Christmas In Perspective

This past Sunday I really felt the Lord led me to give a bit of a different Christmas message than one might expect for the traditional Christmas message as well as the last message of the year.

The message was entitled, Christmas In Perspective and really takes the view of Christmas from a new set of lenses and hopefully helps to bring about a clear perspective for what Christmas is all about.

In a day and age in which we run the risk of allowing distractions to invade our every moment, our perspectives can quickly become skewed based on what we think we see and whether or not it is truly ever in a right perspective.  I contest that while the real reason for Christmas is in our line of sight, we are often too caught up with the things (circumstances) around us that we run the risk of missing Christmas all together.  What’s more is that we may be well-intentioned but as such get so distracted that we create a huge wreck of sorts.

I’d love for you to take a few minutes and check out some of my thoughts on Christmas In Perspective…

A. Anderson

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Sunday Night Mind Dump – 12/27/09

What a week.

It’s hard to believe that another Christmas season has come and is already gearing up to make its exodus in but a few short days from now.  With a new year right around the corner, I am finding myself doing a whole lot of introspection, thinking about the happenings of 2009 as well as dreaming of the possibilities that lie ahead in 2010. 

But we’re not there yet.  So allow me to reflect on the week that was…

I was invited by our senior pastor to share the final message of the year.  With a blank canvas to start with and a myriad of colors from which to choose from, I really felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to address Christmas from a totally different perspective, hints the title, “Christmas In Perspective”.  Let me just go on record and say that this message was easily one of the toughest I have had to prepare let alone present.  There has been so much in the way of distractions this year, specifically this Christmas, that I was really struggling to come up with anything at all.  So several phone calls later including one to my good buddy and pastor Chris Harrison, I came to the realization that God was doing something phenomenal in way of my perspective on Christmas and the way that I am used to seeing things.  I will speak more to this as well as post the message when it’s available a little later in the week.

A crazy occurence; in between our 1st and 2nd service today I was approached by one of our musicians explaining the need for a drummer.  After searching the premises and with no luck, the default was me.  What?  Believe you, me, they were desperate and willing to take on almost anyone.  So nearly three years removed from my last stint at the drums I took to the trap set with sticks in hand and gave it all I had.  I made a noise unto the Lord.

1:00 pm marked the end of all three messages for the day, but was just the beginning of my day.  Immediately after our Sunday celebration services my family and I were off to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for a family Christmas get together.  It was great getting to be with my extended family over food and our first ever white elephant gift exchange.  Good times…

It’s now 7:41 pm and I’m still downloading and unwinding from the day. 

With no rhyme or reason here are some of the things that were integrated into my week as well as random thoughts:
~Staff & other meeting(s)
~Christmas shoping for Stacy & with Stacy
~Cleaning, cleaning & more cleaning
~Soccer @ the Indoor Center on Monday night
~I went for my first run since Thanksgiving
~I really wrestle with conflict resolution sometimes
~This Christmas season has been incredibly difficult
~I absolutely loved being a part of my kids opening up and putting to use their presents.
~My daughter, Autumn and I had an incredible conversation about the reason(s) for Christmas.  She’s so full of insight and fun to talk with.
~Went to Uncle and Aunt’s house Christmas eve for our annual Swedish festivities.  Love that we all get together and still really like each other!
~Went to bed way to late on Christmas eve and woke up way to early on Christmas day.  But, hey – isn’t that part of the fun of it all?!
~Got my first pair of glasses ever.  Progressives (aka) tri-focals.  What a transition from having never worn glasses or contacts to full on progressives.
~It’s still cold season in the Anderson house.  Lot’s of sniffling noses and yucky coughs, but getting better by the day, thank you Jesus.

So much has gone on since my last blog post, but for now this will have to suffice.  I am feeling a Red Box coming on.  I’ll have to let ya’ll know how it goes.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!  May you seek to know Him more intimately, love Him more passionately, and live for Him more intentionally this Christmas.  Remember to keep Christmas in perspective.

