My Apologies

I have not blogged in far too long. What is crazy is that I love to blog about what I have been learning, and I have been learning and thinking about so much over the last month, but I have not made the time to blog a priority. So I owe whoever reads this, maybe just myself, an apology. It is really neat to write down what you are learning, because you can always go back to this and remember what you have forgotten that you learned. ūüôā Well, here is something that God has been teaching me.

Silence and Solitude

I have been reading a book called: Spiritual Life: The Foundation for Preaching and Teaching for my Spiritual Formation class at Liberty University, and I have already learned so much. In this book, one of the greatest lessons that I learned was about Silence and Solitude. Westerhoff begins this section by asking a profound question: “Why are you not willing to spend one hour each day with the self that you inflict on others the rest of the day?” He asks this in the context of people never taking time to be alone, in quiet solitude, just to listen to their thoughts and communicate with God. Westerhoff explains that all throughout the word of God, we see moments where God speaks to someone in a time of silence. What is so ironic to me, is that WE NEVER EXPERIENCE SILENCE. At least I do not. I get up in the morning, take care of the kids, run around getting ready. Run to work, stay busy all day, and then at the end of the day there is always something busy to fill by time. In further detail, any spare moments of potential silence is taken up with social media like facebook, twitter, and instagram. I am not against these, but they are definitely time space fillers. It seems like my tendency is to check these things as soon as I wake up, all throughout the day, and then just before I go to sleep. When do I experience silence and solitude? If I do not experience this, then how do I expect to hear the still small voice of God in my life. I have been challenged to make time for silence in my day. It will be tough, but I keep going back to my time at the wilds as both a camper and counselor. I remember waking up in silence in my cabin, going down by the creek to do my devotions in silence, talking to God in silence, hearing God in silence. I have not made that kind of intimate time with God a priority in my life, and I know that it is vital to a growing relationship. I want to hear God, and I am willing to silence everything else to do so, if that is what it takes.

The ironic thing is that God decided to teach me this lesson while we have my two nephews staying with us, and the house has been anything but silent. This lesson is one that I am serious about, but it will not be easy this week! ūüôā

Some tips for establishing silence in your life:

1. Set Boundaries on time fillers / wasters. (facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.)

2. Schedule a time to be silent.

3. Set a Place where Silence is possible. (not on a city bus, or subway)

4. Turn off any possible distractions. (cell phone, ipod, ipad)

5. Let people around you know so that they can help protect that time for you.

Life Lessons for the Week

Here are a few major lessons I am learning right now! They may help you as well. Read through them and spend some time thinking about any of them that will help you grow. Then after you are done, take some time and share a few things that have been on your mind lately in regards to personal growth.

MOMENTUM

I read a quote recently that says: “A weak leader with momentum, looks like a strong leader; and a strong leader without momentum looks weak.”

Personally it is so interesting in reference to my ministry. Right now our youth ministry is in a period of great fruit. We are experiencing the highest numbers and the greatest influence that I have seen in my ministry since I have been here. The question that one might ask me is: What are you doing differently? My answer: Nothing. I have been in youth ministry for 6 years and there have been many ups and downs. Right now things are definitely up. Is it because of my leadership style? I would say, no. It is because we have momentum. I have been thinking a lot about this, and I am currently trying to discover how to develop this same momentum in other ministries. I do not have all the answers regarding establishing momentum, but I know this, do what you have to do to get momentum and things will look up very quickly.

GRACE

I have an incredible leadership team that supports me in youth ministry. They are great for many reasons: These leaders build relationship with teenagers, they love teenagers, they love the youth ministry, and they are extremely faithful. But there is something about these leaders that has been especially encouraging and powerful as they have been involved in Suncoast Youth Ministry. It is that they are leaders with Grace. At Suncoast Youth Group we always define grace as “God giving us what we do not deserve.” The leaders of Suncoast Youth Group support the ministry and they support me with an incredible amount of grace. They understand that things do not always operate the way that they would prefer, but they show grace, and they support me anyway. Our leaders know me and all of my weaknesses and failures, and they support me anyway. They show grace and they look past themselves and their own preferences and comforts and they support both the youth ministry and the youth pastor with great grace. If every ministry of the church had such graceful leaders, the church would look very different.

