A New Journey

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Photo Credit: thotprovokr via Compfight cc

Like the sighting of Halley’s Comet, this update has been a long time in coming. Nearly four months ago I told you about three words that would forever change my life, and the life of my family. Since that time much has happened. And while I’ve thought often to share aloud, I never could seem to form the words.

Suffice it to say over these past few months, life has continued forward; sometimes quick and easy and other times not so much. Had you asked me at the time of resigning my pastoral ministry what I thought I’d be doing next, I in no way would have come up with a story anywhere close to what’s actually happened.

I resigned February 5. My final Sunday at the church was April 7. May 6 I started a new job at our local coffee shop. At the time I knew this new opportunity wouldn’t be enough to pay the bills, yet it seemed right. From the moment I stepped around to the other side of the counter as a new employee, I knew this opportunity was God inspired. Functionally speaking I now had a job again. Beyond that however, I knew God was and is allowing me an opportunity where I can be in the thick of community. Then on June 10 I became the newest team member of the Brethren Church National Office staff, accepting a part-time position as Leadership Development Coordinator.

Without sounding too dramatic, this was the “thing” that I had resigned for; although at the time we weren’t even aware such an opportunity existed. I can only scratch the surface of imagining what our daily lives must look like to a God who is omniscient. All that we were unable to see in the moment of our current life situation, He’d already seen. He was leading us, and we were doing our level best to follow.

I remember when I accepted the position with the Brethren Office, thinking to myself, “this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of a new journey.” It would have been easy for me to have considered all that we’d gone through, in a few short months, to get to this point, and to have considered ourselves finally having arrived. But we knew, my wife and I, that this was where the real work starts. This is where the story turns a page. And very much like the moment I resigned, or accepted the job at the coffee shop, I don’t have but the smallest glimpse of what will come next. However, I continue to remain resolute in the truth that I don’t have to know, because I have put my full stock in the God who’s already seen it all. He knows what’s to come, and that’s good enough for me.

So as we continue pressing forward into the future God is scripting for us, I leave you with an anthem of sorts…

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Normal?

normalthis thing of life is not such an easy thing to live when living is comprised of doing that which runs contrary to that which is normal. yet i question who determines normal? if normal is the goal, i failed somewhere along the way. but if it’s not the goal what is? and if it’s not the goal why do so many strive to accomplish it? considering goals, it seems to be that goals are the sort of thing one works long and hard to achieve and as such it comes at a great cost. a cost that some would deem too steep to pay. those are the ones who pull up short and worse yet, never begin at all. i don’t fancy myself that sort of a person, although this thing of achieving the goal is no doubt a thing of great difficulty; at least these days. i find that my inner self is at war fighting hard to define what normal ought to be. what it ought to look like, feel like, live like. am i called to live a normal life? no matter how much i might wish i were, i know i’m not. so why bother striving for that which i know isn’t the goal?

no. i very much would rather define the goal to be that which is greater than myself and my ability to achieve on my own accord. the goal ought to be that which when looked upon is summarized as anything but normal. it’s the sort of thing that takes more of you than you have. and yet that’s what i want to be found doing. it becomes the sort of thing that wrecks a day, but redeems a life.

i think very easily i could ball my fist and cast darts of anger at God for calling me to that which isn’t normal. and he’d be okay with that. he’d remind me that he’s big enough to take it; that he’s taken it from so many before me and he’s none the worse for the wear. i think he’d remind me that i’m called because he both knew the outcome and the joy that could be had in the journey despite the pain and heartache and doubt and questions and depression and fear and hopelessness and anger and the sense of lostness. he’d remind me that this call is greater than i am and that in my pocket of greatest weakness i’m actually at my point of greatest need. and when i’ve exhausted all other options i’d turn to him and he’d be there to fold strong hands around mine and strong arms around me and he’s breath a firm whisper in my ear that soaks deep into my heart reminding me that my Dad is Abba and he loves and cares of me his child. that he loves me to the point of calling me to that which isn’t normal because he knows that he didn’t create me to ever be normal.

as i daily contemplate the work of God in my life and as i strive to find myself faithful to the call he’s placed in my heart and the journey he’s set before me and my family, i’ve come to take great solace in the words of this song, claiming them as a psalm over this present reality of life.

Review: Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged

Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged by John Piper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was one of those books, that I’m very much glad I took the time to have read, but it left me a little wanting. I agreed with the overarching premise; that to narrow too specifically the Great Commission is to short change God’s global mission. Instead the Great Commission is in fact intended to include all persons, and since that is true, we cannot ignore those unreached people groups living within our world today. I felt the book did a good job setting up this point, and I enjoyed the use of different voices to state and argue the point. Yet, I felt as though the application side of the coin was a bit lacking when compared to the argument side. Still, Finish the Mission is an important and likely necessary book as it relates to the topic of global Christian mission. It’s a book that maybe in actually is meant to focus more on establishing the argument, rather than providing for application. After all, until we believe the argument for joining with God on his global mission for all persons to hear and have opportunity to respond to his Gospel, it’s of little good to write a book that focuses on an application of putting the argument into practice.

