A postmodern journey of faith...


I once aspired to be a writer...

I once aspired to be a writer. It's true. I had these grandiose visions
of writing the Great American Novel...or something like that. It
probably wouldn't have been a novel. But that begs the question: why
write? I mean, I used to think I had something to say. Typically, I
wrote when I had an axe to grind. News flash: nobody wants to read that
stuff. On the other hand, what else do I have to say? What would be my
motivation for writing?

You know, I'm not sure what I have to say. I've wondered if I don't need
to try my hand at fiction...perhaps short stories. I love the works of O
Henry and Poe (I know...complete opposites...I'm schizo like that). But
there again, why write? I have trouble writing without purpose. I think
it's that strong “Christian� ideal I've had instilled in me; you know,
the concept of an agenda-oriented life. Everything I say and do must
have a point, a message. I have to be trying to communicate something.
There is no such thing as art for art's sake. It has to have a message
behind it...or inside of it...or hidden. Or something.

But then I wonder, is it possible to write without a message. Doesn't
everything one composes have an element of himself in it? When I write,
how can I not say what I want to say?

So, I once aspired to be a writer. For now, I think I'll just write.


Just a test...

....post via Blogmailr. :)


Bad blogger...no cookie!

I just realized that my last post is horribly out-of-date. I apologize--life has been rather.... oh, wait.... that was supposed to get better here, wasn't it? My bad...

Jobs: I am officially employed full-time-plus (probably 55-60 hours per week). I'm not thrilled about this (the "plus" part), but we'll need the money for start-up. I am a shift manager at Godfather's Pizza in Normal, and a Tech Sales associate at Office Depot, also in Normal. I'm well-into the job at GP, but will be starting at Office Depot on Monday night. Still, I'll be home before 1 AM from either job, so that's a real plus.

Church: ClearView Church is a great place, but not the best for us. We have some needs as a family, and it's time that I start putting them ahead of some of my idealism. CVC is a fairly new work, and my kids and wife need something solid now. That, and they just left the Vineyard. God brought us to IL to work with the Vineyard, so we need to stick to that. I didn't realize that it was that big of a deal until our first Sunday at the Bloomington Vineyard church. After our second visit, we knew that it was to be our church home. Not only that, but in visiting with the pastor, it seems that perhaps we were moved here to work with this church. I'm not going to jump to conclusions, but I do know that both Pastor David and I left our meeting very excited. I'm looking forward to chuch tomorrow--and it's been a very long time since I've had that feeling.

College ministry: on-hold. My meeting with Andrew went well, but we're just not there right now. We need to be focused on being grounded in a local church (the aforementioned Vineyard) before we do anything else. I suspect that future mission will probably spring from that association, rather than Young Life. I like YL, and love Andrew and his heart--but God has called me to the local church, and to work from that context. So, as frustrated as the church makes me at times (not the Vineyard, but church-in-general), it's where I am to be. "I don't wanna be a Jo-nah..."

I think that brings everything from my previous post up-to-date.

A few thoughts before I sign off...

I'm thinking of beginning to post some of my past teaching on this blog. I did that awhile back, and am feeling that perhaps it's time to dust some of this stuff off and get it out there.

Pray for us. I sense a new ministry beginning...don't know too much about what we'll be doing. But we're here, and we're available to do whatever the Lord wants. But I sense a stirring.

It feels good.


An opportunity...

"Today you have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, an opportunity that few receive. Don't waste it."

That was what I felt the Lord speak to me yesterday.

Hey, at least I felt the Lord speak to me again. We're gaining.

We are in Normal.

Today we will attend Clear View Church, which is not the church we originally intended to join. For a number of reasons, none of which are against the Urbana Vineyard, it doesn't look like we will land there after all. Time will tell, but at this point we are really feeling drawn to Bloomington-Normal and U of I. It's interesting how, when you try to "back away" from these things that ministry comes looking for you. At any rate, things are going well. I expect to be up to 100% capacity today, perhaps for the first day since we arrived. We got here Monday afternoon, and I got sicker than a dog--I suppose, lack of sleep. Anyway, it was a good 3 days before I could even function normally. But now things seem to be better.

So, we're headed to CVC today, which is a fairly new Vineyard plant. Technically, it's the Normal Vineyard, but it's located in the Castle Theater in Bloomington right now. That's cool--it should be a nice environment for church. Krispy Kremes, bagels, coffee, and Jesus. Should be a nice time.