Until all hear,

A. Anderson

Sunday Night Mind Dump

This last week seems like a blur in many cases.  A lot of great things going on as we wrap up the 2009 year, and just as many great things lie in wait as 2010 quickly approaches.  So as I sit on my wife’s laptop nearing the ten-o-clock hour I find my week playing over in my mind as though it were a reel to reel film capturing multiple images by the second.  If you were to bring those images to a halt and shine light through each particular slide you might see pictures like:

~Friday’s “Pajama-party” @ Kaedon’s school.  I volunteered at his class on Friday and had a blast!
~Tuesday’s “eye opening” experience while picking up Stacy’s glasses @ the opthamologist (more to come later)…
~Saturday I officiated the wedding of two of my great friends!  What a blast!!!
~Wednesday I spent the day with an 82 year-old pastor who has been in ministry more than twice my life time.  An incredible man who loves God, loves people and gets ministry.
~Thursday I talked with a great friend and incredible mentor from North Carolina that I have deeply missed.  My only regret is that we haven’t done so more often.

We just got back from church not too long ago.  Tonight was the last time we (The Inn) will meet as a collective group for a service this year.  It’s unbelievable how fast this past year went by.  There were so many things that took place.  A lot of great moments to celebrate as well as a fair share of trials.  That said, our time together tonight was a great way to wrap up the year.
The night started off with pizza from MoonPie as we sat around and ate together.  After dinner we continued our time of worship with music as my buddy, Jake led us in times of singing, prayer and hearing Luke’s account of the birth of Christ.  We continued with worship as we shared the Word of God together (Matthew 2:1-13).  The Big Idea for the message was simple; not loosing sight of Christmas while celebrating Christmas.  I think for me the times that I enjoy most are the moment before and after The Inn; times when everyone’s hanging out and sharing life together.  Awesome!

Right now I am getting ready to hangout with Stacy after putting the kiddos to bed.  Their staying up late due to Christmas break and super-stoked to do so.  SportsCenter is recalling the sports highlights of the day.  Kaedon is coloring on the couch…well, not “on” the couch.  Rather, he is coloring on paper while sitting on the couch.  And for the rest of the family…Stacy is helping Tai brush her teeth, Ryen is fast asleep and Audie is at her bff’s house for yet another night.

Looking back at this post I am feeling extraordinarily blessed.  I am incredibly honored that God has seen fit to bless me as a husband, father, pastor, and friend.  And although life can and often is hard at times, I am thankful for the opportunity to live life with great people and an incredible God!

This next week is going to be incredibly busy as well.  To name a few, here are some things on my plate…
1. A suprising amount of meetings
2. Visitations w/ Pastor Leroy to several retirement and nursing homes Monday
3. preparation for this weekend’s celebration service
4. Preaching the last message of the 2009 year on Sunday morning
5. Christmas eve w/ my Uncle Kevin and his family
6. Christmas day w/ my mom, my in-laws & my dad
7. Taking time to be a dad
8. Getting back to the gym

While all of this may seem like a lot, I am honestly looking forward to a phenomenal week! 

And on that note I bid thee goodnight…

~A. Anderson

Monday Morning Reflections

It’s Monday morning, December 14th.  It’s hard to believe but we are only eleven days away from Christmas morning and seventeen days away from a whole new year.  Wild!  Where does the time go?

Yesterday was interesting.  It began by waking up to some black ice before heading off to church. 

Upon arriving at church and much to the fault of the weather traffic conditions, I had very little time to prepare for my morning including changing guitar strings, going over the music, checking e-mails, and the like.

One thing that I was and continue to be excited for is the opportunity I will have come January to co-teach a Sunday morning series with my friend, Brent.  We are going to be teaming up to do a series on the Sermon on the Mount.  Each week we will work together to unpack Jesus’ words to an incredibly eclectic group of individuals.  I’m super-stoked about it…

 I have been leading worship nearly every Sunday for the past five months or so and yesterday was no exception.  While I really enjoy the opportunities I have first and foremost, to worship God, sometimes my human expectations of self get in the way and blur my vision.  I confess that yesterday was one of those days. 

After church we scurried off to my dad’s place.  This is the first time that my brothers and I and our families have all been at my dad’s together since my parent’s recent divorce.  It was great to be together as family, but really sucked because it is unfamiliar ground to us; so many expectations, yet no one knows what the expectations are or how to go about them.  All-in-all it was nice celebrating my dad’s birthday and I pray for family reconciliation for my mom, my dad and my five siblings as well as many of the extended family and friends whom have been deeply affected by my parent’s divorce.

