A postmodern journey of faith...


New Blog, New Stuff, New Day...

Hey, I'll make this quick and not waste your time. Some time ago, I tried to start a weblog called "Re:thinking." What I was trying to do with "The Gateway" is long past...so I'm trying to restart "Re:thinking." I'd love it if you'd join me. There's not much there yet, but I'm trying to discipline myself to be a good blogger and actually get some content on there. I'll probably move some of my old talks over there, and a few posts from here that are worth keeping around.

Join me at "Re:thinking."


Bloom Where You're Planted

So, I'm going to try for a kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing here. It's extremely late, and I'm very tired and in desperate need of sleep (I have to work tomorrow), yet I feel compelled to write. Perhaps it's the discipline of the thing. Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment.

It's probably the latter.

Regardless, I'm here. The time is insane. And I'm writing.

I don't even know what I should write.

Perhaps it's about conflict. Lots of that nowadays.

I've been pretty conflicted lately--about, y'know, stuff. I've got a decent job, but I'm not sure I want to be a manager at a pizza joint for all of my life. Perhaps owning one wouldn't be bad, but being a manager--well... It's not the job. It's the stature, I guess. I get somewhat ashamed to tell people what I do for a living...not sure why.

"Hey, my name is Sam."

"Hi, Sam. I'm Tory. So, what do you do?"

"Well, I'm a high-level-and-extremely-well-paid computer tech at State Farm." (Everyone here works for State Farm, except for me. I just feed them.) "And you?"

"I'm an...astrophysicist. Yeah."

"Really, here? Where do you do that around here?"

"I'm on...sabbatical. Yeah. Advanced brain work, heh, it's a recipe for burn-out, you know? So, I decided to take a break and...I'm filling in as a manager at a pizza joint. Yeah."

"So, how much longer will you be on sabbatical?"


Bloom where you're planted, Sherlock. Bloom where you're planted.

The problem is that I really don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I spent about a decade as a pastor--and about half of that was a good experience. The other half was something akin to living in the bottom of a baby's diaper...but I won't go there (for the sake of time).

So, let's do a little inventory. Years and years ago (yes, I'm getting older), I could program computers. I do some desktop publishing and web design (basic stuff--nothing modern). I can fix computers. I've been a "professional" pastor. I do customer service. I've been a recording artist and record producer. Now, I'm a manager at a pizza joint. Oh, and I did oil changes and tire repairs as a teenager.

I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Now, what do I like to do? Well, the common thread through there is computers, but I really prefer the creative stuff to the mundane. Specifically, I'm into "usability" and "human user interfaces" on anything from computers to toasters. I'm very passionate about mobile tech--especially the kind that gets work done. I like to cook really good food. And I like art of all kinds. I'm into faith--but the practical kind that people can really use. Oh, and I like to write.

What does it all add up to? A mess, that's what. One big, funny mess.

So, I've thought about going back to school for programming--but the barrier is money and time (kids and wife...gotta take care of them, too).

I've thought about culinary arts school--but don't want to sell my soul to a restaurant.

And I've thought about going back into ministry, professionally--but I'm not sure that's where I'd be truly happy, either.

Writing. Yeah, right.

My conclusion? For now, I guess, I should bloom where I'm planted. And figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I'm tired of bouncing around, trying things. I'd really like a career that's dynamic, consistently challenging, and lucrative. Ministry fits some of those things, but carries with it a series of headaches I'm not sure I want to deal with. And it's rarely lucrative.



I like this...I think I might start using it. Like, "I severiously want my kids to behave!"

Read more here:
jkOnTheRun: Coffee break- overheard in Starbucks


Being Reverent

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence." Hebrews 5:7, ESV

Reverence. It seems like a lost art these days. Really, there are two extremes. The first is that God is so revered and holy that we forget that He actually wants to be our friend. The second extreme is that we treat God as if he's our buddy, and forget that He's still God.

