Friday, April 25, 2008

Our Breezeway Remodel Project Approved!!

I was extremely excited to stop by the City Planning Division desk to pick up our Breezeway Remodel Project Approval papers today!! That means that we can move ahead with our construction drawings, which will be submitted to Building & Safety for our Building Permit. We hope that can happen by the end of May.

While we go through Building & Safety, our Contractor will put together the sub-contractors needed for the job. I am hoping that somewhere in there, we can have at least a couple of "Demolition Days". Keep it in mind if you want to come help us tear at some of the walls and such! It will hopefully help keep some of the overall costs down too.

If you're a part of NewHeart life, keep your eyes and ears open. We'll have more news as we proceed. Matter of fact, here's another piece right now ....

On Tuesday, May 13 at 7:00 pm, we will have a Congregation Meeting for the purpose of discussing and voting on the loan papers necessary to get through construction. Everyone is invited, though only official members can actually vote.

So, especially if you are a NewHeart member, please make plans to be with us that evening. It won't take more than an hour, and it's a crucial step in the process.

Any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments if you have any!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Breath of Fresh Air and Rest!

Arrived in Pismo Beach last night (Sunday) at about 8:00 pm. After checking in, I went straight to the meeting room, where our District Pastors were gathered for fellowship. The room felt electric as everyone was just chatting away, catching up with old friends and making new ones. It was an exciting scene to step into!

After a late dinner at Denny's with Bernie, we hit the hay and slept in a bit. The breakfast bar is a full one, complete with custom made omelets. It was wonderful!

Then, we had our morning session with worship, devotional and a time of praying for one another at the tables. This was the meeting I had been asked to share the devotional at.

Quite something to lead a devotional with Pastors! You get that intimidating sense of "what haven't they heard, or what don't they already know?" Because surely, these Pastors being mostly more veteran than me certainly have a lot more knowledge than I do.

Preparing for this, I found myself having to quiet those voices and trust the Lord to give me the right words at the right times. It turned into a pretty special time for us all, at least given the feedback I received.

I shared a little of my burnout story and how I learned we all have a different pace of life God has for us to live. Your pace isn't mine and min probably isn't yours. And that makes it unfair for any of us as Pastors to compare what God is doing in someone else's church with what He is (or ISN'T) doing in mine!

The point was that we all have to find our own pace.

After that, Bernie and I hit a movie, then were back in time for a little reading and a nap before dinner. My Bible College friend, Jerry Dirmann, brought a powerful word about putting our trust in what God has said, even when it seems crazy to us and everyone else. It was good to see Jerry and be with him.

Well, that's it for now. Looking forward to a good night's rest before heading home around noon. I'll stop at Bernie's church in Lompoc to see their recently expanded Sanctuary. Didn't make it in time to do that yesterday, so I'm looking forward to catching up on that. G'nite!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Home & Almost Gone Again!

Hard to believe it's been a week since I last posted and almost a week that I've been home! It's flown by!

There really is no place like home. Nothing like your own bed, your own pillow and your family and friends around you.

As quickly as returning home, I take off tomorrow afternoon. Our District Supervisor has set aside some time and funds at a hotel in Pismo Beach, about 3 hours north, for a Senior Pastor's Getaway. I always enjoy being together with those guys!

I'll leave as soon as I can Sunday afternoon, so I can stop in Lompoc to visit my friend, Bernie Federmann. He pastors the Lompoc Foursquare Church, and they've just completed a major Sanctuary expansion.

Last I saw it was back in November when the walls were barely covered and no flooring was in yet. Can't wait to see it completed and get more ideas as we head for our Breezeway Remodel project at NewHeart.

Way more fun than the Sanctuary expansion, though, is Bernie's new '70 Camaro that he picked up last Fall. He gave me a spin in it back in November. Who knows? Maybe he'll offer to drive us both up to Pismo in it!

Check out this beauty ....

We're staying at The Cliffs Resort in Pismo. I've been honored to be asked to bring Monday morning's devotional to the Pastors. Pray for me, and the Pastors, would you?

All afternoon is free time, then dinner and a session in the evening. A friend of mine from Bible College days, Jerry Dirmann, is coming to speak that night. We're done on Tuesday, when I'll head home.

Monday, April 14, 2008

New York, New York....Day 6

Woke up this morning to the great news that we could have a late check-out from our hotel. Saved us from having to pack and check out before going to church at New Life's 11:15 service. The place was packed and the atmosphere was electric.

