September 4, 2018

Here we are on another wonderful Monday, whoops, its Tuesday (it's Wednesday Down Under), Happy Labor Day. It’s wonderful because God created it and he has allowed you and I another day to worship and serve Him. Today I want to talk to you a little about the subject of “routine.”
I am sure every one of you reading this have your own little routine. Usually it’s a daily routine and sometimes it’s weekly and monthly and so on. A routine can be good but it can also have some negative side effects. For some of you that routine can be what drives you and for some of you it is what you really need to add structure to your day. Some of you have a calendar to keep your routine in order and some of you also have a daily to-do list to further add structure and order to your world. All of these can be very good things. I’m not sure I could operate for very long without mine. Each morning I would imagine all of us get up and at least brush our teeth and run a comb/brush/hand through our hair and dress for the day (please tell me we are all together so far here). Some have to have their morning coffee. Many have a routine when it comes to their breakfast. Most routines are on a deadline. You have to be at work or school by a certain time so your routine timeline backs up from there, often cutting into your sleep so you can get it all done. Most of us have a routine when it comes to eating our meals and going to bed and on and on the routine goes. It seems the longer we run these routines or habits the more they become ingrained into our brain and life. After years of routine any disruption in the routine can produce anxiety and discomfort and even anger.
On the positive side we can incorporate some good things into our routine. One of the most important is a daily quiet time with God. This is without a doubt the #1 most important item on your daily routine (I don’t want to say it’s more important than putting on clothes but let’s just say it’s of equal importance – ha). You don’t skip feeding your body so why skip feeding your spirit? In reality our walk with God should be as normal and natural and regular as breathing in air. I have a great story to illustrate this point based on a recent scuba diving trip but I’ll save it for later. There are also other daily and weekly items we should be incorporating into our routine. Joining in corporate worship each week and having a date night with your spouse and setting aside intentional time with your children and looking for opportunities to serve others on a regular basis are all great additions to our routine. Too many times we say NO to the best things because we have filled our routine and our schedule with too many less important things. Most of us need a periodic time where we can step back and truly evaluate our time and resources and decide if we are using them wisely. Bob Goff says he gives up something every week so that he can take on more worthwhile things.
This is where a routine can have negative side effects. If the things you are doing are keeping you from loving and serving God in obedience then your routine needs some serious adjustment. If your routine is not allowing you time to love and serve others every day then it also needs adjustment. Our routine can become just one more excuse for us not accomplishing the most important things with the one and only life God has given us. Maybe your routine is so regimented that you haven’t left any time for rest or for personal growth or for your spouse or your children or for you! I selfishly want to add here that the next time the pastor asks you to pray about helping with a project or going on a mission trip or coming to help minister to the needy and you simply don’t have time because your routine is etched in stone then you might have a problem. Your routine can help keep you on track but it can also keep you from stepping out and trying new things. It can prevent you from stretching yourself and becoming more like Christ. It can keep you wallowing in mediocrity when God has called you to greatness. Don’t settle for mediocre or even good when God wants something great for your life. Don’t let that routine of wash-rinse-repeat cause you to lose your joy. Take time away from your routine. Get away from your normal and ordinary and try something extraordinary (but don’t forget to get dressed . . . that one is always important).
As most of you know we just got back from vacation where our routine was very much disrupted. In fact, my sleep routine is still disrupted but that’s another story. But vacation allows us to step outside our normal routine and realize that our normal routine doesn’t have to be normal or ordinary. I’m not saying life can be a vacation because it can’t and even that would become a routine but what I am saying is that routines were made to be broken (except the brushing teeth thing). Let me encourage you today to do something different. Maybe it means starting to read a new book, maybe one that will help your spiritual walk or will help you be a better spouse or parent (I would suggest “Everybody Always” by Bob Goff). Maybe you can surprise your spouse with a small gift or lunch or maybe you can take the kids to the park when you get home and just focus on them. Maybe you can just walk next door and give your neighbors a pie and let them know you are praying for them. Maybe you can sign up for Experiencing God or another class that could change your life. The possibilities are endless but they require you to stop and step outside your routine and think.
Hopefully reading this blog is part of your weekly routine. It probably is if you are still reading. Thank you for doing that. I am also hopeful that it adds to your week and challenges you as much as it challenges me.
It is indeed good to be home. Yes, we already miss New Zealand. Yes, it was amazing in every way imaginable. Yes, we had an incredible time away. Since I didn’t get to say this before we left I wanted to wish my wife a very Happy Birthday which we celebrated in a short stop in Australia and then also in New Zealand so I think she did pretty well for her birthday (both of these were on her bucket list). And I also wanted to say how much I love and appreciate Jennifer and our 40 years together in marriage. I did some special things for her on our trip and one of them was to write a 40th anniversary love message to her (I think I came closer to crying while I was reading it than she did). Our journey together has had ups and downs, many more ups than downs, but as I told her, I cannot imagine anyone else I would want to be with on this journey than her. God has indeed blessed me far beyond what I deserve. I don’t have to tell any of you that Jennifer is not just the better half but she is the better whole. I married so far over my head that I had to jump out of a plane to get above her. I could go on and on here but we want to thank our church family for allowing us the unique opportunity to get away and celebrate in appropriate fashion. We said we probably won’t be able to do this trip for our 50th so let’s do it right now. I also want to thank our children for having a special 40th anniversary family surprise party for us when we got back. It was great to have all our children and spouses (minus 1) and grandchildren and even my sister there. I ate too much over the past 2 weeks but it was really, really, good (ask me about the FreakShake sometime). We are both still a little jetlagged as New Zealand is 17 hours ahead (It’s about 3:00 AM there right now). But we wouldn’t trade anything for the spectacular time we had. I told Jennifer I wasn’t sure I would be around in 40 more years (probably not) but that if I was my only hope was that she would still be there with me every step of the way!! Happy Anniversary again Jennifer!!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?
P.S. I apologize for making this a little long today but I had 3 weeks’ worth to catch up on!
P.P.S. Thanks again to Jon West for filling in for me while I was gone in so many ways. I’m not sure I could have gotten away without him here. Thanks to Dale Allen as well for preaching and Kaleb Barrett speaking on Wednesday night!