Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Who would have thunk it?
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Meeting David Wilson is a brilliant documentary about one person's journey about race in America. David Wilson, upset about struggles of African-Americans in his own community and their inability to overcome systemic struggles, decides to explore his family's roots.
As he does so, he decides to go to North Carolina, visit the church his great-grandfather started, and eventually meet a decendant of his ancestors slave owner (who was white). They are both named David Wilson. Thus the title of the documentary has a double entendre, where the young, black David meets to the other David and himself in the process. So, the story unfolds both as a coming of age story, and as a documentary about race at the same time.
Most moving to me is when the black David Wilson visits the old slave quarters and says, "I am the answer to the prayers of the people who were slaves in this room, living in this place. I am the embodiment of their hopes and prayers (or something like that).
Also interesting is how the two David's, which the documentary builds up to be potential adversaries, end up being friends. One white man, growing up in pre-Civil Rights South, and a young black man thinking about reparations.
I loved the movie, and the thoughts and questions it raised.
The thing that frustrates me in the discussion of this issue on MSNBC afterward, as well as the narrative this story tells, is that the dialogue about race is a black-white issue in America. The story of race in America is much more multicultural than that, and in our discussions about race in America we do not remember the HISTORIC racial issues that are not simply about persons with African linage.
Systemic persecution of Native Americans is equally if not more stunning than those of African Americans. As with Hispanics. Hispanics and Native Americans were historic owners and residents of this land long before Europeans and Africans first arrived in America. We forget that when we narrow the dialogue about race to a black and white issue.
We also narrow white americans into a slave owner history. Several white folks in America are unassociated with that lineage. My father's side of the family were more possibly associated with that sin. My mother's side of the family were immigrants who moved quickly west.
This narrowing also expects other minority groups to fall in line with an African American model of social activism, community organization, and justice-making. The facts are, especially within other minority communities, this model of advocacy is not as indigineous as in is in black communities. I served on a National Board on my denomination where this kind of thing happened, and action was taken on behalf of an offended person despite the Native American man's plea that he simply be supported as he worked with his own process in his community.
Overall, though, it was a good movie, and one that should be seen in schools everywhere.
- A clear difference between creation science and intelligent design
- A clear effort to squelch inquiry regarding scientific viewpoints that include intelligent design
- That intelligent design seems to explain some things in molecular biology that evolutionary theory cannot.
- That many in the anti-intelligent design circle seem to advocate a poistion based on faith and establishment ideas. Despite Stein's repeated efforts, leading enemies of intelligent design were unwilling to give clear rationale why intelligent design should be discounted
- A small quote from Darwin in his later works where Darwin endorsed social darwinism to deal with the mentally retarded and mentally ill.
There were some areas of the movie where I think Stein pressed his issue or fell a little short:
- He needed more communication on the scientific potential for intelligent design. The movie was more about how the scientific world squelches dissent.
- Although I believe that the scientific community underplays the relationship between social darwinism and scientific darwinism, I think Stein overplays the causation of eugenic efforts' relationship to Darwinian science.
Perhaps most interesting was the dialogue that Stein has with leading evolutionary biologists. Their arguments for first cause are almost laughable, and Stein debunks them just with a look of his eyes...as well as the facts.
That..and in a way Richard Dawkins shares the possibility that he may, in an odd way, be a proponent of intelligent design.
If you have any interest in the subject, you should watch the movie.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
First, the resignation letter:
My Dear Friends and My Church Family,
On Sunday, March 30, 2008, Jennifer and I accepted a call where I will serve as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Fowler, CO. Thus, I am resigning as the Associate Pastor here at First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs.
This decision comes after much consideration, and we are excited for our journey ahead. At the same time, we are saddened at the awareness that we will not see many of you nearly as often, if at all, after we leave.
I leave First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs feeling good about much of the time we have had together. We have accomplished a lot together. By the end of this summer, our teens will have had the opportunity to participate on five mission trips and attend three summer conferences in the last five years. Our attendance has fluxuated somewhere between 2 and 25 at youth group, and I have done my best to love each and every teen that comes through the door on your behalf. We have also revitalized our young adult ministry with our young couple’s ministry and the CHOW group. In all of these programs and in other endeavors I have enjoyed partnering with you and sharing ministry with you.
