25 Years of Making a Difference

The other night our church celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary; twenty-five years of service to our community and the world, 25 years of changing lives. We celebrated, honored and appreciated our founding pastor, Stan Buck and his family. It was an amazing, moving, incredible evening; one I may never forget. I’m sure there will be more posts to follow, but for now I am captivated by those 25 years; what it was, and what it means.

I was sitting in the second row and when I turned around to see all the people behind me, it was a sight to behold. Every chair filled, right to the back of the room, then people standing behind and around the chairs, then people standing in the lobby. So. many. people.
Can you imagine being at the first service? You’ve prayed, made over 19,000 phone calls to the people in the area, you’ve done a mailing, prayed, set up chairs, prepared your message, prayed some more, and then you watch the door and hope people come through it.

In a video message, Stan mentioned, at times, during those early years, wanting to make the phone call that would allow him to walk away from ministry. This surprised me, I only know him to be a very strong, organized, determined man. But I cannot imagine the many frustrations of beginning and leading a church, so many things likely not going the way you imagined.

Ministry = people, and the truth is, people = messy.

As I thought about then…and now, this thought has come to me over and over…our culture today is very instant. We aren’t used to waiting very long, if at all, for feedback, results, change and more. We lose our focus, and we want the next thing. When discouraged, it’s easy for us to move to the next thing – as there are many next things screaming for our attention and time. But when you’re in the business of people, well…people need time. We’re set in our ways, we don’t want to change, we’re confident in our beliefs, or non-beliefs, or simply comfortable in our questioning. We want to know what the church will do for us, we sometimes show up with our consumerism attitude. We church-hop if we don’t get, hear or experience what we like.  But....we’re also giving and generous. We are hungry for a change in our lives, we want to know God, or know him more. We’re a mix of all of that…which I imagine can be exhausting at times for pastors.

I saw so many of our young leaders at this celebration and I wondered what they were thinking. Here’s what I was thinking, Look at all these people! Young leaders, know that 700 people did not walk through the doors that first service, or the 100th service, or the 500th service. Life change did not take place after each and every service. (Be encouraged young leaders.) But after 25 years of sacrifice, leading, hardship and heartache, after hundreds of good decisions and probably a few not so good decisions, of having babies, sending those babies to college and then walking those babies down the aisle, our founding, and senior pastor had the honor of sitting and watching people POUR through the doors one Sunday evening.

Perseverance, commitment, passion, faith, obedience and so much more, poured over 25 years, sprinkled upon thousands of people, passed on to countless more. Our founding and senior pastor is sick, which makes this more than just a celebratory piece – it’ a challenging piece to other leaders, and it’s a reflective piece. The time for him to add to his legacy is nearing an end but the impact of his legacy will endure because he invested, cared, nurtured, made wise decisions and hard decisions, and the truth is, he likely screwed some things up too – he isn’t perfect. But he is good, and he is faithful. He loves his wife, adores his girls, cares for his congregation – and dare I say, the world. Congratulations to you, Stan Buck, on 25 years of service to the church. You have been a good and faithful servant, and when you enter into the presence of the King, I believe you will hear, “Well done.”

 Keepsake Portraits & Designs.
To read more of what I have written on Stan Buck since his illness, click here.
His CaringBridge is here.

Thank God!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you might remember that in May our pastor was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma, grade 4. It dropped many in our church, in our community, and because of his influence, literally around the world, to our knees. I first wrote about it here. It’s been a long five months of taking this in and praying…constantly.

With the amazing blessing of Stan’s return to teaching this fall, (after surgery and a summer of recovery as well as treatment) we’ve been learning about Living with Dying, (we’re all doing it) Healing, Strength in Weakness, Hope, Prayer and more. I’ve experienced deeper worship, lifting my hands without knowing the outcome has forced me to lean into this God who I believe is good – all the time. We sing in one song that the Lord gives and takes away, and so we stand with hands lifted in gratitude or surrender, or pleading. The giving is easy to accept, the taking away…not so much. (Here is a link to page with the above messages that Stan Buck preached.)

