got pictures of the girls with Great-Gramma or as Daniella calls her “Grampa”.
April 5th-Mom has developed a bleeding issue. So today was another Drs. appointment.
The lady at the lab asked, “Weren’t you just here?”
Our response, “Just like bad pennies.”
I am not really sure where that saying comes from but it gave us all a good chuckle which Mom was sorely in need of today. The good news was that the lab tech had no trouble finding a vein! So….apparently Mom’s veins were also “bad pennies” today and in this case that was a very good thing.
April 6th- Today was staff meeting. We are working our way through devotional conversations surrounding our mission. We are focused right now on Acts 2:42-47: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
That word fellowship is the word Koinonia. It means community and the principles behind it. One of the points we made is that without koinonia you can have an organization but you cannot have a church…..koinonia is what makes a church different from other organizations. Koinonia is what makes the church an organism or as Paul the apostle said, “a body”.
April 7th- Today I met with one of the ladies who is coming back to Cornerstone after wandering around in the world today. Hearing people’s stories is so powerful and I have to say this lady’s story was soooo powerful.
Tonight we held Thew Wall prayer service, but we are playing with new names. Tonight we named it The Call Prayer Meeting.
Adapting to my new schedule as acting lead pastor of Cornerstone has turned out to be quite a learning curve.
My writing has suffered even though I now have a day dedicated to it. This is primarily because I now have A LOT of new writing projects on my plate every week. You may have noticed I am doing a daily devotional video based on my Sunday morning services. This is a first step in helping the church begin to fulfill its vision of doing life together. In the course of pandemic our on-line presence has become more important than we ever dreamed it would and reaching out digitally on a regular basis is absolutely essential.
Anyway these new pieces of life at The Vicarage have required a bit of adaptation, but I am slowly getting there. Here is how it has all gone down over these last two weeks.
March 19-Mom is improving everyday. Friday’s are becoming the day when I attend to the majority of the housework I can’t get to during the week. Things like: cleaning my office, sweeping the stairs and vacuuming the carpets. It is also the day I try to get to extra writing, but today…..too busy with other things.
March 20th– I like to try to practice my sermon a couple of times on Saturdays. This morning I was up at 4 to pray and practice. I got a call for a funeral this morning from the funeral home and called the family this afternoon before I practiced my sermon for a second time.
March 21st– Here is the Sunday sermon Entering the Promise Pt. 4-
March 22nd- Writing day! I am strating to build a new routine: I start by creating my schedule for the week; Then I do my morning video for Facebook which becomes my morning blog; I put together my staff meeting and then create Wednesday night’s Bible study (soon it will be Wednesday night’s prayer focus); The I write sermons. I am in the process of putting together the next 6 sermons in my series. I have the first two sermons pretty well brain written, but the final four, entitled Engaging the Promise, are eluding me.
I find that when I get writer’s block my first step to a remedy for writer’s block is to get my head into Scripture and then into waiting prayer. Then I need to just write.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET WRITER’S BLOCK?
I got my sermon for Palm Sunday done and my sermon for Easter blocked out.
March 23rd- I didn’t pray enough today….Things get out of balance when this happens.
March 24th– Over the course of the last three years many people have left our church. One of the things that often happens when a church goes through pastoral transition is some of those people come back. I have set a goal for myself to personally meet with every person who comes back. I met with the first of those parishioners today. It was a very good meeting, after which I had my assistant draft a letter to the parishioners pastor for further conversation.
Here is our Bible Study from the Wall for tonight. It is the final segment of our series on the seven letters to the churches from Revelation.
March 25th-I ministered a funeral tonight. I haven’t had a lot of funerals this year, which is really strange. Before pandemic it seemed like I was “the pastor of death”. I did a lot of funerals! But this year…not so much.
March 26th– Today mom had a Dr’s. Appointment. It was both a follow up from her fall and an annual physical. Mom usually stresses out a lot before these appointments, but this time around she was much more relaxed about the whole affair. I am wondering if it was because we used a wheel chair and so she didn’t feel like she had to walk into the building.
As I have considered mom’s health I am realizing that this fall was probably a long time in the coming. There were little signs all along the way that didn’t look much like signs at the time, but in hind sight explain so much about where we are now in her physical condition.
March 27th– One of the things I haven’t spoken much about is worship leading. Even as I assume the role of lead pastor I am still leading the worship teams. I am singing and playing less and less, but I am still overseeing the worship schedules and practices.
I imagine I will be doing this for a while, and the connectedness between the pulpit and the music is something I want to maintain even as God reveals His next leader for the worship ministry.
The Franklins were supposed to come out this weekend but the girls were sick…Oh well next week.
March 29th– Another writing day! I finished my sermon for Easte,r although I might need to edit. It seems a little long.
March 30th– Today was staff meeting and then a trip out to Cheshire Medical Center to take one of our elders to a cardiology appointment.
March 31st– Today was the scheduled congregational Q&A. The meeting where church people were allowed to ask the prospective pastor anything they wanted to know. It was an hour of great conversation. The final vote is on April 11th after service.
April 1st-I was doing the dishes this morning and God downloaded the next four services for the month of April through the first of May into my heart. I love it when He does that.
Well this is has gone on twice as long as usual….sooooooo.