Archive for May 2014


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    I kept telling myself that planting a church would be hard work. It's easy to get caught up in the glamour, so to speak, of church planting. However, I didn't anticipate an urgent care visit this morning. I didn't expect that type of hard work.

    I've had some severe pain in my neck and shoulder for a few days now. Muscle spasms are seriously horrible, and I really don't know if I've ever felt anything like it in my life. I thought I had pulled a muscle, but this morning I woke up with red spots all over the same areas the pain is in. An urgent care visit later, and I am diagnosed with shingles. Who knew at the ripe old age of 29 I'd get shingles. Apparently stress can trigger the virus that's been dormant since I had chicken pox as a child. 
   Disappointing to say the least. Not only am I in pain, but I'm also somewhat contagious. I can't be around children, pregnant ladies, or people with compromised immunities. This puts a bit of a damper on getting settled, and on exploring the community. 
   However, I am still amazed at how God moves, and the ways in which He has used me despite being stuck inside and feeling miserable. 
   Instead of feeling miserable, and being disappointed that all the boxes aren't unpacked, that I haven't gotten to walk around the city, and all of the other things I thought I'd be doing today, I'm choosing to look at the blessings.
  •     While driving to and from urgent care, I got to see downtown Hammond which I hadn't experienced yet. I feel like I have more of a bearing for where we are, and the vast diversity of this city.
  •      I found the 24 hour pharmacy Walgreens since my prescription needed to be filled and it was before 9am. Which led me to discover several restaurants (including McDonalds, which was great since I needed some breakfast after the crazy AM), as well as where a few stores are.
  •      While I was sitting in the parking lot at Walgreens, eating my aforementioned healthy McDonalds breakfast, a man knocked on my window (which startled me, and I threw my healthy egg, sausage and biscuit in the air), but I rolled my window down. He seemed pretty desperate for some gas money to get back home. I only had a dollar and some change, but I gave him what I could. He seemed grateful, and I felt a little less useless about being stuck with shingles. 
  •       I was here when the AT&T guy came, and was able to talk to him. I was able to give him some water, and that also made me feel better.
  •      We also have had a guy doing some work on our house from a neighboring church. He stopped by to continue some projects. It was great to meet him, and we had some truly awesome conversations. He asked me what church planting looks like, and we talked about the Church being more than a building. It was really great to get to know someone who has put so much time into getting our house ready for us, and who will be doing more in the days ahead. Most importantly it was great to be able to share in a thin place. A moment that I thought I wouldn't have today, because I'm stuck here, but I had none the less. An opportunity to see the kingdom of God in a unique way. 
    Despite this week looking different than my expectations, I truly can't complain much. I'm in pain, I feel miserable, but it's so evident that the Holy Spirit is moving. I'm praying my ego and expectations don't get in the way. I'm praying that I remember the next time things don't go as planned, that that doesn't mean God can't redeem the situation for the good. 
     Trying to look on the bright side of things, and would love prayers for the days of healing yet to come. (And that I'd rest... because it's hard to rest with so much to do). 

The God of the Hallways


   We have 7 days left here. It's exhausting looking at the amount of things to be done, and it's getting more difficult to navigate the maze of boxes that are beginning to take over the house.
    It's more exhausting to say goodbye to people we love so much. The whole process is exciting and exhausting.
   If nothing else during this whole process, God's faithfulness has been reconfirmed to me. Mac got a job! Which will mean we will actually be able to buy groceries, which is a big thing for us. The new house has brand new, beautiful floors. A new front door is being put in today. The walls of our current home are getting more and more bare as the days go on. The thought of "This is really happening" runs through my mind on a regular basis.
    On Sunday, I preached my last sermon as an associate pastor here. I preached a benediction that God would open doors for all of us, and that we'd have the boldness to walk through them as they open.
    If nothing else, I'm grateful to say that despite everything, we are walking through the open door.
    A lady at church came up to me after service and said "When God closes one door, he opens another, but I hate the hallways." I thought that was a wonderful sentiment of where we are right now. We're in the hallway moving from one door to the next.
     I've spent time looking through the pictures that hang in our own physical hallways, and had time to think and reflect over our time here. Hallways really aren't fun, it's not where life happens, it's where you are passing by to go to the next thing. It's a lot of comings and goings.
     I'm reminding myself, God is in the hallways too. He is in the comings and goings of our lives. He's in the hellos and goodbyes. He's in the pictures on the wall, and the worn carpet from frequented steps. It's much easier to see where He has been.
    I see God in our first days as a married couple in this house. I see God in our youth ministry, and the lives that have been transformed. The time a student told me that someday he'd tell everyone his youth pastor taught him how to cook. The time a student came in beaming about good grades. In the moments I've watched them make great decisions for the Kingdom. I've watched them hug homeless men and women, play card games laughing, and loving life. I've seen God move through our small group ministry, as new Christians have transformed into leaders. I've seen lights in eyes as they understood holiness for the first time. I can look back and I can see God there.
    It's also easy to dream about where I know I'll see Him in the future, as he transforms lives and uses us to reach a broken community for the Kingdom.
But... seeing him here in this hallway, in this transition is harder. Goodbyes are hard. Moving is hard. Yet, I know he is here. I know that God walks with us in our comings and goings. He's the great I AM, and while I know he was and will be, he IS right now in this moment.
    So, while I hate the hallways, I know that they are a part of the journey, and that growth still happens here. I know that God's presence is still here, and sometimes, when I'm still, like now, in the midst of boxes and tears, I see Him, and I know that even this is for His glory. Even this does not escape Him. I am still His, He is still mine, even now in the in between. God is still God, even in the hallways.