Perhaps what I feel best about is how we worked together to build trust with one another. When I showed up, I was the fifth person in five years in my position. The teenagers were tired of just getting to know someone, only to have them leave by that summer. The parents were eager to be supportive, yet were a little bit suspicious as well. With some amazing help, I feel like we slowly came to support and love another.
We move forward not out of anger or animosity, but out of a sense that I was called to be in a place where I could grow in new ways. In my time here, I have felt more and more of a tug to preach, to lead, to have a voice in the direction a church is going, to have a relationship with an entire congregation. And although I love pastoring teenagers and always will (especially ours), after 12 years of youth work I have struggled in the last year or two with trying to come up with new and entertaining youth group games and trying to find new and creative activities to do. In other words, I feel God is leading me to be more of a pastor and less of a programmer.
As Jennifer and I take the next step in our journey of ministry together, we want you to know that you will always have a special place in our hearts. This is the church that Jennifer made her first public profession of faith in and the congregation that clapped and shouted at her baptism. It is the church that Jennifer and I were married in. This is the church where we were able to work with a wonderful group of youth that we love dearly, and where we were hosted weekly for five years by Ken and Robin Chapman for our Wednesday Night CHOW community. You will not be forgotten. You will be treasured.
Then the final article in the newsletter:
By the time that you get this edition of the Tidings, Jennifer and I will both be keeping busy with last minute ministry concerns, and we will be packing like crazy for the movers that are coming on the 29th of April. After that, I will be commuting back and forth a little bit to wrap up things with you here in Colorado Springs. Jennifer’s last day of work in the Springs is the 28th, and she will be transitioning into social work with the developmentally disabled in Otero, Bent, and Crowley counties.
Transitioning from one ministry to another is not an easy venture. On one hand you are eager for the new adventure that is ahead. On the other hand, you are grieving leaving friends you have made over the last five years, and ministering to others by helping them process through that grief as well. Many of you have given us your blessing and support as we go, both affirming our ministry here and affirming God’s call to Fowler. That has made it easier to say goodbye.
Ministry transition is also a challenge because you are moving from a community, friends, problems, and a work that you know into something completely unknown and unfamiliar. It is a risk. I wonder, “What if I fail? What if something doesn’t work out? What if there is no room for growth of the church in this small town?” I think about these things and I fret and worry. Then I realize, that we in the Church are all about faith. And faith is about an active trust in God. So Jen and I have taken the step out on the limb in going where we feel God is leading us, and we believe that we will be taken care of and blessed. As we leave, we are trusting God on our new adventure to Fowler. We are also trusting God that he will take care of you here in Colorado Springs.
Pastor Mike has written a fine cover article for this edition of the Tidings. He has urged you to pray as I Jen and I leave. I urge you to do that as well. I also plead with you to have a passionate, audacious trust in God as you listen to him in regard to what to do next in regard to youth and young adult ministry.
I am trusting that my leaving as Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church will be an awesome opportunity for you to move forward and grow as a church. I know there is the potential for great ministry in the future here in Colorado Springs. I am praying that you will seize that opportunity—even if it takes risk—in faith that God will bless and provide.
At the same time, if I am honest, I am worried about you (Can you tell I have little difficulty letting go?). I am concerned that it will be easy slip into doing what feels safe and easy to cope with all of the staff change (including but not limited to my leaving), instead of having the courage to have a risky and courageous faith. For some of you, I know you will become tempted to be less invested in the young adult and youth ministry of First Baptist Church. I am trusting you won’t surrender to that temptation. Find ways to support the youth, young adults, and the parents of youth as you move forward. Let that support be seen through jumping in to help the Education Team, Parents, and Mike with youth and young adult programming. Also, share your support through having the courage to encourage your church to take the personal and financial risks that staffing support for our young ones may require in the future. Remember, faith is an action word. And, faith works best when you are living on the cutting edge of your faith, completely depending on and clinging to Jesus. We love you. We believe in you. We wish you all the best. God Bless.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I woke up and was ready to go to work and made a quick check of my email. Guess what? Those processing my car payment made a typographical error for 2,700 (3000 dollars instead of 300). So, my account was overdrawn by well over 1000 dollars, and all I got from my banker and the biller (also a bank) was..."we will get research on this and it should be corrected in 2 to 5 BUSINESS DAYS".
