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Pastor Paul's Musings What you see is what you get. Son, brother, husband, lover of Colleen, Dad, pastor @enewheart, Simi PD Chaplain, @pastorforlife

11 November 2014 ~ 0 Comments

BIG News for the Kuzma’s!

Two weeks ago, I made a big announcement to the NewHeart family. You can click here and go to the October 26 message and listen as I shared my heart with the congregation. The letter I refer to is below.

You can see a map of where we’re headed here. Center for Spiritual Renewal East is located on the campus of CrossPointe Conference Center.


October 26, 2014

Dear NewHeart Family,

I’ve never had to do this before, so please excuse me if what I’m writing sounds like dribble to you! I’ve fretted about writing this very letter for many, many years. I’ve literally hoped the time would never come, so I wouldn’t have to face it. But here it is. The time has indeed come.

I have been asked by our denomination, The Foursquare Church, to enter a new season of life and ministry service by serving as the next (and first full-time) Director of Center for Spiritual Renewal East in Christiansburg, Virginia. After considerable prayer and discussion, Colleen and I have determined that the timing is right and that this is the Lord’s will for us.

29 years of being a part of this incredible church family called NewHeart! It all started with my then-fiancé, Colleen Flanagan. The Lord led me to start coming here instead of remaining at the church I had served for a little over 2 years. My first Sunday was December 1, 1985, and I vividly remember where I was sitting in the sanctuary that day.

We had an elementary school at the time. I started as part-time before/after school daycare monitor while attending Bible College during the day. After almost a year, I became full-time janitor for the school and church and volunteer Youth Pastor. I’ll never forget meeting with Pete & Kathy Vigliotta to ask them to become our first Youth Workers. Pete is our Youth Pastor today.

When I graduated Bible College in 1987, I became full-time Secretary and continued as volunteer Youth Pastor for about six months. Then, I became full-time Youth Pastor and Worship Leader until 1993, when I transitioned to Associate Pastor while continuing with Worship leading. (Back then, we didn’t call the position Worship Pastor, but that’s what I would have been in today’s vernacular.)

In 1995, Colleen and I saw the birth and adoption of our two sons, Joshua in February and Jonathan in December, and you embraced them as part of the Kuzma clan. I served in the Associate/Worship roles until 1997, when I became the Senior Pastor.

When I graduated from Bible College, I asked God to let me stay in one place of ministry for a long time. He granted that request beyond my wildest imagination of what that would look like.

Today, October 26, I mark 17 years of serving as Senior Pastor of NewHeart. I spoke in my message this morning about the significance of the length of my tenure. I encourage you to listen at our website if you weren’t able to be there.

My role was not sought after, and I do not take it lightly. It has always been a responsibility that causes me to regularly shiver in my boots (or my Birkenstocks!)
We don’t make a big deal of either date, and I like it that way. That’s just me. I’m a plodder, just trying to live out a long obedience in the same direction. Hopefully, that direction is God’s, not just mine.

I know for many of you, this isn’t surprising. Some of you have even been blunt enough to say you saw this coming. I held that “we’ll see”, knowing that leaving NewHeart would be one of the most significant challenges of my life.

My mentor, Chuck Shoemake (Director of CARE Ministries for Foursquare pastors and their families for 20 years and concurrently the last eight years as the Founder & Director of Center for Spiritual Renewal East), invited me into this work a few years ago. He saw things in me that I haven’t seen on my own, and he encouraged me to pursue a degree in Counseling that would possibly open doors for me to follow in his footsteps. I accomplished that in the Fall of 2012.

When I originally spoke to the Council in 2011 about making 3-4 trips a year to Virginia for this purpose, one Council Member observed that many pastors take regular missions trips internationally. The Council together back then decided that this would be NewHeart’s way of sending their pastor into the mission field, albeit domestically versus internationally. That’s the way we’ve seen the arrangement ever since.

We have ALWAYS been a sending church. Ever since I’ve been a part of this church family, we have been involved in giving young leaders opportunities to spread their wings and hone their skills, eventually sending them to their next place of life and ministry.

Now, the time has come for NewHeart to launch Colleen and I into our next season of ministry service, and I humbly ask you to view our transition this way with me. I believe with all of my heart that is exactly what is happening!

When the word “RISK” was dropped in my heart for our church family for 2014, I had no idea it would apply to my own life in this manner. I figured God would do something to make sure I was leading the way, as He usually does. I just didn’t think it would be Abrahamic. You know, pack up all your stuff and move to a land far away kind of Abrahamic!

