So much to say.

Summer is supposed to be a time to re-set.  Theoretically summer brings with it an opportunity to step back a bit and breathe.  Kids are out of school, the air is warm, or in some cases just plain hot, everything takes on a different quality to it, at least that’s what people say, what some people experience. 

Summers for the Newell’s are usually not that way.  There is usually something big going on, or something frustrating or just plain annoying.  That’s the case this year.  As anyone reading my blog knows J was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive breast cancer.  To say the months of June and July were hard is an understatement. It’s hard to get your feet back under you when you are hit very clearly with the fragility of life.  As we move down the path that is Chemo and the side effects begin it gets harder and harder to pull out of the downward spiral.  The nausea that everyone prepared us for didn’t happen, the main struggle at the outset was the fatigue,  a few days later we had a night where we were up at 2 or 3 AM with bad back pain, but J chalked that up to something she ate, apparently she had to hit my leg pretty hard to get me to wake up, then there was no sleeping, the other seeming side effect is this persistent cough, and of course the one we were waiting for, the one we knew was coming, the hair falling out, started the day before an interview at a county school.  That one was hard because Josie realized it was happening and well she was a mess, she seems to be on the verge of tears on a regular basis.  Zoey remains clueless, not because we don’t want to tell her but every time we begin to broach the subject, or introduce the beginnings of the conversations she has no interest in continuing.  She went to help Joyce pick out her hair prosthesis (wig) we were seeing the surgeon that day as well and there was still no question no interest even sitting in the waiting room at the breast center. 

Each step of this horrific thing brings the reality of what’s happening into clearer focus.  Having said that the response to Chemo is good, excellent in fact according to the surgeon.  She is very pleased and somewhat surprised at how well the tumor is responding after one treatment.  So why am I not comforted by all of this, why am I not seeing the other side, why am I still so worried, why does it still consume most of my thought process?  I understand and know all the things I’m supposed to, even the things I have told others when I have tried encouraging them, I try and apply them to the situation but it just seems hollow. 

In addition to the whole cancer thing we have the burglary/car theft/ arson thing going on.  We have found out that our insurance claim can’t be processed until the arson unit releases the car, a process that we are told can take weeks or even months. 

Personal stress is coupled with professional stress as well.  J had a great interview and has been hired by a Tech Magnet school in Baltimore County.  There is some maneuvering within Baltimore City Schools but hopefully nothing that will be too much of  a problem.

The months of prayer and relationship building and outreach and work are finally bringing fruit.  We have had three good attendance Sundays in a row, with offering from each of these days being up.  New people keep coming and returning, things are finally working but there is so much more that must be done.  One of the biggest needs that we have is to raise a substantial amount of money in the next few months to keep moving forward.  This task naturally falls on my shoulders as the only full time employee of the church.  We started a process but then all hell broke loose and much of the time that I was planning to devote to this portion of my job was sucked up in dealing with the whole cancer thing. 

The bottom line is I’m just tired.  So very tired of trying to juggle all the balls that keep getting thrown my way.  Not complaining really just putting it out there.  I have always looked at this blog as a place to be me and well right now me is a tired me. 

Wednesday is treatment day.  Those are the long day’s the hard ones that are full of waiting and watching and trying to figure it all out.  Words fail at times, I struggle to make sure I notice things more, to pay attention to J and the girls.  Last night it was all about how to help Zoey get her hair brushed out properly, the whole time my mind kept screaming that it didn’t want to know how to do this, not because I don’t want to brush Zoeys hair, but because if I am learning how to do that stuff, it means she may not be able to or around to do it.  Funny how the mind can just go to that place, even when people are saying that things are looking good and they are pleased.  It’s like sure that’s how it works for other people, but look at our Summer and well yeah.  It’s not the same.

So to update J’s condition, just like I did 6 years ago.

1.  Side effects are not as invasive or debilitating as they could be.

2.  Tired

3.  Hair is leaving. 

4.  Cough won’t go away.

5.  Chemo Wednesday

 

Thanks for reading and praying. 

