How can I prepare them?

Last night, technically, earlier this morning, I wrote a three page journal entry on what it means to me to be a pastor. The kicking off point was a thought that occured to me: The heart of a pastor must be guarded from sin yet available to sinners.

This morning I awoke with the strongest desire I’ve had in a very long time to go on a missions trip. My church has a mission mentality. We want our people to know that we are living life on a mission, that you don’t have to go on a mission trip to have that “aha” moment. I completely support this mindset. I know that living life on a mission purposefully and intentionally is a paradigm shift for most. It certainly has been for me.

That being said, the thought that has been going through my head is, “How can you prepare them for what they will see when you cannot fathom it yourself.” I want to take a team of fresh eyes, fresh hearts, fresh minds on a mission trip somewhere new. Perhaps it will be my eyes, mind, heart that will need refreshing, but I believe it will be a group of people who’ve not been on a trip. I would love the opportunity to take new believers on a trip to serve a community that needs serving, to take them out of their element, to stretch their minds, their paradigms and to bring the new-found passion for Christ and for life back to NJ. I know that there is nothing that refreshes me and my vision more than serving people out of my element, out of my comfort zone. I want to pour out the wine that has been placed into my wineskin so that new wine can be poured out. I want to share me with people who have real life needs.

As I sit here typing, I know that there are those who will assert that Americans need Jesus. With this I cannot agree more. The problem is that we really don’t need anything. The vast majority of Americans are well-fed and live in better conditions than 2/3 of the world, despite what the media is trying to tell us. Trying to present Jesus to this nation is like trying to sell ice cubes to Eskimos. It appears that we have it all, though we are constantly striving for me. We watch Oprah and believe we’ve had that “God moment” needed because she cried at a worship song. As we supersize our meals and throw the containers on the ground, we have no idea or care about the person in Africa who has neither eaten nor consumed clean water for weeks. As we show up for our Sunday duty at our myriad of churches, unscaathed aside from words from the liberal media, we have no concept that there are Christians in Bangledesh, in Syria who attend church covertly because for them, church attendance is death. There are nations in Europe, the intellectual center of the West, wherein only 10% of the people have truly heard the gospel, where an even smaller percentage of the population have touched a Bible. I’ve recently read about cultural Christianity which permeates the southern part of the US. I’d like to assert that cultural Christianity is a cancer throughout our nation. It’s a badge that we pull out of the closet on Christmas so that we can show off our new dress, on Easter so that we can wear a new hat.

I am an American, and I love this country. I would take a bullet for democracy; I would take a bullet for President Bush. I have been so blessed to grow up in the land of opportunity. I cannot imagine growing up elsewhere. However, I do not believe that this is where I have been called to minister. The more that I try to picture myself here, the less I feel like me and the more I feel like that square peg being pushed into a round hole. I try to picture myself in NJ for the next three years, going to school, working, living life and I see Much Afraid with her crippled leg, limping around the valley being scorned by her family and friends. It is time for me to take my crippled self to the mountains, to have the Shepherd, Wisdom and all of the others teach me to have hinds’ feet. I know that people in NJ, in the USA need Jesus more than ever, need to be led to the Saviour rather than to a pantheistic religion. I also know that I am the one who is called to minister here at this time.

So, I find myself, once again turning on a dime, changing direction. It is time that I stop allowing myself to be tossed on the waves like a person without an anchor. I have to focus on what I’ve been called to do, and I have to step out of what I’ve not been called to do so that the person who is called to fill that place can step up and be the man or woman of God he or she is called to be. Will people understand? Hopefully. Am I certain that this decision will be accepted? No. My Anchor, however, is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. His name is Jesus. He too had to walk a path that others did not understand. His followers expected Him to overtake the government and for His kingdom to be on earth. My knee jerk reaction to life is to seize the opportunity that I have right in front of me. That is how I was so successful at the bank. I believe that God’s plan is different. And now is when I will have to prove that I am willing to look foolish and follow Him, not really knowing where He leads, trusting that He has not only my best interest but the best interest of people that I have grown to love very deeply at heart.