We got to spend the afternoon with Andrew & Laurel Favilla. Laurel works with Pete Scazzero as his Speaking Coordinator and is also moving in to the role of Ministry Representative with Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. We've become good friends over the last four years. Our time together Sunday afternoon was too short!

We had lunch together at a wonderful steakhouse and saw a little more of New York on our way there. After lunch, we got to see the Favilla's home for the first time. I had mentioned to Laurel the incredible Black Forest Cake Chuck and I enjoyed at Georgia Cafe. She remembered, and when we got to their home for some time before the airport, she had Black Forest Cake for us!

I also got to spend a little bit of time getting to know the Favilla's middle son, Frank, and his fiance, Aabye (pronounced Abby). He is a P.E. Teacher and she is a writer for Nickelodeon, and she works at Times Square. We had a great time talking New York and California and making great fun of tourists like me and Chuck!

After our goodbye at New York's JFK Airport, Chuck & I saw a couple of celebrities inside. One was Marilyn Manson, who is a rock star. After seeing him, while we were waiting in the security line, Chuck told me a story of another time in an airport. Apparently, he was in a security line, heard a rustling of people and cameras, and just in front of him was ushered Cameron Diaz. After chatting with her about a life of running from paparazzi, they went their separate ways.

MOMENTS LATER, as Chuck and I were in line to board our flight, I noticed a couple of ladies talking with the gate attendant. I heard them talking about something having to do with when they could board the plane. When the ladies turned around to leave, I couldn't believe it ... It was CAMERON DIAZ!

Chuck actually has eye problems and can't see very well, so he didn't see her. I broke the news with, "you'll never believe who just walked by us!" It was quite fun.

Finally, though, I must admit that the funnest part of the trip back was getting to fly business class. The legroom, the footrest, the food, the personal media station filled with movies and music ... I could go on and on. Made for a GREAT flight!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New York, New York....Day 5

Today was the final day of the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Conference. It started too early for me. Not the conference, but the day. Woke up at 7:00 am (which is 4:00 am PDT) to get ready for a breakfast meeting at 8:30 with Chuck and Doug Slaybaugh.

The conference sessions were excellent. However, the most exciting part of the day for me was lunch, not in the "recess was my favorite part of my day" way. I had the privilege of being involved in an Orientation and Q&A session on a new resource being made available for churches by EHS.

They have put together a "Church-wide Initiative Kit" that will include resources for a church to lead their congregation through an 8-week long series on the EHS principles. The kit includes materials that small groups can use to follow along with what is being taught on the weekends. It's somewhat a similar concept as "40 Days of Purpose", though the EHS material is entirely different from the 40 DOP material.

Doug Slaybaugh and I led the information orientation and Q&A for Pastors and leaders at lunch time. Of the 170+ registrants, there were about 70 who came to hear about the kit and ask questions. It was awesome to get to interface with leaders about this groundbreaking EHS resource.

After the Conference was over today, I got to have dinner with Mark & Pam Taft. They are Marriage Ministry Leaders at New Life Fellowship. Colleen & I met them almost three years ago when we came to New Life for some further EHS Relationship Skills Training. The Taft's hosted us at their home, so we got to know them. It was great to re-connect with them. They also served as the Coordinators of the EHS Conference.

After dinner, they dropped me off at the hotel, where I crashed for about an hour. Now, I'm over at Pop Diner writing this and checking email. In the morning, we'll check out of the hotel, attend the worship celebration at New Life's 11:15 service and then spend the afternoon with Andrew & Laurel Favilla. They'll drop us off at the airport for our flight home, which leaves at 7:00 pm EDT. Looking forward to being with Colleen and the boys, though they'll be asleep when I get home.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New York, New York....Day 4

Great day! Started with breakfast at Pop Diner with Chuck and the EHS Consultant, Doug Slaybaugh. He's the guy who has been talking with me about both current and future involvement as EHS develops organizationally. Good guy. He and Chuck have actually known each other for many years.

After breakfast, today's Conference sessions started at noon. Pete & Geri have added some fresh material to the Conference. Actually, every year has some fresh material to it. There are probably 250+ Pastors and church leaders here from all over the nation. There are even a few folks here from the UK, Germany, Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia.

Pete talked some today about how the body of Christ is so vast, and that even though there is a divide between the Eastern Church and the Western Church, we all come from the same "family of origin" that started way back in Acts 2. What a concept!

