Thursday, November 29, 2007

Georgia and Back

Several friends have noted that I have not been keeping up with the blog and emailed their concern. Thanks! Some of you have noticed that we went to Georgia and came back without blogging about it. Part of that is due to the business surrounding that trip, but that was a month ago now. So, first...

I bought a ticket for $146 and flew out to Georgia on 10/17. Cathy met me at the airport and we happily drove back to her dad's house together. We attended Cathy's sister's wedding on Saturday. I got to preach twice (Sunday and Wednesday) and generally attended morning Bible studies and tagged along with Cathy's dad, Al, as much as possible.

Al's cancer had progressed much like a faith journey; there was a spot on his brain scan, and on a re-check the spot had dissappeared and been replaced with another one. Each health chalenge is met by God's grace, and new challenges come along, another opportunity to trust God. Al's health is in God's hands, and we all think that is a good place for it. The doctors are convinced it is a matter of time; Al thinks God is not done with him yet, and it is a matter of His time.

I have received a great deal of education which should prepare a pastor for a position of ministry. I look at what Al does, though, and know that education along is insifficient to do what he does daily. Rather, God's grace alone is sufficient for the task, for which Al says he does not measure up, and for which I would see myself falling far short of acheiving. When I first met Al, I thought that what he does is admirable, but something I could not do. Later, I found it admirable, and would consider helping on occasion. Then, I considered the possibility of being an assistant pastor, but I decided that I could not lead such a ministry. And now, I know for sure such a ministry is beyond my power, but would willingly labor in it.

The church campus is large to me, sitting on 22 acres, most of which is undeveloped. I looked around and saw great potential. It is in this context that I heard God's call, to my surprise and no small distress, that He wanted me to serve as Al's successor. As I already stated, I am unable to fulfill such a task on my own power, and my own inability terrifies me. It was Friday evening that I knelt with Cathy and prayed, and accepted in my mind that Al was going to ask me to take his place; not long thereafter, Cathy's dad did, indeed, ask me to do so. By faith, I have accepted what we each believe is God's will. Since then, I have come to a peace that God, in His sovereignty, will provide and direct.

I was unable to preach on Sunday before we left because I wanted to see my longtime friend and brother in the Lord, Ted Chandler. Saturday came surprisingly quickly, and we left early on Sunday in order to drive up to Indiana and see the Chandlers. Ted & Angela encouraged us in our decision and ffter sharing a meal at Cracker Barrel we pressed on. We stopped at St. Louis (MO), Denver (CO), St. George (UT), and got home. We were very happy to see my kitties and doggy again.

I had previously inquired about a transfer to Georgia but I was told that there is no room right now; payroll in Georgia is already full. That means the company is needs to either make a lot more money, or someone in Georgia would have to retire or quit. *sigh* God will work it out. So, that's the update on Georgia.

Cathy and I are looking to refinance the triplex so we can afford it. After all, we're expecting God to provide a means for us to move East. My original plan involved being bi-vocational, essentially getting a transfer and working at the church with every spare hour. Now, I don't know, but the first step is to make living more affordable.

Cathy is still looking for employment; we joke about working at Starbucks, where she could get inexpensive coffee. She is thinking about a mailing place, though, as well. We'll see how that works out.

The cats are all doing OK. Boaz is very much himself and seems nonetheless for wear since his surgery; the only difference with Boaz is his increased affection for us. Bubba just got his nuts removed today, but male kitties recover so soon that you would think they didn't notice being at the vet at all.

I graduate the second week of December. Thank God.

There are a few other things, like Cathy's car getting keyed, but God seems to be teaching us to be less attached to material things, so we're not looking to get that fixed immediately. We went to Disneyland as we had two passes which were expiring, and we stayed Big Bear for a timeshare sales pitch and $75 (free money!). On the way back from Big Bear, Cathy and I discussed and debated passages about Satan whether we give him too much credit; what a suitable wife for me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs

I want one: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs.

Boost your vocabulary & give free rice

Increase your vocabulary with a Reader's-Digest-style quiz at Free Rice and help earn (that's right) free rice paid for by banner ads at the bottom of the screen. The rice is distributed through the U.N.

P.S. If you are wondering about the nutritional value of rice, click here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Water for Africans, Free Music for You

Visit HopeAmp, sign up and receive a free song download (from Matthew Smith; I like "All I Owe"), and help Blood:Water Mission (founded by Jars of Clay) provide clean blood and clean water in Africa.

The Gift of Worship

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Portal: the Flash Version

If you like puzzle games and have about 90 minutes, check out Portal: the Flash Version.

Alone in His Timing

I just realized how much I am depending on my seminary connections for peer support and prayer support. As the chapters of my seminary story come to a close, I find myself too accustomed to the plot and storyline. It is high time for a transitional event; in narratives, a problem is introduced and the story revolves around the solution and end with the resolution. I am looking forward to the new circumstance to which God is calling us.

God's timing, I think, is usually close. Just before he called Abram into the land of Canaan, the Early Bronze Canaanite culture in the highlands was all but destroyed by a series of destructive invasions. The Intermediate Early Bronze-Middle Bronze (2100 BC - 1900 BC) was the stage in which Abram and his decedents wandered the land. Interestingly, Abram entered Canaan in 2091 BC (shortly after the destruction), Joseph went to Egypt in 1898 BC and Israel's family moved to Egypt in 1876 BC (just after the end of the period). Prior to this period, the Canaanite highlands were populated and not suitable for a Bedouin.

There was a bare 10 years between the destruction and Abram's arrival; that's pretty close.

Nevertheless, God prepared the way before Abram and then called him into the land. I do no know if Abram knew all that was happening in the Canaanite highlands; he did intercede for the cities of the plains. I am confident that God has prepared the way before; now I only need to follow.

That also means that God will provide my peer support. I have long wondered, sometimes aloud, "If people go to a pastor for support, who does a pastor go to?" After all, if you are always ministering the Word of God, must you always hear God's Word preached only in your own voice? For my part, I am seeking peer support by pursuing affiliation with a denomination, but I look forward to God's more excellent way.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Walking by Faith

I graduate in December, and I have long wondered what I would do next. The plan (my plan, anyway) was to just keep doing what I am doing until God shows me otherwise. I was just waiting for God to show me the way.

In addition to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it seems that God guides us through his Word. I have been reading much in Genesis, and I just finished the account of Abraham. I have been praying that God would undo me and remake me, and that He would increase my faith.

Abraham is noted for his faith. It should also be noted that Abram was taught to believe in God through numerous circumstances and many years. God grandually revealed to Abram the full divine plan, and He preserved Abram through circumstances and mistakes. For every lesson we have recorded, great periods of time passed. It was over a decade between the rescue of Lot and the conception of Ishmael, and another 14 years before Isaac was conceived. God took almost 25 years to teach Abram to believe in God, and renamed him Abraham. Before Abram, there was Abraham; Abraham believed God's promise, and God considered him righteous.

God is calling me to take a step of faith. True to form, I only know where to go next, but not quite how I am getting there, or how I am going to accomplish anything when I get there. I only know to go as soon as possible, but I do not see how it will be possible. I am yet an Abram, but I look forward to being an Abraham.

I want to point out that Cathy knew long before I did, and waited for God to tell me the same thing. She is a godly woman.

As for the next step, I don't have much to say. I believe I will be a bi-vocational pastor for the foreseeable future. I do know I enjoyed being in Georgia and want to move there. I am still hoping that my company will transfer me to Georgia.