In other news, I've been invited to participate with a new pomo-focused service at Grace Church here in Normal, which is the independent quasi-Baptist-but-not-really Christian church where our gracious hosts, the Beaty's, attend. They're looking for help, and I've got the experience, so one of the lead guys invited me to help yesterday.

I'll be meeting with Andrew Beaty, who is the area director for Young Life (as well as being one of my best friends), this week concerning what Young Life is doing on college campuses. YL is a great ministry, although I sometimes prefer a little more direct approach. BUT, college YL could be a whole different issue, because we can help deal with some issues. We'll see what happens. A reality: I'll probably have to continue with my degree in order to get some credibility. OTOH, being a student where I minister couldn't hurt, either.

I think I'm going to apply for a job at Office Depot this week, just to have something. I may have a position as a shift supervisor at Godfather's Pizza, part-time, but that still remains to be seen. If so, great. If not, well, then I won't get tired of Godfather's. :-)

If you have our info, know that our cell numbers remain the same for now, so you can still reach us. I normally don't like calls after 9 pm, but on weekdays they are free if you don't have Verizon (free all the time if you use Verizon wireless), so call after 9 pm. Weekends are free all the time, so that's a good time to reach us. If you head to www.myspace.com/elempoimen, you can get my address. (Note: you'll have to register. Sorry, but I don't want to broadcast my stuff across the Internet.)


On Starting Over...

You know, I'm really not that scared anymore. Maybe part of it is that I realize the inevitability of our relocation and new life. The wheels are set in motion, and it's really too late to stop them now. Not that I really want to stop them, mind you. Change is never easy, and change for the sake of change is just plain dumb.

But this isn't that.

For me, this move is more about starting my family. "What?" you ask. "Don't you already have a family? Doesn't four kids qualify as a 'family'?" Well, yes. It exists, but I've not really been part of it. I've been the sometimes-benevolent dictator of the home--the final authority. But "being there" is not something that's come as a part of that process. I'm too tired. I'm too busy. I'm too...occupied. The cobbler's children have no shoes. The preacher's children have no dad. It's not that I sacrifice them for the ministry--it's just that I have to work so much to stay "in the ministry" that we lose so much of what makes us a family. Yeah, there were other alternatives. We chose Illinois. Why? It seemed right...and my kids need a dad.

So, we're going to move out there and get a job. What stops this from happening again? It's simple, really. My reason for working changes. No longer will I work to support my ministry, as I've done for many years. I will work to support my family. I will work to afford vacations and fun...and to support ministry. Yes, we'll still do ministry. But it won't be my primary reason for being. My reasons will change. I will be...
  • A child of God. His son.
  • A husband to my wife. Yes, honey, we will date. :-)
  • A be-there dad for my kids.
  • A friend. This is something I've never been good at. My thanks goes out to all of my friends over the years that I've totally neglected. I love all of you and miss you all--thank you for sticking with me even when I was a lousy friend in return.
  • A life-minister of the Gospel. When you nail down a definition for that, let me know. For now, I'm just going to try doing it.
So, that's why I'm moving to Illinois. And I'm not scared anymore because all that stuff sounds like an immense amount of fun. And doing ministry because I want to...the idea just thrills me to no end. No paycheck. No board. Just Jesus, the community, and me.

Yeah, I'm liking that.

On Getting Warped...

I've long harbored sick fantasies of becoming an OS/2 user...like for about 12 years now. Yeah, that's pretty warped...no pun intended. (If you don't get it, you don't need to.) Well, a few days ago I came across a copy and thought, "Finally, here's my chance!"

As the story goes, OS/2 was designed to be the successor to the original DOS. It started out with Microsoft in bed with IBM to make it happen. Someplace along the line, MS decided they'd had enough and got out. Maybe it was the money.

After using OS/2 for a couple of days, I suspect it was more than the money.

OS/2 is a bizarre combination of usability features that make good sense and being completely unusable for all but the most seasoned of users. It's easy to see why Windows won, especially with the advent of Windows 95. Yes, to be sure, Microsoft took a lot of great ideas from OS/2. But also to be sure, Microsoft added a great deal of value to that just previously wasn't there. As the story goes, what was to become OS/2 ended up becoming Windows NT. And if you know anything about the lineage of Windows, long down the line, Windows NT became Windows XP. Techincally, XP is like NT version 5.5 or something like that.

