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The other day I Retweeted a quote about change from Leonard Sweet who said“For some people, change is life. For some people, change is death. For all people, change is difficult.” I would have to add to that, “change is inevitable so embrace it!”

I have found that my life in many ways has been a lot about change recently.  We use the word “transition” often in our family & church, and start to wonder if all of life is in transition, but just at various speeds.  I enjoy much about change, new surroundings, new ways to drive home, new experiences, and more.  That invigorates me.  Then there are things I don’t like about change that seem like losses to me…I don’t like to loose friends, shared experiences, privileges, etc.  Possibly that is why the older we get the less we like change.  When you’ve been through so much change it makes you tired.

I was encouraged by my friend, JR,  last year through his blog to keep a few quotes or statements on note cards to remind you of who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there.  So I began making my collection with some of his and some of mine and some of others.  I have about 15 or so now, here are a few of them which remind me of how I as a leader relate with change:

Change is so important and is so biblical!  “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”2Cor3.18 When we embrace the change that the Spirit of God is doing in us we also embrace the change of how He desires us to share His good news with the rest of the world so that they to can experience that transformation.

We tend to resist change and become miserable in the process.  I remember when I was growing up, our pastor wanted to have an overhead projector in the pulpit, to use the technology to better teach/communicate the word of God to people.  But people tell me that he received a lot of criticism about that kind of change.  But it’s not just in the church that people complain about change.  It is incredible to hear all the griping that goes on when Facebook changes the layout of our profile pages!  We have to get over it and realize that they are attempting to create a better product so we can have a better experience.  I have also noticed that it is rare that Facebook changes things back to the way they “used to be”, they simply say this is how we can be better at our desired goal and let you decide if you are going to stick with them.

How do you deal with change?  How is your direction set?  What keeps you on course?

Shepherding/Coaching The Inside

“…life will present us with hundreds of opportunities in a single week to take a look at our internal world, to walk with God there, to become more fully his.  Don’t let your internal life go unshepherded.” – John Eldredge, Walking With God (p. 192)

The tendancy in our society/lifestyles is to only check the internal world when something is seriously wrong, but whatever is going on in the internal world is what drives or controls that which we do on the outside.  How I deal with my kids is a result of what’s going on inside, how I respond to the “idiot” driver at the intersection is a result of what is going on inside, what I say when I feel threatened by someone is a result of what’s going on inside, and how I plan my schedule is a result of what’s going on inside.  As Eldredge said so well, we have so many opportunities daily to do a quick or deep internal check.

I have realized that the analogy of shepherding doesn’t really help most of us, because we have never had sheep, been on a sheep farm, been to a petting zoo, or even worn wool!  BUT we have all had or been coaches…a coach seems to be the closest common analogy to a shepherd.  A coach encourages, resources, challenges, celebrates, and even gets in our faces from time to time.  A coach identifies things that we need to do differently as well as put us in positions to let our strengths shine and be used for the greater good.

Are you coaching your inner life on a daily/weekly basis?  I am so thankful for friends of mine who help me coach my inner world, who push me to make the hard decisions and celebrate the strengths God has put in me.  Let me encourage you to not let your inner life go UNCOACHED so that you are more fully his, for the greater good!


“Our assumptions control our interpretation of events, and they supply a great deal of momentum and direction for our lives.” (John EldredgeWalking With God)

It is amazing how many times recently the realization of mine or someone else’s assumptions has been part of conversations.  We each see life in very different ways than others simply because we come to the exact same situations with a whole different set of assumptions.  This can get you going down the wrong path very quickly and lead to conclusions that are WAY off and dangerous.

One of the biggest of these assumption categories is making assumptions of other people.  Whether it is their motives, desires, or beliefs, they are coming with assumptions and we are making our own assumptions.  To complicate things more we communicate a lot these days through more impersonal ways like email, blogs, facebook, twitter, IM, etc.  This is why I think the best policy is to always assume the BEST of other people.  Mandy and I seek to do this in our marriage, and have to sometimes ask each other, “are you assuming the best of me?”  Our staff team at work has a covenant with each other to always assume the best of each other.  When people criticize me, I dig deep inside and ask God to give me the ability to assume the best motives and intentions…and when I do that, it usually is right AND I learn a whole lot more from the experience.

Thinking about it, I realized that our justice system is based on assuming the best. “Innocent until proven guilty”  Some might say that this is a naieve approach which sets people up for being taken advantage of.  And there are certainly people who, knowing I try to think the best, will seek to take advantage of a situation.  But assuming the best doesn’t mean that you don’t gather the facts and seek the truth about a situation.  And it is key to always be ready to have your assumptions corrected and act accordingly.

So, our assumptions range from what we think about God, to our life, to other people, to the mundane…but these assumptions all have a profound effect on the outcome in a given situation!

It may be difficult, but try it to have your assumptions challenged or extend an “assume the best” attitude toward a coworker, spouse, or friend, and see how many problems are solved!