They dealt tonight with what I think is one of the most powerful and largest concepts of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality...a concept called "differentiation". It has to do with one being able to stand on your own two feet, confident in who you are, and able to declare that to the people closest to us, regardless of what they think, and then still remain in relationship with them. It is a LARGE and powerful issue that we ALL deal with. It's just that some of us deal with it by NOT dealing with it, thereby continuing to live in patterns of unhealthy relational patterns.

Had the opportunity to talk at length with some leaders from an Evangelical Free Church in Michigan, a Presbyterian Church in Delaware and a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Manhattan. All of these leaders are trying to figure out how to put feet to the principles of EHS in their own lives, as well as the life of their churches.

What a privilege to be able to share my journey and OUR journey as a church family. Tomorrow, I get to participate in a Q&A session during the lunch hour to share more and answers questions. For those who are a part of NewHeart, I get to talk about YOU! Cool, huh? It's all good, don't worry!

Catch this.....the Pastor from Manhattan lives in an 1,100 square foot apartment (there are no owned homes on Manhattan) and the rent is $3,150 a month! Commonly, rent on Manhattan for similar apartments can cost $4,000-5,000 a month, with the more expensive neighborhoods costing upwards of $10,000-12,000 per month!!! For RENT!!

The final day of this year's Conference is tomorrow. Already have a dinner appointment with some New York friends, then heading down to Time Square (my favorite Manhattan site) for one final look on this trip and souvenirs for the boys. Blog at ya tomorrow!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New York, New York....Day 2 & 3

Last 2 days have been quite a whirlwind. Wednesday, we started the day at the Statue of Liberty. I’ve been once before, but this time, we got to go inside the pedestal. It houses a Statue of Liberty Museum.

You can also get a glimpse from just below the Statue of the inside structure. Since 9/11, nobody is allowed to go up to the crown, but you can see the staircase that was built for it. Another great feature is the pedestal observation deck, which gives an incredible view of Manhattan and Ellis Island.

The history of the Statue is quite impressive. But even more so is the security to get one the ferry and to go inside the pedestal. THAT process is more thorough than the security process at the airport! I’m not kidding!

After spending most of the afternoon at the Statue, we meandered toward Ground Zero. Last year, there was a barrier that had quite a bit of information on it as well as allowing for viewing into the area. Now, that barrier is gone, replaced with construction fencing. From street level, you can’t see into the site anymore. Probably the only view you can get is from above if you’re inside one of the surrounding buildings.

Leaving there, we hit the subway back into Queens. I fell asleep and was jarred awake by my own voice, talking out loud in a dream I don’t even remember. Chuck thought that was pretty funny. He went on and on about how a lady was sitting next to me and looking at me strangely over the “couple of times” I talked in my sleep. He tried to convince me he was telling her not to mind me, that he just sticks me in a corner because I do that all the time! It got us both rolling!

I don’t think I mentioned that when we had dessert at Georgia Diner (remember the Black Forest cake?), that Chuck told me that HIS favorite cake is Black Forest. I was floored!! I had no idea we both had the same favorite cake, and an exquisite one at that! What? Don’t look at me like that… IS exquisite!

He had a few bites of mine and said, “next time, I’m getting my own piece.” Well, that we did. Arriving back from Ground Zero, we went back to Georgia Diner for dinner and a piece of Black Forest cake.

I told the waiter that if his hand slipped when he was cutting the cake and ended up cutting a larger piece than normal, I’d be OK with it, really! I didn’t want him to be worried about that. Sure enough, he brought back 2 larger than normal pieces of cake! We tipped him well!

Today, the conference started at noon, so we both got to sleep in a bit. The sessions today were on Emotionally Healthy Skills, which were a refresher of some material Colleen and I were trained in here 3 years ago. I am excited to bring more of this home to integrate into our church family life and growth.

Had dinner with a Foursquare Pastor and his wife from Waynesboro, Virginia. It was great to get to know them and hear their story of how they have been exposed to the EHS material. This particular Pastor has been at the church he leads for seven years and just experienced a sabbatical last Summer.

Sabbaticals in our denomination have always been REACTIVE in nature. That means they’ve always been a reaction to a crisis or oncoming crisis. Unfortunately, that’s given sabbaticals a negative connotation.

Many denominations actually have sabbatical policies in place. Every seven years or so, a Pastor is actually expected to go on Sabbatical for a three month period for an extended time of rest, refreshing, and revitalization. Those are sabbaticals that are PROACTIVE in nature. In other words, they are meant to be part of an overall strategy to help prevent burnout from occurring for Pastors.

