Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Burn Out, Resentment, and Moxie

I'm in a season of learning right now from the Lord.    He's been working on a message in me for a while, and while I may be in fact jumping the gun, I'm going to put down all I have on the matter anyhow.  I shoot first and ask questions later.  Tha's how I roll!  

I think the reason I feel the freedom to write this as well, is that there is no one in particular that comes to mind when in regards to the following, although I'm sure that time will come very soon.  We are, after all, more predictable than we think.

Burnout, according to Wikiqedia, is " a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Research indicates general practitioners have the highest proportion of burnout cases; according to a recent Dutch study in Psychological Reports, no less than 40% of these experienced high levels of burnout. Burnout is not a recognized disorder in the DSM[1] although it is recognized in the ICD-10[2] as "Problems related to life-management difficulty."

If I hear the word "burnout" ever again in context to the church, I'm going to start throwing flaming bags of poop.  Just be aware, if you say that around me, you need to immediately duck to avoid chard burning brown paper lunch bag and fecal matter.

(There!  I said it.  I actually feel a lot lighter.)

People, in fact, are afraid to even BEGIN to encounter ministry and Kingdom Building from the fear of burnout alone.  It's common in the Christian church to say things like, "I just feel burned out."  "I'm just exhausted."  "I feel taken advantage of."  "I feel empty."

My new reply to the above, "aaaaand...." 
(followed by flying flaming poop.)  

Tell me, at what activity on this world do YOU NOT get burned out?!?  Eating the same meal over and over.  Watching the same NOTHING on TV.  Hanging out with the same emotionally draining person.  Your Monday through Friday routine.  Workin' for the man.  Taking out the trash.  Dishes.  The same album that you've been listening to for the past 2 months.  Dramatic workplace gossip.  Changing diapers.  Laundry or sweeping the Kitchen floor....AGAIN!  TELL ME?!?!?!

If I had TO CHOOSE (yes...all caps.) something to get burned out on, it WOULD in fact be Church and Kingdom work.  If I'm going to get blistered and frustrated, I would rather it be while dumping myself into building kingdom colonies wherever I find myself.  If my feelings were going to get hurt, I would rather it be over something I deeply care about, and something that is tendered by the Lord.  If I'm going to raise my voice in objection, I would rather it be defending the truth.  If something was going to keep me up at night, it should be His Voice plotting in my head and heart.

God is teaching me that burnout is inevitable.  We are going to get burned out in everything we do, no matter what.  We are promised, however, in the house of the Lord that when we are empty, we can be renewed, all for the sake of doing it all over again.

Psalm 23.1-3

Psalm 109.21

Isaiah 61.1-4

Isaiah 40.31

My whole life will had better be exhausted in bringing The Kingdom right down here where it belongs.  It's what I love, even when it sucks.  It's where I want my kids to grow up.  It's where I want to be ruled and reigned over by One Good King.  There is nothing else...

My resolve and advice: Adjust your priorities.  You are always going to get burned out, no matter what.  Dust yourself off and get back in there and start swinging.  Listen to the voice of the Lord.  Be renewed when you are empty.  Find your "cross to bear" AND DO IT.  Suck it up, and do it.  Resolve, and do it. Believe you me, I need to be told this from time to time.  Lay your resentment of imperfect folks before the Throne, and move on.

The Lord is ALREADY on the move and ALREADY doing great works and wonders.  Determine to stay in the game.

Phew!  There.  It's out.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Change, Sumbraros, and Amniotic Fluids

I'll begin this one by saying that the past week and a half might have had some of the most memorable moments of life change I've had packed into a short time in quite a while.  Things in me are changing.  Things in my community are changing.  Things in my family are changing.  All of these changes somehow wonderful and difficult to swallow at the same time.

It's summer time.  Hot and humid, which I'd take over dry heat any day of the week mind you.  People...humidity means that there are green plants nearby, and thank goodness!  You can keep those cactus gardens, and give me a thick humid day digging in my veggies and flowers, hands down.

I'm working leather with Scott Hofert this summer.  He turns out to have a couple of very interesting tricks up his sleeves other than organizing a growing local church, and tanning (working leather) happens to be one of those tricks.  Who knew?

Anyhow, that's how changes with me began.  A long conversation with an old friend while cutting leather and occasionally my finger.  We talked about his church, and changes in our culture.  How homosexual populations are on the move in the world, and how the church is wrestling to adapt or not adapt.  Though I know it was not his intention, this conversation made me feel more alone than I have in a long time.  Going back to the basics; Who am I?  What is my purpose?  Where will I lead my family?  What will God's Family do as these changes in cultural norms evolve faster and faster?  Where are movements of faith happening in this culture?

