The last few years have been most difficult for my family and me. Among other challenging things, my eight-year old daughter Daisy Love died of cancer on February 16, 2013. Our three and a half year battle with cancer was happening during a time of expansion in the ministry of Reality with our church plants in San Francisco and Boston and campus launch in Santa Barbara. All of this left us quite exhausted and when Daisy was diagnosed with cancer for the third time on Easter week of 2012 the elders granted me an indefinite leave of absence to take care of myself and family.
Late that summer we went to Israel for three months to seek experimental cancer treatment for Daisy. Just prior to and during that time the Lord was speaking to our family about living a different way. About being less connected to technology and the rest of world and more present to God and each other. In Israel we went off the grid so to speak and left behind our phones and Internet connections and social media and the like. We were discovering what for us was a better way of being. Living in the moment and not worrying about posting updates, returning phone calls and emails, checking in on the rest of the world and constantly being entertained. Instead we gave each other and God our full attention. We played games as a family, took long walks, relaxed, played more and prayed more. Our kids, Isaiah and Daisy, were so thankful to always have our full attention and not compete with iPhones and text messages and Kate and I were so happy to be present to each other and God in a brand new way. And though it was challenging at times, we relished the isolation and obscurity that living disconnected in the Middle East afforded us.
When we came home from Israel we knew things could not be exactly the same, as we would happily reconnect with friends and family and I would return to the ministry at Reality. But we also knew that things could not be the way they were before with the constant connectivity of technology and the way it removed us from being present with whom we are with and what we are doing. We have been trying to chart a course that is both faithful to the ministry the Lord has entrusted us with and faithful to the more present, less-connected way of being He has been teaching us. It has not always been easy and there is much to it. I have a flip phone that does not get text messages or go online. We have no internet connection at our house. We are not on social media. There are tweaks and things to figure out along the way but it is going well and has been life giving.
Part of what God has teaching us in being present is to live more simply, smaller and faithfully with those He has put us near. For me, with the platform I have had, that means being willing to decrease and embrace obscurity and crucify ego. Also, the Lord has given me a fresh love, devotion, passion and focus for the local church I am a part of. My goal is to be faithful to my local church and the community and for me to do that, I have to be solely concerned with living with and preaching to them and not others. This is where my sermons no longer being online comes in to play. My sermons will only be made available online to those who attend our local church who will have access through our website via a login password they received at church.
I apologize if this upsets anyone who has enjoyed or been helped by my preaching ministry over the years, but this is what I need to do within the limits and joys of my own weaknesses to be faithful in being present where I am. For those of you who have tuned in over the years, I thank you for being a part and I trust that you understand our situation. I am confident that you will find many other helpful sermon resources online from others. You can find some of my older sermons as well as the current sermons of my associate Pastor Chris Lazo who preaches at our Santa Barbara Campus.
If you are a member of the local bodies either in Carpinteria or Ventura and need the passphrase, please fill out this form or call the office at 805-684-5247 with your name, number and which campus you attend on Sundays.