Peaceful Purpose

Peaceful Purpose

On Sunday, Pastor Robby preached about peace. One quote of his in particular got my wheels spinning. “Peace is not the absence of chaos but the presence of purpose.”

The presence of purpose.

In pastoral ministry we talk a lot about being a “non-anxious” presence. Pastors are often called into anxious situations. Emergency rooms. Surgery waiting rooms. Financial hardships. Family emergencies. Domestic issues. Homelessness. We find ourselves around anxiousness a lot. One of our jobs, in those situations, is to be a presence in the room that doesn’t add to the angst. A presence that offers comfort, nearness, and understanding.

A presence of purpose doesn’t mean we necessarily know exactly why we’re in a certain situation, but we know we have a God-given, God-driven purpose for being there. I’m not just talking about pastors, now. I’m talking about all of us. Sometimes we may have an acute recognition of the reason we are where we are, doing what we’re doing, called to the moment. Other times, the world is on fire all around us and we have no idea why we’re there or what we’re supposed to do.

A presence of purpose doesn’t mean we necessarily know exactly why we’re in a certain situation, but we know we have a God-given, God-driven purpose for being there.

But God’s purpose is steadfast. And it always involves peace.

Peace is a fruit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When we are allowing God to fill us and use us for His intention, peace will always be a part of the equation. And it will take different shapes.

Peaceful presence – Psalm 112 says, “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Perhaps you are called into your current situation with the purpose of peaceful presence. You will be a beacon of trust. An agent of steadfast endurance. While your friends or family are in a time of struggle, you will not fear, for the Lord is with you. Your peaceful presence will be such an important part of the story!

Peacemaking – Matthew 5 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Peacemaking does not assume the absence of conflict, but the ability to seek unity and purpose in the midst of conflict. Sometimes, if we’re being real, peacemaking means upsetting the current situation in order to bring overall health. Sometimes we try to be peacekeepers, which has its place. But when it becomes suppressing the truth in order to avoid rocking the boat, no one wins. After all, conflict delayed is conflict amplified.

Peacemaking also calls for action. For those whose lives are full of unrest, chaos, hopelessness, the peacemakers step in. They bring with them aid, justice, and good news. Peacemaking is courageous and purposeful.

Friends, may you be led in discerning purpose in your journey with peace this Advent season. If you’re called to be the peaceful, non-anxious presence in the midst of the chaos with family, friends, or co-workers, may it be so. If you’re called to active peacemaking, stepping in to do hard things like have a necessary conversation or actively seek solutions for struggling neighbors, may it be so.

And if you’re the one desperately in need of a peaceful presence or a peacemaker this season, may the Lord lead the right person headlong into your story. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

May the peace of Christ not only fill us, but be living and active in us as we seek the face of the Prince of Peace.

Email Pastor Kyle



The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18

We are grieving over the conflict and loss of life in Israel in these past days. The brokenness and violence of sin is on full display for the world to see. As pastors, we have struggled with our response. We are not without our personal feelings on the matter, but we also recognize that our voices represent a church, and this church is made of people with all sorts of opinions and perspectives.

Ours is not a call to espouse any political sentiments. Ours is a call to Christlikeness in all things. We don’t always get it right, but we are genuinely seeking this way of life. So, before we go any further, we recognize whomever is reading this might have very strong feelings one way or another about what’s going on in Israel. So do we. We’ll express some of them below. But let’s consider two important ideas before we continue.

  1. Russell Moore, the editor of Christianity Today, once said, “If God’s way upsets our political alliances, let’s crucify our political alliances.” In other words, we must first be seeking Jesus – God-in-flesh – and his way forward. If our political ideals become the lens through which we see our faith, rather than the other way around, we have created an idol and must repent.
  2. John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?” This is just a reminder that our Christian love for one another must also outweigh our ideals about the way the world should work. If we are all faithfully and actively seeking Jesus, the Spirit will lead us to wisdom.

