Seasons Change

It’s been quite a run.

Middle Tennessee has been home for over fifteen years. We’ve raised three kids here and helped plant a new Anglican church. We helped care for and bury my dad and dear sister-in-law. We’ve had the honor to stand side by the side with those who grieved and those with reason to celebrate. We’ve been blessed to be included in the lives of hundreds of amazing men and women, kids, and students since moving here in 2003. A huge part of our lives was invested in the formation of iShine, the Tween Gospel Alliance, and Bema Media.

Mathias Family Circa 2017

The call to the Priesthood and pastoral ministry with NewSong Christian Fellowship, Four Winds Mission and the AMIA all were birthed here. The blood, sweat, and tears we shed for the unique and beautiful family that is the church at Four Winds Anglican Mission, was a constant part of our past nine years.

To leave these things is to leave a part of our own identity behind and unthinkable. Yet the voice keeps coming… and the images of Maine are never far from our minds. When I prayed… I felt it, when I slept… I saw it, and when I began to investigate… God revealed it.

It started a few months ago when we  (Paige and I) visited the state of Maine, and had an unexpected sense of displacement, a familiar connection to something we shouldn’t have, in an area we’ve never been before. (Ellsworth / Acadia)

An old and faintly familiar nudge began coming into our thoughts from somewhere outside of us. A kind of gentle whisper that wouldn’t go away, coupled to a ridiculous implication that didn’t make any rational sense. The idea inside those thoughts was just too crazy to seriously consider.

“We both felt we were supposed to live in Maine”

We knew being empty nesters meant some major life changes, but this was a bit much. After all, we have a grandson two hours away, our kids, friends, and church family were in middle TN. Our life had been built around and for this beautiful and warm place we called home. To leave now, just didn’t’ make sense.

The insanity of the idea was clear to any rational mind. To willingly decide to leave the familiar and comforting parts of our life and go to a place we know nothing  and no one… just didn’t make sense. 

In the end it was proven true, and confirmed by everyone in our life. After four weeks of intense and persistent prayer for confirmation, it came. First from our Bishop and then from our immediate family, we talked with our bosses, friends, and fellow pastors. They all sensed the truth of this and affirmed our decision to leave.

Acadia National Park

The crazy call of God to go to Maine wasn’t just some bout of indigestion or a momentary impulse. It was a genuine ‘calling’ to go and serve in a far away place. To be His servant in a strange land, to minister and laborer for His Kingdom and not our own. It felt scary and exciting… like a sneeze and a hiccup in one deep breath.

This radical idea had gone from a general concept to startling reality in a few short weeks. The truth of our calling was hard to apprehend, yet the implications obvious. The idea of getting our house ready to sell, of unplugging our lives and moving a thousand miles should be terrifying… but it wasn’t. A strange but peaceful atmosphere  was settling over our home and lives. God was miraculously forming a path out of the fog, a new road for us to follow, a journey for Paige and I into a new season of our life.

What had been a seemingly random idea was morphing into something quite solid, touchable, and true. A miracle that was taking shape right in front of our eyes. The reality of relocating our lives had hit ‘home’, and it felt ‘right’. (The transitions of our life may be sudden, but in God’s hands, we can remain peaceful.)

So here we are today, moving forward in faith. Our house is for sale, and we’re looking in Maine to find our next residence. We’re living proof that God continues to use broken people to serve Him in unusual ways and in unexpected places.

Paige and I are about to embark on a grand adventure, to explore a new and much ‘colder’ place with new challenges and experiences sure to be ahead. The path forward has been revealed, but the details are still foggy. We don’t know when exactly, we don’t know what exactly, but we do know where.

It turns out…St Thomas Anglican in Ellsworth Maine is in need of a Priest, and we believe it is to become our next stop. This obscure and distant place is strategic to both the Kingdom of God, and to our lives.

We’ve learned since hearing from God, that New England and the specifically the state of Maine are suffering greatly from a famine of churches*(see sources) and pastors to serve them. We know that Maine has few churches to meet the needs of God’s people and that around fifty percent of pastors are giving up their pulpits within three years of serving a church. This remote state and region matter to God, and the need for pastoral care is clearly reaching a critical stage. We didn’t know all that before we said yes… but we do now. Things are beginning to make sense.