So, at the end of the day, I'm still a Windows user. It does everything I need it to with a minimum of hassle. Heck, I had problems even installing software in OS/2. Granted VMWARE emulation adds a little twist--but I had OS/2 freeze up on me about as many times in 2 days as I've had Windows freeze up in the last two years. And all I was trying to do was browse files!

Anyway, it's late and I need to get to bed.


Insomnia, Transition, and Legacy Software

It's about 6 AM on Sunday morning. And I haven't had a wink of sleep since 10:45 last night. I'd go get some now, but I'm afraid it would make things worse. You know how it is sometimes when it's better that you don't sleep at all? Still, I'm sitting here struggling with IBS cramps, having just finished my work for this morning. Why didn't I sleep? Well, I started out just not being able to, but ended up just working pretty solidly. Saturday was a waste of a day. I couldn't get up until noon, was still exhausted, and just couldn't get focused on anything until late. I hate not going to bed with my wife, but I guess that's just the way it's going to be until after the transition.

Ah, yes. The transition.

Three weeks now until I'm done at Citibank. And two more Sundays at New Hope. (I'll work at Citibank for 5 days beyond my time at New Hope.) Then, our schedule gets a little fuzzy. At some point, we'll visit some family in Montana, and then...it's off to Illinois. We'll be in Normal with our friends/family, the Beaty's, for probably 8-12 weeks, I figure. I need to find stable employment before we can apply to Rural Development for a house loan. We were looking at Rantoul, but are now thinking perhaps that closer to Normal is a good thing. And we're looking more at a rural home. We'd like to begin breeding Newfoundlands here in a year or two, and so the country would be a better place for us. Eventually, I'd like to get into freelance programming so I can work from home.

What about the ministry?

Funny you should ask. We're just not sure what's going to happen. It's on hold for now until I get clear marching orders. Well, that's not totally true--because we'll continue to minister wherever we are, but I just won't be an official "pastor." Happy (the pastor at the Vineyard in Urbana) has indicated that he'd like to see us get involved with small group ministry, so I'll have to get ahold of Jim Egli once we get there to see what opportunities exist.

Of course, we need a house first.

Details, details...

Things to pray about:
- My health. I'll be just barely surviving this next three weeks. I'm in rough shape, physically. I'm very tired and just can't do anymore without supernatural intervention.
- My wife. For the reasons above, she's having to bear a heavier load than I care to see her bear.
- Housing. The Lord has the right thing, in His time. Who knows what our little communal experiment might bear?
- Transportation. We've run up a horrible bill at the mechanic, and the van's not fixed. We are having some kind of obscure fuel problem. I'm going to call him again on Monday to see if he's made any progress in deciphering what could be wrong, and maybe seeing what can be done to cut down our exorbitant bill.
- Time. We still need to seriously get packing. There's just been no time.

BUT, in the answered prayer department:
Shaianne took another hard blow to her nose--and I *know* it was broken again on Monday. Tuesday was Independence Day, so we could do little with it, but I was praying and really engaging my faith. I was disappointed that it wasn't "all better" on Tuesday morning...but we didn't give up. Finally, after a wild-goose chase on Wednesday (long story...), she got to see the doctor on Friday morning. Guess what? It wasn't broken! I'm completely convinced that prayer did the trick, becuase by Friday the nose was no longer crooked!

In other news, let me tell you about the environment in which I am typing this lengthy post (written earlier):

Ok, so this is about as basic as it gets. There's something delightfully nostalgic about typing this document in Word for DOS, even though I never really used it. I was a WordPerfect devotee, myself. In fact, I should see if my old WordPerfet 5.1 disks even work.

Ok, so I just downloaded a copy of WP 5.1, and you know what? Ironically, I like Word better now. Who'd've thunk it? I suppose it all has to do with familiarity. I was familiar with WP 5.1 back in the day, so I didn't want to change. Today, I hate the totally keyboard driven interface of WordPerfect--and needing a template to remember anything.