Well, last week Stan had his first MRI scan since the removal of the tumor, and he is cancer free! It absolutely is a miracle. When I first heard the news, tears sprang to my eyes and just flowed and flowed. I was immediately aware of how different those tears were from the ones I shed in May, they actually felt lighter on my cheeks.

I am overjoyed! I am beyond thankful for him and his family, and thrilled for our church. (You can read what he posted about this news on his CaringBridge site here.) As I drove by our church today, this was the marquee. It gripped my heart (as much as the one in May did that simply said “Hope”) and I wanted to let out a WHOOP!! I wanted to yell at all the drivers around me “Did you see our sign?! Have you heard our news?!” Instead I drove home to get my camera, I knew I wanted to share about this news here. I took the picture and then understood in my spirit that I needed to drive up to the church and stop in our Prayer Chapel.

I felt drawn to my knees once more and realized it was to give thanks to the Lord. I dragged a kneeler in front of the alter where there is a very large Bible. I put my hands on the Bible, my head down, and said “Thank you.” Immediately, I began to sob. I continued to pray – the only words were…Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you

I wanted to share that because I didn’t expect that response from me, and it made me wonder how often do I want to shout to others….“Did you see that!? Have you heard what God has done!!?” Which is great – wonderful – we should share what God has done. (1 Chronicles 16:8-36) But how often do I get down on my knees, I do mean literally, and simply thank God for who He is or what He has done? The answer: not often enough.

I’m learning a lot through this.

Thank you Lord, for setting our pastor into remission. Thank you Lord, for comforting those who love you the same yet do not receive this same news. Thank you, Lord for who you are. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
Previous posts: Face Down, Getting up to Follow, He’s Back!

He’s Back!

Sunday, August 7, 2010, our pastor, Stan Buck, was back in his spot at our church. He hasn’t been in his spot since May 15th. On May 19th a brain tumor was discovered and May 20th it was removed

Its been a long eleven weeks.
Its been a miraculous eleven weeks.
Its been an emotionally draining eleven weeks.

If you go to church, you know that many of us have “our seats”. Mine is in the front, third row, right side, on the end. I sit here because I am easily distracted, in this spot I can focus more easily on worship and the message. Our pastor sits two rows in front of us, and its been unnerving to not see him in his spot this summer.

But this past Sunday he was back! I didn’t realize how much I appreciated seeing the back of that guy’s head over the past nine years! Its hard to articulate what it felt like. It was overwhelming, it was comforting, it was joyful, it was evidence of the grace of God. It warmed my heart and made my feet move during worship.

He will be preaching “Messages that Matter” over the next three weeks, I cannot wait to sit under his teaching again. I am overjoyed by his return. I am praying still for his recovery. I am mindful of God’s grace. I am aware of my own brokenness and mortality. I am stronger for this even as I feel weak in the knees.

In all of this, with hands lifted high – in grief and in joy –  I am again made aware that God is good…all the time. No matter what.

Click here for “Face Down” my first post about this.
Click here for “Getting up to Follow” my second post.
Click here for the messages from Sonrise Church, Southwest Campus

This is Faith…

Last Sunday I experienced faith in church. Let me explain…

On our worship team this past Sunday was a mom who had her third baby seven months ago. Seven months ago she also lost the twin that was her fourth baby.  But her healing, comfort, and even joy have been restored and she led with a hand in the air in worship. It felt holy to me to see the restoration work of the LORD.

Also on Sunday during one of the worship songs, our pastor’s daughter – who was in front of us – appeared to be dancing. It was as if she couldn’t stand still – the joy and worship was coming right out of her feet! It was amazing to experience this because her dad is in the battle of his life – for his life. (See below for links) It was pure joy to see this and is living proof to me of God’s providence and light even in the midst of darkness.

