In a season of being so busy that I’ve easily forgotten things, it’s felt so good to take a break (well kind of a break…) from all that is going on with ministry, school, and work so that I could fill my cup. Too often in ministry one gives, gives, and gives…yet doesn’t take the time to refill their own cup. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to get away with thousands of other pastors, and some good friends with a focus on Christ, fellowship, and worship…I had to jump on it. And boy, did it do wonders!
Last year there was a group of homies (some pastors) that agreed we’d go to T4G (Together for the Gospel), so when tickets were made available, I quickly registered. I got an early bird student rate… $99… but in the end, everyone bailed and it left me alone…but I didn’t want to cancel, I really needed this. I love being a church planter, I love the challenges that it brings in trying to be more and more missional in all aspects of life, being there on call 24/ 7 to the church, the community, and friends… but it can take a toll. I can’t continue to pour into folks and not fill my own cup…eventually the source of fresh water dries up or gets polluted…so I was blessed to be able to head to T4G and sort of disconnect for a few days and refocus.
A couple of friends would be helping me out by letting me crash with them! Shout out to the homie Darrin Slater from Missouri and my brotha Pastor Matt Jones of Del Rey Church in L.A. who offered their hospitality but in the end, God made it possible for me to hang with my friend and fellow seminarian Ben Kampeier and his crew from Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana. We’re RCA (Reformed Church in America) and gave us a chance to connect and talk about denominational stuff too, share with each other what’s happening in our corner of the world and how we’re fighting to make much of Jesus. These dudes took me in and we shared a room, meals, and drinks… remind me later to tell you about our experience at GAME (alpaca, kangaroo, wild boar, and moose burgers…YIKES!!!).
The hi-light for me was the worship… I was able to not be in charge of anything, not pressured to prepare in advance, but simply be present, lift my hands as high as I possibly could and sing beautiful songs to my God at the top of my lungs, feel a huge knot in my throat and savor the tears streaming down my cheeks as I worshiped my God in spirit and in truth…not caring about the 12,000 + believers that surrounded me… it was life giving, it was so uplifting… every note sung, every harmony, every stroke of the piano was a drop into my cup… refilling it… strengthening me… and building me up… We sang songs like “In Christ alone”, “Jesus, thank you!”, “Be thou my vision”, and “Come thou font” amongst others. . . there was something about hearing thousands and thousands of voices all singing the same words to our God, grateful to be alive, honored to serve Him, and thankful He chose us to co-labor with Him to reach the world, one community at a time.
Mark Dever kicked things off, Matt Chandler challenged us, David Platt called out racial injustices, Al Mohler came correct, HB Charles Jr. brought fire…Kevin DeYoung literally made my brain explode, Thabiti did his thing, Ligon Duncan preached one of the BEST sermons i’ve ever heard…and John Piper and Johnny Mac did NOT disappoint either.
I wasn’t able to sit in on every teaching and panel because I still had homework to do, sermon prep work, and remain in contact with our leadership team for issues pending at home. . . but man oh man, did I enjoy my time there. I missed my family, I missed my church, but I am grateful to have spent a week in Kentucky at T4G, so thank you to the organizers, to the many, many volunteers that served…and thank you to my wife and kids that allowed me to go and get my cup refilled. . . oh, and all the free books were super dope too. Here’s a picture of the books I got (I only purchased 4 of these…the rest were free to all those that attended)… everytime we’d walk in or out of the building, even for lunch, we’d get a new book. . . (shhh… don’t tell anyone but I purposely took as little stuff as possible so I could be just a tad book gluttonous)…
Friends, encourage your pastors to refill their cup… the kingdom is much bigger than our local churches, and it’s great to hear other pastors stories and challenges. I talked to at least a 1/2 a dozen brothers that were considering/ contemplating/ praying through whether or not to plant a church… oh man, guess what I told them?!?!? I was telling errybody they needed to plant a church… I was sharing our story and what God was doing in Lynwood through RCLA and our team. I’ll be sharing these experiences this week in the podcast too that I share with my homie Celah on “Grace And Two Fingers“… check us out. Be blessed family!