I would ask, "Do you see the check in front of you?"
"Yes the banker would say, it is clearly for $300. But there is nothing we can do until it goes through our 2-5 business day research process."
"What do I do for money until then?" I asked
"I really feel bad for you. I don't know what you can do. I am sure it will be resolved to your satisfaction in 2-5 business days?" the representative retorted.
I asked to speak to a supervisor. She began to yell at me, "LISTEN...she said as she started off on a rant why it was not CHASE banks' fault, but COMPASS Banks."
I call Compass Bank. "We have no record of a payment yet. But go to your bank, send us a fax, and we can get it resolved in 3-5 business days." What?
After hours of calling I went to the branch I use most to get a copy of the check to fax to the car payment bank. Finally, after working half a day for resolution she said, "Well this will be easy to take care of...I will just get you provisional credit until the whole thing is resolved. It is clear this is a mistake we need to take responsibilty for, not you."
Thank God (I mean that literally) for the person at my local branch, or I may have just lost it.
I am thankful for the local customer service person, but I am still angry. I am bitter because I have to do the work to resolve my bank's mistake, and my creditor's mistake. I am angry because I am at the mercy of people like this, and they can really deal with me however they want to.
CHASE IS THE ANTICHRIST.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
My answer is not as fully formed as I would like, but here is my explaination nontheless:
1. Being a pacifist does not mean being passive. I have some Mennonite friends who use those words interchangably. They are, infact, quite different. Followers of Jesus, when doing their jobs, bring chaos into this world. Disciples of Christ provoke, prod, and make powers that be uncomfortable. That does not mean they use the "power of the sword" (see Greg Boyd's Myth of a Christian Nation) to accomplish this task. The Shalom (Peace in Hebrew) of God is an active force in transforming the world.
2. A careful reading of the Scripture when Jesus is in the temple driving out the money-changers does not ever have him causing physical harm to human beings. It has him single-handedly overturning an unjust economic practice that kept people from worshipping God. Instead of offering a reasonable price for travellers wanting something to sacrifice, they corruptly raised their prices to meet demand.
A few years ago I was at a Christian conference in Cincinatti. We went out to eat on a break at the conference, came back to the same parking spot, and they had doubled the price on the parking spot from before for that evenings event. It was a rip-off, and we were stuck. The same kind of thing was happening in the temple, and poor people were not allowed to worship God. So Jesus let all of the animals free, and drove them away from the market in the temple. Kind of a robin hood thing. But nothing is said about him hurting the people.
3. My personal beliefs about Christian non-violence relate to killing and maiming on behalf of the government. It extends to my personal way of relating to people (most of the time). Could I say personally that if someone broke into my home and were going to hurt my family that I would not hurt them? No. If some man hit my Jenny, I would lay him out in nothing flat! That doesn't mean I would be right, but I have to be honest!
This also does not extend, in my opinion to sports. We can all roughhouse and have fun without going against the teaching of Scripture.
But becoming a trained killer, being subject to a government with all sorts of mixed motives for power and such, and going and killing people and sending many of them to an eternity without Christ, that is something I cannot reconcile myself too.
There may be some sense in which fighting a just war is ok. Certainly there were wars that seem upon first glance to be justified by God for the theocracy of Israel. But is there any such situation now? No, I don't think so. And even in more justifiable situations, where does the the boundary for violence lie? Is ok to nuke Japan because it will save more American lives? Does God care whether we are Japenese or American? I dont think so? Is America a Christian nation? No more than any other!
Being a Christian means being a part of a countercultural community, that stands against the powers that be. Not some money grubbing, power-hungry elite that tries to enmesh itself with political power. That is what Christians have done for too long, whether in Hitler's Germany, English Imperialism, the Holy Roman Empire, up to our treatment of Native Americans and our invasion of Iraq. Scripture seems clear, God is on the side of love not on the side of the sword.
