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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

A new site.  A new city.  Almost a new apartment.  The closest of you know the details, but since I'm not in constant contact with those who are close, but not the closest, I want to give a brief overview of the happenings of my life.

I am enjoying my internship with City Church and still very much getting to know all aspects of that.  The Body, the city, the culture, the music, the you-do-it-this-way-but-I-normally-do-it-another-way sort of things that make one feel not quite at home.  Most of this is going well though.  Sunday I signed a lease and should find out soon when I get to move into the new apartment.  I'll post photos, as well as give you a call when I need help moving.

The internship is in its third week.  Mike and I have gotten extra time together, since I've been sleeping on his couch.  I have gotten to know his wife, Beth and their beautiful daughter (16 months–I think) Lunden.  I have been getting up early on Mondays and meeting with the group of guys who are leaders at City Church.  We are reading through Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian as a primer to reformed theology.  Even as a small book, it has been one to challenge our preconceived notions of Christianity that have perhaps crept in through something close to a Biblical understanding, but not quite.  Mike, Phil, Jessica (the other intern) and I have also been meeting to discuss readings that have served to familiarize us with the Gospel, living in the city, and taught us to understand the story which God is creating in us.

Job-wise I'm still looking.  Pray specifically for this.  I thrice staged at Niche, recognized as the premier restaurant of St. Louis.  I got to know some of the guys there well, even in my short time, but as there are no part-time positions available there, I have had to look other places.  Thankfully, they have a Brasserie open in the Central West End that is looking for part-timers.  I go in to stage there today (Tuesday).  My reluctance at working in a restaurant kitchen is the long hours they demand.  A 12-hour shift, located primarily in the later half of the day, limits my time to spend with others as well as puts a burden on Hailey.  I may not have much of a choice though these first few months, since all the other places I have applied to are not hiring.

I'm happy to see God moving me in a specific direction.  I'm finding a lot of satisfaction in him and the internship doesn't feel like work–it's something I would naturally do.  That is a blessing itself.

I guess I'll blog

I mean, I have enough to write about. About 90% of the things I do throughout the day have blog potential. Take the overly loud high school girls at Starbucks today. I could blog about them and how I had to enact the noise-canceling headphones to begin to drown them out while I tried to study. Wasn't a complete success.

I could blog about class and how Klyne talked about what it would mean for us to start to think about ourselves as "in Christ" instead of Christ being in us. How it might make us look at evangelism differently and the Church differently, if we were inviting people into Christ, rather than pushing them to invite Christ into their lives. Just beginning to peel back the wrapper on that chocolate bar.

I could talk about Grace on Sunday, how my roommate Chris came with me and that hearing the "you are forgiven" almost drove me to tears at confession, drawing me into a deeper appreciation for what Christ has done for me and the subsequent communion that I was able to partake.

I could point you here.

I could talk about how I only attend class for 4.5 hours a week because I have on class that only meets for a weekend and another directed study.

I think most exciting for me to talk about, however, is my Saturday. After talking to Kevin on Wednesday, he called me again late Saturday morning and we planned to meet up downtown around 4. We did and proceeded to walk around the entirety of the loop-- on the outside of the loop. We walked for about 2 hours and were late getting back to the train station for him to get out of town. But we shared what was on our hearts about where God is calling us and what our desire is for that call. About Kansas City and how the Gospel isn't reaching the city. About how we don't want to be on the outskirts of the town, off in the suburbs-- no matter how many people would come. We talked about what ministry would/could look like together and how we could continue in that conversation and move forward in further discussion on getting to KC.

In the end, I was able to meet his 6 month pregnant wife and a couple other friends. I'm beyond excited and joyed about the future possibilities and potentialities where God is leading both of us. Please continue to pray for God's will in both of our lives as we plan to enter into ministry in the following year.

(Day) Dreaming

I just know I'm not going to sleep for about the next 3 nights and after that only God will be able to shut my mind off from dreaming so that I'll be able to get to sleep and get some actual dreaming done.

I just got off the phone with this guy named Kevin Cawley. We made a connection through the blog world, but mainly on Flickr-- that photo sharing site that consumes too much of my time. And after being within about 200 miles of him in early August, missing the connection, we just now were able to catch some air time with each other.

Right now, he's spending a year praying and planning in preparation to go to Kansas City to plant a church. He has a real vision, much of which I haven't heard yet, to have a church that really reaches the city for Christ.

I, in my bubble, have been praying for God to give me direction and lead me to a place to church plant. I feel like I could do ministry anywhere, but I want to be in the place that he would send me. So I've taken my time in prayer and consideration hoping that he would lead me not only to a place, but that he would bring people into my life that have a desire to plant also.

Back to my insomnia:

After missing connections in Tulsa, Kevin's coming up to Chicago this weekend. He had mentioned this in a email he sent me, but some how I overlooked it. Finally we'll be in the same city and have an opportunity to sit down and talk about our visions that God has given us. My issue is that I'll dream about everything as I lie down to go to sleep and my mind will race about all the possibilities.

All five of you that read this, please pray for the next couple of days that I'd be able to get to sleep and for the time that Kevin and I will have together. Also pray that both of us would be led to know what God has for us and to where/what he is leading us.