Ahh!!! September at last:) I love the fall, I love the return to school, the "cooler" weather, and we are one month closer to the start of hockey season!!! This fall is a bit different than the past two falls. The past two years have meant the return to seminary and the return to being gone half the week from my family. This fall I've decided to try something different. I am taking the semester off! I can't say at this point that I even miss seminary, I do miss my friends and some...some of the professors :), but I don't miss being away from my wife, my sons and my people.
Interesting enough, at lest to me, I have grown to love the people at both Beggs UMC and Schulter UMC in away I didn't expect to. Not that I didn't think I would "love" them and "shepherd" them in a reasonable way, but I did not expect to "fall" in love with them and this community. I am beyond thankful, beyond honored to serve this community and these very precious people and faith community. I have seen more converts...real life transformed people...not "say this prayer with me and you'll be saved from hell fire and damnation" converts, but peoples lives radically changed as a result of and encounter with the risen Christ.
Taking this semester off is about my self, it's about my family, but it's also about caring for and bring in the kingdom of God. I've learned the most valuable lesson from pastoring these two communites, a lesson not taught in Seminary. I have learned to be a shepherd, I have learned...I have just scraped the top of learning that is... of what it means to have the kind of heart that would leave the 99 to save the 1. I am convinced that the M.Div ought to be a secondary qualification for ordained ministry, the primary qualification should be love for sheep.
The past two falls, I've grieved over being away from my family but this year I was grieving being away from both of my families, my wife and kids and my church. I have never been more certain of my call to shepherd God's people than I am now.
"Lord thank you for the people in my life, thank you for the call in my life, thank you for the meaning in my life."
Grace and Peace,