But I am hoping to develop these ideas better and answer some of my own questions as I continue to study more in the future. Those are my thoughts for now.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Also, when I moved here to Colorado Springs I had other transition costs. My wardrobe was not suitable for a formal, high-end church. I had to spend between 1000-2000 to get my wardrobe up to date. My couch broke, so I bought a new one. I had lots of repair costs to my car before I decided that it would be less expensive to get a new one. I was getting paid more in Colorado Springs, and falling deeper in debt.
Slowly I have been working my way out of that hole. Part of that is due to my mother's guilt. My mother did not have a lot of money when we were growing up, and so she was not able to contibute much more than a little spending money toward my sister and I's college education. Thus, when she got a workman's compensation settlement that she was going to pay down our student loans with some of the money. I asked her to pay down my taxes, and a few small, high interest retail credit cards (Firestone, Casual Male). It helped me catch up a little.
Then, on December 31, I got married. Several folks were generous, and we had some extra money after the wedding. We got a few toys with the money, but Jen and I decided to put enough money into savings to cover a vehicle deductible and split the rest of the money to pay down some bills. I paid off much smaller than previous years amount in January to the IRS.
When I did our taxes this year, through saving up since January, paying more on my estimated taxes, and the fact that I am married, I was able to pay our taxes in full this year. AND I KNOW I FILLED OUT THE FORM RIGHT WITH TURBO TAX. So, this April 15, I am not necessarily happy, but I am thankful. And a lot less stressed. Because taxes are paid in full, and we still have money in savings and money in the bank. My credit rating is higher than it has been in years, and I feel like I am finally having a little more financial discipline. And, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with my car payment and my student loans.
Oh...and did I mention that since I have not had a ticket in four years I was able to transfer Jen onto my car insurance and ad renters insurance for the same cost as I previously had for just my car insurance. When I came to the Springs 5 years ago the staff told me if I got another speeding ticket they would not be able to carry me on their insurance. Now my driving record is clean. Yipee.
I have had a few breaks to get me to having a peaceful, easy feeling on April 15 this year, but I do feel good. I owe less. We have money in savings. And although I do have my small addictions that cost me more than they should (books), I feel good because I have recovered some of my financial discipline. Jen and I both eat out less. We ride together and save money that way. Financially, it almost like we have breathing room. We have even been able to cover our car repairs this winter. God has blessed.
Monday, April 14, 2008
I have not read the book. But if this sounds interesting there is a number of reviews of the book. Some of them are:
From the God's Politics website
From my friend Michele
From Theologian Ben Witherington
Michele's thoughts about grandmothers.
Marko's thoughts on pronouns for God
Amy's struggles as a missionary in Africa
Summer in April in California
Youthworker woes from Jason
Site about saving money
Praying mantis pics
Sue's risque poetry
Ivan's nature mystery (read and guess before reading the comment)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
My grandmother (aunt of the deceased) is wanting to come home to be with the family, but my grandfather is in need of a liver transplant in the very near future at their winter home in Florida and needs full-time care.
Needless to say my extended family needs a lot of prayer at the moment.
Friday, April 11, 2008
She got a call for the interview at the same time I was at the Healthy Small Church conference. At the time of the call for the interview, Mike Oldham had everybody there take a moment to pray especially for Jen and I and our transition to Fowler. Strange How God works.
This will be a welcome job change after a stressful few months being dragged into this case because she was the only one left in the office who didnt have personal issues that related at the time, and this case because she had went on a previous call last year to this persons home.
This is the view from the front door as you look to the right. The church is still working on painting the walls in there
This is the other side of the living room from next to the french doors you saw earlier.
On the front right of the picture is the door to the stairway. The plywood has some purpose in the renovation, but I am not sure what
This first picture is of the view from the back porch to my office door. Mike was correct in his comment. It is a short commute! Jen is convinced she can just flash the light at me when dinner is ready in the winter.
