LIFE Nuggets

The purpose of this blog is Essentially to Chronicle our personal faith journey and that of a place that we call LIFE House West. Why Life Nuggets? Because Nuggets bring to mind a sense of fun and enjoyment, show me a child who is sad when they get to eat chicken nuggets..... Things like life, and following Jesus should be fun and we want to explore those things in a light hearted and fun way, so please, enjoy...

Location: Hagerstown, Maryland, United States

30 years old, married, Father of four children (2 boys, 2 girls) 2 cats and 3 dogs (black lab, english bulldog, and pug)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What the Devil Meant For Evil

I know, that is a strange title. I wanted to just drop some personal thoughts about an experience that I had this past weekend. Perhaps, many who read this blog only know me as the pastor guy who is planting a church. That has not always been the case. Between my 17th and 19th birthdays I hit what I like to call my wild streak. During that time in my life I was not exactly a nice guy and I had plenty of bad habits...

It was during that time that I met my now wife of almost ten years. We were not married when she became pregnant with our first child. I remember the night when she told me that she was indeed pregnant. The feeling of failure, of having ruined my life, of having made an irrevocable mistake. It was a shock to my family and I felt that I had let them down...

Cindy and I married, the first year was a real struggle and our oldest daughter was born. It was in that delivery room that I met God. I know that sounds strange but it was in that room that I heard from God for the first time in a long time. He reminded me that he still, despite all of my mistakes, loved me as much as I loved my daughter. That altered life. That moment changed forever the course of my life and started me on the path that I now find myself...

This weekend, my oldest child was baptized. I had the opportunity to do it. That is a rare thing and as I listened to her make a public declaration of her faith and intent to live a life centered on Christ, I was reminded that God can take a bad circumstance and do something beautiful. Now, that does not give us the licence to go and and mess up, rather, God can take our broken lives and do something amazing.

I had a front row seat this weekend and wanted to share it. I trust that it is a blessing.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Backwards Motion

Welcome back to LIFE Nuggets. It has been a while since I have blogged about much of anything other than the building. For that I am sorry. The details of s project like that can become rather consuming. I have been thinking a lot lately about church stuff. Figures huh?

I know that may sound rather strange, but what I have been noticing is all work that goes into pulling a Sunday service off. It almost seems like that is a badge of honor for a church plant. Go with me on this, since we have had our first monthly gathering, it seems like a lot of well meaning Christians that I know look at me differently. Now all of a sudden it is no longer "Justin" (which I prefer), but it is "Pastor Justin." As if one church service has altered the very fabric of who I am. It is not that I am complaining, I just find it kind of funny.

It seems to me that we have created some "backwards motion." To me, backwards motion is like misdirected focus. We become so consumed with the wrong things that all of our energy is directed inward rather to where it is needed. A lot of people have spoken on this subject so I will not claim exclusive rights to these thoughts, (read "The Secret Message of Jesus" by Brian McLaren) it is just funny how quickly the tendency to become inward focused can grab you.

You see, I believe firmly that our gathering must be done well, they must be done to the best of our ability. The danger is that we focus so much on the gathering that we have no more energy for the rest of the work that God has called us to do. As I sit in my office here at LHW I find myself thinking that the service part of the equation is easy. It is the serving part that is the challenge.........

Jesus once talked about salt and light. They are change agents. Light dispels darkness and salt changes what it touches. We cannot be concentrated in one place but rather we must be sent in to the areas where the salt and the light are needed the most. I feel strongly that I must model and teach that. Our gathering must become a place where we celebrate the victories won during the week as well as encourage each other in our struggles. Our gatherings should provide us with a principle that we can apply to our lives and pass on to others. They should provide some corporate time to worship in the context of community, To remember that we are not in this Journey with God alone. I for one think that can be done smarter, not in a lazy manner, just more efficiently.

It is the radical love for people outside of our walls that is the challenge. How to serve our community, to pastor a community, to see a church show it's community a tangible example of the love of Jesus that it important. That is where our energy is best spent. The other stuff comes naturally.



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Our First Monthly Gathering

Wow, it feels great to be back. I took a little bit of a break after our first monthly gathering. The process of getting the upper level of the building completed for the gathering got rather hectic so I felt the need to stop, take a break, and reflect on the day what went on. Here were my thoughts.....

Honestly, I was blown away. having 90 people (counting children) at the gathering was awesome. It far exceeded my expectations. The vibe of the service was great. To be honest, it felt rather liberating to wear blue jeans. It seems like the people who came enjoyed themselves, and if you are reading this ans were there, please feel free to comment. The more feedback we get the better.

Now we are getting ready for the next gathering as well as our first "comeback" event on Friday night. At 6:30 on April 20 we will be hosting an evening at the church where anyone who wants to get to know the people on the launch team can come and get better acquainted. It will be a time to hear more about what the dream for LHW is and how people can become more involved. I will blog more later in the week. It is great to be back.