Here’s a recent week in the life of me. Primarily it focuses in on work, but there’s some personal stuff included. (October 8 through October 15, 2010)
October 8 – I head to Methodist Hospital to do two visitations. It’s weird saying you “enjoy” doing hospital visitations, so I’ll say it is rewarding. One patient was college aged who had been in the hospital for a week. We had a good discussion about life and faith. For them, it seemed to be easier talking to a complete stranger about their questions and thoughts than with someone they know. I was glad I could spend some time with them. The other patient was older. They are living at home alone. They appreciated me coming by just so they could have someone to talk to for awhile. I heard all about their family, and their own ups and downs.
Usually, when I walk into the room the person wonders why it’s not Lead Pastor Mark Ashton or one of the other visible pastors visiting them. I crack a joke, and the person doesn’t care. They are just happy someone is visiting. I think some people are hesitant to do visitations because they don’t know what to say or do. I don’t know what to say or do either. There is no formula for it, but just showing up is a big deal to the patient. Showing up, listening to them, praying with them, displaying love…how it looks may vary from patient to patient, but that’s what it boils down to.
I come back to the office and finish up some odds and ends. I then help with some prep work for the Sunday service. It’s one of the biggest services in recent memory, since it is Commitment Sunday for Double Your Impact. People will be giving their pledges and firstfruits offerings. So, some last minute prep is necessary before it hits.
Head home, eat dinner with the family, put the kids down, and go to sleep for ten hours. Literally.
October 9 – It’s the weekend and all I want to do is rest. I feel like life and work has been non-stop since late the beginning of summer. Jana and I talk about how we haven’t been spending enough time with each other. I’m disappointed in myself. During the summer we knew July, August and September were going to be busy months for us. We tried to be proactive in not letting our schedules get the better of us. Still, it did, and soon we had gone a couple of weeks without spending some real quality time with one another. I saw it happening, but I told myself not to do anything in the moment because I had said earlier in the summer that it was going to be a busy time for us. Bad idea.
Sometimes those talks are hard, but they are beneficial and necessary. I feel calibrated and refreshed. I’m grateful for Jana’s friendship, love, understanding and accountability.
Later on, Jana and I are counting the change from Liam and Duncan’s piggy banks. Liam wants to give some of his money away to children in need. It’s cool to see Liam talking about this on his own. We’ve tried to instill in him the idea of giving to others and blessing those who are in need. Liam gets Duncan in on the act and we’re counting their money. I ask Liam if he wants to give a little, a lot or half of his money. He says he wants to give half. We then ask Duncan, and Liam tells him how he is giving half. So, Duncan wants to give half. Money is set aside for Double Your Impact, Open Door Mission and Toys For Tots.
October 10 – I’m leading a Journey Group during the first service. We discuss community, Acts 4, giving, Double Your Impact, bullying and more. It’s a lively and honest discussion which is cool. We really probe the idea of sacrificial giving and what that looks like for young families. Since it also Commitment Sunday, we discuss the future of CCC. We’re all excited about the future.
It’s nice to see our neighbors come to Journey Group as well. Jana and I invited them recently. And in stereotypical fashion, they come on a Sunday where the pastor preaches about money.
We go to the 10:45 service, and it is a combined service in the Worship Center. Lead Pastor Mark does a good job with the message, and everything works well together. In the end, people come forward to give their firstfruits offering for Double Your Impact. Afterward, everyone wonders how much is given. (We won’t find out for a week.)
I get Liam and Duncan from their class and I take them to where the offerings are all being collected. They both turn in five dollars from their piggy banks.
Later that day, I write a post about bullying. The topic has been in the news due to incidents of people bullying gays across the U.S.. I write about my experience of being bullied as a kid and how I’ve dealt with that since then. Soon after the post goes up, I hear positive feedback about it. I’m glad to hear that.
October 11 – A low key day. It’s quiet in the office. I don’t have much happening at work. Tickets go on sale for a concert I’d like to attend in November, but I decide against it. I’m trying to reduce my spending, and I want to make sure I’m sacrificing for Double Your Impact. Since I decide against buying tickets, I then have the idea of keeping a tab of things I’d normally buy but don’t. This is to help me see savings and/or money that could go toward Double Your Impact.
At Lunch, some of us staff guys head to Amsterdam. (Gee, where did they get that idea?) It’s Klint Bitter, Miles Yang, Koob Vang, Josh Vang and me. We talk about Omaha, ministry and football. It’s fun hanging out with them for lunch. Great to be a part of a ministry where your coworkers are high quality people.
That night, I’m taking over a gift to a different neighbor who helped us a bit with the recent kitchen floor work we had done. The boys are with me, and he offers the boys some toys that his son is getting rid of. Liam and Duncan are ecstatic, and are holding as many toys as their arms can allow. Liam and I talk later about toys he can give away to bless other kids.
