Thursday, August 26, 2010

stupid smile on my face

Go ahead ask me why I have a stupid grin on my face!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Caring too much

What is the job of a pastor? Is it to be a moral voice in a world of sin? Are they to manage a church so that people have something to come to on Sundays? Are they to placate the masses so government has a reliable source of stability? Are they supposed to listen to people in their dark times?

I have been thinking a lot about what my job means. I know I am not really evangelist. Meaning my major goal in life is not to make new converts. My desire is to help Christians be better Christians. I want people to grow closer to God, not just acknowledge God exists. But I wonder what metrics I am judged by. I wonder what metrics I use on myself. I find I have placed myself in an impossible situation. I am supposed to be efficient, produce something. The youth in the church should be baptized. They should come more often maybe. But what does that matter? I want the youth to know when they face something hard God is there for them. if they need to talk to someone, I am there for them. That is not something I can measure.

My time ends up in a weird balance. I work at making lessons and sermons. I outline, exegesis, and research for lessons. I give them a clear order then apply illustrations that support the main idea. I produce a lesson that can be measured as good or bad.

I try to be open to the lives of the youth I work with. I have a side that cannot be measured. I want to be like coach or fan and cheer the people of my church on. I want to encourage the youth. I suppose I could sum it up and say I care. How can I measure caring? Do I use the amount of time I care? Can I even measure that?

I feel stretched, I want to have good marks on the metrics, and I want to be open. So I am trying to live into standards I cannot measure or really understand. I don’t know for sure how much or little an impact I am having. And that is the problem I just do not know how ‘efficient’ I am in any of the worlds I work in. I could be on a crash course of burnout but I have no clue what else I can do.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why is it so hard to keep Sabbath?

I try to force myself to take one day where I do not work. It makes sense if there should be a day for God. Sunday cannot be a Sabbath for me because that is my big day. The day that stresses me out the most and I cannot relax. Saturday will not work because I am putting the finishing touches on what happens for Sunday. So my work week is from Saturday-Thursday. The hard part is that I could work on Friday. I enjoy my work. Yesterday I spent hours just reading the bible, reading commentaries, and preparing for family camp. And it was totally fun and interesting to me. I love IMing youth, planning ahead, and doing my work.

So I have to spend my Sabbath not thinking about this week’s lesson. I need to ignore the desire to take care of errands. If my life is so busy with work I may start to ignore the reason for my work. Forgetting God would not be cool, but I know it is a possibility.

So today I am trying to not work. That means I have surfed the internet, listened to music, and read some fiction. Now I am writing a blog entry. I could play some video games but I am not really feeling it right now. I don’t just want to sit and watch tv. It is interesting how to prevent burnout, God wants us to not do work. I probably am better for taking a Sabbath but sometimes it is hard.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

so everything got fixed

turns out my job is safe for a year and all the other stuff will be taken care of by other people. when i heard that i go so much relief. i had to call the many people who were worried about me and let them know the good news.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ennui is not just for French people

I gots the ennui (pronounced “on-weee”). I have it because I have reached all of my goals and I am not sure what I want to do with my life. The only thing I have really known is school. And I just completed that. So I suppose I get a job. But I was already a Youth Pastor, and now I am an English Pastor. So it is not like I have a goal to be a pastor. I really do not have a clear focused goal like getting my M. Div. So I am getting into my denominations pool of people looking for jobs. I think I want to be a pastor of spiritual formation, but really I just want to work in a church I love. This summer I am working at my church, and I am waiting for God to show me what He has I store for me later.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What my Church has Taught Me.

Life happens and there is no need to try and control every aspect about it. the first Church I worked in taught my how to plan like no ones business. We would plan out the whole summer in an afternoon. I worked out a system for planning a day camp. I could plan like everything was under my control.

The church I am working at now has taught me that life happens. There are times when unexpected things happen. Instead of freaking out that the plan has not worked, just make it up as it goes. There have been numerous Sundays I showed up and had no clue what would happen.

It has been helpful for me right now. I do not to plan out my future. I have two paths before me right now. Either my church finds me a place to live and I stay through the summer at the very least, or I go back to Illinois in june and start looking for a church to hire me. Either way it could be very fun. I like not having to stress about my plan.

I am starting to see how I will not be leaving in a world of plans. I will be living in a world of God. Sometimes that will mean planning and organizing, but other times that means I will be letting things happen. I do not want an efficient ministry. I do not want a ministry measured by metrics of the world. I instead just want to lift my life up to God so that He may give me to others. Now that would be cool.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I got Unplugged

This last Thursday I got to go up to Lake Arrowhead in the mountains. It was great because I was not going to take my laptop, nor was I going to watch TV. I even left my IPod back home. It is rare for me to be so disconnected from technology. Right now I am typing on my desktop while Jac Pepin is cooking on the TV. While I love the great things technology has to offer I know I need time to just read and think.