PASSION 

I asked my wife this week what I am passionate about and she said that I am passionate about being passionate. I understand where she is coming from. Whether we are talking about my favorite restaurant, P.F. Changs, or my favorite drink in the world, Sonny’s Sweet Tea. I tend to be more on the passionate side of things. One struggle that I have been working with is that often my passion about something can be perceived as arrogance. Whether in casual fellowship, in praise team practice, or in staff meeting I have been told that sometimes I come across “more jerky” than I intend to. It is not my desire to be arrogant, or to be controlling, or in charge, but many times my passion gets the best of me, and I give off vibes that are not quite what I am going for. I read two great blogs recently that reminded me what the Bible says about this: James 1:19 “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”

I am working on balancing my passion with this verse. Let me be clear, I love being passionate, and this verse does not tell me to be more apathetic. For me, it says, be passionate, but use less words.  Listen more, and think through your opinions and your thoughts, and then share them with fewer words. I believe that this will be a huge step for me, not an easy one, but incredibly important for my personality.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU ARE LEARNING RIGHT NOW?

POST THEM IN THE COMMENTS! Thank you!

Lee

A Walk Through The Bible… PART 1

I have often been bothered by Sunday School. In my experience growing up, there were many different churches that I was a part of, both big and small, where the Sunday School program was simply a mini church service before the real church service. Frankly, I never understood the purpose of it. I did not appreciate getting up extra early to attend a lower quality and less organized mini church service where we sing, take an offering, go over announcements, and listen to a message, before the “real” main service where we did the same thing again. In fact, as I try to remember the lessons that I learned in Sunday School growing up, I realized that a lot of time was wasted.

In my opinion, Sunday School should exist for one main reason: DISCIPLESHIP

Sunday School should be a time and a place to LEARN about Gods word. Not necessarily to be preached to, the pastor is already going to take care of that, but it is an opportunity to teach our Biblically illiterate world about the Bible. Hence the name: Sunday School.

At Suncoast Youth Group we take this seriously, in fact, we are methodically walking through every book of the Bible memorizing a concise summary about each book. Each Sunday morning we fellowship for a bit, and then we go through the books of the Bible. Many have asked about our list of books and the summaries we have chosen. I have basically read John Phillips commentary and chosen something very similar to his summary. I would never claim that these are comprehensive summaries, but they are definitely more thorough than most people in our church would know. Most of our teenagers are learning more about Gods word each Sunday than I knew even after four years of Bible College, and we do it in a relevant, fun, and exciting method of learning. I am so proud of our teenagers, and I am thankful that they are so diligently learning about God’s word!

_______________________________

Genesis: Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph

Exodus: Getting God’s people out of Egypt

Leviticus: Getting Egypt out of God’s people

Numbers: Census, Complaining, Change

Deuteronomy: Moses Preaches: Backwards look, Inwards look, Forward look, Upward look

Joshua: Authority Change, Battle, Conquer, Divide

Judges: Judges

Ruth: Kinsman Redeemer / a Romance between Ruth and Boaz

1st & 2nd Samuel: Eli, Samuel, GIVE US A KING, Saul, David

1st & 2nd Kings: One nation divided into Israel (North) / Judah (South)

1st & 2nd Chronicles: A Parallel to I and II Kings but from Gods perspective

Ezra: The Second Exodus

Nehemiah: Gods people build a wall

Esther: Esther, Mordecai, Haman, Gallows

Job: He Had it all, Lost it all, Gave God the Glory, Got it all back

Psalms: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Proverbs: Practical Wisdom for all ages, comparing the wise and the foolish

Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities: All is vanity / He had it all, and it was not worth it.

The greatest thing about this study, is that the teenagers did not just memorize a list of information, but they use the list of information to explain the story of the entire book in their own words. I tell our teenagers that they know more about the Bible than their parents do. Is that the case in your home? Get studying Gods word! Sunday School teachers? Let’s not waste time!

Liberty Baptist Fellowship Pastor Scholarship – Liberty University

This site has moved to www.leetomlin.com

Please follow this link to see a more updated post about the Liberty Baptist Fellowship Pastors Scholarship

http://leetomlin.com/?p=547

The most common excuse that I hear in regards to why pastors do not continue their education once they are plowing through the ministry is because they are too busy and there is just not enough time. The second reason that I have heard is that the cost of seminary is just too expensive. I know that both of those are huge factors in whether or not pastors are able to continue in their advanced learning. But what if the cost was not an issue? Do you think you could make the time to work on a class here and there if the cost were drastically reduced? How about a 100% scholarship?