This second picture is another picture of the living room looking across from the kitchen
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
This book is especially close to my heart because I had the opportunity to work with the author of the book as my senior pastor for a year before he moved away from Montana. So I know Dave lives most of what he writes.
Dave was not always the most skilled supervisor, but he was a good mentor and one of the few pastors that I had that even as a staff person I felt pastored me.
Here is a quote from his book that we read last night:
My predecessor's library haunted me. When he left his church, he left the
ministry and forsook his library. Every single book remained in the office on
the shelves, undisturbed; he took not one...
His library told the story of
his ministry. The books were ordered in topical fashion...his topics represented
most of the trends of Christianity in the 1970s, the decade of his pastoral
The church growth movement was well represented. He went to some
conferences on the subject and bought books. Church minutes from his tenure
reveal that church members attended the conferences with him. They also reveal
that he tried the methods but with no results. Closets, desk drawers and file
cabinets were filled with dittos of church growth teaching materials, church
surveys and proposals.
He journeyed as a charismatic....He had learned from
books how to organize growth groups and spiritual retreats...From late in his
ministry there was a smattering of literature from Reformed theology,
psychology, liberal theology and biblical studies.
A few parishioners told me
with deep sadness that by the end of his ministry he had lost much of his
Christian faith. His faith crisis did his ministry in. The books couldn't
Most of the books and articles were written by genuine
Christians. What went wrong?
I didn't know what went wrong. His library
presented a bleak testimony to me, though. He and I were cut from the same piece
of cloth. I believed that following Christian movements amounted to following
Christ. I was suckled on trend-driven Christianity. I'd grown up in the thick of
consumer religion. It was all I knew. I knew every movement represented in his
library. I'd tried them all myself. I didn't know if I could do pastoral
ministry without them. But every time I looked up at his library, I knew that I
had to try.
I was tagged by Sue to do a meme.
This meme has simple directions, but takes a lot of work.
Here it is: Summarize your life in six words.
I am trying to abbreviate my personal mission statement to fit the word designation.
Here that is:
Living in unconventional beauty for Jesus
What would your six word summary of me be?
And how would you summarize this?
I am supposed to tag six people to do this same exercise.
There are a number of challenges as we progress in the direction of moving to Fowler. Jennifer is working hard to find a new job so that we don't have to have a commuter marriage in our first year together. I think the change will be more difficult for her as we adjust to life in Fowler. The people will love her, but I think it will be a challenge to be more in the fishbowl and have less freedom than we have had here in the big city of Colorado Springs.
I am currently immersed managing myself as I leave the Springs. Here are some of the challenges.
Much like you hear about people during end of life phases, I find myself working through the sucesses and the failures, the joys and the conflicts of the last five years. Over and over again I am presented with situations and snippets that give me the opportunity to handle things differently than before or I wncounter a small situation that seems to me like it is a redo of months or years of ministry here before. At times this is good, because it helps me heal from some things. At times this is difficult, because I am tempted to take control of things that are no longer my business to control.
When you are in ministry, for better or worse, there are times when you make political decisions. For me, these decisions revolve around how I use (or don't use) my voice. There are several situations, big and small, that I have kept my mouth shut about as I have been here. Some have to do with staff issues, and my efforts to be submissive and supportive of those God has annointed to be in authority over me. It seems as I get closer to leaving, there are more opportunities to use my voice to lash out. People in the church want to triangulate myself and the senior pastor. Sometimes it is tempting to take that bait. Even more, I have unresolved issues that I have not dealt with, and there seem to be opportunities to resolve those issues in my favor. To take revenge.
This is true with members of the church as well. Due to the challenges of navigating relationships at First Baptist, there have been times where I have wanted to be more blunt and confrontational, and I have chosen not to. This is because I wanted to communicate grace and avoid confrontation. It is also because I know if I am too blunt with people I will be disciplined by those in leadership for being so. Right now, there is a strong temptation about being uncensored Clint. Of attacking everyone for every issue I have with them, even those here I love the most. I suppose some times this will be appropriate, but there are several times where it is not.