October 12 – Lunch with Jordan Green. Jordan helps us out with various projects in Communications. We have a good conversation about life and God. After lunch, we scout out the Old Market and Gene Leahy Mall for a music video I’m helping to direct for the Christmas services. Jordan and I do a rough walk-through of the video, but we can’t do too much since all the trees have their leaves still. We’ll have to wait a few weeks, but it’s good to have an idea of what we want. Jordan has done a number of photo shoots in the area, so he has a good idea of what will work with the video.
October 13 – I’m asked to attend the Message Team meeting and help develop some creative ideas for an upcoming message. It’s for the series Soul Care and the message we’re working on deals with silence. I pitch a few ideas and provide some of my own commentary on one of the verses for the idea of the message. (Habakkuk 2:20) My idea and thoughts resonate with Mark and I’m asked to create and produce a video around one of the ideas.
That afternoon, I’m in the Student Center meeting with people involved with the Jr. High remodel of the Student Center. I’m involved since I’m the point person for all things IT at work. The servers for the network are located in the Student Center, but they’ll have to be moved with the remodel. Not only that, the space for IT in the Student Center is reduced. So, I give my two cents and try and think what Gary Newton of NSG, the company we contract for IT support, would want with the servers. No one ever really likes talking about IT, until IT directly affects them adversely. Thankfully, the talks go smoothly and everyone is on the same page.
October 14 – I have an early morning meeting with Joe Hearn. Joe is a friend of mine who is involved at CCC. He went with me to China the last time I led a trip. We get together to talk about Double Your Impact and a project he’s developing. Joe asks for some input regarding it. It’s cool to see and hear the different things God is doing in the lives of people around me.
Thursday mornings are when the staff meet for prayer. This morning, there are some volunteers there as well. They are some of the “prayer warriors” of the church. We break up into smaller groups and pray for various things in the church. It’s a good time of prayer.
At my desk, I’m researching various stats on media consumption for the idea I’m developing about silence. There are a lot of stats, so I’m trying to figure out which stats are the best ones to use. Not just stats that get your attention, but also will work well within the context of the video’s story.
Thursday is also the day I lead a lunch study on Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods. While a few men in the church expressed interest in attending the group, the only guys that have come have been other staff guys. One of the guys asks if we can meet somewhere else for lunch. (We usually meet at Buffalo Wild Wings.) I tell him that we should go to our usual place just in case someone else does show up, even though no one has the previous three weeks.
So, four of us head out and arrive at Buffalo Wild Wings. However, we are pleasantly surprised to see a guy waiting for us with book in hand. He’s an older gentleman who probably wouldn’t normally come into a place like Buffalo Wild Wings, as he stated, but there he was engaging in the study with us. We had a good time, and in the end I discover I know this man’s son from when I was a student ministry intern at Westside Church in 1996. Small world.
That afternoon I keep working on research for the video. I head home early because Jana suggests it would be fun to play outside with the boys. We eat dinner and then go outside to play. Some other neighbors are also outside and then come over. They have two little kids, so our boys play with them. Jana and I end up talking to them for about 30-45 minutes. Life, family, neighborhood, work, Huskers and more. Probably your stereotypical suburban conversation, except the part where we talked about mountain lions. (There allegedly had been a mountain lion sighting a few days earlier in the subdivision west of us.)
October 15 – A guy shows up at CCC hoping to meet with someone on staff, but they aren’t there at the moment. He appears to be giving up hope and starts crying. Friday is my day to be one of the on-call pastors. I’m asked to meet with him. One of the other on-call pastors is there, but is a bit apprehensive about meeting with him since he doesn’t know anything about the situation. I tell him neither do I, but that’s part of the fun. I then suggest we tag team it.
The guy is sincere in his need, and honest about where the low point he is at in life. He’s a Christian, but has been hurt throughout his life. He is trying to get his life in order after years of not living right. He’s broken free from addictions, living at a halfway house and been clean for awhile. Still, it’s hard for him to see how he can keep doing the right thing, and the pressures are bearing down on him.
I share with him some of my story, how I have overcome my own sin and struggles. I share about the story of Jesus with the adulterous woman. (John 8) I talk about how in the end Jesus didn’t condone what she had done, but he neither condemned her. He loved her and then said, “Go and sin no more”. I tell him there are consequences with our choices, but God isn’t some overlord who wants to weigh us down with guilt because of our past sin. We have a tendency to be our own worst enemy, beat ourselves up, and repeat the process because we think God is mad at us and won’t accept us. I refer back to the story and personalize it to him. I tell him Jesus doesn’t condone what he once did but that he doesn’t want to condemn him either. Jesus loves him regardless, and wants to say “go and sin no more” to him. This gentleman, who is crying, looks at me hopefully and asks, “Is that what grace is?”
We talk more, spend some time in prayer, and talk about some practical next steps he can take. When I leave, I’m overjoyed and humbled. You never know when those moments are going to be where you will be used by God to change the trajectory of someone’s life for the better. When it happens to me, I find myself in awe of God.