On Saturday I woke up and decided to run in the Jingle Bell Run at the YMCA. I didn't even tell Kim I was running. I just told the kids I was going jogging, and I drove to the "Y" and went jogging with about 150 folks. It was really fun and rewarding. The surprise was that I got second place in my age group. I never expected to place; it was enough for me just to survive! I later found out that there were only two people in my age group, which means I either finished in 2nd place or last place, depending on how you look at it. 2nd place is surprising... Last place isn't.
Sunday was a great day at church. We had a good crowd, and the service was Spirit-led. The people were tuned in to the message God gave me, and it was a pretty special morning. My surprise, however, didn't come until after the services concluded.
Trent had to be at a school friend's birthday party in Dallas early that afternoon. Kim had to be at her baby shower as well, so I loaded up all the kids and took them to Dallas with me. Surprisingly, the birthday party was located at a skating rink within walking distance of our old apartment in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas.
That apartment holds great memories for us. It was our first humble abode after our marriage. It was the place our first two children called home. It was so small that the only available space for Cale to sleep was in our closet. The lady next door had a crazy dog who jumped through a window to try to bite Kim. Great memories!
I was very surprised to take that unexpected walk down memory lane. I think my kids really enjoyed hearing all the stories I shared about the litany of memories we made in that funny little apartment.
The surprises kept coming that day as we enjoyed a little play time at White Rock Lake. We went to a park that I used to go to all the time. The kids loved it! I followed them around with the camera and got some great shots. Here are a few:
Every Monday night we have an elder's meeting. Elder's are the "wise men" of our church who act as shepherds and spiritual leaders. Our meetings have been so good lately. Last night we looked at the difference between being an equipper and being a user. An equipper invests in the lives of the people they lead, and their ultimate goal is to help bring about God's will in the lives of those under their leadership. Equippers often invest in others by offering those under them the opportunity to take part in activities that utilize their gifts and passions.
Users are only focused on ministry programs and results. They use people to accomplish tasks instead of using tasks to help people become more faithful followers of Christ. This is a subtle difference, but it is a profound one. Users are more concerned with numbers than they are with truly equipping people to find their place in God's family.
As we studied this idea, we each felt a sense of excitement and guilt. Each of us knew that we had been, at times, users. We were encouraged, though, at the thought of how this idea could completely change the way we approach leading our people. It is exciting to think about a church full of people who are using their gifts and passions in such a way that they are becoming more fulfilled in their walk with Christ instead of drained by the tasks at hand.
Elder's meetings have become solid times of spiritual growth and progress. God is doing something surprising in each of us, and we are experiencing more fulfillment and encouragement than ever before. It never ceases to surprise and amaze me that God would use a group of guys like us to help accomplish His purposes at Grace Community Church.