Jerry Falwell and the Liberty Baptist Fellowship have offered a 100% scholarship for any full-time pastors of any LBF supporting baptist church. This is a remarkable blessing that many pastors have already taken advantage of, and many full time pastors are currently working through, including myself.

About two years ago I began looking for information about this scholarship by searching for information online and asking other pastor friends who were already taking advantage of this scholarship. I was shocked at how hard it was to find information about this scholarship considering the incredible blessing it has been. Eventually, I made it through the sign-up process and I am now taking classes online working on my Master of Divinity degree.

I decided to use my blog this month to share the process I went through so that others who are interested can find everything they need on this page to begin the registration process and get on the waiting list to begin the process of growing through advanced degree courses.

* For an info page about the Liberty Baptist Fellowship CLICK HERE 

* To read more information about the LBF Scholarship CLICK HERE

* To fill out the Partner Application for the LBF Scholarship CLICK HERE

In short, to be supported by this scholarship one must be on full-time staff at a church of like faith that would completely agree with the Baptistic doctrine found HERE. The church of that pastor must support the Liberty Baptist Fellowship $100.00 per month for each pastor receiving the scholarship. Before you will be eligible for classes you will be placed on a waiting list. I signed up a year and a half ago and waited on the waiting list for 10 months.

If you have any more questions about this incredible blessing you can contact the LBF by clicking HERE.

This has become another one of the greatest blessing of my life and I am thrilled to be able to share this opportunity with you. Please comment below if you were able to use this information for anything. Thank you!

No Resolution Yet? It’s not too late!

I have read several great blogs over the last few days that have challenged me in several different ways. The main debate that has been on my mind over the last few days is to make a resolution, or to not make a resolution. In other words, what goals and challenges will I set for myself over the next year. I have asked several people this week to name a few goals that they have set for the next year, and suprisingly almost everyone that I had spoken with had not made any resolutions yet. One blog that I read about yesterday talked about how in the Bible,  Daniel made a resolution at the beginning of his book, and the rest of his story is history. Daniel is known as a faithful follower of the Lord, and it could be traced back to one resolution that he made. You can read that great post HERE. Well, because of that blog and a few others that made it clear that there is not a rule that states that resolutions must be in stone by the time the ball drops at midnight, I have decided to take some time over the next week and really ask God what some of my goals should be for the next year. I already know a few, but I am going to use the next week to write down some specific things to increase my effectiveness in serving the Lord and my family in 2011.

Here are a few things that I already plan to do:

Scripture Memory, both on my own, and with Ron Edmondson on his blog HERE

Blog more often by applying what I read yesterday on these two blogs,  HERE and HERE

Attempt to accomplish 27 credit hours this year on  my graduate work.

FIT Triathlon May 14th

More to come!

What are some of the things that you plan to accomplish this year? Please comment some of them, maybe you will give me more ideas! ūüôā

Thanks for reading!

A One Week Shadow


I have been thinking over the last few days about how great it would be to pick a handful of people who are successful at things that I want to be successful at, and figure out a way to spend a week with them learning what they do, and how they do it.

They say that you will be the same person one year from today except for the people you meet and the books that you read. Well, what if you did not only meet those people, but you followed them around for the week shadowing their daily routines, watching their methods, and learning all of the details that make them successful at what they do?

This is a new concept, and I am trying to sharpen my plans for this, but here are a few thoughts that I have already come up with:

Find people who are doing what you want to do.

What field are you interested in growing in? Find someone who is successful who will have time to share with you and contact them about the idea of shadowing them for a week.

Find someone who is successful without being a “Superstar”.

I would love to spend the week with men like Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, and Michael Hyatt but scheduling five minutes with these guys would be extremely difficult let alone a week. Instead find people who are on the same course of success without achieving a level of stardom.

Find someone who is passionate about investing into others.

Whether I am reading a blog or meeting a new contact, I am much more drawn to someone who is willing to invest in others, instead of investing into their own agendas. One day I hope to return that favor by taking what is invested into me, and use it to invest it into others.