We covet your support as we move into this new season. That’s one reason I’m asking you to see this through those eyes. You are sending us into a land that is in need of workers, and our Foursquare leadership has seen some of the work we’ve been able to do to help pastors in need.

Now, they are answering that call as well, expanding the field of workers in this area. They have asked us to serve, and I am humbly honored, sensing God’s call to do so.

They don’t come right out and ask this, but they ARE asking NewHeart to send us with your love, prayer covering, and blessing of support. This is a significant thing not just for Colleen and I, but for NewHeart as well!

Our church is now 65 years old. I’m the ninth pastor in her history. As we’ve heard stories of history, this will be the first positive succession and sending out of a Senior Pastor in over 50 years! In addition, it will be the first one since we occupied this property in 1963!

As far as I have been able to recount from stories, the last five pastoral successions have been painful and negative. I believe with all my heart that together, we have changed the course of history for this congregation and therefore, this community!

This succession isn’t happening quickly, and doesn’t need to. We still have Kingdom work and mission to accomplish together, and I’m glad for it. I wouldn’t want a hasty succession to take place.

We plan to be at NewHeart through the end of February. I would be honored if you would allow me to continue to be your Pastor for these next four months. (By the way, in case you’re wondering, that means I’ll get to complete 30 Christmas seasons with NewHeart!)

Details on who will serve in this role next are in the hands of our District Supervisor, Dennis Easter. He has been very gracious to Colleen and I, and unbeknownst, to you as well, desiring that this not be a hasty transition. He has communicated that the process of selection will be considerate of the work God has done thus far in our church family.

I trust Dennis’ leadership and wisdom, and he will be working with our Church Council toward a fruitful transition. He and I have a shared desire that the next Senior Pastor be able, if at all possible, to serve among us for as much time as we can garner before my last Sunday. That’s all in Jesus’ hands, and He does know what the future holds. We will continue to trust in Him.

If you have any questions, concerns or just want to talk, please let me know!

We deeply love you each and every one of you!

Paul & Colleen

17 July 2014 ~ 2 Comments

Gastroparesis Research Study

gastroparesisLast week and this one, I’ve made quick trips to San Francisco. It’s a 6 hour drive north from home, so it’s a good thing I like to drive, I guess!

The trips have been for appointments with the California Pacific Medical Center to go through screening tests to be enrolled in the Gastroparesis 2 Research Study.

These folks are in the 8th year of a 10 year study. They’re trying to discover the cause of gastroparesis. Several universities and medical research centers across the country are participating. It’s is NOT a medication study; just research on the condition to discover the cause if they can.

If you have gastroparesis, or know anyone who does, pass this info on to them. They’re looking for more gastroparesis patients to participate.

27 May 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Foursquare Connection 2014

Right after our church gathering on Sunday, I left for our annual Foursquare Connection in Dallas, TX. The event happens Monday – Thursday, so as I’m writing this on Tuesday night, we’re halfway through.

Foursquare Connection is the annual gathering of our Foursquare pastors. It’s kind of like a big family reunion. We gather for a few days of worship, fellowship, inspiration and business.

Yesterday, I was in some business meetings in the morning. With the afternoon free, I traveled with some friends to the Fort Worth Stockyards. I had no idea what it was, kind of thinking we were going to see some horses and cows in some fields. Turns out it’s much more than that and was a lot of fun. Got to ride an old time train, watch a cattle drive of longhorns through town and experience an Old West gun battle!

The evening officially launched Connection. If you want, you can actually watch the sessions live online here.

Today was the big day at this year’s Connection. There were two HUGE issues on the docket. First were the reporting of conversations happening over the last few years leading to what they’ve called “ReImagine Foursquare”. All denominations have been in processes of either re-structuring or re-envisioning who we are, what we do and how we do it. Ours is no different.

The culture has radically changed from what it was in the 20th century. It’s not the century that has caused the change. The culture has simply changed and the “C”hurch hasn’t. We’re not talking about change for change’s sake. Rather, we’re talking about how to be more effective at reaching people for Jesus and His Kingdom.

Realistically, the speed of change in our culture has also increased. All that said, there’s a lot of change on the table for our Foursquare family, and we are processing its progress through today’s presentations. You can read more about all of this here.

