Limbo.

It’s a word we use to describe being between there and here, or here and there, or now and later.  My blog has been in “limbo” for quite a while.  And as I relaunch this puppy, I’m making a few commitments to myself and to you, the readers (whom I love, even if it is just my Mom):

1. Positivitude:  Sometimes my heart gripes.  As a pastor who’s been around the block more than twice, I’ve found that my default setting can easily slip into thoughts like “why are people lame enough to choose ________ over coming to worship?”, “when is _________ going to get their act together and just turn it all over to God already?”, and “I think the teens I serve and lead couldn’t look more disinterested in Jesus than they do.”  So, I’m sincerely trying to bridle my mind and steer it in a direction that seeks and celebrates the good, the beautiful, the positive. 

2.  Interconnectability:  Another thing I’d love my blog to be is more interconnected with other quality blogs.  I want to point you to good places to read good things that cause you think good thoughts.  I think that’d be good.  And ever since that “Prayer of Jabez” craze swept through Christendom years ago, I don’t feel guilty about praying for “expanded territory”.   So, you can check out my “blogroll” to the right and click one of those.  I hope to grow that blogroll more, but only with what I consider “quality” blogs. If you know of a quality blog (even if its yours!) let me know in the comment section. I’ll check it out and if its makes the cut, I’ll add it to my blogroll.

3.  Relatability: I love to read comments people put on my blog posts.  And while its true that my #1 commentor is my own Dad, I’d love to read what YOU think about something I’ve written.  Did it help you? Did it enrage you?  Did it confuse you? Do you disagree?  Can you add to it?  Write your thoughts and tell me what YOU think!

So, here’s hoping that my state of limbo will end soon.  And that I’ll get back to a rhythm of posting and reap the benefits that come along with it!

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Delete the Llamas

I was working on a new blog post, minding my own business when all of a sudden my sister who lives in CA sends me an instant message, trying to reach my Mom who is visiting us for the weekend.  Apparently my Mom asked my sister to take care of her “farm” in “Farmville” for her.  My sister apparently had a pressing question that needed an immediate answer.  And as it turned out, the answer was “Delete the llamas.”

So, here I am finding myself a go-between for two virtual farmers talking about where to put the “market stand”.  It seems that a market stand is more important than llamas, at least in Farmville; at least on my mom’s farm.

I should say here that not only do I not have a farm of my own, I don’t understand the phenomenon of Farmville.  On top of that, I tend to mock those who do.  As I’m typing this blog, I keep getting interrupted by having to be the messenger of my sister’s maniacal questions and my mom’s nonsensical responses.  “Move the fence.”  “Kill the chickens.” “Put the donkey by the tractors.”  “Replant the lavendar.”

Are you kidding me?!?

There are some things we’re just not meant to understand.  But many people have a hard time accepting that.  As humans we demand answers when things don’t make sense to us.  Especially when we feel a wrong or an injustice has happened.  When the scales don’t seem to us to balance, we quickly cry “foul” and demand an explanation.  And since God is the biggest thing we can think of, we often point our finger of blame at Him, and insist that He explain Himself.

Long ago, my dad taught me that above every human being’s head is a steel bar.  Anything below the bar is our business, our responsibility, and within our grasp to act on.  Everything above the bar is God’s business, God’s responsibility, and ultimately God’s prerogative.   And so when we have a situation in life or a question that seems to not make any sense to us, we tend to try and stick our head into God’s business and put our hands into what He’s working on.  And consequently we end up with a splitting headache from banging our head into a steel bar.

Let Deutoronomy 29:29 be a guide for you when you’re faced with unanswered (or unanswerable) questions:   “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

On many occasions, I’ve counseled people who were frustrated, wearied, bewildered, and even angry at God because of a situation they were in where they couldn’t make sense of what was happening and why.  And I have many times directed them to this verse.  I know it’s a verse that demands trust and faith, but that is precisely what God is seeking to foster and cultivate within us through the difficulties we face.

So, the next time you are faced with a crisis and everything seems upside-down and inside-out, making no sense, trust God and His ability to handle the things that belong to Him.  And while you trust Him, you handle the things that are within your grasp to handle. 

And stay below the bar.

Is that blood???

