A Sabbath Rest and A Spiritual Battlefield (My Plans for the Future)

BeachI am posting this article simultaneously on both Dad in the Middle and Kidmin1124 as this announcement affects both sites.  It is with both a heavy heart and an excited anticipation for what God has next for me and my family that I make this announcement.   After much reflection, even more prayers, and soliciting the advice of some godly men and women, I have come to conclusion that it is time for me to step away (or at least draw back significantly) for a season from my online ministry activities.  Allow me first to explain why, secondly to explain what my new plan is and finally to explain what I intend to do with this season in my life.

Over the last year or so, I have been dealing with some health issues related to my back.  While acknowledging my complicity in what led to the problems in the first place, numerous brothers and sisters in Christ have helped me to understand that these issues may very well have been some sort of spiritual attack resulting from my online ministry efforts to equip and encourage those who are dedicated to helping guide kids into the Kingdom of Christ.  Thanks to God, our great and heavenly Physician, those issues have largely passed now with only minor lingering issues.  Once those health issues were miraculously healed by God, I was able to spend more and more time with my wife and family, and God began to make something abundantly clear to me.  Where I thought I had achieved balance in all of my activities, I found that my life was actually way out of balance, and my family was suffering for it.  I began to sense/realize that my family was also likely under spiritual attack, and I had been largely ignorant of, and oblivious to, it.  Over the last several weeks, I have wrestled with whether or not stepping away constitutes giving in and giving up in the spiritual battle.  Through prayer and seeking the advice that I mentioned earlier, I am confident that stepping away, while not easy, is the right thing for this season of my life.  God ordained the family as an important part of His plan, and my first priority must always be to protect my family and to find the balance that will allow me to effectively minister while not sacrificing the long-term health of my family.  While I was initially hesitant about making this decision, God has through a series of events and circumstances made it abundantly clear to me that this is the appropriate, right and god-honoring decision for both me and my family at this time.

So, here is what I am planning to do and what you will see from me online.  I have been contributing articles to Ministry-to-Children.com.  Tony Kummer has been gracious in allowing me to reach a vast audience through his sight, and for that I am extremely grateful.  For now though, unless clearly prompted otherwise by God to write something, those articles will stop.  Dad in the Middle was where I first started writing online, and has really been the vehicle through which I have made a large number of great contacts in children’s ministry and otherwise.  It is near and dear to my heart, and has been a vehicle to process my thoughts and share them with an audience of readers.  I will miss is greatly, but my intention is to a break from writing there as well.  Some articles are already scheduled and those will continue.  If I feel prompted to write short articles from time to time about my kids or what is going on at church, I might do that depending on time availability – but you will not see new content very often on that site either – not nearly the 7+ articles per week that I have averaged for roughly the last couple of years.  I have already promised some people that I would review their books and other products on the site, and I will keep those obligations.  I may also post some additional reviews over time as I find it to be a great way to keep track of what I am reading.  That said, you will likely not see the type of in depth articles that I have enjoyed posting for the last several years during this time of Sabbath.  Most regrettably, I have decided to suspend the monthly Children’s Ministry Blog Patrol, which while it is one of my favorite features of the site, consumes an inordinate amount of time.

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Top 10 in 2010–Best Articles from The Children’s Ministry Blog Patrol

2011 New YearEach month here on Dad in the Middle, I publish a monthly compilation of the best of the best in children’s ministry blog articles from the preceding month.  It is known as the The Children’s Ministry Blog Patrol, and it seemed appropriate to pick my ten favorite articles/series from those compilations for the prior year.  One caveat, I tried not to pick more than one article/series from each author, and it was tough!

1. Andy Johnson did a series on children and the gospel message. If you teach children, you should read through these articles carefully!

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Top 10 in 2010 – My Favorite Posts

2011 New Year_thumb[2]Yesterday, inspired by Sam Luce (as I always am), I started a series of posts with my yearly top ten lists.  Yesterday, we tackled the most popular posts of 2010.  Today, I want to look at some of my favorites.

  1. This Sunday [05/30/2010]
  2. Why Yelling Doesn’t Work [12/03/2010]
  3. A Glimpse Into God’s View of Divorce [12/02/2010]
  4. My Birthday and the Book of Judges [08/26/2010]
  5. On Missing and Being Missed [03/30/2010]
  6. Them People Ain’t So Smart! (Children’s Ministry Moment #10) [07/09/2010]
  7. Crazy For Jesus [07/27/2010]
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Top 10 in 2010 – Top Posts/Pages

2011 New YearLast year, I did a year-end post which included a number of lists from the year.  This year I decided to rip off an idea from THE Sam Luce and do a series of posts up to (and maybe in) the new year summarizing some top ten items.  In fact, I liked Sam’s idea so much, I almost stole (errr…..borrowed) his graphic as well, but I decided not to go that far!

This morning’s post is the top ten most popular posts/pages on this site based on views during the year.

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A Dad in the Middle Apology

imageI wanted to take a second to apologize for the barrage of posts yesterday, and apparently this morning, with my Twitter Weekly updates.  No, I do not think that what I say in Twitter is so important that you need to read it 20 times.  The Twitter Updates posts is an automated feature and, for some reason, that feature went berserk yesterday.  So, I apologize for flooding your rss reader, for over-tweeting, for multiple posts to Facebook, for e-mails that went out multiple times, and for those on CMConnect that this glitch rocketed me up to #1 in “Today’s Leaders” on that site.  I guess maybe that was the silver lining. Winking smile  The posts seem to have stopped for now – I hope!  I am looking into to why it happened in the first place and hope to avoid a similar glitch in the future.  I appreciate all of you who regularly read Dad in the Middle!  I even appreciate those of you who only stop by every once-in-a-while. Smile

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Dad in the Middle, Kidmin1124 and A Very Good God

top-100-cmblogs I first started blogging a little over two years ago, and I started earnestly blogging (meaning more than once a month or so) about a year-and-a-half ago.  I also started Kidmin1124.com this past June as a collaborative blogging effort written entirely from the perspective of children’s ministry volunteers and bi-vocational children’s ministers.  In addition to being a contributor to that blog, I also serve as its editor.  In the time I have been blogging, I have really enjoyed working on both Dad in the Middle and Kidmin1124 (well, most of the time).  At other times, I have actually felt like throwing in the towel.  I regularly question and reevaluate the usefulness of the blogs and the amount of time they consume.  Through it all though, I have felt God’s presence.

I can’t count the number of times I have relayed the story of how I started Dad in the Middle and how I was totally caught off guard and surprised when people actually started to read it and give me feedback on it.  Recently, though, I have started to feel some conviction about my continued expressions of shock at the reception to these blogs.  I started to wonder it, rather than humility, it was really a slight against My God.  Why should I continue to be surprised that he can work through broken vessels like me to reach people with his message?  My surprise was/is genuine, but as I continue to express to people my utter amazement that people would actually visit and read the blog, am I essentially saying “my God isn’t capable of working through something like this and it must be some fluke?”  So, am I amazed that God chooses to work through Dad in the Middle and Kidmin1124?  Yes, of course I am – in the same way that I am amazed daily by his grace, and in the same way I am floored by the realization that he died on a cross because of me and for me.  Am I shocked that he can work through me?  Absolutely not – if he can work through a donkey in the Old Testament, He can work through me today.  Some might argue that there really isn’t much difference (ask my wife). 🙂

So, my hope is that I can adhere to the words of Paul when he wrote:

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