I just got back from one of those staff retreats that make you feel you can really do something with the team that's around you. For some (including me who is not a big "meetings" guy, but is growing into that role) it can be grueling. 11 hours of hashing, rehashing, coming full circle back to the original....hash! It can be absolutely exhausting. Especially if your in a room where you feel almost everyone thinks different then you do. See when your talking business, you WANT that. Different types of thinking. Churches are on a kick of "saying" they want that, but in all reallity they all look, dress, act, think, plan, vision very similar. I have been a product and employee of such a system. I have worked at larger churches then "Beth" (Bethlehem Assembly of God, Valley Stream NY) , but very much surrounded by alot of "myselfs" <---(jimmy word) 
                               Until now. 
     "Beth" is the girlfriend I never thought I'd end up falling in love with (get over it, God described Israel as a she/her and the affecionate love for her) . I mean I knew I'd love aspects of her, but in the end wondered how long this relationship could/would last. Then 2 things began to happen a couple years ago. 

1. I began to see who I was NOT, and who they were, and recognized MY need to become more of THEM.

2. I realized who THEY were NOT, and saw the connection oh how God wanted to use ME to influence THEM.
(to do this, you must be intentional PRIDE KILLERS)

The Outcome:
THEY, and ME is becoming US (Forgive my improper use of the inglesh langwage)
 Which means at 34 years old, and having been in ministry for almost 15 years that I'm finally understanding the principle behind 1 Cor: 12:4-7, 11-13 "Diversity in Gifts". 

In a retreat with many different gifts, make ups, personalities and preferences I realized several key points.

1. God WILL (or may want to) call you to a place different then you, and outside of your personal preference. (this seems to be a dying thought amongst emerging leaders)Pastors, resist the urge to hire YOURSELF, or a yes man. I really love and respect my pastor who well knows our differencs, and celebrates them. 

2. There is power in the commingling of those who are (Progressive, modern, traditional, Post-modern, Hipster and whatever ridiculous category we can put on a demographic). 
Again 1 Cor 12:4-7.
3. THIS type of thinking, and intentional gatherings (even staffings) is a true remedy for transforming and reaching communities with the relevant gospel.

 "Love is patient, Love is kind....but if not taught and demonstrated by parents can breed generations of misery for a family".      
            A while back John Mayer penned the above lyrics in a  song entitled  "Daughters". Great song, strong message, very relevant for today. Today marks a huge day for me. I'm taking my 2 girls to "Princess and her Pappa" ball in Seaford NY. It's a semi-formal event that encourages dads to know how truly important their place is, in the lives of their little girls (and it's not at a church....hmmm. Gotta get on that one). I marked this day a few years ago when I would start this tradition (the past several years I've done the flowers and candy thing, but couldn't wait for this "date" to happen when I knew they will remember it). So today a traditions starts. Until they find Valentines of their own, Daddy is their valentine (or mommy. See bottom of this post). 
Tonight I'm focusing on my 2 princess'. I want to demonstrate the fol to them ALWAYS, but hopefully on this special occasion show them these key points:

-How a gentlemen should treat a lady.
-How a "Godly" man acts.
-How a nobody will love them like their daddy, but try to find a guy as close as possible ( - =
(If daddy's the bar, the bar WILL BE SET HIGH)
-What real love is, and what it's not.

It will be a night of dinner and dancing and games and fun. But more importantly, it puts the Oness on me as daddy, to make sure that these next few years (and they will go fast) I form the bar that they will set for looking for a Godly man. 
Pressures on, but I'm looking forward to it. 
Helpful hints to dads of younger ones:

-Night before you wine and dine your honey, YOU are you little girls valentine. Treat them like you want someone to treat them when they leave. 
-This is a night of memories. Pull out all the stops ( you don't have to spend a million dollars to do this. Just make sure its MEMORABLE). Taking them to IHOP DOESN'T COUNT
-Get creative. Try to find something that you can do on a yearly basis (some hints below)
A. It HAS to be formal
B. Artistic. Maybe formals not your thing. So artsy. You and your girls can CREATE something every year. Or one BIG project you add to every year. Like an ongoing collage. 
C. Theme it out every year. This year is ______________________. Do as much as you can along the same theme. Let the girls suggest a ton on this.