Every single person on earth is a bearer of God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, as Christians, our call is to life, not death. Celebrating death of any sort is celebrating the brokenness of sin realized in the world. After all, death is a result of sin’s existence (Romans 6:23).

So how do we think about and respond to the terrorist acts and the ongoing conflict? What can we do as Christians across the ocean?

First, prayer. We can and must pray. It’s our first call to action. We must pray that God’s will be done. We must pray for the loss of life to end. The Eurasia Region of the Church of the Nazarene offered this prayer for the Holy Land:

Gracious God, we pray for all living in Israel and Palestine, recognizing your love for all people. We pray for peace and comfort for all those who are suffering. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Second, peacemaking. Our call is not simply to be peacekeepers, but peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Peacekeepers don’t rock the boat. They maintain the status quo. Peacemakers call out violence and stand up for the marginalized: the sick, the widow, the prisoner, the orphan, the stranger, the naked, the hungry. Peacemakers seek the peace of Christ in their own lives, and seek to offer the peace of Christ to the world around them. Our active pursuit of peace may only be local and present, but its effects can be global and generational.

Third, talk about it. At least in your homes and with your families, have a conversation. If you have kids or teenagers, chances are they are hearing about this conflict. The hashtag #Israel has over 30 billion views on TikTok as of this writing. That’s billion, with a B. Our kids are certainly more likely to get their news from social media than Google. Videos are easily edited and given captions to support agendas, and our kids don’t necessarily have the filters in place to seek discernment as image after image is sent their way. So, please, have a conversation about it. If you don’t know a ton about what’s going on, you could learn together. Start with something like, “So, what have you heard about what’s going on in Israel?” Talk about it. Do research together if they’re interested in learning more. Then, pray the prayer above together.

To be very clear, we stand in complete opposition to the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. These acts have brought pain and suffering to so many families. We also lament all callus violence aimed at bearers of God’s image.

May we, as Christians, not get caught up in the politicization of violence and war, but rather actively seek peace. Peace through prayer. Peace through our actions. May the way of Christ be evident to us. And may the love of Christ be evident in us.

Pastor Robby and Pastor Kyle

Jesus Is Lord – A General Assembly Recap

Jesus Is Lord – A General Assembly Recap

Last week I had the privilege of attending the 30th annual Nazarene General Assembly. This is a quadrennial gathering of Nazarenes from across the globe. Our denomination is split into 6 world regions – Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, MesoAmerica, South America, USA/Canada, and Africa. Within those regions are hundreds of districts. Each district elects representatives from four ministries to attend General Assembly and represent their interests and passions.

These four ministry areas are:

NDI – Nazarene Discipleship International
NYI – Nazarene Youth International
NMI – Nazarene Missions International
Assembly – Legislative committee

Menda and I were district delegates to NDI. We were blessed to get to partner with discipleship leaders from around the world. We engaged in encouraging plenary sessions, inspiring worship, and deeply challenging and profound workshops regarding our Wesleyan theology, heritage, and discipleship methods.

We also had the opportunity to take our girls. They have traveled with us to every General Assembly since they were born. It moved me to tears to recognize their connection with the global church and understand a little better the worldwide story that’s being told. We’re so glad they are a part of it!

Each day we gathered as a whole assembly for worship. The largest service was Sunday morning, when nearly 17,000 Nazarenes were on site! Each of our General Superintendents, the highest office held in our denomination, preached one service. A worship team was assembled from leaders around the world, capable of leading in multiple languages and calling us to lift our voices as one to declare Jesus is Lord. A new song was written for the occasion. You can listen to it here.

One of the primary roles of our Assembly (legislative) gathering was to elect two new General Superintendents. Two are retiring this summer. Significant work was done to consider who might be well-equipped, but more importantly, the Holy Spirit was earnestly sought to lead us to the right leaders for this time.