Journal Thoughts – Vine & Branches

Well, I am seeking to re-start regular blogging for ministry, personal musings, family life, and more. So to get back started I am thinking that I will share a page from the journal…in fact as I read over my journal, I think I will take selections on a regular basis and share what is appropriate and helpful here.  So here is a thought from just the other day.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15.1)

I was reading this passage (read the whole passage now) and meditating on the imagery and pondering the abiding concept…when something really jumped out at me, and this is what I wrote down:


Love – Abide – Fruit – Joy – Obey – Ask

Vine + Branches = Fruit – Pruining = More Fruit + Asking Receiving
Vine – Branches = no Fruit = Throw Away – Withers – Burned Up

My focus must be on abiding in Christ, living in Him, dwelling in Him, trusting in Him, existing in Him, clinging in Him, falling in Him, placing all of who I am in Him… Living with the reality that without him I can do nothing; Not giving in to the facade or mirage of our world that calls on human power, thought, and effort to accomplish. 

I must also allow and recognize His pruning…ouch…wait I liked that relationship…ouch…I needed that ministry…ouch…why did you cut that off, it was so fruitful…Oh, you are going to bring MORE fruit??…Right there where you cut??…I don’t see how God, you just cut it off!

I’m scared God, but I ask in your name Jesus for greater fruit, for deeper love in you and deeper love of others, for stronger support in abiding…to produce fruit that will not be mistaken for anything else than from you to bring others to worship you fully, to experience complete love, to enter into the fullness of total freedom through Christ alone.

You are most glorified by the greatest amount of fruit that is possible to come from my life, and I have maximum joy with abounding fruit.

But my single focus and pursuit is abiding in you Christ!


horiz_home_ryan_dark_2.jpgWhen I typed that title I thought of the lenses that change tinting according to the sunlight exposure. I’m not really going to write about those lenses except to note that they are a reactionary transition as opposed to a proactive transition. They are built to react to the sunlight and offer protection and comfort to those who are wearing them.

So what does that have to do with anything?? Glad you asked!

This is a time of major transitions in and around our lives:

1. Spring is now in full gear around our town, and it is BEAUTIFUL!! I am so thankful for the season changes and the transition times as winter struggles with spring and the beauty that God has built into that time is shown.

df-logo-clear-bkgnd.gif2. Our ministry is moving into a new facility for youth and children. We have been blessed to be able to build a nicely equipped auditorium for student ministry with a cafe, kitchen, lobby, and office facility! What an exciting time this is! During this time we are also re-casting our vision to Drink Deep of Christ and Flow to Others from Campuses to Continents.

 height=3. Our church is in the process or transitioning Senior Pastor leadership. Johnny Miller made it known a few years ago that he is nearing the end in his current role. So we as a church are looking for the healthiest way to keep moving the ministry forward as we evaluate the current strengths and weaknesses and determine the profile of a potential new Senior Pastor. A very important time in the life of a local church body! Thanks for your prayers!

4. Yesterday Greg and Allison Despres made the public announcement that they are transitioning to a new season of life and ministry, moving to South Carolina.  Greg has been leading our student ministry team for almost 9 years and is the one who initiated the contact for Mandy and I to move up here (with just Addie at that time) over 8 years ago.  It has been a great season of our life to work alongside of them and grow deep in friendship.  We have experienced and learned so much together.  And being so far from family they are like our family, coming to the hospital with coffee and dunkin donuts when Isabelle had her first seisure, sharing holiday meals together, helping one another with house projects, borrowing things back and forth, caring for each other’s children when things come up, and COUNTLESS other things!  Our whole family has shed tears on this one (although I think Owen was crying because he hit is head!) and we have more tears to shed as we help them do what needs to be done to move a family.

So with every life transition, there is a bit of healthy reaction and healthy proactive movement.

With the coming of spring, you put away the heavy coats, clean up the wood pile on the porch and start working on the yard again…complete with planting a garden, because you know the fruits will come in the summer!  I can’t wait until I can take a bite of those juicy home-grown tomatoes!

With the moving into a new facility you order the things you need, recruit help to move, re-cast the vision, and look forward to continued fruit to come through expanded ministry opportunities.

With the process of looking for a new Senior pastor, you rejoice in all the fruit that God has given through the ministry and seek God for the direction of the future, realizing that HE is the one who causes growth and will raise up the person to continue the abundance of fruitful ministry in our community and around the world.

And with the transition of the Despres’ we, through the tears, rejoice in what God is doing to expand His Kingdom.  Realizing that He is growing a beautiful garden year after year.  We anxiously work and await the Spirit of God to bring a bumper-crop of fruit both in the Despres family in South Carolina and in the ministry of Calvary Church Student Ministry as we continue the vision, and continue building the ministry team for the future.  The unknown sometimes causes us to be fearful, but as we follow God, the one who knows all things, we can cast fear of circumstances aside and pursue Him with a greater passion, knowing that He gives and takes away, but He always provides.  We worship Him in this transition!

Thanks for your prayers as we all TOGETHER build the Kingdom of God, being the life of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit both locally and globally!!

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