I Had a Dream

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     I had this crazy dream last night. I was in a long line with a bunch of other people waiting to get chosen to enter this huge stadium for something. As dreams go, it wasn't entirely clear why I was there or what I was doing, but lots of people seemed to know me. Only, they weren't calling me by my name they kept calling me "the comeback kid".
    One woman called me the "Comeback King" and I said "do I look like a 'king' to you?"
    It was all very odd, but people knew me. Then my subconscious started to piece things together for me. As I stood in the line, I was given a blogger press pass, and people kept talking about my church. There were even a few people who I know there who came up and asked me about my ministry and how proud I must be.
   People got rowdy as someone came out, and it was a very tall beaming young man in a basketball jersey who waved to me and was telling the press something about his pastor, and his church. Then I woke up.
   I told you it was crazy.
    Maybe I could send it in and have it analyzed. It was weird, but it was a bit cool at the same time. I don't know if I really want to be a famous blogger/celebrity pastor, but there was something cool in the dream about being known as the one who helps to restore things. To be a person who someone looks at and says "that's her, she made a difference in my life, and that's why I'm here."
    I'm no Daniel, so I'm sure the dream is not some premonition of 7 years of famine, followed by 7 years of famous, or something. What I do know, is that while I have a limited desire to be famous (I could say none, but I'm still human, and those bright lights are attractive at times), I do have a deep desire to bring about "Comebacks". That I have a deep desire to see an old empty church building be alive with activity again. That I desire to see lives brought back to the heart of God. That maybe one day, some young adult will be wearing a basketball jersey talking about the difference his/her pastor made in their life.
    This morning I laugh and reminisce on a crazy dream, but at the same time, I hope and pray that the part about orchestrating comebacks is true. That I am a tool for restoration in the hand of God for the world.

The Now, Not Yet

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   Our living room has been overtaken by boxes. Reality is setting in, that this is for real. At this point, there is no going back. In front of us is the actual jumping. It's one thing to say yes to God, it's another thing to actually jump out of the proverbial airplane.
     We hope and pray that the parachute opens, that God's hands open up and catch us. As for now, we are in the interim.
     We are living in the now and the not yet of this new ministry.
     Now, boxes are being packed, plans have been made, keys have been transferred, and dreams have been dreamed for this new ministry.
    Yet, there is not yet a church, and those dreams and plans are still very much dreams and plans. We're still here. I still sit in my office at my current church and write up plans for youth group, and write a sermon for next week. Those things are still happening, because we are not yet there.
      During Sunday school this week, the question came up about participating in the kingdom of God now, but that the kingdom of God isn't really here fully, not yet.
    That is what the kingdom of God is, this now, not yet paradox. Something we participate in, that we get glimpses of, but that isn't fully known until Christ returns.
   On a mini scale, that's what I feel like I am experiencing now. Glimpses of the kingdom of God to be in Hammond, but not yet actualized. Glimpses of a church to be, that isn't yet there. Maybe I'm starting to understand the Kingdom of God in ways I haven't before.
    God's Kingdom is so much bigger than the work to be done in Hammond, and I am praying that I start to grasp that. That I start to live into this vast imagination that God has for places. That I start to see it the way that God sees it, and that I see people the way God would.
     I pray that I always live with this tension of the now, not yet kingdom of God. A kingdom that is yet to be fulfilled, but that I can participate in on a daily basis. I want to live and reveal that kingdom every day, in our home, in our neighborhood, in our community and world. That this vision and imagination that God has placed within my heart, would be just seeds of the greatness that is to come. That I wouldn't just live with the hope that the kingdom of God would be actualized one day, but that I'd live into that kingdom now. That I'd be doing all I can to see that kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.