Closely associated with the self-control is blame. I want to blame everyone as being the reason I was leaving. My senior pastor. The executive board. The kids when their behavior is poor. Parents. People who refused to volunteer and help. Young adults who lives do not seem to be changed. The list goes on and on.
I have little conversations in my head where I say...If you would not have done ________ than maybe I would not be leaving right now. Childish I know, but it is temptation nonetheless.
This self-control and blame issue becomes even more challenging as people in the church are going through their own grieving process. As they express their frustration and pain with us leaving, I am tempted to lash out and spout off.
Right now it is my responsibility to help people work through the process as a pastor, not to make them work through my process with me.
It is hard for me not to manipulate things so that things happen the way I want them after I leave. Will my position be replaced? How will the kids be taken care of? How will programs be done after I am gone. My temptation is to take control of things so that I can push my agenda, instead of letting go and letting the church determine its next course.
It is hard to let go. It is hard to stop making decisions. If you love the people you serve and you love the Church, leaving the place God has had you is never an easy thing.
A lot of times, it seems like it would be easier to run away now.
Today, I attended a conference on Healthy Small Churches. As I listened to the presentation, I began to think about a book a mentor of mine wrote called The Art of Pastoring: Ministry without all the Answers.
As I continued to think about all of the things that happen in the process of leaving and entering a ministry, I begin to remember David Hansen's understanding of "pastor as a parable". Then I began to think about what will be my "parable" as I leave Colorado Springs. What is going to be the theme of my story as I leave here?
And how is that story going to be different in Fowler?? What is the story of God's grace that God will try and tell through me?
These are some things I am thinking about.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
First Baptist Church of Santa Ana CA--this spring
Lake Avenue Baptist (Pueblo)--this spring
Church in Niles, MI--talked a lot with chair of committee this spring
First Baptist Church of Redlands, CA--last winter
First Baptist Church of Belleville, KS--last winter
First Baptist Church of Fairbury NE--last winter
First Baptist Church of Alpena, MI--candiated last fall
First Baptist Church of Pontiac IL--last fall
First Baptist Emporia KS--summer 2007
Kittitas Community Church, Kittitas WA--last spring
Church in Upstate New York--fall 2006
First Baptist Canon City--fall 2006
First Baptist Church of North Platte, NE--summer 2006
A few of these churches turned me down. I turned a few opportunities down. Some were kind of mutual experiences.
Discovering a new call is very difficult work. It is a long journey.
Now comes the next few steps as we trust God has led us to Fowler
Friday, April 04, 2008
For some reason, this week I have been extra sleepy. It is making me a little frustrated until I thought a little bit about the last week and the last three months. Most of you know I am a late night person, but I have been going to bed before midnight a lot lately No Hardball with Chris Matthews :( After thinking about this...I started to wonder why I might be a little more eager to get some sleep.
I started taking inventory of my life.
In the last week
My last full day off was almost two weeks ago.
I did a full week of work at church, then candidated at a church on the weekend on top of it.
I have had to let several people know I am leaving, and deal with each of their issues on top of my own.
I have a major fundraiser for Colorado Springs coming up this weekend.
In the last three months I have
Went on a honeymoon
Began married life
moved into a new home
made a job change
had 3 job interviews and 1 more informal interview
had a major car repair
had to buy a new computer
lost my cpap on a job interview
went without my CPAP for a week and a half
did not get the CPAP working right for nearly another month
Had cold/flu that kind of lingered on for a while
So after thinking about that....I am not complaining...but thinking maybe it is ok if I need some rest.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Becca's movie reviews
Sean and Michele's Log Home
San Nakji's picture of Lion Fish
Drea's move into the private sector
Heidi's thoughts on raising teens and Lonesome Dove (make sure to read through the comments too)
A really cool photography blog of Seattle.
To love at all is to be vulnerable--C.S. Lewis
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it up and put it back in your pocket--Will Rogers
The best way out is always through--Robert Frost
If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my ax--Abraham Lincoln
There is no worse robber than a bad book--Italian proverb
Faith is not belief without proof, it is trust without reservation--Elton Trueblood
What is the hardest task in the world? To think.--Emerson
A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us--WH Auden