oil-pour
Wow, it’s been almost a year since my last blog! Talk about getting lazy.

Regardless, here I am, sitting in a secluded cabin in the woods of Tennessee. When I say secluded, I mean I feared slightly for my life as we drove up the side of a mountain to find the place. But we’re here and vacation has begun. I came up here  with only a few expectations:
1. Experience a real vacation outside of Florida. Disney’s great, but I need more.
2. Relax.
3. Hear God, clearly and intensely.

Can I be a bit transparent and honest with you guys? Can I drop the “Painless Pastor” stuff for a few and spill my guts? Ya see, before we left, I was feeling a bit “sluggish”. I could feel myself slowing down. My drive for ministry was “sluggish”, my motivation to plan was “sluggish”, my creativity was sluggish. The scariest thing is that my passion to move forward was “sluggish”. The last quarter of the ministry year was wearing on me but not because things were “bad”. It was just… heavy. Planning for a new youth building, planning for 2015, attendance goals for the year that seem we won’t reach, watching people’s lives disintegrate despite advice I’ve poured out, etc, etc. If you’re a Pastor (or in ministry at all), you know the deal. I’m not saying anything you don’t get and I’m not saying my struggle is something unique. I just think that after 14 years of very minimal soul maintenance, it’s caught up.

Many years ago, my wife and I bought a super kick-butt Ford Thunderbird. This thing was awesome. Quick, sleek, comfortable seats and even a cool keypad on the door that you type a code in to lock and unlock it. For us, that was high-class. But, I put over 70,000 miles on it and never changed the oil. I was immature when it came to maintenance. I just never thought about it. Until that day… that day the oil light came on. In typical circumstances, that’s a warning light, but for us, that was a signal of the end. The mechanic informed us that the oil had become so sludged up that it destroyed the oil pump. The filter could no longer “filter”, the pump could no longer “pump” and the engine pretty much just dried up and the heat and friction became too much. It was over.

All I had to do was a little bit of maintenance every 3000 miles and this meltdown could’ve been avoided.

So here I sit, in a cabin, “sluggish”, full of sludge, slowing down, all because of my inability to do maintenance. Don’t get me wrong, I read books, I take time to pray, time to study, even get away a little here and there. But I very rarely take time to do a full oil change. What I’ve done is the equivalent of a full detail job but neglecting the heart, the engine that keeps it running. I’ve neglected to notice the oil light of my own soul come on. I believed I could just keep on driving mile after mile and expect to run in high performance.

While here, I planned to sit and read a book and hear God scream something profound into my heart. Instead, he gave me this simple illustration of the oil change. So I prayed. I asked God to flush out my heart.

I prayed for a new “filter” for things to run through. The filter of seeing with His eyes, the filter of hearing with His ears. I want everything in life to run through HIS filter.

I prayed for a new “pump”. I want His heart to be MY heart, His passion to be MY passion, His motivation to be MY motivation.

I prayed for fresh “oil”. I want to have that same fresh anointing I had when I first began. I want His vision to flow through my veins and reduce the friction and heat that ministry can generate.

I prayed God would forgive me for my poor maintenance and teach me to see the warning lights before the meltdown.

I’d love to wrap this up with a story of how I’ve been changed in the first couple days and how I feel like a new man, ready to conquer the world with a fresh wind. Not yet. But I can already sense my motor running better. Here’s to maintenance!

Matthew 28-30 (The Message) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”