Ultimately, two new leaders were chosen to join the ranks of our other four generals. From left to right:

Christian Sarmiento (previously the Regional Director for South America)
T. Scott Daniels (previously the Senior Pastor at Nampa, ID College Church)
Carla Sunberg (previously Nazarene Theological Seminary president)
Fili Chambo (previously the Regional Director of Africa)
Gustavo Crocker (previously the Regional Director of Eurasia)
David Busic (previously the Nazarene Theological Seminary president)

We’re thankful for these good and faithful leaders. They are humble in spirit and they care deeply about the call of the church to go and make disciples.

Ultimately, our seven days in Indianapolis was lifegiving. It’s good for a global church to make time and space to gather under one roof to be reminded of their unity and common mission. If you have any more questions for me concerning this gathering, I’m happy to answer them! I’m thankful for General Assembly.

Email Pastor Kyle




In the midst of my 20th year of ministry at Lawrence First Church of the Nazarene I can honestly say that my time here has been fruitful. His church has invested deeply in my family and I as I have done my best to continually live out the Lord’s calling in a purposeful manner. I have sought to invest my life—and my family’s life—in such a way that God might be glorified by our living out His calling in this local context. There have been times of great joy. There have been times of deep sorrow. We’ve found ourselves stuck in ruts and we’ve continually found ways to allow God to lead us to renewal on those mountaintops. It has been a satisfying journey to do life together as the people of LFC!

As I look toward the future of my ministry here, I believe God is preparing His church for renewed vision. I sense that He is already moving in ways that although we can sense He is somehow at work, the clarity of what the Lord is doing is still to come. It is within this state of sensing that I asked the church board to consider allowing me to take an extended time of sabbatical. To serve a church that understands the benefit of rest, renewal, and refocus for its pastors is one of the key reasons that I have been able to remain in this difficult, yet rewarding calling. Sabbatical is critical. I need it. My family needs it. His church needs it.

The purpose of sabbatical is three-fold: rest, renewal, and refocus. These things are best accomplished when one is able to step away for a time. Let me explain those purposes in a bit more detail.

REST – I plan to use this time to truly rest. Rest for me is not sleeping in, laying around, or just simply doing nothing. Rest for me is a mental break from the demands of the schedule, the urgency of the immediate, the necessity of planning, and the pattern of rearranging my family and I’s needs for the sake of the church. These are all worthy endeavors, but they are exhausting if time is not taken periodically to take a step outside of the day to day demands.

I plan to get ample rest by creating more space for things I currently do that bring me rest, but also by making room in my schedule for some new things. I plan to read more simply for enjoyment. I plan to exercise more (not really for enjoyment, but because I need to). I plan to spend more time each day just “being” in God’s presence. I will spend some time away on my own, but I also will invest more deeply into what my family is doing—making more space available to them. Simply put, I’m going to redirect the mental and physical energy that I typically reserve for the church and I’m going to temporarily steer it in another direction—for the benefit of the church.

RENEWAL – I plan to grow during this time. I believe extra rest provides room for exponential growth. My main area of focus for growth during sabbatical will be in leadership. I’ll be participating in an intensive, one-on-one leadership development course through the Burning Bush Leadership Institute. Our former pastor, Don Dunn leads individuals, teams, and corporations in Leadership seminars and training and he has agreed to invest in my leadership development.

As part of this sabbatical, I also plan to consult with other pastors and “drink deeply from the wells of wisdom” that I otherwise would not have the opportunity to do. I will attend other churches and see how they execute the various aspects of a Sunday morning worship service and other ministries. I plan to read books, listen to podcasts, watch video seminars, and truly make space to learn more about pastoring and leading the church.

With the growth, health, and well-being of the church in mind I also plan to develop a curriculum/pathway/system for Spiritual/Emotional coaching. A large portion of my day-to-day responsibilities has been focused on counseling individuals. I’ll be creating a system I can use to help individuals focus more intentionally on addressing their personal Spiritual and Emotional health. I see this as a great need and the need will only continue to grow.

REFOCUS – I believe that God is in the midst of doing something new at Lawrence First Church. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I’ve already sensed the tug to lead us to refocus on who we are and what our unique calling from God is. I’ll freely admit that this is difficult to discern when I’m fully immersed in the demands of the weekly schedule.

