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Our Journey to E91: June 21

As I'm sure you know from personal experience, making a move can be a time of excitement as you anticipate your new location, but it is also a time of grieving as you think of all those you will leave behind. One of the many people I will miss is Aaron.  Almost every Sunday, before or after the 9:45 a.m. service, Aaron would come up to me with a huge smile and give me a hug. I would ask Aaron where his mom was sitting, and he would point her out to me, and she would give me a big smile and wave. When I announced that we had accepted a call to move to Indianapolis, I wasn't sure how Aaron would take the news, because, you see, Aaron has Down's Syndrome. 


The next Sunday Aaron came up to me as he always did with his big smile and mighty hug, but I could tell he was a little upset. He said he was sad, but he told me he was going to be o.k. Later that day the church had a farewell reception for us, and guess who stood patiently in line to give me one more hug...Aaron. He had his usual smile, and he also had a card and gift, which his mom made sure I knew he picked out all by himself.  Aaron and his family said they would come and visit E91 some weekend, and, when they do, don't be surprised if you see him come up front with a big smile as he gives me a loving hug.


The reason I tell you this is because as we journey to E91, I'm reminded of the value and importance of relationships. Ministry is about people. The Church is about connecting with Jesus Christ and ... people. You will discover this about me soon enough, so I'll go ahead and tell you now: I'm not coming in as your new senior pastor with some big agenda. I'm not coming in with a ruling scepter to say, "I am your leader; now follow me!" I join you in order to serve you and serve with you. I want to have the joy in my heart that Aaron has in his. And I want us to grow together in loving God and, yes, loving people.

Our Journey to E91: June 18


Laura and I are in Lexington visiting her parents for a couple of days while our kids are at church camp. I went for a jog this morning in a nearby park, and I noticed a sign that read, "Caution: This Area May Flood Without Warning." Rather odd, I thought. And it made me pick up my pace a little bit. After all, if a flood could come without warning, and Park Management didn't seem fit to have any life-vests nearby, I wanted to move to higher ground! 


As I was running back to my in-laws' house, I thought about how so many "floods" in life come without warning: loss of job, cancer, heart attacks, car accidents, and other such unpleasantries of life. But there are also good things that flood our lives without warning: finding love, "surprised by joy" (to use C. S. Lewis's phrase), the laughter of a young child, and the peace and power of God's Spirit. 


We can plan, manage, and do our best to control our life circumstances. We can eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest at night, and still get hit by a car. No matter how hard we try, we can't always avoid the bad, and we can't always usher in the good. Sometimes life just happens without warning.


In church life, we can do our best to plan and manage solid, Christ-centered ministries, outreach services, and worship gatherings, and sometimes growth happens, and sometimes it doesn't. We can't control the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the best thing that could happen as we begin this new chapter at E91 together is to see warning signs posted around the church campus that say, "Caution: This Area May Flood Without Warning." May we be the kind of church where God's Spirit floods us with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). And when people in our community see what God is doing, may they be overwhelmed with the flood of His love and truth, even it comes to them without warning. 


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