Solo and Silent… waiting and delay.

I recently had a chance to take a southwest road-trip. Unlike the other times…no co-pilot or navigator would be sitting across from me. I wasn’t meeting anyone at the end of this trip, no large business meetings or special visits were planned. I was solo on this run.

design by Jacob Abshire

design by Jacob Abshire

Landed in Albuquerque around midnight… rolled into Santa Fe in time for breakfast. I was feeling strange... like something sacred was happening, not my normal exuberant road-tripping self. This was going to be different.

I scrolled through my memories, trying to remember a time when I went more than a day or two all alone. Nothing registered. This was new territory, unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

I knew it was lent. I know Lent is a very sacred time to personally reflect on a deeper level about my faith… my life and the trajectory of my journey. But this little excursion was feeling a lot like a personal invitation by God to come away. To be still and to wait.

I accepted the invite…but with some hesitation. 

Solo and silent was not my preferred circumstance. I like to be stimulated. Music, books, movies, conversation, radio, talk shows, the news cycle… it all fed my ADD like crack cocaine to an addict.

This being solo would require me to expose myself to the silence.

It would mean I was intentionally clearing my mind and schedule to be alone with God. Not something easily accomplished for more than a few hours. The disciples weren’t any better than we are at it. They couldn’t stay up for even one night to pray with Christ in the garden. The battle for solitude and silence is probably more intense for our generation than any who have come before.

New Mexico - Feb 16'

New Mexico – Feb 16′

So, I had some ‘stuff’ on my mind. Things that were scratching and gnawing at my heart and unsettling to my fragile peace. Unresolved questions. Frustrations and hurts, disappointments, and delays that I couldn’t explain or understand. The normal wear and tear of life along with the extra debris that comes with any form of pastoral ministry.

It was important for me to unload and get free of the ‘stuff’  before it poisoned me. I knew this solo ride was prescribed by a loving physician and He was going to pick the places and things we needed to visit, do, and see in the days ahead.

I simply had to decide… who would be in charge ? Me or Him… 

I chose to submit.

I chose to quiet my mind… still my heart and listen for His gentle voice. I was prepared to let go of control… to wait as long as necessary to hear what He had to say. I didn’t realize He would test my resolve until the very end… and I didn’t realize how significant this waiting would be…

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Part 2 of this blog post will be tomorrow. (March 8, 2016) If this sounds familiar, if your feeling like I did… let me encourage you to read on. If not, you may know someone who is feeling this way… share it.

Blessings.

Pastor B.

Any one else out there…?

Feeling alone?

Do you wonder in the silent moments if anyone will slow down enough to notice you today.

Someone to feel the pain your stumbling through life with. Someone to see beyond the surface calm and notice that subtle sadness in your eyes…the only hint to the sorrow and weariness within. All of your pain carefully held in check… we suffer in silence. A self-imposed exile. desert

If so, read on.

Life does conspire against us. It forces us to trust or run. To step into or flee away from. For those of us who still believe… we face the constant pressure to decide. Will we trust or doubt or land somewhere in-between.

Will we pick our faith back up from the curb and smooth it back in place somewhere stuck between our brain and beating heart? Or will we leave it behind… a useless token of youth lost…hopelessly broken ? 

This is where we often live. Right in the moment of in-between and if you’re a Christian that means feeling and being ‘alone’ in ways more profound than we know. The wilderness of faith where doubt and distractions rule the days and nights.

It’s here (wilderness) we have to choose.

It’s here where we grow.Where we change and become… something more than we were… and less.

For Moses and the nation of Israel fleeing Egypt… this took forty years to complete. For Jesus forty days. For you and I… well it remains to be seen. But it’s a part of our journey of faith. Not something we can avoid or skip. It’s a process of transformation that must be done in isolation.

It’s here in this lonely place where we move from a vicarious conviction of faith to a personal and intimate dependence on God’s word to live. 

For many of us… Isolation and loneliness are things we avoid… for others it’s a place we go to hide. But for every believer it’s a gateway to becoming… to expanding our faith from a shared experience to a personal conviction of the truth and purpose in Christ.

When we choose to believe God’s word vs. our feelings… we gain strength. When we delay, avoid, or deny… we don’t.

It takes a supernatural touch to move our hearts to trust again. To believe when we can’t see or feel a thing. To care when we’re numb. Yet it’s only here in the isolation that we learn what we must to go on.

So… take heart. God isn’t abandoning you. He’s closer than ever before. 

Blessings…

Pastor B.

Luke 4:1-14 (reference for blog)

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 🙂

Road Trip Revival – First stage… LAUNCH!

