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They want God.

They want God.


 It is God with whom we have to do. People go for long stretches of time without being aware of that, thinking that it is money, or sex, or work, or children, or parents, or a political cause, or an athletic competition, or learning with which they must deal. Any one or a combination of these subjects can absorb them and for a time give them the meaning and purpose that human beings seem to require. But then there is a slow stretch of boredom. Or a disaster. Or a sudden collapse of meaning. They want more. They want God. When a person searches for meaning and direction, asking questions and testing our statements, we must not be diverted into anything other or less.

Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned


Over the last few months, Stacey and I have been heading to a small town south of Chicago to do some pastor and preaching. It's been a great experience overall, but after this past weekend we decided to call it quits. It was a pretty hard decision, but one that we feel God led us to, rather than just a knee-jerk reaction when times got hard. The previous Thursday before we went up there, they led a discussion that came to a vote on my presence being there. People that I trusted had been ones leading the charge against me. And after the cold reception that we received on Sunday, we decided that it would be in the best interest of all parties to end the short-term arrangement.

All that said, I have to say that it was one of the most concentrated learning experiences that I have had. I came up with 10 things that I learned through this process. Yes, it's a list. We all like lists, as my favorite streaming music service keeps telling me.

  1. Trust my instincts. Even though I am young and without tons of experience, God has gifted me in specific ways to lead his people.
  2. Trust that God is doing a great work. Both in the people and in me.
  3. Commit myself to prayer. For people, for me, for Stacey. Lean on God at every opportunity.
  4. Be in the Word. It is life-giving. It is true and mighty. It speaks today as God has throughout time.
  5. Ask Questions. Actively pursue the hard things. Where will this just not work? What is a challenge? What can change? What is a deal breaker?
  6. Confront sin. God hates it. So should you. Confront it head on and be gracious.
  7. I absolutely married an amazing woman.
  8. Know where I am gifted. Don't sell myself short. If any of my gifts are compromised, ask why and think hard about the situation.
  9. Pastoring is like marriage. Can you put up with all her (the church's) faults and still love and serve her?
  10. Be reflective. Write down your thoughts; talk with others.

And even in the week since I wrote this out, God is still teaching me lessons and I'm sure will be much into the future.

Life Update :: 4.20

Do people who smoke out really need a day to "celebrate" that fact?  Are they some kind of persecuted group of people?  Is it an opportunity for them to do something different than what they normally do?

The answers to these questions are no.

It was mentioned to me earlier today that today is cough–National Pot Smoker's Day–cough.  Like I said, I don't think they need a day, but where would such a statement be made, you ask.  Well, at work.  That's right, I got a job.

I'm working at Rooster crepe. sandwich. cafe. in the kitchen.  I'm one of two people that can actually make the crepes.  Probably because making crepes in the first place is a mistake.  I take a very runny egg-based batter and pour it onto a hot surface with no lip and spread it out quickly enough so that it spreads all the way to the edges, but not so fast that it doesn't have time to set before I get to the edge.  It took me about two days to get the rhythm, but I can now make three at a time and get about 90 done in 45 minutes.  Other than "spinning" the crepes, I also assemble the crepes when they are ordered.  Overall, it's a pretty easy job.  I gets stressful on Saturdays when we have over 300 crepes, alone, ordered from 8:30-2:00.  It's a lot of controlled movement, thinking fast, doing it correctly.

Ministry is going well too.  I'm still being challenged and encouraged by Mike and Phil, which I would expect nothing less.  I'm being more proactive in pursuing people on Sunday mornings, those who I haven't seen at City Church before, finding out their stories and sharing some of mine as well.  I tend to find the people that have just moved to the Lou and so I have a quick connecting point with them.  For others, I just make stuff up and hope for the best.  I'm kidding, of course.  Or. Am. I?

I'm connecting with quite a few of my neighbors also.  I hung out with the guys upstairs on Saturday while they smoked three racks of ribs and two pork shoulders.  Glorious smoked meats.  We watched the Cards game, which I've decided has to happen, just as I would watch fútbol in Costa Rica.  Of course, this is the 6 hour and 53 minute game making it a real stretch for me to care the extra 11 innings.  A lot of things can happen during that amount of time.  One thing of interest is Hailey deciding to try out flying and jumping out a two story window.  Thankfully, one of my neighbors, the smoker–of meats, not grass–caught her and she's none-the-worse.

I'm exploring Saint Louis as much as I can also.  On Friday I went to Farmhaus, a new restaurant which focuses on local ingredients and classes up some of the homey classics: meat pie with chorizo gravy, bacon-wrapped meatloaf with a BBQ glaze, fish and potatoes.  They do their own charcuterie also, which makes me happy.  Yesterday I was looking for a particular herb and went to Produce Row, which seems to be the landing spot of all the produce that gets to Saint Louis.  It was pretty impressive.

I was also welcomed to Saint Louis last week when my car was broken into.  Nothing was taken, but they smashed my window.  Got it fixed quickly and all is well.

Lately the freshness of Christ has been on my mind also.  How I often don't place my identity in him and what it looks like to do so.  How just as in the Old Testament, God sits on the throne in the tabernacle, God's right place in my life is sitting on the throne of my heart.  I often forget that and snap at people "trying" to help me on the phone, but quickly remember that I have been extended grace and so should they.  Still there are other times when I don't remember and I can only hope for more grace on my part from those around me.

Still hoping to return to Chicago to plant, so if you know anyone that wants to do that, send them my way.  Right now, however, I'm building relationships where I am and enjoying my time in Saint Louis and trying to keep my smoking relegated to meat alone.

I would like... 2009

I took yesterday as a day to reflect in earnest about what I would like my 2009 to look like. I know we're three weeks into already, but that's ahead of the curve for me. I wrote out a few statements that turned into the formula of I would like read through the Bible. I've done this before. Both in a year and otherwise. But last year I tried to commit myself to doing it and failed horribly. I'm continuing in Deuteronomy, but I hope to get through it in far under a year. get a job. Yeah, I have a job. But one that I actually enjoyed wholly would be great. And this one's going to end in a few months. have regular prayer and journal times. This has just not been up to par recently. experience freedom. It would be nice to put to death those nagging sins that have hung around for too long. be more involved. Really in the city of Chicago. I would like to find someway that I can serve this city and be able to get out in more social spheres (food, photography, beer, etc.). revive my original languages. This is by far probably my loftiest goal, especially given the amount of energy this takes. But I know people have done it and I have all the resources. I just have to put my mind to it. memorize Scripture. I had a really six months of doing this once, while I studied abroad in Costa Rica. My bus trip was just long enough to get through all my Navs TMS cards twice. Now I'll actually have to schedule it into my day. Which leads us to our next: develop a rhythm. I wake up and scramble to get ready and arrive later than I desire most days. Getting to bed typically happens when I'm done with what I'm doing, or can't find anything else good on TV. I think I can do better than this. not be dissatisfied. This one is hard to quantify, but I often let things that I'm not happy with continue to persist long after they should have been taken care of. That's why I just got my bathroom sink and dishwasher fixed after living in my apartment for 4 months. run again. I didn't actually put this in my journal, but even with temps in the 30s, I would like to get out and run. But since May I have only gotten out a handful of times. Fortunately I can't blame this purely on laziness, but have had nagging knee and foot ailments since then. I actually enjoy running, but when it hurts just to walk, I'm not going to push myself; I just need to be healthy.

If you read this, you have permission to ask me about my progress. It'll probably be slow, but I have a year.