Is the bathroom really that important?

I become more and more amazed as the years go by at the causes people claiming to follow Christ find important.

People on both sides of the bathroom debate exist in “christian” communities. If you have friends and acquaintances on both sides of the debate as I do it tends to get annoying.  What I mean by that is how both sides claim the moral high ground, both claim to be right.  Meanwhile what matters most to Jesus, the person we claim to follow, gets ignored.

I find lately that most of the “important issues” that christians have decided to discuss, debate, and allow to distract and divide them fall into this category.  Think about it the last thing we were told to do by the person we claim, (and increasingly I’m thinking for many it’s more claim than commitment), to follow is as follows

Mark 16:15 (HCSB)
15 Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

I guess I want to know where fights over the bathroom fit into this.  Sure it’s easier to read the above verse this way…

Go into the world that you’re comfortable with and preach the gospel to the people you’re used to, or that you can frighten or brow beat into being just like you…and for the record that happens on both sides of the issues the church has currently chosen to fight about.

As far as the whole bathroom thing is concerned…well my take…I’m all for Unisex Bathrooms.  Sure you would have to retrofit some to offer privacy to all, because let’s face it, privacy in the bathroom is important for any person using it.   As a dad of three girls, all of which were taken on countless dad daughter dates starting from when they were in carriers all the way up to now, bathrooms have been unisex anyway.  If there were stalls for all involved with one common area (the sink) that would be great for me, especially as they got older and wanted the independence but needed the reassurance of their parent.  “I don’t want to go into the boys room daddy, can’t you just come in and shut the door?”  It’s a bathroom, you have one in your house and it’s unisex.  The arguments used against is are funny too mainly because most (not all) of the people making the argument against unisex bathrooms use the scare tactic of “Don’t you want to keep your children safe from predators?”  Also get angry when anyone suggests that gun control is needed to help keep kids safe.  When faced with the logic of background checks etc, they often will point out that people that want do do bad things with guns will still get the guns.  Couldn’t the same logic be put in place here.  Pervs who want to hurt people are still going to hurt people so why regulate bathroom use?

Anyway I digress the point isn’t about bathroom use, or lgbtq and whatever other letters are now being added, or gender pro-nouns, it’s not about conservative or progressive or whatever you want to call it.  It’s about sharing the gospel with a world that needs it, now more than ever.  It’s about becoming more like Christ.  It’s about being able to say that whosoever is a huge word that condemns almost all of us who claim to follow Christ but refuse to live at peace with each other, and to reach out to people who are still trying to fill the God shaped hole in their lives with whatever they are trying to fill it with.  If we could just get that and let God fill in the space, let God deal with the person that he designed.  Let God begin to shape and mold people into his image instead of us shaping and molding them into our own, or our churches, or our interpretation of what’s right and wrong, perhaps then we will be a little further along in hearing “Well Done.”

Thanks for reading…

What we won’t tell you…

There are things that pastors won’t tell you.  Things that you don’t want to hear, things that make us more human than you want us to be. There are other blogs that have said things like this before, written by people far more important and far more famous in the churchesphere than I.  The things they say are true, but many of them leave out some of the things that we won’t tell you because well yea they just do.

I also realize that I am now telling you dear reader, the things that pastors won’t tell you, meaning you now will know some of the things that we don’t tell you or are afraid to tell you.

I want to be clear about something when it comes to these things we won’t tell you, this is ammunition, plain and simple. This blog all about me getting out the things that are in my mind and heart, pretty much unfiltered, and whenever this happens, whenever someone goes unfiltered they open themselves up.  It’s a safe bit that some of these things may be things your pastor won’t tell you.  Again I get it ammunition, what you choose to do with what I write and what you read is on you.