The second large issue on today’s docket was processing the ratification of a second term for our President, Glenn Burris. For many decades, until about 20 years ago, we had one President who was in office for life. We’re on our fourth President since then, and each President has brought rapid and wholesale change in direction and structure that has not necessarily worked or been helpful.

Each one has only served one term. Our polity allows for a President to serve two consecutive 5 year terms. For the first time, we have a President who placed his name for ratification for a second term. However, the bar is pretty high for approval of the ratification. He needed 75% of the delegates to say yes to the ratification, and his first term has been wrought with difficulty stemming from both the downturn of the economy as well as the conversations about ReImagining.

I’m glad to say that it was announced tonight that his ratification was approved for the second 5 year term! This is going to save us from the rigors of processing a Presidential election at next year’s Connection, which is being held close to home, in Anaheim.

During tonight’s gathering, the main speaker was Francis Chan, who many of you will remember was the founding pastor of Cornerstone Community Church down the street from us. I was hoping to get to connect with him personally, but haven’t been able to yet. We’ll see what tomorrow holds.

10 May 2014 ~ 2 Comments

Family Update on Mom

IMG_3423Many of you reading this know my mom, Margot Kuzma. You can find her on Facebook here, and for those who know her, she’d love to accept your friend request!

My mom is a true survivor! She was born in East Germany, where she was raised during Hitler’s reign. During her adolescent years, she also survived three days in a concentration camp, where her family was placed because of her father’s refusal to join the Nazi party.

She survived bombings during the war and at 17 years of age, escaped from East into West Germany by swimming over a river. It was the second attempt for the group of friends that escaped with her. The first time, they were caught and sent home. Her parents were told that if she was caught trying it again, she would never be seen again.

Some know the interesting part of my story that she and my dad divorced back in the late 70’s, only to reconcile and remarry a year later!

She’s one tough lady with a huge heart. She taught me and my siblings the value of hard work. She spent her adult career serving others as an in-home nurse for elderly patients.

During her adult life, she bore five kids, losing my oldest brother to AIDS in 1994, when he was only 33 years old. She had lost her oldest grandson, who only lived a day.

IMG_3433In the late 90’s, she lost a kidney and had to have a bypass performed on the remaining one.

Back in 2007, at 73 years old, she survived major surgery to repair an Abdominal Aortic Aneurism. Any who know what that is know that it’s a miracle for anyone who endures it.

About 3-4 years ago, she had to have her carotid arteries along both sides of her neck cleaned out. They literally call the procedure “roto-rooting”.

Last year, she went through hip replacement surgery. Since then, she’s had some difficulty recovering, but has done her best to keep going.

In November, she and my dad celebrated their 50th Anniversary! In December, Mom turned 80 years old. You can’t really tell, other than her need to use a walker due to some arthritic issues.

After all she’s been through, I’m honestly somewhat disappointed to share that today, we found out that Mom is facing one of the largest battles in her life. She was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer. You can read more about it at the link.

It all started with a call from her vascular surgeon at UCLA. He wanted her to come down for an ultrasound to check on the condition of the carotids. I took her down, and it turned out her carotids are doing great. However, they happened to discover a mass on the left side of the neck.

A follow up CT scan of the head and neck revealed that the mass was an enlarged lymph node that was suspicious of malignancy. The same CT scan caught the upper lobe of the right lung, which showed a mass there. Another CT scan, this time of the chest, revealed 2 or 3 more masses in both lungs.

Last Friday, a biopsy of the lymph node was done. Today was the day we received the results of Small Cell Lung Cancer.

It turns out that this kind of lung cancer has only 2 stages. “Limited” means the cancer is only in the organ of origin, in this case, the lung. “Extensive” means it has metastasized (spread) outside of the organ. Mom’s staging is “extensive” because her neck lymph node already contains the cancer cells. The doctor was not willing to give any kind of time table, believing that know one knows how much time any of us have left, even with this disease.

The pulmonologist said it’s not curable, but it is controllable with chemotherapy. On Monday afternoon, we’ll see the Oncologist to find out what they will recommend from here. Although Small Cell Lung Cancer is aggressive, it also responds well to the chemotherapy.

For Colleen and I, we’ve supported several of her family members through bouts of cancer (2 bouts with her Mom, 1 bout with her Dad, 2 bouts with her sister, and Colleen herself has had thyroid cancer), but this is the first time a family member on my side has ever been diagnosed with cancer.

We haven’t said much because we didn’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, and were obviously hoping that the diagnosis would come back with something other than this. We certainly appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we enter this new territory as a family.