What really strikes me here is:

1. Jesus prayed. While on Earth, He talked to the Father on a regular basis. The Son of God Himself brought his needs and concerns (supplications) to the Father;
2. Jesus was passionate. This was no sedate prayer, no murmur, no mumbling under the breath. Those were "loud cries" and tears. I'll be frank: my spirituality has been so neutered by western Christianity that I have trouble being that passionate about God. I can be that passionate about my marriage, but not my faith. Ouch, that hurts.
3. BUT, Jesus was heard because of His reverence, ultimately. It was because of how He approached the Father that His prayers were heard. To shed a little light on this, understand that the other correct cultural rendering of the Greek word eulabeia (rendered as "reverence") is "caution." My point: Jesus wasn't flippant. He was respectful. He was careful about how he approached the Father.


Americans hate accountability.

Americans hate accountability. It's a fact. Point-in-case: tonight at work, I began to implement a new system designed to give accountability to the kids on our crew to be sure they do their work. Our goal is to raise our standard of customer service and help people do their jobs better. As things stand now, there is really no way to put the spotlight on those who work poorly, because everything just is thrown into a "big pot." It's the classic, "Somebody should do these things; anybody could do them, but nobody did." We're aiming to identify somebody, anybody, and nobody.

The system is simple: it's a list of tasks for each job area. The crew person will simply initial each task as it's completed. If their doing their jobs, it's really no big deal, except for one detail...

Did I mention that Americans hate accountability?

Yeah, there's the problem. Tonight was a "dry run;" it didn't matter, as I was only looking for help getting the list to a place where it is simple and concise. I approached three different employees, asking them for help. "Just go through the list as you do your tasks tonight and see if I missed anything or if anything is unclear. Leave some feedback on the paper if there's anything that needs changed."

One guy got out his cigarette lighter and was going to burn it.

Another person balked, told me that they were insulted, and then tried to get me to reassign the tasks on their list to other employees. (I wonder why they balked...hmmm...)

Ironically, the only person who didn't object is the person who had extra work added to his responsibilities. He was very agreeable. Of course, he's also in a position where his primary job may prevent him from completing the list--and that's just the way it is. There's nothing we can do to change that.

But I think the bottom line is this: people hate knowing somebody is watching. I know I do. Sometimes we avoid situations we should really be involved with because we don't want to feel "inspected." I think about my life--I don't want my pastor or my wife to know that I almost looked at some things online I shouldn't have last night. (No, it wasn't porn...but it was bad enough.) And if I tell them (of course, now I just told the world...), then I'll feel like they're looking over my shoulder every time I turn around. Of course, if they're looking over my shoulder, that probably means they are also watching my back. My honesty keeps me accountable--and that causes me to avoid stupid things because I know somebody's going to check me out.

My dad once said, "Locks keep honest people honest." Somebody who is going to do the wrong thing will do it, regardless of their situation. Accountability is like a lock; it helps protect us from ourselves.

An insomniac's dream...

I'm sitting here, up again. I should be sleeping.

A few updates are in order. A few weeks ago, I struggled with knowing how we were going to make it...money looked too tight. So, I "threw it up" and hoped for the best. I guess if I were being honest, I'd have to say that I really didn't expect any results.

I'm really glad that God doesn't cater to our expectations, aren't you?

So, about a week later, I received a call from my boss at Godfather's--offering me a significant promotion and increase in pay. So much so, that I could quit my other job and have just one place of employment for the first time in about three years! So, for the last week, I've been "officially" one of the full-time managers at Godfather's Pizza in Normal, IL. Sounds like it's not so great, but really, it is. Here's why:
- I'm enjoying it. (Can't put a price on that.)
- It's flexible.
- It's salary, so it's steady income.
- The owner, who is actively involved in the business, is a Christ-follower.
- His goal is to get me back into ministry.

(Ever feel like you've been set up???)

So, life is pretty good. My mood is better. I can relax at home now, which is significant. I left Office Depot, one of the biggest sources of stress in my life, and didn't look back. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have had the job when I needed it. But this situation is far, far better. Plus, I'm in the lead in an organization again, where I feel like I can really make a difference. It's the first time in a few years that I've been able to say that.

Other than that...

I've been asked by my pastor to:
a) travel as a sponsor to a youth retreat in Wisconsin in a few weeks.
b) accompany him to Anaheim, CA to the Vineyard National Conference.