Anyway.  We won’t tell you…

1.  Pastoring is not just a full time job, or vocation.  We are constantly in pastor mode, even when we are supposed to not be in pastor mode we are.  40 hours is a joke when you’re a pastor.  You are always on call, even when you’re not supposed to be.  Sure we will block out time, we will attempt to disconnect for a while, we will even make lip service to taking a break and knowing we need to, but it’s just that, lip service. We are constantly thinking about praying for, and agonizing over the church we serve. Email, phone calls, texts, vision casting, service design, building issues, member growth both spiritually and physically, all of it is always there, it never goes away.  You can’t leave it at the office, you can’t just unplug from it.  You can set up some walls, and try and cut out space for a life beyond the church but it never really works.  When we aren’t pastoring, we’re miserable, and when we are pastoring we are miserable for a whole different set of reasons.

2.  Our family suffers.  Every time you pick at someone in our family, hold them to a higher standard or say something about them or to them about how disappointed you are or about how the other pastors significant other or kids would never have done or said or been fill in the blank it hurts.  Every time we have to say no to some family something because of a church something it builds walls between us and the people we are supposed to put first.   What makes I t worse is the massive amount of guilt associated with the suffering our family endures.  The worst part is we become accustomed to feelings of guilt, because when we do take time with or for our family, we feel guilty about not being there for the church we have been called by God to serve.

3.  We want you to like us.  Not our preaching, not the way we dress, not if we can sing or not, and not the things that we do for the church. We want you to like us, and we can tell when you don’t, and when we get that vibe one of two things will happen,  we will try extra hard to get you to like us, or we will come up with ways to avoid one on one conversation with you.

4.  We look at the service as art.  Putting it together, making sure it flows, spending time praying over each element, trying to get the timing down, all of it is art,  all of it takes time.  Sometimes the work is fridge worthy, sometimes it’s gallery worthy, and sometimes it’s rubbish that needs to be scrapped.  The problem is we don’t always know which it will be until we are in the middle of it, so not only do you get to see the gallery and fridge stuff, you also see the crappy pieces that we wish no one could see.

5.  Sermons are not just a weekly speech.  There is more to preparing a quality sermon than reading a few verses.  We know when they tank, in fact we know that they are going to tank when we open our mouth at the beginning of the message, and we feel horrible about that.

6.  Sometimes you bother us especially when you hurt the people we love.  We won’t tell you this, in fact we will feel really bad for not liking you at any given point, we will agonize over it, pray about it, and figure there is something wrong with us.

7.  We worry about your spiritual life, sometimes to the detriment of our own.

8.  We want the church to grow more than you do. Every Sunday that attendance shrinks is another punch to the gut telling us that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t really called, and that we should just get out of this whole pastor thing.  The problem is it’s not so easy to just turn off the calling that God has on our life and so we keep working and working and working.

9.  Every time you bring up what the other guy did as the way it should be you are telling us that we will never really be your pastor, and that hurts.

10.  We are pretty broken people that aren’t allowed to appear broken.  We feel like we have to always be on, and when we aren’t on to everyone’s expectations we feel it, know it, and try working harder and longer, all of which is a detriment to our family, but we don’t know how to or are unwilling to stop juggling all the balls that is the church we are called to serve.

11.  Titles, committees, and fundraisers are not nearly as important as everyone thinks they are. We do know what we are saying, we want you to know Jesus, we want you to be a part of the church because you Love Jesus more than anything.  When you are doing it for any other reason we know this and it hurts because we are obviously not communicating the importance of a personal relationship with God that informs the rest of your life, in a way that helps you see how important it is and makes you want it.

12.  We are scared and scarred.  Scared to say the things that will hurt your feelings but ultimately help you in your life, and scarred from the times we did so and found out that you could really care less and have decided that we have no real say in your life. Again letting us know we are not  your pastor.

There you go 12 things that we won’t tell you.

Now for one thing that is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, at least for me it is.  We LOVE you.  We LOVE you so much because it’s part of who we are and what we are made to be and what we want to do.