What I saw in these two women on Sunday was:

What I saw was faith.

I do not have it within myself to restore myself.
I can create happiness, but my joy comes from the Lord.
I love many things, but I worship the LORD.
I cannot see Him.
I cannot touch Him.
Sometimes I don’t even feel Him,
but I have faith in Him.

These two women would have every worldly reason to sit down, hands in lap, even turn from God….in anger, from agony, in disbelief, but they don’t. They have faith in what is unseen. Thank you Carrie and Ashley for leading me to the goodness that is God.

(I wrote something down that Pastor Stan said years ago…You may not see His hand, but your gonna have to trust His heart. That is faith. Amen, Pastor Stan, Amen.)

Click for: Face Down & Getting Up to Follow

Getting Up to Follow

When I woke up the morning after hearing the pathology report of Stan’s (our pastor) brain tumor, I thought I would feel better. I didn’t. But I knew I was going to pray with some others that morning and there was hope in that. We read scripture, sang worship songs, prayed and talked. This news is too heavy to carry alone; it weighs me down and fogs me up, I have to give it Jesus and trust in the love of the Father. I had a great need to worship with my church family this morning, and I know I need to be led through this.

Fortunately, Stan Buck, the founding and lead pastor of our church, is leading still, and its some of his most powerful leadership. He trusted God immediately and completely with the news of the tumor. On May 31, he posted this on his Facebook page:

My soul is finding rest, my body is healing! Feeling very good, sensing a deeper renewal coming in my body, mind & Spirit! This surgery surprised me – but this season of healing is allowing me to go deeper and grow!Embracing this weakness, becoming stronger by grace! (2 Corinthians 12:9 I’m grateful – prayed for – finding a peace in being made more whole in being who God has created me!

One of our other pastors has met with Stan and reports back that Stan keeps saying that nothing defines him except for this: he is a Bondservant of Jesus Christ. (You can click below to read more about that term.)

On his CaringBridge web page the other day, his wife wrote that Stan is feeling physically good (which is amazing, considering he just had brain surgery) and that he is enjoying playing the piano and guitar and singing songs to the Lord. Singing songs to the Lord. What a leader. The power of his leadership today is undeniable. The places he is taking us, without even talking with us (he is fasting from email, texting and Facebook), is deeper than I have been. He is reminding me of David, assaulted yet singing songs to the Lord.

Stan has been our pastor, our friend, our leader, my boss (while I worked on staff for four years), and my mentor in many ways. He has been one to re-direct me as well as tell me that he is proud of me, so this is personal. The day Stan received the pathology report, he wrote down a few words for his daughter to post on CaringBridge, it ended with this: My soul finds rest in God. (Psalm 62).

So I guess mine will too. Lead on teacher, we are following.

Bondservant        Previous Post: Face Down

Face Down

I’d like to say I am still standing, but it wouldn’t be true. I will be tomorrow, but tonight I am on the floor. A leader, a friend, our pastor received word that the tumor removed from his brain, that two weeks ago no one even knew was there, hasn’t had the last word yet.

The fight is just beginning, and the warriors are spreading the news that its time to get in position. But the position many are finding tonight is prostrate. Maybe this isn’t the worst position to begin in. To be prostrate is to cast (oneself) face down on the ground in humility, submission, or adoration. I feel humbled as I lay here knowing there is nothing I can do to make this better for our friend, his wife, his daughter, or his other daughter. I feel submitted to God, who will determine what is next. I adore the one whose feet I lay at, for he is the one to restore peace, confidence, healing, and that which we don’t even know to ask.

Tomorrow I will stand back up. We must stand back up. We are waging a battle and the truth is, victory is already ours. Tonight, rest if you are down, because tomorrow we are going to get up ~ and we will stand strong. Our leader is living for God’s glory – and we will join him in that.

Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king. 1 Chronicles 29:20.