05 April 2014 ~ 1 Comment

Small Things? Not Really

While a Sr. in High School (30+ yrs ago!!), I took the US military’s ASVAB test, which lists your top career opportunities based on your aptitude. My #1? FUNERAL DIRECTOR!! I scoffed.

I already knew I was headed for Bible College & would someday be a Pastor. Little did I know how influential the role of Pastor/”Funeral Director” would be!

Yes, there are others who are Funeral Directors at most that I officiate, and I thank God for their role! Point being, even when I was unaware, God was actively trying to prepare me for what He wanted for me to be for Him.

Studies today show the role of the Pastor in the US diminishing in trust & influence. I understand where the studies are coming from, but when I have the honor & privilege to officiate a funeral, I do not see that. I see gratitude and appreciation that there was someone willing to help family & friends navigate a difficult loss in their lives.

It’s still not my favorite thing about pastoring, but it’s a sacred & holy privilege. Pastor friends, let’s not “despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10), nor see these opportunities as “small things”.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m officiating a funeral today, for a neighbor.)

12 April 2013 ~ 0 Comments

When You’re In the Right Place At the Right Time ….

There’s something about being in the right place at the right time, isn’t there? Everything falls into place. It almost seems surreal. You wonder one minute if you’re dreaming and the next minute it’s completely clear that you’re not.

On Monday this week, I departed for Center for Spiritual Renewal in Christiansburg, VA, a place of respite for weary pastors who might need a study break, sabbatical or some crisis counseling. I come here 3-4 times a year to work alongside a mentor of mine who does this work on behalf of pastors and their families.It’s located on the campus of CrossPointe Conference Center.

With the permission of pastors and their families, he invites me to sit in, learn, express my gifts in this area and serve some of the caseload. It’s my first time to come back this year, a little later than usual following a short pause to make sure that Jonathan’s transition home from Utah goes smoothly enough before I ventured away.

On Wednesday, I was deeply moved at my first ever visit to the April 16 Memorial at Virginia Tech. Ironically, though I didn’t plan it this way, this coming Tuesday is April 16, the 7th anniversary of the Virginia Tech Shooting.

After this morning’s counseling sessions, I was meeting with a pastor from the area when we received news that an active shooter was at the New River Valley Mall in downtown Christiansburg. Four female students from Ignite Academy (also housed on the CrossPointe campus) were in a store nearby the mall on lockdown, but soon headed back to campus.

Being a Police Chaplain with our Simi Valley Police Department the last 13 years, I’ve had training in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). It’s a field of work that gives people tools to cope with the exposure to anything that might be labeled a critical incident, whether a man-made or natural disaster or occurrence.

Since I “happened” to be here this week, the Director of the Ignite Academy asked if I would spend some time helping the students deal with what they had just faced. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! It’s always an honor to me when God opens doors of the hearts of any individual or group in ways like this.

Always in awe…..

02 March 2013 ~ 1 Comment

I’m Coming Out & Standing Up

SU4MH facebook-cover

I’ve been public about my struggle with depression over the last 12 years, as well as our journey with our son’s diagnosis with bipolar disorder. We don’t know that the diagnosis will stick long term, and as anyone would, we hope it won’t. Nonetheless, I’ve learned there is much more to mental illness than the Church has allowed many to believe.

HealthyPlace.com is a powerful resourcing website encouraging those with experience to stand up in an effort to break the stigma that comes with mental illness. I’ve decided to join this effort, and hope it encourages others, especially pastors & church leaders, to Stand Up For Mental Illness as well.

Anyone else want to stand up?

22 January 2013 ~ 1 Comment

40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade

rememberingroe

Representing over 55,000,000 children today are the countless mothers & fathers who have walked through one of the most difficult decisions of their lives that resulted in an abortion. We pray that each of them would know beyond a shadow of a doubt God’s love for them. We pray that His love would invade their heart & mind today, that they would experience His healing touch through His love & from His people.

06 January 2013 ~ 2 Comments

Amazing Day

I hope your day was as amazing as mine! Started with finding out our annual “A Promise for {insert year}” Guest Speaker for the first Sunday in January the last several years didn’t show up as planned. When I called him, he was four hours north, speaking at another church! Wasn’t completely his fault. Long story communication snafu, mostly on MY part!

What it turned into was an amazing morning of worship, communion, prayer and several people receiving their own promises for 2013 from Jesus. So many walked away expressing this was what they needed, and they didn’t even know it! Love how God works!