St Thomas Anglican

God is constantly leading people all over the world to do seemingly radical things for Him. Just like the unknown fishermen He found on the shores of Galilee… He’s asking people to ‘Come and Follow Him,” and He will make us into  ‘fishers of men’.

I wouldn’t dare presume to know for you, but for some… you’ve been hearing the whisper of God already, but were afraid to respond. I get it. To trust God so completely is scary, but it’s also an honor and a privilege to be asked. For Paige and I, it’s time to hit the pavement and start on a brand new and totally EPIC Roadtrip to the great state of Maine. 🙂

We’ll see you there.

Pastor B.

PS – This blog and my work at Bema Media/ iShine will continue, the podcast (Brilliantly Brave Parenting) and work of Four Winds Anglican are not ending. God has provided a way for each of those to continue on and to thrive. Some of it will include us directly and some will not, but each effort is secure in the shadow of God’s divine providence and sustaining power.

*Sources:

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/jared-c-wilson/why-new-england-is-the-new-american-missional-frontier/

http://philwaldrep.org/retreat/

https://factsandtrends.net/2017/08/25/survive-pastors-graveyard-new-england/

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/18/religion/got-faith-maine-the-least-religious-state-in-the-nation/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/how-religious-is-your-state/?state=alabama

https://news.gallup.com/poll/232223/religious-regions.aspx

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The Secret of Adventure…

From the very beginning I’ve had a deep longing to explore… to be challenged, tested, and to discover. God in His great wisdom granted my heart’s desire… and made me a parent.

The secret of Adventure is knowing your already living in one.

AA Milne knew that. His pooh stories saturated with the truth of Adventure and the need we have to be on one. So is the Bible… it reminds us of the fantastic story we’re a part of . The epic and the insignificant moments all threaded into one beautiful tapestry we call our life. For us children of the 80’s… the Adventure was in a galaxy far, far, away.

pic source - moviepilot.com

pic source – moviepilot.com

Like all great stories, there is a sacred quest and a villain with evil intent. A damsel in distress and a gallant hero complete the setting…

Soon our story expands, as priceless treasure is discovered, needing to be protected,…good, and evil locked in a battle for the prize. Drama and tragedy set among the glory and triumph, we watch with breathless anticipation to see how the scene plays out.

Life is an adventure… if you see it for what it really is. 

Can you see your life as more than survival, or a test? More than a painful series of ‘checklist’s to complete?

Can you see your marriage and your love for others as a sacred quest? The priceless treasure…your little ones. Heroically we stand guard against a corrupted and evil world, fighting to protect their hope and preserve innocence.

It’s heroic, even inspiring to watch as we parents learn to love and honor each other in the pursuit of parenthood. Sacrificing our rights and ‘precious little wrongs’ on the altar of true love and a growing commitment to serve someone greater than ourselves.

Ahhh… the heart of a epic story really is inside us all, just waiting to be discovered and celebrated!

Each family, each marriage can become a testament to the adventure God intended us to all share in. And like any great story… we know intuitively the ending. Good will triumph and the evil villain will get his just reward…

Unless you remember the story. Unless you understand what your life really is a part of… the adventure you’re in may only feel like one long moment of sheer terror and the epic hero seems absent. Don’t be confused, that isn’t just a battered and helpless carpenter nailed to a cross… it’s the Prince of Peace and the Lord of the Universe.

The truth is, your hero is with you. The battle has been fought and your are free to be as your father intended. Full of life and optimism, trusting the script has been written down to the smallest detail.. and you’re going to see the ending! 

Peace and Grace dear one… Pastor B.

Day 4… Road Trip Revival. #iShineontheroad “Attitude at Altitude!”

Rolled into Dubois WY… snagging the last 2 rooms at the local Super 8. Dusty, dry and breezy. Temps in July were pushing 100F as we drove the 2 lane ribbon across the hazy, flat, high plains of eastern Wyoming. The sun lingered slow and low in the horizon… seven, eight… almost nine pm before we saw it start to slip over the distant ridge.

The Mountains!

The Mountains!

Sweaty, tired and butt numb we felt the miles. Wall SD to Dubois WY is only about 600 miles with a short detour to Mt.Rushmore NP, but it’s a good long 12 hours of travel. We crashed early and didn’t really notice the clear cool night emerging outside our windows.

We awoke to winter.