The conversation

I’ve actually convinced someone to blog. Yay! Another convert…my plan is working…haha

Yesterday I was talking to a friend, and I was inadvertently encouraged to start writing. There are a bunch of books hidden deep within me, and it’s time to start getting some of that stuff to the surface. Today I started brainstorming. I’m rather excited about some of the topics. I am by no means an expert on anything, but I know that I have something to add to the conversation. I am going to use this “free” time or “down” time to start doing something that could have a very positive long term effect not only in my life but in the life of my family as well. I don’t exactly know where I will be able to go to get the peace and quiet that I will need once I actually begin the composition of the book(s) but I’m sure that there is Someone who will help me with that when the time comes.

Oh yes. Church yesterday was amazing. I am stunned at the teaching that we are receiving. I am stunned at how quickly we are growing. Yet I find myself feeling a bit perturbed that we’re not growing more quickly. There are some things in the works, but I’ve not yet found that “thing” into which I can dig my heels and stick it out for the long haul. I thought it was the young adult ministry, but I’m not so sure. I’m certain that it is neither children’s nor youth. So, all I’ve learned is that it is not a specialized ministry–to a particular age group. Sometime knowing what is not is just as much an answer as knowing what is. That is what I’m going to tell myself for the moment, at any rate.

I’m gleaning a lot of information from the podcasts of National Community Church and from Mosaic. I always felt previously that I was cheating on my church by listening to pastors other than those in my church and from those in “the network” and from those associated with Hillsong. Recently I’ve found the freedom that lay in the exchange of ideas. I’ve taken a lot from the conversation, and soon I too will be adding to the conversation.

Tomorrow’s task will perhaps be to discover what I mean by “the conversation” because I’ve typed it several times and I still have no idea what it is or who is actually conversing. But right now I’m tired and I’m rambling. I’m good at that.


Last night was awesome, but it left me a bit….frustrated? angry? perplexed? I should begin by mentioning that it is not the people with whom I spent time that had me feeling such a mixed salad of emotions. It is what is going on in other churches that has me…ARGHHH.

I have a question that I need answered. It is not really a question that can be answered. I would like to know how midget tossing relates at all to church life, let alone how it represents God. Why not start sacrificing chickens? How about selling some snake oil? For the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around this idea. How does this teach college and career kids how Jesus would relate to a midget? How does this reflect any of God’s character? What is the purpose of objectifying and marginalizing a group of people who are already seen as less than?

What I would like to know even further is this. Knowing that this is occuring in a church, would you want your name attached to this church? How can this be planned, and how can 500 people remain silent?

I am literally crawling out of my skin right now. I want to call the pastors, their accountability board, the press. But…I don’t want all Christians to look like fools because of one group of foolish people. So…with that, I will hold my silence, seeking God, asking Him for His counsel. I do have contacts at Fox News if He would like me to call. But, if He requests, requires my silence on this topic, I shall remain silent.

Vintage Faith Cafe

I just went to pasta night at our college/career ministry. Wow…talk about sensory overload. I was pretty much the only “outsider” aka the only person who has not been a part of the group for the past 10 years. I cannot recall the last time I laughed so hard. I think that these are people with whom I can be friends…hopefully long term. I can honestly see myself having coffee with Cindy in 20 years, looking back, smiling fondly thinking about our memories. It is my prayer that this is more than a pipe dream, but a reality. We’re going to chat about different ways and different things to do with the group to help facilitate growth and to keep the group interesting. In many ways, I feel totally out of touch with early 20 somethings, though my life right now looks much like I am 21 instead of 31. But…suddenly…haha. I’m so over the suddenly references right now. I’d just like something to happen. But that is a whole other blog. I believe that tonight began a friendship…I really need friends my age who are successful…at being themselves. Authenticity is the word of the week.

Wrong way down a one-way street

So far today I’ve frantically prepared my niece and nephew for school and driven the wrong way down a one-way street. There is only one way to go from here: up!

Yesterday I spoke with the Admissions department in Liberty University and Gordon Conwell. GCTS is a great school, but you can only take 10 of your 10 classes via Semlink. That would be fine if I didn’t desire to stay in NJ. It would be a great way to kick off seminary, but I could never complete my degree and stay here. The woman at Liberty was really helpful and gave me a lot of information. So much in fact that I took a whole page of notes. I believe that I am going to choose Liberty. The program looks good. I suppose that only time will tell, eh?