This is nice, though, because it could keep me from becoming very distracted whilst writing. I may just have to give it a try. I mean, the thing is that one can even shut off all of the screen clutter and just leave the writing area. That's really nice. What you end up with is just your text, nothing more. Heck, one can even just off the scroll bar, but I'm not sure why. Horizontally, that makes sense. But the vertical bar is rather nice for document navigation.

The other nice thing? This won't crash. Really. It's rock-solid. It just does what it's supposed to do, and no more. What more can you ask for?

Oh, WYSIWYG editing? That's for wimps.

OK, so I'm using this as a basic text editor. Like it matters to me.

Time to go shower and look presentable. And eat breakfast. Ohhh...this will be such a long day.


Assaulted in Spirit...

too much...waaaay too much....
too much...waaaay too much....

I've just spent the last hour or so watching Christian TV. Yeah. Good stuff... TCT.tv, Jim Bakker (he's baaack), and some guy named Kerney Thomas who likes to scream and speak in "tongues."

Ok, so I speak in tongues too...but not like that. And not to you. The Bible says that a few intelligible words are more valuable than 10,000 in tongues. And I just have to vent for a minute about this Thomas guy. He had a clip on his show where he was supposedly praying for healing for a woman. The end result, from her lips, was that she got a "Word" from God through Thomas, and it was just what she needed to hear. Just prior to the clip, he talked of how he was doing this show at "about 3 in the morning somewhere" and how he felt impressed to pray right during that clip. When the clip ended, we cut to Thomas kneeling over the "hope chest" of prayer requests, praying in "tongues." He acted startled and stopped "praying," mumbling something about thinking the clip was longer and how he just had to pray right then.

Give me a break, Thomas. You didn't film this at 3 AM. Not only that, but you weren't praying through that clip which ended sooner than expected. And your wife refers to you as "the man of God"? Uh huh. I like to think of myself as a man of God, but never would my wife refer to me in that way to another person. Why? Because, I don't need a title. I need a life of integrity...honesty...forthrightness. Yeah. Good stuff like that.

Or Bakker, who I have now lost all respect for...again. He was doing so well. Now he's back on TV, hawking his wares and capitalizing on end-times paranoia.

The TCT show wasn't bad, just really disconnected from the reality of where people are at. A missionary-pastor from the Philippines was on. The host of the show seemed more preoccupied with embarrassing the guy with accolades and asking his wife how "good" he was than with discussing anything of any real redeeming value.

Ok, the rant is over...

Let's get some things straight. I am a Spirit-filled believer, according to the Biblical definition. I can't honestly consider myself a Pentecostal any longer, because I do not buy into the doctrine of subsequence. I've questioned it for a long time, and recently have come to the decision that it is not scriptural (at least not without some theological gymnastics). This works, as I'm very soon to be a *former* Assemblies of God pastor. I don't have a problem with the A/G--I just don't fit very will with their way of doing church.

And I could be wrong, but that's another story (with apologies to the venerable Dr. Stanley Horton).

So, I'm Spirit-filled. I'm saved. I can speak in tongues--real tongues. And I've experienced other gifts of the Spirit, so I know they're real (besides, the Bible says so...I'm not a "cessationist," either).

Gary Best, the national director of The Vineyard in Canada, has recently written a book entitled "Naturally Supernatural." It encapsulates the way I believe Jesus intended for this stuff to work pretty well. The title says it all. It doesn't have to be wierd to be real. In fact, if it's wierd, it's probably not real.

Sorry, Kerney.

But I can see why the world wants little to do with Christians, even less to do with Conservatives, and less still to do with "Spirit-filled" people. I've had my senses assaulted with so much flesh tonight that it makes me sick. I'm sorry if this comes across as bitter or angry, but...

WE'RE NOT ALL LIKE THAT! Honest! I don't even own a prayer handkerchief.


Tired, frustrated, scared...and excited!

We're moving to Urbana!

I'm probably the most tired I've been for awhile...but I'm exhilarated. I'm hurting a little too bad to sleep, so I thought I'd blog while the Aleve kicks in.

Nevermind. Can't find Aleve.

We attended our first service at The Vineyard Church in Urbana, IL on Sunday. We knew as soon as we walked in that we were home. It is church as I've always dreamed that church could be. I'm a little dismayed that I've not been able to be a part of bringing such a place into being, but my models have all been lousy, I guess. Time to reinvent... We really felt like we had God's leading going into this, and we had it confirmed on Sunday. I almost burst into tears during the first song.