42F at 6:30am. My breath fogging the inside of our SUV. My naked legs one giant goose-bump of frigid skin.I had to dig out one of my light fleece pull-over’s to give my body some chance at finding warmth. The shock was complete. We had gone from the blazing heat of high summer sun to COLD.

A sixty degree temperature swing in 8 hours.

We were in the mountains and I couldn’t be happier. The cool / cold morning was such a relief. Felt like a peppermint patty embrace to my summer sweat soaked brain. No humidity, No sweating, No bugs. AWESOME !

As I look around to find someone else to share my jubilant happiness with… I only saw heaps of blankets and fetal postured freezing teens huddled in the back. Chattering teeth and groans quickly deflated me.

I confidently proclaimed the cold wouldn’t last! In fact, for sure by noon it would be bright and warm again, at least 80F with gorgeous mountain summer light. We were heading up the Wind River Valley to clip the edge of Grand Teton NP and push into Yellowstone! The grandest of them all. I had no idea it would turn out to be one of the coldest days possible for July. Snow flurries and sleet would be settled in by noon and would never allow temps to rise higher than 55F.

Tough Day

Tough Day

This led to some complaint and grumbling… but no one could deny the beauty of the mountain scenes before us and we toured the iconic spaces and places (Old Faithful, Yellowstone Falls, Buffalo on the plains etc…)of our oldest and grandest NP (in lower 48) with layers of shirts and jackets wrapping our unprepared limbs. As our altitude rose over 10,000 feet, our attitudes grew a bit short and over the long day of driving and stopping, shooting selfies, and dodging the hordes of tourists… some of us got very crabby 🙂

When we drove up and over the highest pass back to our cozy Super 8 rooms…. it began to snow big time. 3-4 Inches would pile up overnight. I shivered in my hiking shorts as we drove on. Smiling at the irony of it all.

I was the only one smiling. 

Tomorrow our days adventures would change the girls forever. But before the hope of dawn… we had to get through a very dark night.

By God’s grace…. we made it. But it was a tough road to ride.

Day 5 tomorrow; a BRAND NEW DAY.

Mt. Rushmore Here we Come… RoadTrip Revival #2

Too much fun to share with just words…. so here is what it all looked and sounded like this summer!

Stay tuned for more 🙂

Roadtripping Revival – A Summer to remember

The stats are EPIC. 

12,400 miles… five weekends, in six national parks…stretched out over 30 states with over a dozen people in tow. Americana on display as we worked our way across 2 lane, country road and interstate highway. Merrily bumping along in a 12 passenger van, 14 bunk Prevo bus, and luxe Ford Expedition from one weekend to another. Performing in the bible-belt, eastern seaboard, across New England and into the upper Midwest…finally ending the wandering in Washington state. Then…  we jumped back in and drove all the way back to Nashville 🙂

EPIC! 

The sights and sounds were thousands of pictures long… and the experiences as diverse as the landscapes we crossed, but all of them were strategic and superb! It’s always amazing to see how much we change when we make the space for personal reflection and deeper relationship, it’s like a part of us is suddenly re-discovered.

When we invite God into that roadtrip mix… it’s sure to exceed all expectations

Over the next few days and weeks, I’m going to share some glimpses (behind the scenes, beautiful, funny- awkward moments) of how this summer changed me and those I traveled with.

If you’re seeking a bit of encouragement or just want to live vicariously through us… your are most welcome to join in the journey and come along. It’s gonna be fun… a roadtrip revival! #ishineontheroad

Summer Tour 2015

Summer Tour 2015

Peace out,

Pastor B.

Strength for Life

Life is more than survival. 

Sometimes we / I forgetcampfire, Joe Wheeler SP - Alabama

Our life provides a chance to watch our faith grow and literally change us. It’s an honor we have been given as Christian’s, to share our journey with others.

A supernatural adventure of epic proportion, in which our greatest fears are conquered and our deepest pains are healed. We are shattered, undone, and then put back together again. A miracle of God, broken man-made whole.

When we live our faith out with a group of men (or women), we call those brothers… comrades.

When a group of comrades gather together in one place to share their journey,… with unity of purpose and genuine humility in their hearts… all will benefit, with extraordinary strength and fresh hope as the time ‘apart’ brings restoration to the soul. 