Back to the beginning. I’ve never driven the wrong way down a one way street. It was just a dumb moment…I’ve lived in this city my whole life. Curtis Street has been a one way street my whole life. So, what was going through my head? Yeah…I don’t know. Perhaps the alluring smell of coffee and my banana nut muffin? Not so much. For a long time, I’ve been waiting for “suddenly.” Suddenly has come upon me at an alarming rate. Three weeks ago, I was considering seminary from a distance. I was in like with my church, but not willing to commit too much of myself to the church because I was completely afraid. Yeah, I told them I wasn’t afraid, but I was. I was pretending to be brave, to be strong and courageous. Something amazing happened while I was pretending. It turned to truth. It’s rather profound. It leads me to the question that has burned in my mind since I first read about Joshua. When Joshua and Caleb saw the Promised Land, full of the giants and flowing milk and honey, were they really so undaunted by the giants, or were they saying that, knowing that the more they spoke it, the more they would believe it? They were the youngest of the 12. And of the 12, only 2 thought they could win. Were the 10 speaking out of fear, which was their reality? I’m going with yes on that, since I’ve been the 2 and the 10. The only way I’ve become brave is by speaking what I wanted to be and then one day walking into what I want to be. So, I may have begun my day by driving the wrong way down a one way street, but I am spending the rest of my day walking up the mountain.

I’ve been absolutely amazed and blown away by the …

I’ve been absolutely amazed and blown away by the journey that God and I have been walking over the past few days. I went to a meeting to support a friend, and out of that meeting I made some pretty important decision. With those decisions have bubbled many ideas that I forgot were hidden away in my heart. Yesterday I listened to a Catalyst podcast in which Mark Batterson from the National Community Church in Washington, DC was interviewed. As I listened to him speak, I found myself taking three pages of notes. Listening to him and other leaders speak has become more of a brainstorming session than an informational session.

It will be very interesting to see where this road leads. I’m currently in the process of looking into seminary. There are almost too many options considering my tunnel vision on the topic for the past three years. I want to be able to work and live in the Southern NJ/Philadelphia area so that I can still attend and be a part of what is going on in my home church. I’ve found a place that is everything I’ve dreamed church could be but never thought it could be, and, quite frankly, I don’t want to leave. I can’t imagine why God would have brought me here only to take me away. But I digress on a topic that needs prayer, not public display.

Gordon Conwell-great school. beautiful campus. my first choice for the past few years. it has a distance learning program that i will learn more about today when I call to ask questions.
Liberty University-pastor is an alumni (a) (us)-obviously I didn’t take Latin in high school. anyway. it has a great distance learning program which would allow me to study, work and minister in my home church while earning my MDiv.
Princeton Theological Seminary-it is Princeton. What’s not to love in that alone? I have a friend who graduated from PTS and loved it. only negative, I’d have to live on campus. it is not commuter-friendly. though that may be a good thing as well.

So, there’s life in a nutshell.

Quite amusing

Last night I received the most amusing phone call. A friend called me and said that she had been praying for me, and she sensed that I had some fear…about moving to Boston, about our friendship, about something. It was interesting, because for the first time in my life, I seriously have no fear about anything…ok, maybe moving in with my aunt, but that will be short-lived and not nearly as bad as my visits because I will be working and will not be with her 24/7.

So, I let her keep talking, and I attempted to really see what was going on. I shared minimally with her, because, to be honest, I have made a decision to separate from her. I don’t need drama in my life, and I don’t need people who are unrestrained in their living constantly dropping their problems on my plate.

I think that what has happened is that in her spirit, she senses that she is the one who is afraid. She knows that something happened the night that she lied to me and didn’t answer my call. A level of trust that had been the cornerstone of our relationship was eroded. I saw clearly, for the first time, that she has not been completely honest with me. And, with clarity of mind, I made a decision not to believe everything that she says to me. God has not given me the gift of discernment to turn it off when I need it most.