We had a great time with our friends here, the Beaty's, on Monday. Tuesday, we met with the senior pastor of The Vineyard, and had a great lunch. We talked about the various options available to us. As of today, here's the plan:
- Move here.
- Get work and housing.
- Settle in for about 6 months and just chill...become a part of the life of the church.
- Look at other options: school
- Consider enrollment in VBI and/or Vineyard Internship
- Minister, all the while. That's why we're here.

That seems pretty simplistic, yes. But we're certain that God is taking us here. I have some hesitations, but those are mostly situational and in my flesh. Being real: that doesn't change the fact that I'm scared spitless about some stuff. Time to grow up, Tory.

We looked at houses today...found a nice one in Farmer City (yeah, great name). BUT...too far away from Urbana and not exactly what my wife is looking for.

I just pulled up Decree's MySpace, and I'm listening to demos...that I did not produce. And it has me thinking about the future...

What do I want to do?
- Young adult ministry. Prolly some rough stuff.
- Take in some messed up teens. Yeah, really.
- Write, record, and produce music. Worship and other stuff. Some of my own stuff.
- Spend time with my family.
- Get a job I don't despise.
- Make a difference.
- Be happy.
- Please God. That's the ultimate.

It's time for me to go to bed. I'm really not feeling any better...and it's way too late. Go do a MySpace add for Decree. I produced their first record.

I miss that stuff. I need the right job, Lord...so I can do that stuff again.

And I need to be happy. And excited about life. That's coming...it is.


Getting to Normal

Ok, it's a funny pun.

We're here: Normal, Illinois. The start of something new. We're very excited. We had a great trip and arrived last night. This morning is our first contact with The Vineyard, officially. We were told, "everything is in place for you," so it's cool that they worked so hard to pull stuff together for us.

It's a bad pun, but today really is the first day of the rest of our lives. In the natural, this all looks very foolish. But God is bigger than our presuppositions. We have done something that I've not done for years...we have stepped out on faith into the unknown. But it's the unknown that really keeps us hanging on to God.

So, we put this day...and the next several...into God's hands. He's going to have to pull this together if it's going to happen. AJ has talked to some of his contacts about money for a house, so we'll see how that goes. I'm sure Walt has some other leads. And I'm very optimistic about meeting with Dan Moission. Even if it doesn't result in a job with his company, I think it will result in an invaluable contact that will lead to a job.

Ultimately, God is leading us into our future.

And I'm the happiest I've been for at least 5 years. That *has* to count for something.

More later...



"See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken--that is, things that have been made--in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews 12:25-28, ESV

I think I know what's going on.

First, a little background. I alluded a couple of days ago to the fact that there may be some major changes afoot. We've been invited to come be a part of a Vineyard church in Urbana, IL. I don't want to get into conjecture regarding what our role there may be, as the Lord has not revealed His plans completely. We're going to check it out in person, and then make our final decision. But I have to tell you, I've experienced more trepidation regarding this situation than I care to admit. I long for the days when I was younger and resolute. I was so decisive then.

But that was before a family...you know, back when I knew it all.

Anyway, the long and short of it is this: it came to me today when I was reading Alexander Venter's "Doing Church" (great book...). He began to speak of the verse above, of how God is shaking things within the church so that only that which cannot be shaken will remain.

I had an epiphany.

That's what He's doing to me. I've been so uptight over this process of the last couple of years, especially the last year. Now I realize that it was all because God was shaking me--shaking out all the moveable junk so that only what was immoveable remained.

My means of controlling the world around me: shaken away (kids will do that).
My pride: shaken away (did I mention I have kids?).
My position: shaken away (fortunately, I'm willingly letting it go for the Kingdom).
My security in the future: shaken away. (I have only God.)

So, we are headed off to Urbana soon. And when we return, we will know...at least where our future will be.


Testing PocketBlogger

It's time to start blogging again. I'll write more later, but major changes are afoot. In fact, after a couple of months, I may actually be able to keep this blog updated.

I'll sum it up this way. It looks as though a long-time dream of mine may be coming to pass. I'm scared as can be, as the whole situation is...well...uncomfortable. But I believe that God is in it. My wife agrees. That means it's ex-cathedra, right? ;) More later...I'm just testing PocketBlogger now to see if I can do remote posting.