If you haven’t had a chance to ‘retreat’ and join with your Christian friends, or personally make the commitment to take a step back from the daily strain on your heart and the battle for hope, you probably need to.

When we intentionally stop from our schedules to rest, re-set, and refresh ourselves in the word of God, we can remember the truth of our faith and it brings hope and strength to continue on. When we retreat in the company of friends and Christian family, we gain greater conviction and strength… and we remember how to “live’ again. 

When Brothers Dwell in Unity

Psalm 133 Behold, how good and pleasant it is…

    when brothers dwell in unity![a]
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.

(Scripture sourceBiblegateway.com)

Having just finished a fall retreat with the men of my church, I can attest first-hand to the effectiveness of renewing our strength in the community and fellowship of fellow Christians, it’s a beautiful and necessary thing for us to do if we want to grow and mature into all that God has called us to be and become.

Pastor B.

Why Tweens need whitewater rafting

Tweens are caught between childhood and young adulthood. They live in that hormone soaked space between the worlds of simple fun and the social meat-grinder known as Junior High.

It’s scary stuff to walk from class as a sixth or seventh grader, knowing everything you are and have is about to be reviewed, analyzed – assessed and mocked by the “big” kids. Getting up and getting ready goes from grabbing the clothes off the floor and a pop-tart; to setting the alarm an hour early to start working on their hair, matching wardrobe and a desperate need to catch up on all the latest mobile electronic chatter. Each morning tweens step into a dark world that’s totally unpredictable…and intensely cruel, especially to anyone who dares to be or live “different”.

Tweens get complicated… the social pressures grow like a late summer hurricane until you may find yourself having a bi-polar chat with your 12-year-old! It’s disturbing to a parent to have such a discussion…one that alternates between the infantile fears of not leaving their room without turning on a light…. to the haughty sneers of a late adolescent. Dueling word wars erupt with their sarcastic intolerance of your aged presence, offended at everything…daring you to intrude into their private lives, like a trip to crazy town!

At the root of all this chaos and confusion is FEAR.

Deep anxiety and convoluted apprehensions rule about most everything in a tweens life. Fears as vast as and distant as global warming to the mundane….like forgetting their locker combination at school or missing the next audition for drama class.

Tweens are drowning in a host of normal and abnormal fears threatening to crash their lives before they ever get going, anxiety and misgivings force most tweens to avoid even “trying” to step into something new or different.

Their fragile identities slowly fracturing as they bounce from one popular group of kids to another, trying to decide if they “fit” in that group or maybe another one ? Are they athletic… or smart, pretty or preppy? Are they moody and artistic, should they try out for band or stick solidly in the “in-between” world of not belonging to anything – undefined and aloof.

Deep down, most tweens are afraid to move… afraid to be rejected one more time. 

It’s into these lives parents need to step firmly in and make a decisive difference! We must show our tweens how awesome they really are!

Whitewater rafting is the cure. Seriously… grab your tween and a few of their friends (or youth group) and head for the river. It’s a little frightening, even scary at the beginning, but the thrill of overcoming something new and different and a little dangerous… is the KEY INGREDIENT in helping your tween discover how strong they really are.

Each summer we have a few weeks to re-confirm and re-establish our tweens identities! We must speak, courage and hope and strength into their ever evolving lives! 

Don’t let the coach, or art director or agnostic educators shape and mold your kids hearts in the day to day. We have a vital window of opportunity each year to speak LIFE into our children, to put an underlined – bold font – italicized exclamation mark on their unique and amazing lives, providing the lift they need to meet the coming year head on.

wildwaterrafting.com

wildwaterrafting.com

Worried a little bit about your tween, it may be time to consider something radical ?

It may be time to take them whitewater rafting and let them sit in the front…watch them grow exponentially as they transition from apprehensive hesitation to excited and triumphant in just a matter of hours on the water!

Watch as your slumped tween emerges from the raft soaking wet and wildly exuberant with new life, crackling with new-found confidence!  

It’s amazing how much a little “nudge” in the right direction at the “right” time can help them “overcome” all kinds of fears.

GO OUT, GET AWAY from the safe and predictable and expose your tweens to the beauty and awe of God’s creation. Find out together what you can do !

I Dare ya ! Pastor B.

PS – I’m not saying that rafting will cure everything or replace the role of faith and personal devotion in a tweens growth, but dang it…it’s awesome and freaking fun 🙂