God has called me to a kind of living that will require that the people with whom I am accountable and surrounded be on solid ground spiritually. I know that we all have our weaknesses. Mine happens to be chocolate, among others. However, there are some weaknesses that cloud our judgment and therefore cloud our ability to hear God for ourselves and for others. So, yes, I am cutting some people out of my inner circle. Those people never had the right to be there in the first place.

Today is a great day

Today is a great day. It is great to see that a man of integrity has been placed in the great halls of justice on the Supreme Court. It is the first time in a long time that I have been excited and proud of my government, the government that I have taken part in electing.

A great battle is occuring right now. I had an amazing lunch today followed by hell. I went to pick up my sister’s kids from school, and they staged a mutiny on the way home. My niece was exasperated because we were not walking home. To appease her, I allowed her to sit in the front seat. While I was walking from the passenger side to the driver’s side, she taunted her brother. This resulted in a temper tantrum unlike I’ve seen from in quite a while. Then I came home to find my cousin on the computer and on the phone. I told her to pick a form of communication and stick to it, after which she told the person on the other end of the phone that I am a bitch. I was appalled and so angry that I was shaking. I went into the bedroom to put out the fire that began burning while I drove the kids home…and peace ensued. As I walked by my cousin, I told her that I wanted to talk to her when she got off the phone, and I went into my bedroom.

Well, a few minutes later, she disappeared. Last week, she allegedly tried to commit suicide. I say allegedly because she was not kept in the hospital for observation, which raises a red flag in my mind when someone swallows an entire bottle of pills. So, needless to say, after about an hour, my mother is getting concerned. I wasn’t all that concerned as she knows that she is in a stable environment and that we love her unconditionally. She is not going off to kill herself here, because she has a lot of positive attention. She came home about 2 hours later, pissed off, not talking to anyone, calling people telling them how awful I am, and claiming that she wanted to go home.

I took her out for coffee, and we talked. The problem is that she is a pathological liar. She cannot keep her lies straight. So, she told me one story and told about 10 people other stories. I don’t really know what is going on, but I do know (or hope) that she is not plotting to kill me as I sleep. That is a step forward. I think that she is going to be here for a while. My family is learning to set boundaries, and she is learning to live within said boundaries. My family is now set in two camps: the camp that sees me as the aggressor, arrogantly setting boundaries for a kid who has never lived within boundaries and the camp that sees me as the victim of a kid who is very angry and who is unlovable. I see myself as neither. Sometimes people who attempt suicide need nurturing. This kid needs tough love. She needs to know that there is someone who sees through her lies and deception and manipulation, will call her on it, and loves her unconditionally. I do not pull the wool over people’s eyes. I do not tell you what you want to hear to make you feel good. I tell the truth, encased in love, so that you can get healthy. I loathe people who tell me what they think I want to hear to make me feel good. That is BS with which I will not deal.

I am moving to the Boston area on October 15, my dad’s 52nd birthday. My birthday present to him is moving on with my life, moving toward my destiny. I desperately need to get out of NJ. There is nothing here for me. It is so time to move on that it is embarassing. I have an interview set up for the 17th. Oh yeah…I’ve purchased a one way ticket. There is no coming home, unless I am making money and can afford to come home. This is a do or die situation. And I plan on doing and being successful.

A New Beginning

Today seems to be the first day of the rest of my life, so I am beginning a new journey in a new blog.

I will be relocating very soon…to the Boston area. I can’t wait to have a fresh slate, to start over. I know that my time in Boston will not be that long, and I also know that God is going to do something amazing while I am there.

Tonight I had the overwhelming desire to preach. I miss everything about it…the preparation, the delivery, knowing that God is using me to change people’s lives for the better. It is not that I want to be known, but that I want God’s name to be made famous throughout the land. I want people to know who God is, what He is about, what it means to truly be a follower of Christ. I can’t wait to be free to use the gift that God has given me. I can’t wait to be in an environment in which my gifts are not only used but cultivated. In short, I can’t wait until I am free to be me. I am tired of living under constraints…the constraint of what other people believe I am, of what other people are told I am, of who other people are told I am. I can’t wait until it is time to be me.