Posted by: kevintessa | September 2, 2008

signing off

Change. Transformation. Newness.

Just barely over 15 months ago, stirred by a desire to bring about change, transformation, and newness we kicked off this weblog, “the fishbowl”. What did we hope to accomplish? May we be quite frank and honest? We hoped to change – even if only at a small level – the way that so many congregations increasingly mistreat their pastors and families. We hoped to transform – even if only at a small level – the strained relationships between pastors’ families and laity from one of resistance and enmity to one of togetherness and camaraderie. We hoped to watch newness – even if only at a small level – blossom revealing a rightness that  pastors’ families share between themselves and laity. How would we make this happen? We would speak up on behalf of those living the fishbowl life bringing attention to their struggle. We would tell the truth about the frustration, unfairness, and ugliness of life inside the fishbowl. We would be a voice for so many who didn’t feel the freedom to speak on their own behalf.

So, this begs the question: Did we make any difference? To tell you the truth, when we created this blog, we found ourselves in the most tumultuous waters of a fishbowl in all our years of experience in the pastorate. Never before had we felt more closely watched than we felt at that time in our pastorate experience. Never before had we become more acutely aware of the judgment faced by so many pastors and their families, ridicule we had heard of or read about but had never lived until then. To be honest, having had enough we decided to speak out. The truth is, even then we never really felt the freedom necessary to speak openly and honestly about life in the fishbowl – for fear of further scrutiny, criticism, or worse … irrelevance in ministry. What if we got too open and honest? What if we revealed the ugliness we were witnessing between pastors and laity or spoke of the meanness we ourselves had experienced? What might happen? What we’ve found is that there seems to be an epidemic of congregations and pastors working against one another. Instead of finding congregations and pastors whose purpose is to love God and one another, it seems that more and more are working to tear each other down. “the fishbowl” was our attempt to shed light on that sad state and to work at bringing about change, transformation, and newness. Perhaps it accomplished some of that – even if only at a small level.

Something more significant, something greater, something much more lasting has happened during these past 15 months, though. Change. Transformation. Newness. While “the fishbowl” was created with good intentions and high hopes – mixed in with a bit of frustration – we can’t seriously justify continuing with it. It has certainly brought about a worthwhile discussion but we don’t believe it’s one that warrants so much of our attention and energy. God has taken hold of our hearts in a way we never expected – in that way that only He can do – and everything has changed! We’re eager to tell you more about this change, transformation, and newness with our new blog, “kainos” and we hope you’ll join us over there (www.beholdingkainos.blogspot.com).

Today, we sign off “the fishbowl” with a song written and inspired by two preacher’s kids and performed by the group NeedToBreathe called “Washed by the Water”. It also happens to be one of daughter’s favorite songs. Thanks for diving in with us as you have over the past year! We hope for you change…transformation…newness!

kt

Lyrics below video…

Washed By the Water – NeedToBreathe

Daddy was a preacher, She was his wife, Just tryin to make the world a little better,
You know, Shine a light

People started talking, Just to hear their own voice, Those people tried to accuse my father, Said he made the wrong choice

Though it might be painful, You know that time will always tell,  Those people have long since gone, My father never failed

Even when the rain falls,  Even when the flood starts rising,  Even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water

Even if the Earth crumbles under my feet, Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me, I won’t never ever let you down
I won’t fall
I won’t fall
I won’t fall as long as you’re around me

Posted by: kevintessa | August 25, 2008

new

God is faithful and true to His word. He can be trusted. He is our Refuge. He is our Fortress. He is our Deliverer.

 

Something miraculous happens when God takes hold of our hearts. Everything changes.

 

Would you begin celebrating that with us by coming back here September 2nd?

 

“… Behold, I make all things new …” Revelation 21:5

Posted by: kevintessa | August 17, 2008

under construction

A few years ago, Kevin and I woke up to find that the main streets surrounding our Lubbock neighborhood were under construction. Seemingly overnight, up popped detour signs all over the place, bright orange cones blocking pathways, concrete walls dividing passages, work crews holding “SLOW” and “STOP” signs, and lots of frustrated drivers who had been inconvenienced as they found themselves taking the long way around just to get to their own homes.

Sometimes, being under construction is like that, isn’t it? I’m sure that you, like me, have found that our God is One who seems to like us under construction. One year ago, Kevin and I woke up one morning to find that we were newly under some major construction, some dividers had been positioned, some neon signs had been flashed, some crews had taken a stand in our pathways, and we found ourselves on a new path – one that seemed to take us the long way around just to get Home. Those of you who know our story may better understand the symbolism that I’m using. For those of you who don’t, would you do me the honor of checking back real soon?