Our denomination has been more and more open to this kind of sabbatical. While we don’t have a denominational policy in place, Foursquare is encouraging Pastors and Church Councils to implement their own policies allowing for these kind of proactive sabbaticals.

This Pastor from Virgina is on the forefront of this movement. He offered to send me theirs for our Church Council to evaluate and consider. It’s interesting to get to converse with him because I have been considering bringing this concept to our Council and congregation for consideration.

This year (right now as a matter of fact) marks 7 years since my burnout experience. Looking back, I marvel at what God has done in my life, and the changes He has brought to the life of our church family through my recovery. I am very excited about the future God has before us, and know that He is wanting to use us more and more for the purpose of growing healthy families as well as impacting others for the cause of healthier Pastors and healthier churches.

Well, off to bed for now. When I travel for less than a week, I always try to stay on the same time schedule to reduce jet lag when I come home. However, I feel myself easing, maybe better said….oozing, into Eastern Daylight Time. Good night!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New York, New York....Day 1

After a good night of sleep, Chuck & I had brunch at Pop Diner, just a couple doors down from the hotel. Then, it was on to the subway. This may sound weird, and it may be because I don’t live in it or have to depend on it, but riding the NYC Subway is fun!

Walking toward the subway station, we heard and saw a couple of over us, making a couple of passes. Strange feeling …. New York City…fighter jets. Anyway…

First stop in Manhattan was the Empire State Building. Being 86 floors above NYC is amazing. The skyline just comes alive as you scan the horizon on all four sides. You see literally see for miles. For NYC, to me, the most stunning view is north, where you see all of these crammed skyscrapers with a huge patch of green among them …. Central Park. Seeing CP from there, and close up on the afternoon’s Grayline Uptown Loop brings back memories of one of my favorite TV shows of past, Law & Order.

Next, we headed to Times Square. Can’t say enough about being there. Even pictures don’t do it justice. Being the technology lover that I am, I think I could just stand there for hours and gaze at all the wonders of how they’ve placed different sizes and shapes of video screens!

It was a bit chilly today. We were able to find beanies at a curbside sale shack for $5. Perfect for our double decker bus ride, right? Except that we boarded a bus that had the upper level COVERED with clear plexiglass. It may be chilly, but it’s sunny. Can you say GREENHOUSE?

We both picked up the same color beanie. To keep them separate, I stuck mine in my jacket pocket. So when I needed it? Yeah, it was GONE! Someone got blessed with a brand new, albeit cheap, beanie!

The tour guides with Grayline do a great job of holding your interest and providing great information. Some of the interesting places we saw included the place where John Lennon was killed, the diner used in the movie, “American Gangster”, the museum used in the movie “Night At The Museum”, and the apartment house that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Quite macabre, I know, but interesting stuff nonetheless.

After the tour, we hit the M&M World store at Times Square. They haven’t hit California yet, but M&Ms here have a new limited edition flavor…Wildly Cherry. Some of you know about my love for the Chocolate Cherry flavor (don’t go buying me any Diet Dr. Pepper Chocolate Cherry…it turned out to be GROSS). I’ll be bringing home some of those M&Ms if I can make them last till the end of the week!

Next up, we walked 5th Avenue. I didn’t know it before today, but I guess “walking 5th Avenue” is kind of a big deal here. According to the tour guide, if you’ve “walked 5th Avenue”, it means you walked the row of highly expensive stores between 49th & 59th Streets. Tiffany, Salvatore Ferragamo, Rolex, FAO Schwartz Toy Store, and the biggest Apple Store in the world.

On the way to 5th Avenue, we passed right by Rockefeller Center, where NBC’s Today show is shot every morning. Most exciting thing about going by there was block after block after block of police cars with lights twirling.

After prying with a couple of Rockefeller Center employees, we were told it was an “anti-terrorism roll call” that the NYPD has been doing at high-profile targets on a regular basis. UN HQ, World Trade Center, Wall Street, Empire State Building, etc. They are wanting to make their presence felt on a regular basis. Presence it was! I mean, it was truly impressive. I should’ve counted the cars, but I’m telling you it was in the multiple dozens. Cool! [UPDATE: Click here for a story on this.]

After 5th Avenue, we caught the subway back to Queens, where we had dinner at the Georgia Diner. Best thing there, hands down, was the BEST Black Forest cake I have EVER had! I love Black Forest cake and have it wherever I can, but this was just the BEST!