Death in Many Forms

This has been a difficult week. I mean there really is no way for it to be anything but. Some may have read my post about Orange being an oasis, and it was. I enjoyed Orange Tour immensely, and it just solidified my excitement for Orange 2016. What amazes me is that this will be my fourth yes that’s right my fourth Orange. Time just keeps going…

But I don’t want to gush about Orange Tour or any of the people there. I want to look at a couple of things that happened this week, and the way not just faith but values evolve, and since this is my blog well, I’ll be looking at the evolution of my faith and values.

Growing up in church does a lot of things to a person, I’ve talked about that in some of the pages that are on here, dig in if you want that information, exact titles escape me at the moment but they exist and well I could use the readers let’s be honest…

The problem with growing up in the church is that there comes a point when you are faced with the prospect of continuing to grow in and with the church, or growing out of the church, I almost said outgrowing the church, but increasingly I believe if churches do it the right way and if Christ followers do it the right way there is no real way to outgrow the church, just ways to grow in faith, and community. A person grows out of the Church, and sadly grows out of their faith, when the dichotomy of humanity happens. Simply put when what is said by leaders, what is done in program, gets cross referenced with what the individual is reading in the Bible what they are seeing when they look at the life of Christ and how he interacted with people, and what they see being done in their daily life by the people around them, many of whom are supposed to be evil or lost doesn’t add up. Lets be clear, I do believe people that don’t have an active relationship with God are lost. I believe that active relationship begins with the realization that without Jesus, no GPS in the world will get you or I out of the mess of being a fallen human. There must be an acknowledgment of personal sin, and a recognition that forgiveness comes through Christ and that forgiveness is applied to my life on a regular basis.

BUT it’s important to realize that the church and Christians in general are their own worst enemy when it comes to new adopters and retention. Mainly because they refuse to evaluate and evolve. When you classify many Christians they usually get tossed into a box of intolerance, ignorance, hypocritism, and refusal, and sometimes those labels are earned, in fact more often than not they are. What’s hard is when you actively try and grow when you embrace the possibility that you’re wrong, that you read it wrong, that you understand it wrong or that you just can’t be the kind of Christian you were because that Christian was not really all that nice…

This week along with the personal tragedy of losing my aunt, there were two tragedy’s in the country that prompted this post.

1. On Wednesday September 30 in the early morning hours Kelly Gissendaner was executed.

2. On Thursday October 1, 9 people were killed at a community college in Oregon.

The thing is my faith and values have been challenged for a long time and have really been evolving. Most evangelical Christians support the death penalty and are very much anti gun control. I don’t have numbers or research to back this up more than some of the posts that make their way across my Facebook Feed, and observations of political candidates that claim Christianity and being conservative and their comments. I’ll be honest I had been a supporter of the death penalty, at times using the Old Testament argument, for the death penalty, but if you actually went by Old Testament law reasons for the death penalty can be pretty amazing. From working on the Sabbath, to Cursing your parents, to Losing your virginity there are several reasons that people were supposed to be put to death. Many Christians use this verse “a fracture for a fracture, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Whatever anyone does to injure another person must be paid back in kind.” (Leviticus 24:20 NLT-SE) conveniently forgetting that Jesus specifically adresses this practice ““You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.”
(Matthew 5:38–39 NLT-SE) I guess what bothers me is the idea that anyone holds any life as less than, especially considering we are all crafted in the image of God. People will look at Kelly Gissendaner and say she got what she deserved. She did the crime she paid the penalty, it was justice. I’ll also be the first to admit that I have not had anyone close to me murdered. I can’t say that my opinion on this topic wouldn’t be differen or switch back if someone killed someone I love, that’s part of being human I guess, it’s easy for me to look at the situation and say wow all lives matter and all life is precious because I’ve not experienced the death of a loved one by the hand of another human being. Still at this time I find myself landing on the side of those that are against the death penalty. Life is sacred, all life, how can we advocate for one set of lives and ignore or campaign against another? If I really believe that grace is for all, that forgiveness is available to all, how much am I standing in that space when I call for the death of another human being? This all started to bother me when a well known Christian leader made the following stupid comment regarding Hugo Chavez…”We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network’s The 700 Club. I don’t see much grace, mercy or hope for the salvation of a fellow human being in that statement. What’s crazy is the same guy that was calling for the assassination of a human being, has called for a moratorium on the Death Penalty and sits at odds with other Conservative Christian leaders. Following the Gissendaner case just really solidified my opposition. So yes my faith and values have changed when it comes to this very divisive issue.