I’ve been dealing with a jacked up back for the past 4 weeks or so.  Its been more than frustrating because normally I’m the picture of health.  “Fit as a fiddle” as they say.  But this weekend, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  So I got an appointment with the doc for Monday.  He did x-rays, ran some tests, yada yada, and gave me some drugs.  3 different pills.  One to relax the muscles, one to soothe the pain, and one just for fun I guess.

So, I’ve been doing better the last couple days, thanks to the meds and I actually began to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  That is, until I needed ketchup with my fries.

We were at McDonald’s for dinner last night and I’m the kind of guy who likes a bit of ketchup with his fries (though I prefer mayo, but that’s another story entirely), so I got up and walked my bad back self over to the ketchup dispenser, grabbed a small ketchup cup and pushed down on the lever that dispenses the ketchup. Well, there must have been an air pocket in the line because a couple seconds after it started coming out, it suddenly sputtered.  That sputter caused me to shutter (I know, real manly right?) and in that instant I jerked with fright and consequently tweeked my back again.

For the love of everything good and decent, I just wanted some ketchup!

My Bus Station

I’m going to launch this site with a frightful admission.  It’s a confession to you that I fear will sound quite egotistical, or even self-glorifying.  I can only say that I in no way intend that to be the case.  If you know me, you know that.

I have been in student ministry for 16 years now.  I have spent most of those days on the front lines of mentoring, investing in, connecting with, influencing, and leading both students and adult leaders alike.  This life all began in my second year of college when I officially accepted God’s call on my life to full-time student ministry.

Upon graduation, I felt a deep sense of purpose, confidence, and even bravado.  I stepped into my first ministry with passion, fire, and determination to let the world see, no–BEHOLD the glory of the pioneering youth pastor I thought myself to be.

So, for the past 16 years, I have been doggedly seeking to be the best at everything I do relating to ministry.  And as I have grown older, I have begun to wonder more and more about what real difference I’ve made in anyone anywhere. 

And as I tried to stumble through an illustration that could explain what’s been going on in my head and heart, I shared with my wife the mental picture of a bus station where I feel that I am and have been for quite some time.  A bus station where I watch people in ministry come and go, departing for destinations far more significant than mine, with more appeal than mine, and with more shine than mine; all the while wondering when is it going to be MY turn to climb aboard a bus, or worse yet, did I MISS the bus I was supposed to get on?  I have always suspected that there would be a bus that would take me to greater influence, broader horizons, and even *gulp* more notoriety.

And even as I am floundering through these thoughts, my wife gave me a different perspective; a much better one.

She said, “But the way I see it, YOU are the bus station.  And God has brought you a constant stream of students like buses in and out of a bus station.  They’ve come in contact with you and gone out from your ministry to be who God made them to be.”

Is it any wonder why I’m so crazy about this woman of God?

I don’t know that I’ll instantly stop wanting greater impact, broader horizons, or *gulp* more notoriety.  But when I think about blessings, I need to remember that God usually blesses those who aren’t doing it for a blessing.  God blesses those who are humble, content, and grateful for who He is and all He has done.  And THAT is what I need to allow God to work on in me.

A word of welcome.

Welcome.

Thanks for coming to my site.  It’s not particularly anything except mine, which makes it quite unique in the veritable bottomless sea of websites.  No other site is mine.  This one is.  And on THIS site, you can expect to find the following:

1.  Honesty.  I will always say the truth.

2.  Brevity.  I promise to do my very best to keep my thoughts succinct.  I’ve learned the hard way that as much as I’d like to think otherwise, people don’t have all day to read what I write.

3.  Regularity.  I promise to post a minimum of twice a week.  In the utopia my mind lives in, I write daily.  Unfortunately I live in the reality of the really real world, where daily posts are unlikely.

4.  Conflict.  Many of the things you’ll read here may cause you to feel conflicted.  You’ll just have to trust me when I say that this is in no way intentional.  I’m not a “rock the boat for the sake of rocking the boat” kind of writer/communicator.  I simply want my readers to think things other that the things they’ve already thought.

Other than that, I can’t say what we’ll uncover on this site.  But I can say that I’m up for it.  I’ve been blogging for years now.  I have a truckload of archived blogs that I may attempt to (one day) painstakingly transfer from where they are to this site, but for now you’ll just have to trust that I’m no rookie.

Finally, I want to invite you to post comments.  I cannot overstate this enough.  I love writing no matter what, but writing becomes that much sweeter when I know someone besides my Mom is reading this stuff.  And it doesn’t matter if what you want to say is negative.  I’m a big boy.  I can take it.  Tell me you hated that particular post and vow to me that you’ll never return.  Just don’t mean it.