We’ve been under construction and everything in our lives is not what it was one year ago. To HIM be all glory, honor, and praise! We’re under construction and we can’t wait to begin sharing it with you!

tessa

Posted by: kevintessa | August 2, 2008

community renewal

  • For a few days next week we will be privileged to take part in a workshop with Community Renewal International in Shreveport, Louisiana. You may want to check out their ministry. An excerpt from their website explains their purpose this way:

“Cities battling poverty, crime, racial tension, substance abuse and other critical issues are now facing the future with hope because of the life-changing impact of Community Renewal International. In neighborhoods where violence and fear once reigned, there is now safety and trust. Playgrounds are replacing battlegrounds. Former gang members and drug addicts are renewing their lives, returning to school and giving back to the community instead of taking from it. That is what happens when caring partners from all walks of life come together with one dream and one hope for one community. True community renewal changes the world – one neighbor at a time.”

  • That, followed by a getaway with our Lubbock “chosen family”, will keep us from posting until the following week. We look forward to unpacking treasures from the workshop at that time. Until then…

 

kevin & tessa

Posted by: kevintessa | July 22, 2008

july 22

Today we celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary in the very place we met as 15 year olds, had our first date as 18 year olds, and married as 22 year olds … just wanted to share it with you! We are more in love with each other as time passes which only makes us anticipate what’s next. We just cannot believe the way that God created us to complement each other as we do and we just have to say … there is nothing like this!

Posted by: kevintessa | July 18, 2008

short-term missions viability

Yesterday in Albert Reyes’ blog Pan Dulce I commented on his questions: “Does short-term missions make a long-term impact? How is Buckner International doing in this area?”

Here was my answer:

Buckner is doing a good job mobilizing the short-term missionaries and serving as a conduit for ministry in other cultures. I feel that Buckner can evolve its already great mission endeavors into training, preparing, and educating potential participants better for short-term missions. Intentionality is the key with an understanding that those who serve alongside Buckner will be expected to develop what David Livermore writes in his book – Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-term Missions with Cultural Intelligence – as “CQ” or Cultural Intelligence (quotient).

I know there needs to be a balance here understanding that the participants are spending/raising many funds to go and giving much time away from family and work. However, there needs to be a higher level of CQ for participants as Buckner tries to assist with the huge explosion of short-term mission trips. I believe the more CQ we have as participants, the more open another culture might be to our serving alongside them and ministering to them. This will then result with possible long-term impact.

I particularly appreciate Buckner taking cues from the Christian/partnering Nationals in those countries where Buckner has teams serving. This is a less colonial and more humble style of missions. It is also more effective. Long-term impact will have a greater chance to take hold.

Livermore gives some practical insight for short-term teams as they try to make a lasting impact:
1. God is a lot bigger than Your Short-term Mission Trip
2. Stop Petting the Poor
3. Be Yourself
4. Seek to Understand
5. On Second Thought – Think Again!
6. Try, Try Again
7. Actions Speak Louder than Words
8. Give Up Trying to See Who’s In and Who’s Out
9. Incorporate Short-term Missions as Part of Your Seamless Missional Journey
10. Love God, Love Others

What other resources would you point to for Cross-Cultural Competency? You may have been on a mission trip before where all these rules of engagement were violated. Having a high CQ is a must for effective short-term and long-term missionaries.

kevin

Posted by: kevintessa | July 15, 2008

the hope found in the millennials

Over at Buckner Prez there has been a discussion about the term “millennial” these past few weeks.   What is a millennial? What group is described as “the millennials”? Go over and see.

By the way, today’s guest blogger at Buckner Prez is Matt Homeyer, my cousin. Hear his perspective. Dialogue with him.  He and others (Cara, Analiz and Jenny) have been blogging/writing/sharing from a millennial point of view.

Seeing the Church of Christ Jesus rediscover being missional is dear to my heart. I have previously posted about the Church being missional; there is more I will say in the future. It is my belief that the hope I feel in my heart has much to do with what I see millennials saying and doing these days. Maybe I will see in my lifetime the millennials leading the charge in seeing ALL the nations reached with the high hope of the Christ.

expectantly,

kevin

Posted by: kevintessa | July 9, 2008

emotionalism

One of the problems that many ministers have to deal with today is the often overbearing power of emotionalism. Emotionalism is not to be confused with emotion. Emotion is a natural part of humankind. We welcome emotions of all sorts. Emotionalism is not to be welcomed. According to the online dictionary, Wiktionary, emotionalism is “the tendency to be over-emotional.”

In church life, emotionalism which is not identified and combated can lead to debilitating problems. Ministers need to recognize this fact. Parishioners need to be on the watch also. There are still worship wars today in churches with the underlying issue or instigator: emotionalism. Worse still, ministers and/or church leaders sometimes harness this great power of emotionalism to manipulate others for a desired, selfish result.

The theological implication can be even more destructive for the Christ follower. Many people confuse their feelings and emotions with God working in their lives. To be sure, God’s Spirit does work through our emotions but we must be careful. Many things affect our emotions: physical health, emotional health, rest (or lack of rest), external influences, and so on. We must be mindful that these emotions can be manipulated at worst and misread at best. What cannot happen is our allowing emotionalism to rule our thoughts and actions.