Well, that was the day. Hope you enjoyed it with me! For those who text message, follow my trip on Twitter. Sign up for a free account, register your phone to accept Twitter, find me at, then you’ll get the messages I send as I work through each day’s journey!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Safe in Queens

After a very short night of sleep, woke up about 3:45 am and left for Chuck & Ruby's to catch a ride to LAX. Upon arriving, Chuck delivered the news that Ruby wasn't going to make the trip.

Chuck lives and works bi-coastal. His home is in Northridge, CA and his main office is nearby. However, for the last year and a half, he has been developing The Center for Spiritual Renewal (CSR) that our denomination has created on the old LIFE Bible College East campus in Christiansburg, VA. It’s a Retreat Center for Pastors and their families that Foursquare has really invested in to make it very nice. So, Chuck spends about half his time there, counseling Pastors as needed when they come through.

Ruby is quite involved in developing some of the CSR facilities, so she often travels back there with him, which she will do a couple days after we return from New York. She decided there was just too much to get done to make the trip here to New York with us. She is very disappointed, as are Chuck and I, as this would have been her first trip to NYC.

I’ve learned to cooperate with my body when I travel. It does funny things when I fly. For some reason, when we get in the air, my body just gets lethargic and sleepy. So, I carry my earplugs and eye cover, try to get a window seat and just go to sleep. Once again, it worked. I slept just about the entire flight. Not a deep sleep, but at least the time didn’t drag by.

Our flight left a few minutes after 8:00 am PST and arrived a few minutes early, around 4:10 pm EST. My friend, Laurel Favilla, was so kind to pick us up and bring us to our hotel. We’re at the same place we stay whenever we come here, which is just a short walk down Queens Boulevard from New Life Fellowship.

Kind of a funny place. This is my fourth year here. Every year, they have been “remodeling”. Well, this year, they’re finally finished. No old carpet, no more unfinished holes in hallway walls, and the rooms actually look decent!

After settling in and unpacking, we took a brisk walk down the street for some great Chinese food for dinner. It’s becoming a bit nostalgic for me to come here, walking by New Life’s building, which is the historic landmark Queens Elks Lodge building. Built in the 1920’s, it is a registered historic landmark. That means the church is limited in anything they do to change the look of the exterior. Most interesting part of that is that they can’t remove the HUGE elk statue that sits at the entrance of the building.

After dinner, we walked a little further to the nearest mall. It houses the local Target store, where we pick up our water and snacks for the week. Along the way, it’s kind of a rush to soak in the sights and sounds of New York City. Seems like there’s almost always a siren or two going and a car horn or four blaring.

Good start to the trip, other than missing Colleen and the boys. Tomorrow we’ll head to Manhattan. If the cloud cover is gone, we’ll do the Empire State Building. Other places on our list are Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center Site, Seinfeld’s “Monk’s CafĂ©”, Times Square. If you’ve got any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where I've Been & Where I'm Going

Hey everyone! For those wondering where I've been ..... well, nowhere really. There was a short trip to Ventura to celebrate our 22nd anniversary, but other than that, life has just been hectic. Too hectic, in my opinion.

Preparations for Easter always take aLOT of time and energy. The aftermath takes some recovery time too. At church, this was the best Easter we've had in years! People REALLY invited people, and our attendance that day was DOUBLE our current average. Quite a number of people gave their heart to Christ and even more re-dedicated their lives to Jesus. It was a GREAT and very encouraging Easter!

Last weekend, we started a new teaching series called, "Shameless". Developing a new series always takes extra time as opposed to putting together each week's message. There is extra time involved in mapping out the series, developing graphics, and more.

Now, this week, I am making final plans to head to New York City on Monday. I am traveling with my Pastor, Chuck Shoemake, and his wife, Ruby. We'll tour NYC on Tuesday and Wednesday, then attend the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Pastors/Leaders Conference on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We'll fly home late Sunday night.

I currently volunteer as a Ministry Representative with EHS, speaking with Pastors and Leaders all over the US and Canada about implementing the EHS principles into the life of a congregation. It's a real privilege to serve this growing ministry. I am looking forward to connecting with some (becoming) old friends in NYC and meeting new ones toward the cause of helping people connect their emotional health with their spiritual maturity.

Chuck and I took this trip together last year. This will be Ruby's first time in NYC, so it will be an extra treat. We have plans to do the red bus double decker tour, Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, among other sites.

All that to say .... that's where I've been and that's where I'm going. If you want to come along, check back daily next week and I'll blog about our trip!