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Three Words

the_end“I am done.”

Three words that cut through the air like a crack of lighting ripping through a Mid-western summer sky. The weight those words hold is nothing short of immense, yet in the same moment, they seem as light as air.

It has been a little over a month since I first uttered those three words, which forever changed the course of my history. I have started many times to try and put words to the reality of which I’m now living, and time after time I’ve come up empty with exactly what to say. You see, it was with great peace and confidence that I was being led; dare I say called to quit my job. A job that provided a great deal of comfort and security for me and my family.

I have been, for the past thirteen years, a youth pastor, loyal to a single church, called not to a job, but to a life of service to teenagers. That is until the call no longer came in one winter day. That morning I woke up as usual, but in an instant, the length of time it took me to silence my alarm, I knew I would be quitting my job. It wasn’t quite as sudden as it may sound. The truth is God had been applying great amounts of molding pressure to my heart for quite some time. And the more I sought his will, his plan, his purpose… the more I realized this day would eventually come and I’d be released from my present calling, only to be ready to receive the new call for my life.

The quirky tidbit in the storyline is that while God in fact did remove one call on my life, he hasn’t yet replaced it with a new one. That’s not to say that I don’t fully believe he will; he simply hasn’t yet.

As word of my resignation spread, the inevitable questions about what’s next began to surface. Each time, I honestly had to say that I wasn’t sure; God hadn’t yet revealed his next steps. Interestingly, through the whole of this process, my wife and I have been both on the same page (that’s important), and oddly at peace (also important). The reality of the situation we’re in is that what we are doing doesn’t honestly make sense; outside of God’s economy. No one willfully quits their job, the job that is the primary financial means for their family, without having a back up plan locked in place. And by back up plan, we all know it’s supposed to be something bigger and better. Why else quit if it’s not?

Yet here we are, without any sort of back up plan. No bright white Dave Ramsey envelope tucked safely in the center desk drawer. Rather I feel very much like what it may have felt like for those who experienced the scene that took place in Joshua 3. I feel as though we’re at the edge of the Jordan River and we’ve just been told that once we step foot in the water, God will stop up the current and we’ll cross on dry land. It’s a great promise to be sure, but difficult to believe fully when looking out at the water rushing by. None the less, the priests caring the Ark had faith enough in the word of the Lord and followed through with what they were told. The result?

17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

God made good! It’s right there in black and white. While I don’t yet know what God has in store for us; what the next chapter of our story is to be. I do know that he’s faithful and true and will provide for us the space to live out whatever the next chapter is. I can’t explain, except for the grace and wonder of God, how we are at such peace in the midst of such uncertainty, but we are. I don’t know what will happen a month from now if nothing’s changed and I’ve drawn my final pay check. But this much I know. I’m a child of the King of kings and the Lord of lords and while I call him Father, he calls me his own. The care he displays for me is greater than the care he shows over the lilies of the field and look how they flourish. I trust that as he knew me intimately well in my mother’s womb, he knows what’s next and he is the God who goes before me. I trust him because I have nothing else strong enough to trust. I hold tight to him because he’s the only thing which is unmovable. I cry out to him for he’s the only one who can interpret and understand the groans of my soul.

With everything that is in me, I completely believe that this is not the end, no it isn’t.

Review: Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life

WreckedWrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It seems as though our world today is filled with all sorts of warnings. Caution! Hot coffee. Warning, smoking may cause cancer. Beware of dog! I’m not quite sure how Wrecked, by Jeff Goins was allowed to be published without so much as a read at your own risk! label. Goins has a way with words that not only tells a captivating story, but pricks the soul of the reader, drawing them in to the story itself. The beauty of Wrecked is that Goins shares from a place of personal, raw honesty. A quality that allows the reader to believe the words on the page and be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually impacted. The impact is nothing short of a gut check at the deepest level. Goins holds back nothing, as he pushes the reader to the point where a choice must be made; stay the same or become wrecked. As much as instinct begs that everything stay the same, many will find it too difficult and costly to do so; opting instead for the necessary pain and discomfort of becoming wrecked and making a world shaking difference.

This is not a book for the faint of heart however, as your heart will be challenged to consider the thing that’s been pushed to the dark recesses of your thinking. Wrecked is not a book to be read while on vacation, or casually while passing the time between your kid’s soccer and basketball practice. However, if you know your life is begging you to shake the dust from its dry old bones, then I’d encourage that you read with reckless abandon. Read with your heart and mind wide open, and brace for impact, as impact will most certainly come your way. To state it another way, to read Wrecked is to play a game of Chicken with the status quo. Who’ll flinch first? Go get wrecked, I bet you’ll look back and be glad you did.

Wrecked is a must share with a friend book, no doubt.

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