So… packing up for six, rounding up maps and distance projections, budgets for food and gas, lodging, and other stuff… it’s a chore to think a road-trip like this all the way through. Going almost seven thousand miles round trip is a journey, more pilgrimage than impulse… so it’s especially important to plan ahead.

Summer travel means tourists.

Tourists and the American west are synonymous.

This makes booking rooms in hotels along your route most strategic 🙂

We learned quickly that we would have to look ahead, plan our destination each morning and call ahead to confirm rooms as soon as we could each morning for us to have a chance at a decent (clean, non-bed bug infested, WI-FI enabled etc..) room that evening.

After confirming the vitals… we could focus on specific road routes, plan excursions and other touristy stuff after we knew for ‘sure’ where we would be sleeping. For parents and families, room arrangements are not as ‘critical’, modesty and privacy are much less important considerations… but for us, it was! Four girls, two boys and we would have to be careful to get two rooms with sleeping space for each of us.

Road Trip Revival

Road Trip Revival

That said… if you plan your travel and confirm the essentials, everyone can relax and enjoy the journey without the added stress of ‘finding’ hotel rooms at midnight… especially in the American North West as towns and options become very limited and VERY far apart! By saying ‘very’ I mean hundreds of miles sometimes in-between 🙂

A note on long haul vehicles … recommend highly a large SUV or Van. We rented an eight passenger, extended length Ford Expedition that worked fantastic! Unlimited mileage, brand new and state of the art features were wonderful, and all for about $700/week! It was a good option for us. (Courtesy of AVIS). If you already have such a grand ride, then use it for sure! Space is at a premium for a large group, so we limited luggage to 2 suitcases and it worked great. Everyone brought an additional personal backpack along with a pillow/blanket combo for travel comfort and entertainment.

Clothing... knowing we would be travelling from one extreme to another, we asked our road-trippers to bring a couple of layers of clothes, including a light jacket and sweatshirt/hoodie. Leaving in late July we had 100+F temps and high humidity, but heading for the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington… we knew things would get dry and cool before we got back. (Little did we know “how cool” it would get, but that’s for a later post 🙂

Food… okay, food is always a bit dicey. EVERYONE has their favorite, and EVERYONE has their most -unliked. My solution was to give each tween-teen a travel stipend for buying their own snacks along the way. That way we could all have what we liked and the pressure to find the ‘perfect’ snacks evaporated like dew in the desert 🙂 Woo-HOO! Problem solved and suddenly… we were just about ready to roll!

The gang... day one! Road Trip Revival

The gang… day one! Road Trip Revival

One more thing… as you prepare to launch any Epic Road Trip, be aware that God is in the mix. Prepare your road-trippers to experience God as you go. Simply put… give them a chance to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ God in the sights and sounds ahead. The way I did that ? I got everyone a simple notepad / journal to write down and or collect their thoughts. Even if no one takes the time to write stuff down… you’re creating the ‘context’ for each one to expect to hear from God.

That expectation is a crucial part of any road-trip. It allows the Holy Spirit to move and breathe, to instruct and encourage, to change our kids hearts from the extraordinary experiences they are sure to have.

So… NOW we’re ready to LAUNCH!

Load in 1pm. Missouri here we come…

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.

Dangerous Water… Roadtrip to Niagara Falls

Just back from a great five-day trip to Niagara Falls with my family… learned a lot, discovered more and had a blast along the way, what an Adventure we had!

Before I take the time to share about the sights and sounds, tastes and treasures of our 2480 mile excursion… wanted to share what God taught me in those brief – brilliant days we shared as family.

greatcanadianadventuretour.com

greatcanadianadventuretour.com

Lesson 1)  Humility not Hubris  🙂

First… I may have a book and be a pastor  but I’m still just dad to my gang and I’m every bit as screwed up as I ever was, a  flawed  parent who cannot hope to function apart from regular and heavy doses of Grace. (Definition of Hubris – Wikipedia)

Lesson 2) Big Waterfalls are awesome, And dangerous. They require our respect !

Transitions occur all the time in life, but there are specific seasons and times that are more strategic than others. Moving from High School to College is such a time… and it can be dangerous if ignored, like swimming in a barrel over Niagara Falls ! Not recommended, but occasionally survivable.

Lesson 3) Different viewpoints and perspectives can help provide healthy contrast and clarity.