Last night was pretty sweet.  We went to “Qahal” (Hebrew: The Gathering) at Valley View Evangelical Church.  Several phenomenal leaders helped to make the night happen and I am so grateful for such wonderful people in my life.  The night started off with a full-on turkey dinner thanks to Tom Hurt, Brent Burson and Tim Mroz.  It was accompanied by the most mashed potatoes I have ever seen, salad, cranberries, stuffing, rolls, pie and more.  Each individual table was set-up for communion in which someone at their perspective table led the charge and the patrons of each table broke bread together over their meal.  Hmmm…sounds familiar.  A pretty sweet way of recognizing communion. 

My buddy Garrett led worship with a great group of musicians and vocalist while my friend James brought the message, “Blessings”.  It was pretty sweet how they worked it out.  They did the message and worship in tandem.  Garrett started off with a few songs.  James came up and started the message and paused after his first point.  Garrett and company led a couple of other songs.  James came back up to continue where he had left off and so the story goes.  This pattern continued throughout.  Awesome!

We were over-prepared and it ended up being a total blessing.  With so much food un-eaten, we were able to take three huge trays of turkey, three vats of mashed potatoes, four full pies, two big-ol bags of salad, a 20 gallon bag of rolls and even more leftover food to our local Union Gospel Mission.  Talk about need?!  Talk about unexpected blessings?!  The UGM were ecstatic to see us last night and met us on 2nd and Burnside with a cart ready for transport.  A brief conversation and many thanks and we were off.  What I loved most was that before we even hit the car door the Director was already offering to fix a plate of food for a homeless woman fixing to go to sleep on the street.  Amen!

I have so much going through my brain at the moment:
~The Inn
and each one seems to be occupying a good portion of space in my mind. 

Lord, I pray that you will help bring sense to the things floating around in my head.  Help me to know YOUR will and to walk in YOUR ways.  My desire is to bring glory and honor to YOUR name.  I’m praying for the strength to be silent and to listen to YOUR voice and direction.  Please help me to be obedient to the things YOU are calling me to.

~A. Anderson

This Weekend…

1. I’ve enjoyed breakfast with the kiddos
2. I’m looking forward to Christmas shopping with Stacy
3. We are attending the Thames/Parsons’ wedding
4. I am excited about experiencing worship together with my OCEC family
5. I hope it snows = snowman, snowball fights, snow angels, yellow snow…NO
6. I have a lot to be thankful for; God, family, friends, ministry, a home, food, health, and much, much more
7. I am hoping to fall asleep by the fire while watching a college football game with my son (there’s always hope)
8. I’m still railing from an incredible Wednesday night.  34 kids made a first time decision for Christ!  Praise God!!!
9. I am very happy and excited for my friends Brian and Lisa and their engagement
10. I’m really missing friends in both Arizona and North Carolina
11. My son is making snowflakes with Stacy’s decorative scrapbooking paper.  It’s a great variation of snow 🙂
12. I’m considering what matters most in this life, this side of heaven and my response as well as responsibility to these things
13. I have a hankering for Red Robin’s Bruscheta Chicken Burger & Garlic Fries
14. Is Qahal – “Community”, a gathering of 18 to 30 somethings for a time of food, music, worship, prayer, family, a message and fun.  Stay tuned.  More information to come…
15. Is one weekend closer to Christmas
16. My 3 year-old is telling me she “weally wants to pay puter” (really wants to play computer)
17. Has begun!

An Incredible Night

An Incredible Night…

I was asked by our Children’s Pastor a while ago if I’d be interested in leading worship and sharing a message of salvation to our SWAT (Students With A Testimony) program on Wednesday night.  While honored and excited to share I was super-excited to be with this age group, ages 5 to 11, as my wife, Stacy is a Team Leader and my son, Kaedon is actively involved in the program…and tonight was the night.

Tonight started at 7:00 pm; me with reminisce of a turkey sandwich still in my mouth as the kids and their fearless leaders arrived – a quick sound check and some stalling from our SWAT Director while I finished mowing down my dinner and we were off.  After getting the kids all kinds of hyper we sang three songs that were familiar to most.  Immediately following our musical worship experience I began to share a message about THE coolest Christmas present ever…  A few laughs, lots of dialogue, some goofy expressions and a purpose-filled message, at the end of the night God got a hold of 34 kids who made a first time decision…YES, a first time decision.  PRAISE GOD!!! 

