Thursday, September 23, 2010

See You Again Soon

I spent the day in Towson while I waited for an appointment that I had scheduled. It is a pretty neat town just outside of Baltimore. I love hanging out in Towson, there is just something about it that draws me.

I guess it all began when my wife and I and some friends went to a concert at a small venue called The Recher Theatre. It was the first time I really got to spend some time and catch the vibe in the town and it was pretty much love at first sight. It was also that night that I felt God drawing me to plant a church in Towson.

What if people were lined
up like this to go to church.

The process of planting a church has been about two years now and we are planing to have our first service in the Fall of 2011 hopefully at that very venue The Recher.

The ride that is planting a church is like being on a roller coaster (esp the ones that go upside down).

There are days when you get glimpses and it is an amazing feeling to see what can be.

There are also days when you feel like you just face a lot of shut doors and unforeseen surprises and not good surprises either, and while we are at it, does anyone really like surprises after the age of 5 anyways.

It is humbling to be in the process of raising support. I am not a salesman, I don't approach the gospel as one either. My heart is to see people come to follow Jesus and bring the bible to life thru creative teaching and preaching.

Wouldn't it be great to have people who actually want to come back to church again the next week, and maybe bring a friend?

The call to plant a church for me, is the same as the call into ministry. It is apart of who I am. I would feel like I would be letting God down if this doesn't happen.

I heard a church planter say that the process of planting a church, in beginning, is about the spiritual journey of the one leading the church; he is right. It is as if every day I have to face my fears, my demons and strive to live by faith and not by sight.

This week has been challenging on many levels almost discouraging. The appointment that I had was rescheduled so I just spent some extra time at the Towson Mall, because I am a big believer in retail therapy. Just kidding...maybe. I did have to pick a few things though :-)

I decided to hit up the food court and do some praying while I was there. I was feeling the need to go mexican and enjoy a tasty burrito of epic proportions (im also a big believer in comfort food). The guy who put my burrito together smiled alot, he was just a happy dude I guess, and as I paid for my lunch he said, "See you again soon!"

For some reason, maybe spiritual, his words hit me. I'm sure he says that to a lot of the people who buy his burritos, because they are pretty darn good, but for me his words felt like a promise from God.

I will be back in this town.
I will be planting a church in Towson.
I will be buying a lot of his burritos.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Confession

I have been teaching the Gospels this year for Elevate Ministry School, and it has been an interesting journey sharing about the early church fathers. There was one historical figure who struck a chord and I liked what he wrote and I could relate to his life.

“How late I came to love oh Beauty so ancient and fresh, You were in me when I had gone outside to seek you, and always You were with me, but I was not with You. You called, You cried, You shattered my deftness, You sparkled, You blazed, You drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance and I drew in my breath and I pant for You, I tasted and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me and now I burn, longing for Your peace.” -St. Augustine

St. Augustine is known for his works Confessions and City of God, he was a large influence on theology especially on western Christianity. He had an amazing conversion experience and his approach to Christian thought and writing would look a lot like modern Christian worship songs; a rare idea in his day.

This week I had an "Augustinian-Moment" if you would want to call it that. I was driving home with my wife, she was sleeping in the passenger seat and my son was asleep in his car seat, as I was listening to Hillsong United on Pandora.

We were almost home when I prayed a short prayer, "God please give me the energy to be a good dad and husband tonight." It was then when I heard that audible-but-not-so-audible voice of God, "That was the first time I heard you pray for your family like that."

It was as if time slowed down (or I was at a traffic light) and I started to think to myself that I need to pray more prayers like that.

We then pulled into the driveway and it was back to the routine; change and feed the little guy while Marisa prepares dinner.

I didn't think much of my "moment" in the car that evening, not even when my wife thanked me for spending so much time with Keane and helping her out throughout the night.

No, it didn't hit me until I was sharing a video to the class about the life of Augustine, that I remembered how God answered my prayers and gave me energy to be a better dad and a better husband that night.

How many prayers have I prayed to get,
when I should have been praying more prayers to give.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Turning 30 and the Irony of It All

I have written and rewritten this blog numerous times.

How do you sum up the past ten years of your life?
How do you know what the next ten years of your life will be like?

I do know this.

I am ready for what's next.

I am ready to be thirty.

Looking back on my twenties I thank God for his grace, because I definitely made some mistakes. I also thank God for his grace, because I also made some really brilliant life choices too, like marrying my best friend and soulmate. (I also thank God for his grace for allowing her to put up with me.)

We have had our fair share of challenges, but the best moments have always been with my wife.

It is not easy being married to a pastor. She has always stuck by my side. Even when we moved four times in one year because there are some things that happen in ministry that no one can prepare you for in Bible College.

The ministry can be like looking at life thru a microscope.

How you look at scripture.
How you look at people.
How you look at yourself.

It can be hard to take a step back and see things in perspective (especially God's perspective) than be short sighted and see things only in the moment.

Think about it.

When you receive a grade on a test or job review, the tendency can be to look at all the things you did wrong instead of things you did right.

This week I got a glimpse of my life from a different perspective.

It has come to my attention that I am one of five Valley Forge Christian College grads to receive the "Young Alumni Service Award," recognizing alum of 10 years or younger who have made significant contributions to further the mission of VFCC.

A friend on mine tweeted congratulating me on the award. I honestly thought he was trying to prank me. He is the type of individual to do such a thing. Think Will Ferrell as youth pastor, and that's pretty much him.

I had him scan and email me the homecoming flyer so I can see for myself.

After my initial thought of being pranked (no one says punk'd anymore) my next thought was, "I don't think I have done enough to deserve this award."

I even said this to my Will Ferrell pastor friend.

He then shared some encouraging words and I began to look at my life as if I was looking at that that test, focusing on the things I did right, not the things I did wrong.

It is ironic, not just because this VFCC student was kicked out and suspended and as my uncle put it, "just happy to graduate from bible college," but that I would receive an award from the college seven years later.

"Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride...I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle" Ecclesiastes 7.8/9.11

In my life I have not won many races or seemed to get off to a good start, but I keep running.

The Fall of 2011 we will be planting a church in Towson MD.

There will be highs.
There will be lows.

I do not know how successful it will be, but I do know this...

I will continue to run, I will be faithful.

Many people have tried to define success, however I believe Mother Teresa has a good perspective on it.

"God hasn't called me to be successful. He's called me to be faithful."