I spent a lot of time studying and talking to my wife.  I need any men that read this to know that after the first difficult conversations of unashamed truth with your wife, the road ahead is as smooth as a slow rolling stream.  I don't want to remember a time when Katie and I were not on a page together.  It is that good.  (Footnote: Amidst this conversation with Katie, we laughed about our pet peeves with one another. She always leaves her shoes and water glasses all over the place.  She's like that girl from Signs with a water glass; "That one has a spec in it.  That one is stale.  That one is too warm."  Drives me nuts but I crack a smile about it.  How I leave all of my coffee mugs in the car and unload them once a week is her touche.  Clever girl :P)  Another powerful voice into my life, Mrs. Amanda Martin.  If you are in our Family, and you are passing that lady by, you are missing out on the goods, let me tell'ya!  I have yet to find a woman as grounded and full of the Spirit as Amanda.  She takes the edge off of my loneliness from time to time.

God has loaded this week with kind reminders and those smiles that make you feel good all over.  You need reminders like that when things are changing so fast.  Speaking of change...Wednesday.

This past Wednesday, my small group took over my house, popped the wine bottles, laughed and cried and feasted, all for a fond farewell for Tracey and Christine Keitt.  At 24 now, Tracey has been in my life since he was in high school.  We have scrubbed our knees bruised our egos serving the homeless.  200 Charlotean homeless getting meals and conversations and dignity every Saturday.  We wrapped our minds around networking our church into a neighborhood of working poor in West Charlotte.  We made a lot of mistakes there, but learned a lot too.  We played soccer and taught english and delivered flowers to refugees in the Birchcroft community.  Somewhere along the way in there, it was my privilege to marry him to the lady you see to his left.  She is his equal in every way he needs.  Katie and I both loved Christine from the first time we met her over a long and leisurely supper at the Dish.  As we sat in that moment, we had no idea how our lives would change as God drew us all together.

As we rolled along with the ebb and flow of Kingdom work together, the four of us, Tracey and Christine have decided that their next adventure will lead them to Chile.  It's been a slow process for the two of them to manage this new step in life, but all along the way, I've felt joy and sadness simultaneously.  I'm sure I shot them a guilt trip or two, but I promise, only in an attempt to show them my love and adoration for them both.

Wednesday night was a night to remember.  There were long conversations all over my house.  Good wine and good food.  Worship sailed into each room and right out the chimney to our Father.  We laid our hands in one-anothers and on their shoulders, and spoke Truth into them both to fill them with courage.  We reminded them that we are always tied together by ties that run thicker than blood and deeper than the dark blue ocean.  They are making their way to Chicago before they use their one way tickets to Chile where they will teach and worship and find their new life.

That image of Tracey and Christine and that red sombrero has burned into my mind now, and holds so much joy and a hand full of sorrow.  When will paths cross again?  When will we embrace each other?  When will we be able to say our "I love you's" to one another, just because?  These are the kinds of things you take for granted, and pay little mind to, until life changes and they can't be simply answered anymore.

The night ran late, but we paid it no mind.  Moments like those need to be savored.

I didn't sleep much that Wednesday.  I would wake Katie and Elliot up the next morning to go meet this new little being growing inside of my wife, and my eyes were open with wonder and possibility into the late and early hours.  We drove to Cornelius, to a little office on exit 28 for our very first 3D sonogram.  I would have ran, if it didn't mean dragging my wife and child behind me.

We sat in anticipation while technician maneuvered her jelly coated wand over  my wife's plump womb.  Elliot thought the images looked "ickie" and still thinks the baby is his momma's belly button.  My personal belief is that 3D images look a little more strange than I'd like.  I just wanted to know one thing...boy or girl.  After about 4 minutes of eternity and nail biting, she froze the picture and said; "You see this equal mark.  That's a girl!"  The room erupted with shouts and tears and joy.  Almost the kind of joy as I did when I saw my son for the first time.  Katie cried and smiled and so did I.

Leona Claire Rogers.  Leona after my great grandmother who should have been sainted, and Claire after Katie's mentor in college, Claire Natt.

The morning was sweet, and ushered in to us a new kind of life.  The walls of our hearts grew bigger that day, as Katie and I made room for this new little life.