Thanks for coming by to my new site.  I hope that it’s one we can all grow old with.

Jerry

Less Momentous

It’s been said that “God is less often in the momentous and more often in the moment.”

I think that kicked the door to my stale blog in. It’s been way too long since I’ve written anything. And I think I just realized why: I’m waiting for the momentous, and missing the moments. Well, not anymore.

I’m writing today because quite honestly, I’m sick of not writing. This won’t be anything momentous; it’s a collection of moments from the past week or so. Feel free to bail.

I should say here that I’m planning on moving this blog. No offense to blogspot; we’ve been great partners and they’ve hosted me quite nicely for lo these many years. But I think it’s time to move on. I’m planning on going with a .com in the near future, as opposed to a blahblah.blahblah.com. We’ll see.

Months ago, one of the neighbor kids was in our front yard playing and kicked a soccer ball right at our front porch. The ball broke right through a piece of our railing spindles that go around our porch. It would have been less frustrating if I was told it happened instead of simply finding out myself. Then, the day after I finally get the spindles fixed, guess who was back in my front yard, and guess who had his soccer ball again, and guess who kicked it through the same spindles for a second time.

Guess who almost lost his cool and wanted to use the kid’s head as a soccer ball?

Well, apply that story to my youngest daughter’s eye. Yesterday a group of neighborhood kids were playing kickball in our backyard and Macy took a line drive right to her eye. She woke up this morning with a bit of a shiner. And just minutes ago, guess who walked in holding her OTHER eye?

Some times you’ve just got to laugh at the Law of Probability.
(And I love the fact that my yard is where the neighborhood comes to play kickball.)

In other news, I’m on day two of a long journey back to a healthy back. I’m on 3 meds. One of which has to be taken with another med, which means actually 4 meds are coursing through my veins. I’m typing most of this with my eyes closed so I can get some rest. These pills knock me out. When I went to the doctor yesterday, I’m fairly certain I was the only one without a walker. Made me feel young.

The other day at breakfast, my youngest son told us exactly how he’s going to react to his birthday presents. His birthday is 4 months away. I love that he’s already practicing his facial expressions and gratitude. I can learn a lot from that. Why wait to watch God work before being thankful that He does? And why wait until He asks before saying “Yes!” And why wait until Sunday to worship Him?

Last Sunday, I spoke to a room full of teenagers as we wrapped up a 3-week series called “Who is God?” Here’s how the weeks broke down:
Week 1: God is knowable and eternal.
Week 2: God is holy and just.
Week 3: God is loving and gracious.
Week 3 was my favorite message because it centered on the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told in Luke 15. It’s a mind-blowing story when you understand all the nuances and tidbits that are found in it. Even if you don’t, it’s an amazing picture of God’s faithfulness, patience, and grace.

I’ve also just read a book called “The Truth About You”. It’s not a Christian book per se, but it is one that I found quite interesting and one that I am enjoying cogitating on and applying to my own life. The author made the contention that strengths aren’t necessarily what you’re good at, and likewise weaknesses aren’t necessarily what you’re bad at either. Strengths are things that make you feel stronger, more alive, and joy-filled and by contrast weaknesses are things that make you feel drained, bored, and weak. I’m in the process (assigned) of carrying a small pocket-sized memo pad in my pocket and I’m writing down anything that I can clearly identify as a “strength”. These are things I look forward to before they happen, enjoy doing, and feel stronger after I’ve done them. Pretty interesting stuff so far.

Well, after reading this post, maybe I should stick with the momentous. This moment stuff is pretty lame.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

Thanks for visiting

I haven’t written anything in a while and I’m very aware of that. I’ve been busy/without subject matter to write about, really. I vowed when I started this blog that I’d write when I had something to write about. That may have been the death nail for the blog as far as keeping consistent readers. After all, when I go to a blog and see it stale, I almost instantly drop it from my blog-reading radar. And so I’d certainly expect others to do the same to this one.

So, just a quick note to say that I know I’ve been lacking in the consistent writing department, that I’m sorry, and that I have several blog posts in the works. And here’s hoping that if you’re reading this, you’ll keep me on your list of blogs you enjoy reading. I really do plan on getting back into a rhythm. There’s been too much going on in my mind not to.

Thanks for visiting.

Jerry