James Emery White in his book, Embracing the Mysterious God, said about emotion and spirituality, “The reality is that authentic spirituality has more to do with how we respond to emotions than it does with a given emotional state. There will be times we feel high or low, near or far. Those feelings may have very little to do with where we actually are with God. The real state of our souls does not rest on how we feel but on who God is, who we are in relation to God and who we are becoming.”

from my fishbowl,

kevin

Posted by: kevintessa | July 6, 2008

a vision of citizenship

An MSNBC article popped up on my computer this week titled “Could you pass the latest citizenship test?” and I just had to check it out. You might enjoy that, too: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25461301/. I know my own adeptness (or lack of) in American history and I take glad comfort in knowing that I’ll never have to pass that test to receive my American citizenship. Being born into my citizenship is a gift that I am grateful for, especially as I consider that I’ll never have to master that exam in order to stay here! Yikes!

 

I got to thinking about that and quickly came to find solace in my greater citizenship. As a believer, a Christ-follower, a child of God by his grace, I will never have to pass a test in order to earn a place and stay in His Kingdom. It’s a good thing! I can’t help but think of the man born blind from birth in the book of John, chapter 9. The Pharisees are taken aback by the whole story that standing before them is quite visibly a man who was truly blind and who now explains that Jesus healed him. They offer him a line of questioning about Jesus that the healed man cannot answer. Once enough dismay and disbelief have transpired, the man says about our Healer, “Look! I can’t tell you all about Jesus – his age, his favorite color, his hobbies, his family history, his favorite food! What I can tell you is that I was completely blind and now I can see!”

 

I’ve felt like that man plenty of times! There’s so much I don’t yet know and am loving to discover as the Lord unfolds Himself to me through scripture. My testimony is much like the healed man’s. I could never pass a Kingdom citizenship test but what I can tell you is that I once was blind and now I see!

 

tessa

Posted by: kevintessa | July 2, 2008

cinnamon toast

As a little girl I occasionally enjoyed cinnamon toast, made just right and especially for me by my grandmother. She was a phenomenal cook and I’ve always wanted to emulate her knack for whipping up kitchen feasts. My goodness, my grandmother’s treats threw parties in my mouth. There were lots of things that she made in her kitchen that held the prize of “favorite” on my palate, but there was something special about her cinnamon toast that I’ve never been able to imitate with my own. All over each slice of bread, delectable shapes of buttery, candy-like, bite size, cinnamon sugar flakes would sparkle that I could carefully pinch off and then place on my tongue. They wouldn’t dissolve instantly, but would instead melt like a thin piece of gourmet toffee. Is your mouth watering right now like mine is? Yum.

 

It’s funny how this childhood memory has landed itself right on my own cookie sheets as I’ve worked so hard to make that same concoction of cinnamon treat for my own children. Since my firstborn was a tee-niny thing, I’ve worked to form those candy bits on her cinnamon toast and it just hasn’t happened. “Maybe I’ll use more butter next time” I say. Or, “Maybe it just needs a big mound of cinnamon sugar instead of that little sprinkle I used.” My daughter’s old enough now to give her advice on the whole thing. We have fun and we laugh at ourselves as we try to figure out just exactly how to make my Grandma’s cinnamon toast.

 

I laugh more when I think of the most obvious solution to all of this experimenting. Wouldn’t this all be a lot easier if I had just gone into the kitchen and watched Grandma make her cinnamon toast? The guessing game would be over. I would know exactly how she whipped up that kind of magic and be enjoying it with my children today. Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen when she was cooking. My grandmother had a galley kitchen and she just didn’t want us all in her way. She didn’t really need any help and she liked her space. That was just her way. Oh, how I wish now, as a lover of cooking myself, that I could have stood by her side as she created. What an honor that would have been … and what an impressive repertoire of recipes I would have to add to my own favorites! Looking back, I think that maybe with a little sad eyed pleading I could have been granted special access to her kitchen for training. More so, I think that if my grandmother had only realized that I really wanted to imitate her in this way, to be her student, and to join her life through this shared love of ours, she would have been more open to sharing her kitchen and expertise with me.

 

I wonder sometimes if we in our local churches have our own spaces, our own ministries, where we’ve come to feel quite at home. I wonder if there are people watching us stir up incredible dishes with our gifts and talents and they stand in the doorway wishing they could come inside. Like my grandmother, it’s not with malice that we guard our galleys, but with good intentions. We’ve been at this for years, we have our own take on the recipes, and quite frankly we don’t see much room for more feet along the galley floor. I wonder, at times, if we offer our family sweet samples from our kitchens, but have strict rules about who belongs in there. Does that make sense? Just imagine the aroma that could warm the entire home if we would open our kitchen doors to all who want to join us!

 

tessa

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