Understand the Potential Burden

It is not easy for anyone to follow another person around for an entire week .  Make sure that you discuss with your investor what goals you have in regards to this experience. Make sure that you do everything possible to be an encouragement and a blessing to your investor as opposed to being a burden. Make them sad to see you leave, instead of happy that the time is finished.

Be Willing to Settle

You may not be able to seal the deal with a full week of time. Take what you can get, but I would recommend really trying to get at least two days. The reason for this would be generally it takes a day with someone to get past the initial “meet and greet” dialogue to the substance of daily routine. Also, the purpose of this shadowing is to learn routine, and other details that one may not mention in an initial dialogue. By spending a few days together many of these things will come up.

Understand the Purpose

You may wonder how in the world you could get that kind of time off to go on such an adventure. I would argue that taking a week to learn from someone more successful will more than pay for itself in the time that is invested into you. Many people may not be able to fit something like this into their schedule, but for those who can, it just might be an incredible asset.

Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17

What are some other factors that you would recommend?

Who is someone that you would like to shadow for a week?

Great Service

I was reading a tweet the other day where someone asked the question: “Why is it that Chick-Fil-A is known for their service, and the church is not?” It made me think about it, but I was not reminded of that thought again until I met David today. Katie and I joined Pastor Rick and his wife¬†Laura for lunch today for some Soup and Salad at the Olive Garden. Overall, it was a¬†wonderful dining experience, but the best part was the service. I have been to the Port Charlotte Olive Garden many times, and the service has always ranged from barely acceptable to mediocre, until today. David was our server. He was absolutely great! David was¬†versy professional, very courteous, and very efficient. The first thing that captured my attention about David was that¬†when He walked¬†over to our table, the very first thing that He¬†said was a compliment about the waitress who had helped us just before He¬†began to serve us. He made sure to point out what a big help that she was. I thought that was very impressive. David went on to take our order, bring our salad, soup, and bread sticks, all the while serving us with a great attitude. Honestly, I ate at the five star restaurant,¬† Five Sixty, by Wolfgang Puck, in Dallas, TX¬†three weeks ago, and the service that we received today was just as much¬†a “fine dining” experience. Our party was so impressed that we asked David how we could recognize him for his great service, and He said, “Just telling me is enough, you made my day”. We went on to fill out a comment card, but sadly, I doubt that David will receive the recognition that He deserves. Frankly, If more servers served like David, people would be far less likely to complain about the prices¬†of the food, because service like that is worth it.¬†Anyway, I put my blog address on the comment card, so that maybe David would have a change to come and read this post and be encouraged. David, if you do read this, thank you¬†for great service and a wonderful experience. My wife and I both said that we wish that we could just request you as our server at whatever restaurant we decide to go to that day of the week. Thanks again for remarkable service. At the end of the meal, David forgot to bring my pregnant wife her small Ande’s chocolate mint candy, and before we knew it He brought us a whole cup full of mints to make up for it. Dave went the extra mile to serve his customers and I was so thankful for the opportunity to be served by him.

Now back to that first tweet. Here are a few quick lessons that we can learn from David on how to serve better. Whether in our church or at home.

1. Look for ways to build others up.

(Encouragement takes minimal effort and it goes a long way. You never know who is one encouraging word away from quitting, or simply giving up.)

2. Be Friendly, but get the job done.

(Have you ever had a server who was all about being friendly and not about getting your food? Have you ever had the opposite? We need to find the balance, and maintain friendliness and productivity. David mastered this!)

3. Some people will give you a hard time, just keep pressing on anyway.

(One table nearby kept sending David back and forth for softer bread or this or that, but He kept on keeping on without a negative attitude)

4. Don’t get distracted

(At one point during lunch there were actually a few servers getting into a little verbal scuffle. One server said to another: “stop acting like you are in High School, and start acting like you are at work” David wasn’t even phased by it, he would not allow himself to get involved with the drama going on all around Him)

5. If you make a mistake, fix it in a big way, and then move on.

(David handled that perfectly! My wife loved the extra chocolate… ok, I did too) ¬†ūüôā

If the people in church would serve like this, we would see some amazing things happen. Don’t get me wrong, many servants are doing this, but what if we all did. It would change the dynamic of the entire church. Jesus was the greatest servant of all, and we should live to be known as great servants like Christ was.

Thanks David! If you are still reading this… come check out our church one day! Suncoast Baptist Church Our desire is to serve you and your family the way that you served us!