Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Prayer For Ash Wednesday

Heavenly Father, before you all hearts are known. Try as we might, there is no hiding from you the sin in our lives. You are not deceived by our clever cover-ups, nor our elaborate justifications. We must stop pretending that we have it all together. Before you, O God, we must lay our hearts bare. As we come face-to-face with our fragile humanity and our need for forgiveness, we ask that your Spirit would descend upon us and cleanse us of our wrongdoing. Give us clean hearts and renew in us a right spirit. And as we put aside our sinfulness, give us strength to move boldly forward in pursuit of your righteousness. By your grace, give us eyes to see what kind of people we are becoming. This we pray in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Next Six Months

In August of 2007 I accepted an invitation to serve as an intern youth pastor for two years at Rye Congregational Church in Rye, New Hampshire. The last year and a half has been the most adventurous and exciting time of my life, but it has also been the most difficult leap of faith that I have ever taken. My time in New Hampshire has been extremely rewarding, but also challenging. Uprooting one's self and relocating thousands of miles from friends and family does not come without cost. However, from this vantage point, a year and a half later, I have no regret for moving to Rye.

But this post is not really so much about the last year and a half of my life as it is about the next six months.

On Sunday I made my official announcement to the congregation that my last day on pastoral staff will be June 7th. I had planned to stay until August, but the church is hiring someone new to fill my position and wants this new person to go to work no later than August 1st. This leaves me about three weeks short of employment until the time of my move to Chicago and the start classes at North Park Theological Seminary.

Shortly following my last day at the church, I will be coming out to Seattle for my sister's graduation and Joe's wedding. After that, I'll begin my job on the summer maintenance crew at Pilgrim Pines Conference Center (a two hour car ride from Rye). My primary responsibilities will consist of mowing, weed whacking, bush trimming, wood splitting, garbage disposal, and painting. Believe it or not, I'm really excited for my work at the Pines. But more importantly, I have a place to live and employment until the time of my move to Chicago. This also means that I'm working with my girlfriend Carol, who has worked at the Pines since last August. Although she'll probably out rank me on staff and make me do extra weed whacking or something, I don't care because I'll get to see her every day, rather than once a week.

So there it is... the next six months of my life in a nut shell.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it. -Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Center and Circumference

I started reading a book that was recommend to me by the associate pastor at my church. It's a book written by Richard Rohr called Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer. I find the title to be rather unpretentious, but I think this book is gonna be a real sleeper. I'm not trying to do a book review, but I do want to share a small snippet from the first chapter:
People who have learned to live from their center in God know which boundaries are worth maintaining and which can be surrendered... Probably the most obvious indication of noncentered ("ec-centric") people is that they are, franky, very difficult to live with. Every ego-boundary must be defended, negotiated, or worshiped: my reputation, my needs, my nation, my security, my religion, even my ball team. These are really all I have to worry about because they are my only feeble identity. You can tell if you have placed a lot of eggs in these flimsy baskets if you are hurt or offended a lot. You can hardly hurt saints because they are living at the center and do not need to protect the circumference of feelings and needs. Ec-centric persons are always a hurt waiting to happen. In fact, they will create tragedies to make themselves feel alive.

Reading this statement felt kind of like ice cubes running down my back. Where do find my true identity? Do I find my identity at the center where I am "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), or do I find my identity along the circumference of my person?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saint Valentine

I guess I had always figured Valentines Day was the creation of Hallmark, or one of the many industries that greatly benefit from this national day of love. Perhaps I'm the only one naive enough not to know anything about the true origins of Valentines Day, but reading up on the history of V-Day has been pretty interesting. If you don't know much about Valentines Day, here's something I'm pulling from
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

So there you have it. We have the martyrdom of Saint Valentine to thank for all the love that's in the air today.

Friday, February 6, 2009

.500 Ain't Bad

Basketball season is officially over...

With tonight's decisive victory over Greenland, we finish our season with three wins and four losses. However, I just learned that one of our losses earlier this season was against an "A" team that we probably should never have played. So, I'm just not counting that game. This leaves us at 3-3 for the year.

Also worth mentioning: I didn't lose a single one of the school issued basketballs entrusted to me. Last year, out of six, I only managed to return two balls. I think I've redeemed myself.

Anyway, basketball season was a real kick in the pants. I learned a lot about coaching, and the boys didn't drive me too crazy. Did I mention I get paid for this? Yup, and it's enough to cover the two tickets (yes, that's 2 tickets and I'm not bringing my sister) I just purchased to fly out to Seattle/Keizer/Twin Falls in May. I can't wait for this trip!

And to top it all off, some of the parents pitched in to get me a gift certificate to a nice restaurant in Rye. Adam, I'm saving this one for when you come out to visit...