Feeling good...and the picture is finally beginning to become clearer. And that feels good, too.

Thanks for the good stuff, Lord.


Trusted Computing?

I'm on a bit of a crusade against Windows Vista. One of the many issues has to do with Trusted Computing...yet another form of DRM. Basically, between DRM and Trusted Computing, you--as the user and owner of content--lose the right to decide what you want to do with it.

Watch this for more:


a letter from a friend...I almost cried

I got a lengthy email today from my good friend, Matt Morrison, whom I left back in South Dakota. Matt is a great guy, a fellow emergent-type-church-person, and the worship leader at Mercy Church in Sioux Falls. Anyway, he wrote me this great, encouraging email--probably one of the nicest letters I've ever received. He has been/is where we are now, in terms of feeling led somewhere but not necessarily seeing the path after having made the jump. He has a unique perspective on our situation, and I was really touched by the time he took to write. I almost cried.

Proverbs 25:25 is a truth: "Like a cool drink of water when you're worn out and weary is a letter from a long-lost friend." (The Message) It was just what I needed, Matt. Thanks for caring!


the problem with sickness

I mentioned earlier that my wife is in very bad shape right now. As I think about Jesus in the Gospels, and the way He intended for us to be - naturally supernatural - I struggle a bit with my wife's illness. This disease is, according to the earthly doctors, chronic and incurable. I know that's not the final word...but here we are. Struggling. It doesn't seem fair that a beautiful, 30-year-old woman should have to deal with these things. Granted, others have dealt with far greater tragedy than this--but that doesn't make it any easier.

Do we lack faith? I mean, it's pretty consistent through the Gospels that Jesus heals on the basis of two things: His discretion, and faith...mostly the second. In Mark 1:40-45, we read the account of a leper who came to Jesus, saying, "If you choose, you can make me clean." We see both elements at work there--the leper believed in Jesus' ability to cleanse him. And because of his faith, Jesus chose to deliver. So, I wonder if we lack faith for healing today. Do we even understand what it means to have faith for healing?

Sometimes it seems as though we humans--and especially we USAmericans--define ourselves by our pain and suffering. We do scores of things to hurt ourselves and then use that as the framework for the, "this
is why I am the way that I am" discussion. I guess my question is, "Do we even want to be healed?" There's no pity, no handouts, far fewer excuses if we are healed. Yet when Jesus swept into people's lives, that just what he did--He healed them.

So, the bigger question becomes...do we really know Jesus? Are we really living in the kingdom?

It's been a long time...

It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I figure it's time to get back into the habit again. A lot has happened since I last wrote.
  • We've moved again. This time into permanent housing. We are living in Bloomington now (Normal's sister city...it's inevitable that we couldn't stay in "Normal" for long...).
  • We have a church. We are a part of the Bloomington Vineyard (www.vcfbn.org). The pastor and I have become great friends; it's been loads of fun to be on the "other side" of the pulpit and try to be the kind of parishioner I always wished I'd had myself.
  • I am working two jobs. (boo, hiss...) I'm almost-full-time at Office Depot, doing tech sales. I'm also a manager at Godfather's Pizza in Normal. One or the other will turn full-time eventually, so I covet your prayers in that area. My hope is that the income from one job will make the other unnecessary.
  • My wife is not well. For those who don't know, my wife is afflicted with a neuromuscular disease commonly called CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease). Technically, it is known as sensory-motor neuropathy. Basically, it causes her excruciating pain in her muscles, particularly her arms, back, and lower torso. For the last week, she's been the worst I've ever seen her. I'm so grateful for the wonderful people in our church, as meals have been provided when I'm working, so the kids don't have to fend for themselves. By evening she just doesn't have the fine motor skills or endurance to cook a meal. We covet your prayers for her.
  • Me, I'm still just out here trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. God brought us here to Illinois, but I'm still not sure what He has in store for us. I suppose He'll reveal that as we go--I'd probably run away if He told me up-front.
My email address has not changed, so if you've got it, write. Or you can post a comment here.