I am not a minute details person. It's not that I am unable to plan them out but rather that it is not the thing my head naturally trends to.
The reason I bring this up is because it is the reason I named this blog what I did and, amazingly, the thing that has rocked my world time and again. Life's all consuming question- as C.S. Lewis once wrote- is: what are you going to do with Christ? Oh, I know that His "followers" are legion but it seems that many are like football (or futbol) fans who proudly wear a team jersey and avidly follow the games and stats but at the end of the day have never been a part of that team or really even played that sport.
So many claim the title Christian but this is the time of year when you should ask yourself what that really means to you. If it means you go to a gathering once a week for one hour, throw the occasional $20 in the offering plate, and your kids are in the pageant then it may be time to re-asses the situation.
A friend of mine was talking with me last night and told me that his church canceled their Christmas Eve service. Before you get upset you should know that his church puts on a MASSIVE outreach to the community that, literally, draws tens of thousands but takes months of planning and runs over the course of weeks. I think they did their Christmas due.
However, on the heels of the news, several vitriolic emails found their way to my friend and his boss. Kindly, they responded to several of the authors (who signed only first names) and told them that their families would be spending Christmas Eve helping out a needy family. One man wrote back that, "that's the STUPIDEST idea I have ever heard."
Let's be fair, this guy had his church's Christmas Eve service canceled and the needy family was only concerned with eating and buying their kids presents. Obviously, the church is wrong (sarcasm heavily invoked).
But this story is only a microcosm of many's "Christian" life. We spend the whole year gossiping, over-eating, getting drunk, sleeping around, looking at pornography, and the only time we invoke the name of Jesus is to express our emotion as the guy in front of us just cut us off. We don't bother to visit those in prison, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, or love the unlovable- it would "cancel our Christmas Eve service"- and move us from complacent-jersey-wearing-bench-sitting to the grit, grim, and reality of the game.
Follow Jesus or don't follow Jesus. That is the Crux of the Matter.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I was turned down for a job. Don't get to upset on my behalf though because I applied as a joke.
The job was a the role of senior pastor in California at a church of 5,000. They were very polite and set me a nice letter with very professional letterhead saying that, darn it, they did not think I would be the appropriate fit for that role.
But it made me think back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine shortly after he graduated from his graduate work. He was searching for a church and discarding one position after another, citing- from time to time- some pretty trivial concerns. Finally, I piped up and told him to just take the job he felt was MOST right and quit whining.
This is applicable to any job but ministers may be the most guilty of it as they search for jobs and churches. We get ideas in our heads of how the church should be, how the people would be, the staff we would have, and the salaries we should make and then cannot understand either why those churches do not want to hire us or why we cannot find those churches.
What I shared with my friend on that day was that you are not ready for your ideal jobs when you are looking for it like that. This isn't to enter into some Eastern style thought of, "When you no longer seek you will find,"- at least intentionally- but to some degree it is true.
Early on in your career you are not ready for it. You cannot deal with the demands, the expectations, the patience, the staff issues, or even the money. You do not have the experience. You can be educated at all the right schools, have done all the right internships, and even have great connections but in the end that simply is not the issue. Oh, sure, there are rare exceptions.
In fact, you probably wouldn't even be able to choose your "perfect" job if every job in your field was open to you. You wouldn't know yourself well enough because- again- you don't have the experience.
For instance, early on in my career, I thought I wanted a Ph.D. in Theology so I could nitpick my denomination for various things. Looking back I must have been insane. What would possess me to think that 7 years of staring at books, attending classes, and then delving into the finer points of TULIP and Armenian thinking would really leave me feeling fulfilled?
I do not know where I am going next. Yet. I have some leads and (at least) one REALLY exciting possibility.
Maybe there is no perfect job though, maybe that is a fool's errand, maybe we need to stop looking and just enjoy where we are at and let God's will find us. It seems like the less I try and force God the more He does.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Perspective counts for almost everything in life. Where you stand in proximity to a mountain makes it beautiful scenery or a terrifying climb.
During my countless exit interviews from the USMC OCS they plopped me in front of a colonel, a sergeant major, and numerous captains- all gathered in one room and then demanded to know if I was leaving simply because I was "homesick" or was there another reason. I told them I was leaving because of what I learned at OCS. The colonel said that no one had stated that reason before so he was intrigued.
I explained that early on in the cycle a first sergeant who resembled a hybrid of miniature bear and the hulk gave us a talk on finishing the things that we have started, not growing weary when others do wrong but to continue on- even in the face of failure. It occurred to me then that I had gotten out of the church for all the wrong reasons. I had left for lazy people who would not share their faith or live in true community, I had left for pious gossips, I had left for denominational bureaucracy... but I had never lost faith in the mission- I had only lost site of the important in the face of the immediate.
That is pretty easy to do for any of us I think. I just re-watched the movie "Orange County" (I know, its deep here folks) and really found myself identifying with the character of Collin Hanks who is trying to run away to college to fulfill his dream only to discover he is chasing it the wrong way.
Sometimes by chasing the wrong thing we end up discovering the right one... but I wouldn't recommend relying on that method.