I want to pause. I want to gain perspective. I want to seek wisdom and discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us and craft a ministry plan for us moving forward. Perhaps this will include a refocus on our current vision, or it could be an expression of a whole new vision. I will fast. I will pray. I will seek. I will listen. I will discern. I will focus.

Thank you for being a church who cares deeply for its pastors. A healthy pastor is essential to Lawrence First Church of the Nazarene living out her Holy Spirit calling in Douglas County and the surrounding areas. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for stepping up in my absence where needed. Thank you for trusting our board and staff to take on new and greater responsibilities while I’m away. Thank you for your continued investment in the life of the church through your presence, your giving, and your encouragement. These 12 weeks beginning Monday, February 20 have the potential to be a tremendous time of growth that will set us on an impactful course for years to come. Thank you for doing your part.

Pastor Robby

Enslaved to Production

Enslaved to Production

Let me tell you about being a highly driven person who also has ADHD. People who live with attention deficit challenges often struggle with an issue called hyperfixation. A specialist at Oxford talks about hyperfixation as “an intense state of concentration and focus…usually dedicated to things that the person finds enjoyable or fascinating.” This often comes with “almost inexhaustible energy” and “the ability to keep going and eventually succeed in the face of seemingly-impossible challenges.” Sounds pretty good, right? Well, it also includes focusing on something at the expense of “other responsibilities in their life” and even “forgetting to eat and sleep.”

I’ll lock in on a project and barely be able to think about anything else until I have reached a certain point of satisfaction with said project. From a bird’s-eye view, this has two major impacts on me. 1) It enables me to produce at a high level. 2) It seeks to enslave me to production.

This is my own personal story, but the truth is we live in a society enslaved to production.

After rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God offers them 10 commandments to set them on a path of living in right relationship with their Creator and Rescuer.

For years, they’d been living in the constant anxiety of production. Under a series of dictatorial leaders, they’d been forced as cogs in Egypt’s socioeconomic structure to produce all of the wealth while the Pharaoh reaped all the benefits. Every day they would wake to a task list of production, all in the name of the one who demanded their loyalty and worship.

Now, post-rescue, God starts by reminding the Israelites where they’ve been. “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” (Exodus 20:2). Everything he’s about to tell them needs to be understood in the context of where they’ve been.

Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite authors and theologians, lays out the ten commandments with this context in mind. The first three are vertical in nature, between us and God. Have no other God’s before me. No idols. Don’t misuse my name.

These sound pretty similar to what Pharaoh would have demanded. Exclusivity of loyalty and devotion. But of course, God followed these with something very unlike Pharaoh because the last six commandments are horizontal in nature, pertaining to our relationships with our neighbors. Honor your parents. No murder, adultery, theft, lies, or covetousness. 

The last six can sound like production. They’re not just calls to abstain from negative practices, but to actively engage in the lives of our neighbors with integrity, kindness, and redemption. They’re calls to do. The Christian life is definitely one where actions and production are expected.

So, had the Israelites just traded one Pharaoh for another? God is saying, “Here’s how to worship me, and here’s what I expect of you.” That honestly sounds a lot like a typical Christian life today. Worship God. Serve others.

But we skipped one commandment. The one right in the middle of the vertical and horizontal. Number four. Exodus 20:8-11. A call to Sabbath rest.

With Pharaoh the practices were like clockwork. Worship. Produce. Worship. Produce. Worship. Produce.

With God, we are called in the middle of worship and production…to rest. And, interestingly, it’s the longest of the ten commandments. God spends more time here telling his people how to rest than anything else.