Our SWAT Director reported that after the message she personally interviewed each kid who raised his or her hand to see if she could get a better feel for their comprehension level and to better understand what decision they had made.  34 kids in all…34 made a first time decision for Jesus Christ!!!

God is so good and I am blown away at what an Incredible Night it was.  I am so thankful to have been able to be a part, however big or small, of such an amazing ministry where kids came to experience Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior; the only gift that’s eternal, won’t break and doesn’t require batteries – a gift you will want to share with your brother and sister, and a gift that truly keeps on giving.

Thank you, Jesus for An Incredible Night!


Leadership Blvd. – Part II (GOAL)

If you recall I finished the first blog entitled Leadership Blvd. with this statement:

“In Vince Lombardi’s quotation about leadership, one of the key elements that he believed encompassed leadership is hard work, and that is the price that he says is fundamental in accomplishing the goal of leadership or any goal.  That statement is what has caught my attention for years now – not just the idea of leadership, but the goal of leadership as well as goals in general.”

In response to my query about goals (goal: “the end toward which effort is directed” –, I have come up with a simple strategy for both understanding and obtaining your goals.

Going.  In order for anyone to accomplish their goals in life, it is vital that they first understand where it is they want to go.  It is easy to dream in the abstract, full of variances.  It is something all together different to nail down and define a course of direction equated with one’s goals;  hints, in any goal setting and achieving, it is crucial to articulate clearly where it is you are going.

Objectives.  Once you have determined where it is you want to go it is important for you to make yourself aware of the objectives that lie in wait.  Objectives, much like their counterpart, goals, are essential for understanding the obstacles that are necessary for accomplishing the goal(s).  In other words, if I have a travel destination in mind I would do well to understand all of the objectives along the way; the things that I need to accomplish in order to ultimately arrive at my desired destination, i.e. traffic, weather, gas stops, food, sight seeing, and any other pertinent objectives in conjunction with the trip.

Action plan.  Okay.  Up to this point you have likely come up with a clear indication as to what your goal is.  Hopefully after nailing down what it is you hope to accomplish you have taken a sober look at the objectives necessary in achieving your goal; and there is no doubt that the excitement is mounting as you think of reaching your goal.  What now?  Where do we go from here?  I’m glad you asked.
It’s at this point that most goals become nothing more than a good idea or a distant dream.  In order to avoid either one of these things from happening to our goals, we have to become proactive about reaching our goals by putting together an action plan.
Now I’m no “linear” thinker.  Instead, I tend to be very right-brained and think always in the realm of possibilities and my ideal is abstract.  Structure is all too often a distant thought for me.  That said, I have learned, mostly the hard way, over the years that it is important – no, vital – that I have to put a plan together in order to achieve the goals I have set in place.  An action plan should be detailed including time-lines, mile markers, people, tools, locations, cost, and other trackable things necessary to reaching your goal.  The more specific and measurable, the better.  While I am not a stickler for details, when it comes to putting together an action plan I believe it is extremely important not to fudge on the details.  Better to include too many details then not enough.

Live it out.  At this point it become pretty self-explanatory.  I don’t believe that it’s enough to simply know where you want to go.  In my experience it doesn’t matter if you understand the objectives and even put together an action plan, although if you’ve made it to the action plan, you’re miles ahead of 90% of the “goal setting” population.  Once you’ve gone through the task of determining what your goals, objectives and actions plans are, you must have the resolve to begin to put it into practice.  Simply put, you’ve got to work the plan; not let the plan work you.
Living out your goals isn’t as easy as you would think.  It requires desire, dedication, perseverance, and good ‘ol fashioned commitment to something greater then what is.  I think I’ll be cliché for a minute and use a phrase that has become popular for the times.  In the wise words of the great philosophers, Nike…Just Do It!  That’s right.  There comes a point in every goal that you have to put up or shut up.

So what’s it gonna be?  Are you going to simply continue to dream or are you willing to put in the work and effort to accomplish your goals?

I hope that these few lessons I have learned over the years will be an encouragement to you to put into practice the dreams and goals that God has given to you.  Please don’t neglect such things, rather, put together a plan and begin to apply these principles each and every day in an effort to reach for your goals.