So while I was reading I realized how far my education has gone. I was reading a book about early Christian texts and I could place them and understand their context. I could see how much I have changed since coming to seminary. I do not think education replaces a passion for God, but my education has lead me to have a deeper faith in God. I know that God most have been involved in the Bible otherwise we would have ended up with some terrible stuff. I think education allows people to connect on a deeper level with God. They can see the obvious beauty of God, but also the beauty that is found in the intricacies of life.

I also read a book on hate. I realized there are people I should hate. I should wish them the worst possible things. But I do not hate them. Some of them have really messed me up, but I still think they are children of God and carrying God’s image. That makes them special. Hate is easy, but I cannot hate that well. So now I have to get on to the much harder working towards reconciliation. It would be nice to write people off but I do not have the luxury. God creates more work for me, but in the end I like it.

I start my last quarter of school. I am scared and thrilled with the prospect of the future.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The End of Ecclesiastes

I finished reading Ecclesiastes today. I like where the book comes from. It does not try to paint a world that is prefect and nice. Instead it seems to be for a world that is broken and messed up. There are good things in life and there are bad things.

Most recently I have had to come to turns with some of the bad things in life. I found out last week my first youth pastor did something terrible. I could believe want I and it has been bothering me for a while. I see how fragile it is to be in a place of trust for youth and have the trust violated. I stand firm in my belief that youth need to be protected. But really sometimes working with youth seems so very dangerous. There seems to always be a hint of suspicion.

When I think about my own situation I wonder what I should do. There seems to be this underlying assumption I should get married, or that I am weird for not being married. But with marriage pretty much being a fifty-fifty shot in the dark marriage does not seem to be something I want or need. I admit if I find a woman who has that right combination of being gorgeous and being someone I want to talk to all night then sure I would get married. But I have not met that person and I doubt she exists.

So back to Ecclesiastes, it has the wonder message that no matter how much skill I have at something it will not necessarily save me from bad things. Instead I should focus on life being something to enjoy. I cannot make it perfect but I can enjoy the small gifts God gives me. I hang out with some friends last night and it was wonder. It was a great reminder God has placed some amazing people in my life and I cannot get hung up on the bad things that happen. I am on spring break this week and my goal is to read a Dallas Willard book and putter around.

End Communication.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A live dog is better than a dead lion.

That sounds a lot more negative than I mean it at the moment, but this has been a stressful week for me. I participated in my first memorial service which left me shell shocked for a few days. I am not used to death and I do not like the idea of being ok with it. I had to give my final speech/group presentation on Tuesday and today I learned we did poorly. My internship is winding down and I found that the next interview for my interview was never scheduled, and I am scrambling to get the rest of my paper work in on time. I had the most uncomfortable conversation with the person who has hurt me the most in seminary. Trying to do what Jesus would want me to do with her is hard. I started to write my final for Theology and Culture. I have seen God really working in my life, showing me how loved I am by some close friends. It has been a week that has been harder than normal but I think I am handling it best as I can. I have not done anything I am ashamed of.

So I turned to Ecclesiastes 9, it has the wonderful subtitle “Take life as it comes.” I can honestly say it is a great chapter. Good things and bad things are going to happen to me. That is not an excuse to do things I will regret later no matter how satisfying they may be at the moment. Also I know I need to take the good and just live in it. I have no clue what I am going to do with my life. I have no ambition. I just know this; I am going to love God with everything I am, I am going to minister to other people no matter what I do, I am going to do my best to never treat people the way I have been treated.

I have no clue what shape that will mean for the future but I am diving in with no abandon. It is better to be alive with low status than to be a great figure without life. I know that as long as I do nothing to tarnish my honor and my name I can be doing something for God. I hope things get better in the next couple of weeks but right now I have a lot of stress


Friday, March 5, 2010

So I have been thinking about love.

So I have been thinking about love. And no I am not thinking about romantic love; anyone who knows me knows what a dead-end for me that is.

But love seems to be one of those words that is supposed to have meaning and be important, yet really we do not seem to know how to live it out. I say that because people (including me) seem to be terribly rude to each other, ready to ignore the needs other people, and generally do not want to look to the welfare of other people.

So what is love? Because of theology and who I am I point to 1 Corinthians 13 as one of the best definitions of love. So Paul states love is: patient, kind, happy when truth wins out, always hopes, endures through all circumstances. Love is not: jealous, boastful, proud, rude, demand its own way, irritable, does not remember wrongs, not happy about injustice, a quitter, faithless. That second list is longer than the first. It is easier to mess up then to do something right I figure.

What gets me is that I do not think see people living out this love with other people, especially in the church. Now I am not holding up the angry, polemical Christians, but I think the regular Christians could live with more love in their lives. Because what would happen if a Christian lived chapter 13?

For me I think it would change my ministry. My ministry would have to be colored by those attributes. I think I would have to learn how every interaction I have should be rooted in love. It would be my moral and theological duty to compliment people. What better way to sure love then recognize the good in people and let them know others see it.

Every interaction I have with a person becomes the chance and opportunity to love someone. It seems like something I am going to have to think about for a while. Right now I am thinking that Christ is the only source for this love. That the more Christ is in my life, the more he is the center, the more ability I have to live out this love.