Brueggemann says, “God is not a workaholic. God is not a Pharaoh. God does not keep jacking up production schedules. To the contrary, God rests, confident, serene, at peace. God’s rest, moreover, bestows on creatureliness a restfulness that contradicts the ‘drivenness’ of the system of Pharaoh.” (Sabbath As Resistence)

I am definitely guilty of falling into the system of Pharaoh. Hyperfixation or not, I get locked into the rhythms and rigors of production. Worship. Produce. Worship. Produce. Give God his glory and get to work. But that’s not the whole story to which God calls us. Right in the middle of two, we are called to sabbath rest.

We can’t give God all the glory God is due unless we’re participating in sabbath. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.

We can’t put the proper energy into our relationships with our neighbors unless we’re participating in sabbath. We can’t give God all the glory God is due unless we’re participating in sabbath. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.

If we are slaves to a society of production, always on, always driven to accomplish, always seeking to move up the ladder, always checking things off our list, we can’t be fully living the way God intended. If the Creator of the world can rest for a day, then so can you.

Taking his yoke upon you and learning from him (Matthew 11:28-30) is not only a call to go. It also includes a call to rest.

God is not Pharaoh, and you are not a slave to production. Take a rest. You will find you’re better equipped to live out commandments 1-3 and 5-10 if you are taking time for number 4.

Pastor Kyle
Family Pastor

Email Pastor Kyle

The Temple Unleashed

The Temple Unleashed

A few months ago I was invited to lead our district camp planning team in a devotional time. I had recently finished teaching a class at church on the Gospel of John and felt compelled to talk about Jesus clearing the temple in John 2 (which I wrote a little about here). I talked to the team about Jesus’s theological work, unveiling himself as the new temple. The temple had long been the home for God on earth, but now that Jesus was here in the flesh, God was walking and talking and laughing and crying with his beloved creation. Jesus was God on earth.

But we had to take the conversation one step further.

Jesus wasn’t going to be walking the earth in human form forever, as we know. Actually, we’re coming up on Ascension Day in the Christian calendar in which we celebrate Jesus being taken into heaven in Acts 1. So we know Jesus-in-the-flesh isn’t long for this world.

So what happens with that new temple? Well, do you have a mirror?

In our current Unleashed series, we’re highlighting some ways the events of Easter weekend have unleashed us to live. Unleashed to live an abundant life. Unleashed to live in unmatched power. Unleashed to live in bold love. When Jesus took our sins upon himself on the cross, the curtain in the temple that separated people from God’s presence ripped in two (Matthew 27:50-51). Suddenly, God’s presence was available to all.

It was in that moment of unleashing that the new temple process began.

The temple had several distinct areas. In the outermost area was the Court of Gentiles. It’s the closest non-Jews could get to the Holy Place. Inside of that outer area was the Court of Women. Jewish women could get closer to God’s presence than Gentile men and women, but not as close as Jewish men. Next was the Hall of Israelites (men), and further inside still, the Hall of Priests.

In other words, there were lots of barriers besides just the temple curtain. Really, getting close to God was reserved for: Jewish > Male > A Priest from the House of Levi > The High Priest. God’s presence seemed to be for a very select group of people.

The ripping of the curtain was the breaking down of barriers and the unleashing of a new and powerful life for EVERYONE who belongs to Christ.

But when the curtain ripped, things changed. Suddenly, as far as God’s power and presence were concerned, there was no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28). The ripping of the curtain was the breaking down of barriers and the unleashing of a new and powerful life for EVERYONE who belongs to Christ. It wasn’t even priests who had to be the mediators. Now it was for the priesthood of believers!

So what does this have to do with the new temple? Well, the temple was the home for God on earth, then Jesus was God on earth, and then Jesus broke down the barriers of the temple in order that WE would become the home for God on earth.

You are the new temple. So am I. That’s why this Unleashed series is so important. We have a holy duty to fulfill.

I mentioned the process beginning on Easter, because it really comes home in a few weeks at Pentecost. On this Sunday, we celebrate the unleashed Spirit of God settling into his new home: the believers.

So, you’ve got big shoes to fill. After all the last temple was Jesus himself. But his spirit is here to help you live into your holy calling. You are the temple. And you have been unleashed.

Email Pastor Kyle