On the car ride home, I felt new feelings though.  The same ones I feel about Katie and Elliot.  This little girl is an extension of me.  Her vulnerability makes me vulnerable.  As I grow and change in this role of fatherhood, I have gradually become more and more vulnerable.  My life is truly not my own.  It's His and Katie's and Elliot's and now Leona's.  Fear follows these feelings for me; "What if this... or What if that...".  Will this little girl love the Lord?  Will she grow her beauty inside first, and let God grow it from there?  Am I able to protect her?  My family?  No.  God gently whispers a reminder that they are His, and I have to never loose sight of that.  His ways for Leona and Katie and Elliot are for their good (Jer. 29:11), and I have to trust him.

I feel different after this weekend.  Older even.  It's funny how these feelings creep in.  Like that daunting sense of future you feel at your High School Graduation, just after you move your tassel across your face and declare that "you are now an adult" (which is a ludicrous thing to think, really, at age 18).  I feel a renewed desire to leverage all things toward the Lord, because I watch Him keep promise after promise.

I press forward with my questions and passions and convictions with courage, because I have witnessed God time and time again, and I know what he has up his sleeve for the Rogers Clan is so good that I couldn't imagine it.  Come what may, God is at the helm, and at the end of all things I long to be able to say to him that through every change that this life brought, I kept him close in my heart, and loved Him with everything I had.

Monday, June 13, 2011


It's been a hot minute since I've but my fingers to the keys to crank out a blog, but just so you know, that's very common for me.  I don't think I like to write unless it is being worked out in my life, and actually, not too many things have been reworking in my landscape until recently.

Today is my first day on staff at Renovatus.  I'm sitting in a quiet office listening to Fink and daydreaming about what this next leg of the race is going to look like.  If you are a fellow Renovatian and you are reading this, it's my privilege to lay down my developing abilities in service to the Kingdom and to you.

I should know better than to forecast my life.  Every time I make a plan, it seems our sneaky God has something else up His sleeves that better suits me anyway.

Katie is 15 weeks now and feeling much better.  She doesn't think so, but all the changes that she is traversing make her more lovely in my eyes.  I'm betting there's a little girl in there.  So sayeth the "ring trick" and the Chinese Lunar Calendar.  Don't knock the games I play with myself.  They provide many blissful hours of "what if's" and "maybe's".  Leona Claire Rogers after my Great Grandmother.  We don't have a name for a boy.  I guess I should start looking into that.

Elliot is saying thank you, which sounds more like; "tink ew."  I melt a little every time he says it, but I don't want him to know that.  He tries to make me laugh now when he gets into trouble.  It works more times than I'd like to confess.  He leads me around the house by the hand.  Rotten.  I love it.

God is teaching me on the regular.  Things about humility.  Things about repentance.  Things about manhood.  He spoke sweet words to me in worship this weekend.  He's shown me the root of my rebellious nature.  The good of it and the bad.  When to rebel and when to submit.  Kind Teacher.  
I'm nuts about Him.

As I start something new, I'm eager to see what He's plotting.  What's going to happen in Birchcroft this year?  What's going to happen to Jonathan and Amanda and my Family at Renovatus.  How is He going to continue to shape and rework my family?  My parents?  My siblings?  All that jazz.

The certainty I keep in my heart (its on my left sleeve) is of His goodness no matter the circumstance, so I move forward into these changes without fear.

Monday, March 28, 2011

To Move a Mountain

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
   17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21] [a]

~Matthew 17.14-21

I needed a little time yesterday to decompress before I could write.  Renovatus and Mosaic gathered together at the Birchcroft apartments and started to lay bricks of the Kingdom, side by side.  I've been spending the last 48 hours literally reeling from Saturday, unsure of how to explain it to folks or talk about it and give it its due justice (no pun intended)((inside baseball)).

Friday morning, before the event, I could feel the weight of the weekend creep up around me as things do that are contingent on a move of God, or people, or are the summation of a thousand details.  In defiance, I cranked my iPod up and began to worship.  Just then I saw a blue star fall right out of the dawn sky, like a heavenly affirmation.  I laughed a big belly laugh and worshiped harder as I continued the drive in.


Our plan was to deliver bags of toiletries and first aid door to door.  These bags had been distributed to Renovatus, filled, and brought back, totaling 122.  We were also planning on up-fitting the soccer field with new nets and soccer balls.  We were going to have food and drink in place, to allow us to hang out and get to know some of the residents, and have a tent set up full of nurses, nursing students, doctors, and E.M.T.'s, giving free medical assistance.  We labored and thought critically and planned and worked, all the while hoping we were pleasing our Lord and making room for His arrival.
Saturday rolled upon us and looked more ominous than I had it pictured in my head.  It looked like a sea of rain was going to fall right on our heads.  I felt the Lord all day though, speaking softly that it wouldn't matter.  Whether or not we had enough bags, or there was enough food, or the heavens released their rain on us, or we couldn't speak any of the languages of the people around us.  It wouldn't matter, because He was going to be amidst us, and that was all we would need.
Now, having all of the introduction out of the way, I need to try to tell you what I saw that day, but I'm not exactly sure how.  What I saw, filled me with energy.  It gave me fuel to run on for miles and miles.  It filled me with a sense of purpose and adventure.  It slapped my face to wake me as if I had been dreaming some useless dream for a time, calling me into something Real.  What I saw brought tears and laughter and wonder back into the forefront of my life, and I welcomed it in like a starstruck teenager meeting their favorite celeb for the first time.