The Oregon Shooting is yet another reason that I am and have been for some time firmly in the gun control camp. When friends post comments that I find idiotic I struggle with allowing their posts on my news feed. The idea that more guns carried by more people will make us all safer boggles my mind, yet I regularly find these types of comments, and posts. In 2014 the NRA spent over $3,000,000.00 this year so far they have spent over $1,000,000.00 and the year isn’t over yet. The desire to have zero regulation when it comes to owning fire arms. ZERO regulation is amazing to me. The NRA opposes background checks, thinks owning assault rifles is no real problem, don’t want databases that show gun ownership to be kept, and don’t like any changes to fire arm registration. They throw up the smoke screen of mental health issues, while keeping guns for any. My question has consistently been why?  Why do you need that Glock 9, what’s the point of owning an AR15, why do you need an extended magazine? I’m sorry but if you’re such a bad shot that when trying to “defend” your home you need more than the average of 15 to 17 rounds I don’t want you to have a gun, after all it’s not a toy. Why we think the answer to gun violence is more gun ownership boggles the mind, but I can go to my news feed on Facebook and find loads of people posting reasons that it’s a good thing for more people to be armed. I’m not advocating for banning all firearms, far from it, but some things just make sense as far as I’m concerned. The arguments that people make are getting old and wearing thin, “Criminals will still get guns if they want them.”  “If you think taking away guns will curb violence you’re wrong.” “The majority of gun owners and collectors are responsible and safe.” Except when those things aren’t true which seems to be more and more frequently. I’m all about gun control, have been for a while, will continue to be. I think part of purchasing a gun should be stating the purpose for said gun. If purchasing for “protection,” state that in the application and along with the background check, that should be rather exhaustive, there should be a reference check. I think if it’s for hunting that too should be stated, along with what you are planning to hunt, again with references as well as a comprehensive background check. It should be harder to purchase a gun than it is to purchase any other item. It should take time, it should be a rigorous process, that is evaluated every 3 to 5 years. Recently I had to renew my license to drive. There are two sets of renewals in MD. Once you hit 40 you can no longer renew at the kiosk, once you hit 40 you have to renew with a teller because they want to make sure you can see, they want to evaluate how safe you are to operate a car. Why should owning something that has just as much potential to end a human life as a vehicle not be subject to further evaluation on a regular basis?

Death comes in many forms. It can come at the hands of the state, it can come at the hands of a deranged individual, it can come softly in the night. The one constant is that it will come. It will bring with it sadness, and anger, and for some hope of eternity. What we do with death when it happens and we are left behind is what matters. If we look at the death of Kelly Gissendaner as what she deserved, and the shooting as “stuff happens” (Jeb Bush) we are missing out on an opportunity to be better, to change, to grow to evolve. As Christians we are missing an opportunity to be with the people effected to pray for those that are hurting and stand for those that have no voice.

The Over Share…

You know the ones I’m talking about don’t you… “friends” on a myriad of social media platforms.