Our trip took us from Nashville TN to Toronto Ontario and allowed us to experience the shifting geography and cultures along the way. From the rural horse farms of Kentucky to the asphalt urgency of  the urban world, from the simplicity of an Amish farm to the Vegas vibe of the tourist mecca known as Niagara Falls. These contrasts provided us with a rich context for our family to experience and appreciate each for its amazing uniqueness and beauty, not discounting one for the other.

now.msn.com -

now.msn.com –

In the next few posts… we’ll share of our drive and  adventures and maybe go a bit crazy with some ethnic food, jet boats, indie alt rock music, late night fireworks and even a taste of Moroccan Canadian cuisine… Each story shared honestly along with a healthy mix of the fun, the boring, the frustrating, the angry and of course Jessica’s contagious laughter.

I’ll start at the end and work our way back this time…

God is too good to us, His pathways always exceed our expectations and His provision for our families well being and growth is perfectly timed.

On this 4th of July 2013 roadtrip… we re-discovered each other and remembered the truth of God’s creation and majestic power to bring hope and renewal to any life, any home at anytime.  I could once again feel and see the epic power of a road-trip to re-connect us as a family, and was relieved to find it had not diminished even with college kids.

Fun with Frisch!

Fun with Frisch!

So buckle up and hang on… we’re about to go over the edge and into the turbulent rapids below… it’s a dangerous but breathtaking journey we’re on. Time to see if placing our parenting faith in our God is well placed or a foolish coping mechanism reserved for a religious minority in denial.

Peace out !

Pastor B.

First RoadTrip of 2013

Just back from my first RoadTrip of 2013, feeling refreshed and encouraged by the beauty and solitude six days in a winter wonderland can bring! This was my ninth consecutive winter RoadTrip and as it turns out, a rare treat  & fantastic way to start the new year. As always my RoadTrip adventures included my dearest friend and co-pastor Brian Hardin, and a drive into the mountains.

Landing at Salt Lake City - Jan 2013

Landing at Salt Lake City – Jan 2013

This year we picked the western gateway city of Salt Lake City, Utah to fly into. Landing via Southwest flight connections in Vegas, we hit the tarmac on a Friday afternoon in the middle of a snow storm named “Gandolf“. (The Weather Channel)

We picked up our AWD Chevy Equinox SUV and hit the highway heading North without a care in the world. As veterans of many snowy roads and hazardous weather events, we were not intimidated by a little snow or cold.

We were happy to be freed from the bonds of our regular rigorous work loads and excited to see where we would end up on this years trip. We had both felt  we needed to try & go back to re-visit our previous efforts in 2012, so we determined to drive back to Idaho and the Rockies of Canada. It would mean going back to a dark land of dense fog, random snow storms and what seemed an isolated, lost and even un-seeable beauty so familiar and frustrating to us last year.

We had high hopes to revisit those same roads, places and spaces this year, but this time we were hopeful to find what had been hidden before. To re-visit those regions, only with clearer winter weather and blue skies.

About an hour into our drive north, the beginnings of heavy snow squalls and road drift started to show. The ground had a good six to eight inches on the roadsides already, but the plows and road crews had kept it under control and we sped on, undeterred. We rode along… talking through our plans for exploration in the next few days and hardly noticed as the sun started to set with its winter shades of grey, dimming to dark shadows as the light vanished over the westward snowy horizon.

The high desert winds picked up as the grey grew into black and the temperatures dropped into the single digits as the snow started to really come down. By 4:45pm we were in a pitch black – whiteout blizzard, crawling along on I-84 Northbound to Idaho. Single lane travel was limited to 10-15mph; a struggle to even keep the tail lights of a caravan of semi-trucks visible from a few car lengths away.

Finding our way into -"Gandolf" the Storm - Jan 2013

Finding our way into -“Gandolf” the Storm – Jan 2013

The wind and cold and snow were seriously beginning to shut this major road down and with more and more vehicles half hidden in the ditches, we could see the roads were not going to stay open much longer. By 5:00 pm it was officially “dicey“, but this particular stretch of lonely interstate (I-84) was devoid of exits, towns or pull-offs of any kind, we had no choice but to move forward.

This was some of the nastiest roadway we have ever covered with four maybe five inches of driving snow building up in only a couple of hours and it was quickly drifting over the only lane open ahead.  We lost sight of the cars in front of us and the one’s behind had either stopped or had been swallowed whole by the white and grey world around us.

I remembered the trip last year (2012) and how it was so frequented by snow storms, sleet -fog and dark blizzards much like this one. It seemed that this year was starting back up for us Exactly like it had wound down the year before.

Stormy, tense and with zero visibility.

Bummer.

Tomorrow, Day 2 in Idaho and taking time to revisit an old road for the “first” time.