(If you have sons, OR if you have sons AND daughters).

If you don't have daughters your NOT off the hook. 
Part 2 starts as such.

At the appropriate time teach the BOYS that they must treat mommy like a princess. This will groom them to be gentlemen when they find their true love. (Helpful hints below)
A. Give your sons money to take mommy out. Go throigh a pre-game ritual open the door, pay the bill, all the gentlemen things you do (and yes please mak sure you are practicing what you preach).
B. Homemade cards always melt moms heart
C. Make sure you go through what I will call the "Gentlemen's list" with my son when he's of age
-how to speak towards a lady
-how to act around a lady
-how to protect a lady (walking on street side of sidewalk, etc)
-how to listen to a lady
-what to look for in a Godly lady

Remember, as dads we have a responsibility to teach AND demonstrate Real Love....
Don't wait till someone else tries to teach them

      My son Josiah James Smuda celebrated his 2nd birthday yesterday. He truly is my all time favorite male to ever grace the face of this earth. When I describe him, I literally can feel tears welling up in my eyes (as well as my 2 girls who are truly the apple of my eye....needless to say, I LOVE being a daddy). The story behind Josiah is this in a nutshell.
Jimmy feels called to leave preasent church (in Fla)
Jimmy takes a personal day to pray and goes to beach
Jimmy begins reading on king Josiah
Jimmy reads a old translation and commentary that reads how King Josiah "pissed" on the ashes of the false prophets who defiled the temple.
Jimmy LOVES King Josiah
God speaks to Jimmy (for only the 2nd time in his life he truly feels he hears the voice of God)
God says, your next child will be a son, his name will be Josiah, and he will restore worship in my house someday.
Jimmy still has no clue where he's moving to, but all in all Josiah is born almost 2 years later, and God wins...
There was something in my spirit yesterday that said I had to get my good friends (and pastors) to come annoint him with oil yesterday. I felt a quick jump to do it, and I still don't know why, but I know it HAD to be done. RIght there.
Do we know when God say's RIGHT NOW anymore?
 Do we need reasons, and measures always or are we able to rely on the fact that God said it, and I don't get it, but it needs to be done? (FAITH?) See if my friends wouldn't have come over to annoint him, I would have found OTHER friends because I knew that I knew that God called me at that moment to do such a thing (yet I'm so thankful they did). On his birthday, THAT'S what God wanted.

(Warning: Sharp right turn here)

Ezekiel. Read Chapters 1-3 and you see this beautiful convo between Ezekiel and the Lord that is like a manual for knowing when God is in the "RIGHT NOW" mode. God said do THIS right now! Then immediately followed the bible says "The spirit lifted me up" (a follow up). A word of God withouth the Spirit's follow up can easily be 

(side note: Just be thou careful using "thus sayeth the Lord)

     God says eat this scroll, shave your head, lay on your left side for over a year (talk about jumping through spiritual hoops). Yet because of your obediece THIS will happen  ( the fulfillment of his prophecies when Jerusalem was finally sacked by the Babylonians, and this leads to hundreds of tiny little connections throughtout scripture that are way to long in this obnoxiously long post). You never know WHAT will come LATER from obedience from Gods RIGHT NOW.
Ezekiel understood this. When God was in that RIGHT NOW MODE.
Can we say the same for:
Our families
Our ministries
Our lives
We plan for the future, cross t's, do I's, but may have lost the ability to know the RIGHT NOW, for what is to be LATER.
I have NO CLUE why God wanted him annointed with oil on 2-11-11. I just know that he did, and if I have to wait to find out, I'll tuck this day away in my heart.