I guess I should start this little tirade with a bit of a disclaimer…For me Social Media in any form is used for one of two things, communication and connection with friends across that miles, or communication and dissemination of information for ministry… Now don’t get me wrong, I remember the days that I spent poking friends because it seemed fun stupid but fun…Then there was that ever present giving people stuff…a drink, a car whatever I think I remember that.  Posting and sharing fun stuff about the kids is great, and the occasional send up a prayer if you think about it, going through something…I used to post pictures of the food or bread I would make, mainly to make others jealous of what they didn’t get to have…

What I don’t remember doing was posting things that no one wants to know, needs to know or should know.  I am happy to know you need prayer for something, or need to talk about something.  If we are friends on facebook or if you are a twitter follower, by all means put it out there that you are going through something…but keep it at something, if you want to go into detail send an email, make a phone call, or even a Facebook message…a PRIVATE one…

Additionally it bugs the spit out of me when people want to try their relationship issues in the court of facebook opinion… cryptically saying things like “you know who you are,” or “some people bet (yes I said bet) mind their own business.” or whatever other semi private but really public because you want to be supported by whoever will take your side in the argument is just wrong. Deal with your relationships like a grown up not like an 8 year old.

Then theirs the people who tell you every minute detail of what they are doing every other minute.  “Getting food with my girl.”  “Watching movie with bae (still hate that.)  “wish my boo were here.”  WHO CARES besides you what you are doing at any given moment.

And please everyone everywhere stop referring to your Pets as children…Pets are not Children.  I will be the first to admit that pets become a part of the family.  They offer great comfort and companionship, they enhance the quality of life but they are not your Children, they are not your kids. They are your pet…you own them, when moving to a new place if you are faced with a Pet Deposit there is always the consideration of re-homing your pet so as to have a better quality of life for the humans, there isn’t really that consideration with Children.  Pets are not people too, they are pets, important, special, well loved even but not equal to humans in any way shape or form.  Posting every thing your dog or cat or whatever does and calling it your child is just as bad as the other stuff.

There have been countless times over the past few months that I have seriously considered closing down my personal Facebook account, and usually it has to do with what people are posting that comes across my news feed or timeline or whatever it’s called, because while I enjoy political conversations to some extent, or a good religious debate once in a while, knowing that you had El Polo Chico Renaldo for supper because you spent the night on the toilet with a trash can in front of you, and you pray to all that there is to pray to that your Boo will get home soon because you don’t want to be sick alone. Yeah that’s not all that interesting to me…well that and any member of the Tea Party that posts anything… make me just want to bail…but I don’t…and why don’t I…because every once in a while, someone will post something that makes sense, usually a friend or old class mate or whatever, and when that happens I get to smile a bit and laugh at the old picture from fourth grade, and find a few friends from before that I forgot I even had…until they start talking about their child boo boo who was so cute when he started barking at the leaf on the back porch…then well they just have to go.

I live here…

My mother in law and I were talking the other day about the news cycle and all the things that happen and how many of them happened before, but due to the lack of technology were not really known for months or if ever, depending on where you were in the country in relation to the event. 

Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, CNN, and for those so inclined Fox. Something happens somewhere and we are instantly aware, and in that awareness we all feel obligated to wax eloquent on the situation.  But today as I watch my Facebook feed I find myself promising myself that I wont do that anymore. 

Our city is litterally in flames in some quarters, police officers have been hurt, some seriously, kids lives are being ruined at an astonishing rate, and city officials are presiding over this nightmare, and people across social media, find it necessary to speak up and tell it like it is.
Please dont, dont politicize this tragedy, dont use it as proof that your side is right, that if only your side was in power things would be diferent.  Don’t use my citys tragedy as a soap box. 

What we should do, pray for our leaders, and the kids, and churches, and pastors and parents.  We should look for ways to serve, we as Christ Followers should be there to pick up the pieces, when the dust settles.  We should bring trash bags, and rakes and shovels and paint and help a community rebuild.  We should make cards for injured officers, and food for people living in looted out areas.  We should remember that they were hungry, sick, naked and in prison.  So many things we should remember, so many things I should remember. 

So please if you have it in your mind to comment on my city, pray first, then as you put keys to screen, pray some  more, and finally as you poise your fingers above the enter key…press delete.