I saw a mountain move.  Well...several actually.

I'll preface, because I always feel the need to preface, that I don't chase things that are miraculous.  I don't look for swirling vortexes of the spirit or knock people off of balance and shake my hands in the air or claim to have any supernatural powers of my own.

I am unlearned in the ways of miracles.  I can not recant for you specific exegetical bible studies I have come across that have enlightened my opinion on them.  I can't unfurl theological rhetoric on the "Feeding of the Five Thousand".  I can only talk about what's been shown to me, and tell you that I'm completely comfortable with the mystery of everything else.

Bump variety.  Mystery is the spice of life.

A father finds out he and his wife are 
pregnant at the medical tent.

We put our arms around people from all over the world.  We told them they were loved and welcomed, and that we would be here to help them as they entered this new life here in the States.  We collected 119 bags and there were 119 doors that opened to us.  There were 3 people who came to us late in the day, saying that they missed us when we were giving out the bags and were wondering if there were any more left.  Each time, someone would pull up late from Renovatus with a bag in hand, apologizing for not bringing them by the office earlier in the week.  The rain did little more than a drizzle all afternoon until we started to wrap up, which, if you stepped outside on Saturday, you would agree...that was no small miracle.

I suppose you could look at it as coincidence, and I couldn't blame you.  It's easier to look at things like this and explain it away.  It keeps control in our hands so let's can get a little bigger.

On the other hand, there are those who wish and hope for a move of God.  The want to see the sea part, and the locust descend, and the bread divide, and the seas calm.

I don't think I fit comfortably in either of those categories, but please feel free to correct me if I'm off.  I hope I'm somewhere in the middle, learning as I read ancient texts of Old Testament mystery, while working in a New Testament Kingdom of Heaven right here and right now, all the while wrestling with what Jesus meant when he said; "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." ~John 14:12

What I find, after a day like Saturday is this:  We live in a place where the Christian tradition is common place and ordinary.  The Church is resigned to an event you attend on a Sunday morning or  has become as frank a task as putting on your tie for work or hitting up the Starbucks on your way in.  You could walk into a coffee shop and strike up a conversation with a stranger, and 8 / 10 at some point in that conversation get asked "What church do you go to?"  We have lost Her mystery and beauty in the hustle and bustle of the every day, and what's worse, I see people who don't even believe that the God of the Bible can do what is written.

I think the reason for that is simple.  People don't make a practice of putting themselves in a posture of requiring faith, nor are they enamored enough with the Object of their faith.  We have fallen in love with useless gods who offer us nothing and can do nothing.  They neither hold the stars with their word nor move the hearts of man with their promises.  It's our fault, not His.  A part of us craves an adventure while another holds us on our couches, afraid to miss what we D.V.R.'ed.  In the noise of our un-attuned lives, miracles of all sizes float right by, and our souls are left thirsty.

Not me.  No sir.  I may be awful at it, but I want to see the Kingdom come and His will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  I am convinced that there is no other alternative to Real life.  I want to see so many mountains move, that the wonder of it slips further and further away from the mountain itself, and to the One who moved it.  I want a life so full and so steeped in the presence of my King that watching Him remove an obstacle in my path is as un-itrusiveness and ordinary as Him opening a car door.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Last night, we decided to go on the Offensive spiritually on behalf of Jess and Birchcroft. We are going to metaphorically / prayerfully lower them down through the roof to our King with intense prayer and a 4 day fast. The fast is not mandatory, of course, and no one is to be discouraged for opting out. Intense obstacles require intense countermeasures. Our sister needs us. Birchcroft needs us.

Our prayer and fasting ends this coming Sunday at our house with a dinner (that will blow your mind, guaranteed), and conversations about our journeys.

March 26th Event:

Lauren Horten is organizing food and soccer equipment as well as the agenda for the day.

Elizabeth Marx & Kate Rouse are facilitating the acquisition of Toiletries / First Aid bags on the Renovatus end. Elizabeth, I need you to keep tabs with Lauren Wednesday to compare notes.