Then, the teacher of our Sunday morning Youth Group stops me after church. He says,

“We were talking in Youth Church about failure. Specifically, we were discussing what ministry failure looks like. Your (my) son, Jonathan {his 1st time in Youth Church since coming home from Heritage 2 weeks ago}, says ‘ministry failure is when nobody is changed.'”

Can you say :*)*** ? {Those are tears in my eyes} Wow! Where’d that kid come from.

Then, this afternoon, after a hospital visit, I’m watching some football in the living room. Same said kid emerges from the separate TV room, where he’s been holed up the last two weeks to come sit with dad while we watch football together. That’s called heaven on earth!

Then, tonight, I got to attend and help lead the monthly Simi Valley City Church Prayer Awakening. It was hosted at a prominent African American church in town. Just before I get up to speak and lead in prayer, unbeknownst to anyone there, I’m shaking in my boots a little about my said son. He starts school tomorrow.

Is he gonna go?

 

What if he refuses?

 

What then?

The choir … remember, keep in mind, prominent African American church choir … yes, that one … breaks into a song I’ve never heard that says:

I. see. you. in. the. future.
and you look better,
I see you walking in favor and prosperity too,
let me encourage you,
let me speak life to you,
you can depend on God to see you through,
you can depend on me to pray for you.

Am I shaking in my boots anymore about said son? Can you say NOPE??

Like I said. Amazing day.

25 December 2012 ~ 2 Comments

A Very Merry Christmas!

We hope you and your family enjoyed a very Merry Christmas!

Our plan to drive home in two shots and arrive Saturday drastically changed. We hit the road from Provo about 11:30 am PST on Friday and drove the whole way! We arrived home about 11:30 pm. My major concern is always how Colleen is doing, as her joints can’t take long travel as they once did, due to the lupus she deals with.

We stopped every couple hours for some stretching and she seemed to do well. Even now, a few days later, she has fared well. Sometimes, the soreness doesn’t hit until a day or two later.

The last week or so has been fairly schedule intense for us. There were a few meetings with the school district, his new school in Camarillo and the county in-home services team that will walk with us through the transition. All to prepare for Jonathan’s return home.

photo(1)Colleen’s schedule had been pretty busy. She navigated teaching a second class this semester in Oxnard. She graduated that class last week and won’t be continuing the job there.

Then there was this thing called Christmas. There were a “few” things to try and prepare for that. My favorite holiday personally.

Then the trip to Provo, Jonathan’s graduation (very emotional for us), and the trip home. Did I forget to mention that I work a full time job as a Pastor too? Oh, that’s right! Home late Friday night, up Saturday to spend the day writing the message that had been ruminating in my heart all week.

Sunday, that message seemed to be the right one for the day and season. The afternoon rolled out with errands for Christmas prep. Monday held the requisite and regular weekly grocery shopping and then prep for Christmas Eve Celebration at church at 5:30 pm, which went off without a hitch to a packed house of regulars and new folks, and even a number of people we hadn’t seen in a long time.

After finishing that and wrapping a couple of final presents, we headed to a Christmas Eve Party with parents of one of Josh’s friends that we hadn’t had a chance to meet yet. That turned into a great time!

Once we arrived home from there, we had our traditional opening of one gift. LOTS of fun with this, especially for Colleen and I to see the excitement there was in Jonathan. We know it’s early in the transition. We’re not declaring huge transformation (there is a good amount), but in his excitement, we both felt we saw the son we had been missing for years.

There is a child-like part of him that came out the last few days that we weren’t sure we would ever see again. It has been glorious for us. I know that’s quite a word, but it fits what’s in my heart.

We had the house filled today with family and friends. My parents, sister & bro-in-law, Colleen’s sister & her two kids, Colleen’s grandfather and later on a friend from church with her two kids.

My dad made the turkey. I’m the carver of the family. I’m usually carving meat from the bones. This one was so moist I was literally pulling the bones out of the meat! Never seen a turkey like this before!

However, I’m going to have to talk to my dad about what he did with that turkey. I’ve heard of turkey comas, tryptophan comas and the like. I’ve even experienced them. But NOTHING like the drowsiness that hit me after this meal!

I was in and out of it for a few hours. Jonathan would try to talk to me every once in a while, but it was no use. When I finally woke, I felt like I’d slept for days!

With that, it’s time to sign off. Lots to do tomorrow to help Jonathan complete his Christmas.