Where’s the Spice

Easter is over…that’s actually a good thing in some respects.  It was supposed to be a banner day for us.  A friend of mine posted on Facebook his excitement at breaking an attendance record, we didn’t.  I read what others are doing, I see posts from friends and churches and read blogs and stats and realize that we have so far to go.  This isn’t a bad thing, it’s good to know there’s work to be done, it’s exciting to be in a place that has so much potential and to be able to see that potential realized…I’m happy that my buddy had a “successful” Easter, really I am, except that I’m not.

Well that’s not true, I am glad that his church was able to reach people but there’s some jealousy in my heart and it’s not fun to admit that.  It’s not easy to admit it either.  I mean come on I’m a pastor, and furthermore I’m one of those enlightened pastors who measures success in a different way,  I look at relationship and connection and quality of connection as opposed to the numbers in the seats.  I see the potential we have for reaching our community in new and innovative ways.  I’m all about engaging on a deeper level than most churches are willing to go, so me being jealous that a friend of mine had an attendance record last Sunday, and in fact many churches that I know of seemed to do the same shouldn’t even be an issue, except it is.   I want all the things I just wrote about myself to be true all of the time, at best they are true some of the time, and usually not true at the same times.  I came into Easter Sunday happy about the inevitable bump that we would see…except we didn’t really see one.  Okay that’s not accurate there were more people than we usually have, but not enough…not enough for the other part of me that does measure success by the numbers.

It’s all about expectations, for instance… I am a huge spiced jelly bean fan.  I like them, to me they are better than the fruit flavored ones,  I may even like them better than Jelly Belly’s but that’s up in the air, I can put a serious hurt on a bowl of Jelly Belly’s, but I digress. I looked for spiced Jelly Beans this year, and I can’t find them, I’m sure they exist somewhere but for some strange reason they weren’t around where I was looking.  My expectations of eating spiced jelly beans from after Easter sales have not been realized.  They are not here.  It’s the same thing with my expectations for Easter Sunday morning, they just weren’t met and there really isn’t much I can do about that.  I’ll just have to deal with it and move on.

Still it’s not really easy to deal with.  It’s hard to see what you know can be, it’s hard to look at the number of kids we had, which was great, it’s hard to hear the new musician and the new music and all that stuff, and wonder if it’s going to work.  I want our church to be the place that people in Locust Point think of when they have a need, or when they need someone to talk to or when they need someone to pray for something.  I want people in South Baltimore to see us as a place to come to when they are tired and hurting all the ways a person hurts.  I want our church to become a hub of ministry activity, that is doing things in the community and the city and well it would branch out from there.  I want  all these things, and I firmly believe with all that is in me we are taking the steps that need to be taken to see this happen. I believe that we are working in Gods plan to see these things happen, but I’m tired at the same time because it feels like we’re pushing a boulder up a mountain sometimes, and when I think that I realize how hard it must seem to the people in the church, who have been here year in and year out, and who have watched things change around them, have watched the family and friends they love and used to serve with either leave, or get older and stop coming, or pass away, and it makes me mad that I even think I have a right to be tired when they have been in the fight for years.

We’re not going anywhere.  This is where God has called us, and for the vast majority of my time I love what I am doing, love the people that I’m doing it with, and am excited about what is coming, but there are days…days that are supposed to be different, that are supposed to be traditionally more than they are at this point, and in those days I get frustrated and tired, and want to physically pick every person in Locust Point up on a Sunday Morning and carry them into the church…

I guess the hardest part of this whole thing is I know that it’s going to take time, a lot of time to see some of the things that I know are possible to happen,  I know that we are going to be able to do new things, and see new things and well yea all that stuff but if I were completely honest with myself, I really thought the growth would be faster.  I thought we would be at 30 to 50 people on Sunday mornings by now.  I thought we would have more musicians some of whom were volunteers, I figured our Kids Ministry would be popping, well okay in some respects it is, but I thought that things would be moving faster…the fact that they are not smacks me in the face and I feel like I’m failing God the people in our church and my family.  Expectations suck because, for a person like me, they never really are met.

Anyway that’s where my mind has been the past few days…perhaps these thoughts will resonate with others,  who knows.