Sarah Calvert & Adam Pohlig are working logistics on what is actually needed for the bags.

The Method; we will get 150 empty bags to the church with a detailed list inside of what they need to be filled with. The congregation will return the bags filled and we will distribute them door by door.


Erica & Sostenes are spearheading our endeavor to support Chelsea and Steven's leadership. Teachers have started to roll in and I will get you their contact information as quick as I get it. Erica is responsible for communicating to the new recruits via email and making sure they are equipped and prepared.

We have decided to let them shadow the current ESL teachers for an indeterminate (as of yet) time until they naturally subdivide, so that the new teachers can get their bearings and give Chelsea the time she needs to get her mind around the changing environment.

Erica, you are working with Corey on details for shadowing and clarification of the ESL programs strategy and plan of action, as to not confuse new volunteers.

Sostenes, you are responsible for keeping lines of communication open with Stephen, and bringing needs to the group on his behalf.

So far, $200.00 were donated to the program by the end of the 1st service. I'm excited to see what happened after the 2nd. The church is opening up an account for us to keep and designate money for Birchcroft. As soon as we get the green light, we will purchase supplies / books that Chelsea and Stephen need for ESL.

Thomas, update on Library?

Anthi, I spoke to your boss Sunday about work space and that sounds like a viable option. You mind continuing communication on that regard. We can use the church van to move folks. I don't see a need to start that until Chelsea gets home.

Praise reports:
Renovatus has assimilated the vision for Birchcroft well I believe, and I'm so excited to see what God is up to as he leverages His Body into one particular direction.

Sostenes got a job. Woot woot!

Adam and Anthi will be wed in 23 days. Holy crap!

Spit to the West,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Staying Focused...

Thomas: Do you have any updates on Library space?

Anthi: Following up on tutoring space.

Anthi & Christine: No need to worry about curriculum research. We will cross that bridge with grant applications of we need to.

Christine & Tracey: Tell us about the grant writing process. What do you need? What is our time frame? Chelsea has already gotten a heads up that we might need her help to get you some of the information you may require.

Adam & Sarah: Medical / Toiletry supplies for March 26th. Let's start brainstorming what we are going to need and how we can get it. The group can organize it for the supplies once we have them, we just need to get them. Work your connections and lets see what we can come up with.

Everyone: I still need a leader to rise up to spearhead ESL from the Renovatus end. I also need someone to share leadership with me for the March 26th event. Someone who loves event planning. Pray and be bold. Jump on it.

We approach the church next Sunday. Start praying for our church to respond now.

I love our small group.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where We Are Going

Renovatus Justice Small Group has 3 items on the docket for the review of our Pastor as of this morning:
1) ESL is underway, and we are currently working through legistics:  Classes meet every Monday from 4-6pm in Apt. F.  We need 6 Renovatians willing to help teach.  We need school supplies for both the classrooms and the students.  We are working out more space at the Library off Central.  We need to purchase additional 8 curriculum books (My First Message: A devotional Bible for Kids by: Eugene H. Peterson). 

ESL will be Renovatus first (of many) weekly steps into the neighborhood.  Once that is up and running, we will start something new, while maintaining and facilitating ESL.  Make sense?

2) March 26th; First community event.  We will be partnering with Mosaic Church to up-fit the kids soccer fields with new equipment, cookout and invite folks out of their homes, and provide them with a variety of toiletries / home medical supplies.
Quick Note: It turns out the grand U.S. of A. only provides immigrants around 6 months of health care, and then they are left to fend for themselves.  We thought this could also be an opportunity for our nurses to meet folks and help them with their medical needs.

3) April 30th; Second community event.  Spring cleaning event for general landscaping, taking flowers to folks in their homes, and cleaning communal spaces.  We are hoping by this point we will have had the opportunity to build relationships with neighbors, and thusly be allowed to enter their homes and clean for them.

Group Discussions:
I have requested two leaders to step forward to lead ESL from our end under the leadership of Chelsea.  Pray about it and get back to me.  We have to move quickly.  I will be facilitating the role in the meantime. 

For Accountability's Sake:
Each of us in our small group will be (eventually) required to pick up leadership of ONE service project in Birchcroft, and one project only.  Your other responsibility is to meet up with us in group so we can protect / refresh / pray / encourage / provide for you / and hold you accountable.  According to the Spirits leading, we each have to find time to regularly (however that looks) meet with folks in the neighborhood.  This makes your weekly commitments to the church manageable.  From my end, I will protect you from burn out at all costs.  We love you too much to burn you out.

Our small group makes my heart smile.