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Movement & Momentum

Movement & Momentum


What did we all learn in high school physics class? An object in motion will stay in motion, unless acted on by an equal and opposite force? If I remember correctly, this is called momentum which maintains the movement already happening. Our momentum is prayer and for that I am grateful for all of your prayers both past and future. Please continue to create more momentum—praying—for the Gospel and its impact in Chicago.

Tom and I did meet this morning. He had many positive things to say about the proposal and I was continually waiting for the "but". "If a stranger had handed this to me, I would think it was a good plan." But? "It shows that you've done your homework." But? "It's clear that you have a Biblical approach and know your context." But? "Your goals and timelines are reasonable." But? The "but" never came. 
There are two things that we are looking at for next steps
First, Assessment. Sometimes a dirty and scary word; however, it is a necessary process that most, if not all, church planters go through. It shows exactly where my strengths and weaknesses lie. It will help to tell me where on the spectrum of church planters I lie—am I solely a church planter and every 3-5 years I will be planting a church, or am I more of a planter/pastor where I stick around a lot longer before moving on, if at all. Where are my blindspots? Things like, my numbers and budget is not exactly nailed down, which isn't a strike against me—Tom said, most church planters that are good with numbers aren't exactly good at planting churches—so I'll need to make sure I have those types of people around me. This will take place by the end of September. 
Second, Presbytery approval. The regional body of elders over Chicago for the EPC is the Rivers and Lakes Presbytery. They have final approval of the plan and proposal. Tom has a lot of influence and sway. Hopefully, there will be no unseen roadblocks. Rivers and Lakes has expressed interest in planting a church in Chicago. The R&L Presby. meets in September, which may be a little soon to get the plan approved, so it may be pushed to January 2013. Obviously, we would prefer September, but everything in God's timing. Once the plan is approved, I can receive my call and be ordained. 
And about ordination, I can take all my ordination exams before I receive my call. I will begin the long hours of study for the written and oral exams which should be completed in October at the MidAmerica Presbytery (with whom I am currently Under Care). 
Tom and I are scheduling our next meeting for the week of August 20th (my birthday, ehem). Stacey and I are moving forward with readying our house for sale and looking toward Chicago. It feels a bit like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, when Indy goes to cross the invisible bridge.

We will continue to take steps forward in faith as we see God leading us.
Please continue to pray for the process and our faith in the process. Please continue to pray for the hearts and minds of those in Logan Square that God is calling to himself. Please pray that the Spirit would be stirring up their hearts for their ultimate longing which is only satisfied in Jesus. Please pray that God would provide an excellent employment opportunity for Stacey that would help accelerate our move. 
Jesus tells Peter in Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." As we pray, we find our way into God's movement and momentum which cannot be stopped. For it is only an opposite force exists (the gates of hell), not an equal and opposite force. It's high school physics. 
"For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared...and awesome above all...?" (Ps. 89:6, 7)


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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.

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.

Post Sem

Question: Mark, What are you doing with your life post-seminary?

Answer: Nothing. Well, nothing right yet.

I thought today since I have been repeating myself many times lately on what is happening in my life, I would let you know.

Probably the last thing anyone heard about me was Kansas City. I was talking to Kevin Cawley and Kris McGee about joining his church plant Redeemer Fellowship as an intern. After much prayer, we decided that it would be best for us not to pursue working together. (To be clear, there are no hard feelings or anything of that matter. If you're in KC, I would highly recommend joining them.)

In March or April, my pastor at Grace Chicago, Bob Reid, and I started talking. He introduced me to a few people in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). In May, I met a couple men that are in charge of church revitalization in the Chicago classis. We started talking about two churches in the Chicago area that need revitalization. These conversations were extremely excited. We planned to have everything tied up by the end of June.

But the situation has proven more difficult than expected. The classis had to meet last week to be able to vote on taking over the church, which sounds extreme, until you find out the worship attendance has shrunk from 80 in May to 32 at last count. However, they were one person shy of a corum and nothing has happened.

Now the next meeting has been scheduled for the 21st of July, which right now is three weeks out. This has changed a bunch of my summer plans. I'm not going to Costa Rica like I had planned or hoped. I may be able to go back to Tulsa though for the third time in three months.

Everyone's frustrated by this, not just me. And we're not completely sure what God is doing in this time, or with the church, but we are trusting that we are doing his will. So be praying that God would move his hand, before I have to move!


I figure since I haven't been blogging in a while I should probably update as far as me. So as much as I can, I will.

I have two great roommates that moved into the apartment with me for my last year of Seminary. Both blog also. Chris is working on a MATS degree. Luke plays frisbee-- oh, and is M.Div-ing it.

School's wrapping up nicely. I had my End of Studies interview yesterday and I think they're going to let me graduate. Ephesians and Colossians is by far my favorite class this semester and maybe of all Seminary. I find Paul's use of language ever amazing and how he lays it down by saying things like "But God..." (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10). As Klyne asked in class today, "Can it be this good?"

I got back from Kansas City about 2 weeks ago now. Kevin and I had a great time together getting to see the city. We had so much BBQ on Saturday that I thought it was coming through my skin as I lay down to sleep that night. Today during class I zoned out for a good 3 minutes as I thought about my Z-man and fries. I also got to see a lot of friends from K-State and on Monday I was able to head over to Manhattan to see my grandparents.

I went on a date.

I'm going on another date.

Different girls.

I was notified today that one of my photos is going to be printed and featured at the Chicago Public Radio's Community Gallery. Pretty exciting!

I'm still involved at Grace Chicago. I'm heading up the coffee, which I may have mentioned before, but I'm thinking about changing providers. Don't tell anyone, though, I haven't checked into it yet.

I leave you with this nice video I saw earlier today.