30 January 2006

Living at "the City"

So my life has consisted of countless hours sitting in the new Java City coffee shop on campus, talking with friends, laughing, reading books, studying, and consuming lots of caffeine. It has been great to have a central chill spot on campus. Well, I have four exams this week, so this will have to be a quick update without lengthy rants on life.

My 21st birthday is coming up on Feb. 8. I guess that's exciting.
Spiritual Emphasis was a great time on the campus. I find myself blown away each semester at how God moves in people's lives. I continue to pray for their continual commit to Christ as they move forward in their relationship with Him. God showed me personally more of the meaning of "perfect love." He is building that definition into my being and making it a bigger reality in my life. I can't wait to see how He keeps moving.
I emailed Chris Conrad, Director of Church Planter Development, dealing with my vision of Boston. He was thrilled with the idea and had actually been in Boston a few months prior to my email. While he was there, he had the thought that it would be a great place to plant an urban church. Maybe God is in that coincidence...maybe not. Who knows. But at least dialogue has been started.

I need to get studying. Peace. Keep Him first. Keep love first.

12 January 2006

Continuing this chapter and can't help but dream about the next...

So I am finishing up my first week back at school. Another semester of SWU life. I'm settling back in quite fine. For some reason, this was the first time I wasn't 100% completely excited about leaving Salisbury and coming back to SWU. Don't get me wrong...I love coming back to SWU because it's home for me right now...and don't get me wrong...I don't really enjoy Salisbury too much. However, for some reason not known to me, I was sad to leave Salisbury again. Break was long enough to allow me the chance to settle in and get back into the routine of work and spending time with friends in Salisbury. That was the first time since last Christmas that I was in Salisbury for more than 5 days at a time. Through all of that, I am still excited about starting another semester. This semester is going to be challenging, reading intensive, and VERY thought-provoking...like I need to spend more of my time pondering the big questions of God, life, and ministry.

Speaking of God, life, and ministry, I'm still fervently looking at urban church planting, and am seeking God's direction and vision for possibly going to Boston. I can't imagine fulfilling that dream, but I intend on finding out if it is God's design. This will not be easy though. Apparently there isn't a Wesleyan church in the whole state of Massachusetts. There is no network of support already there. There isn't even a district there as far as I understand it. There isn't a church already there. There isn't a congregation already there. There isn't a paycheck waiting for me. The state and city are known for its rather liberal moral stances, most of which are against Biblical ideals and teachings. The city, home to Harvard and M.I.T. among a ton of other colleges, is one of the most intellectual cities in the world. Boston is the 2nd most expensive city to live in, next to NYC. Why do I have this crazy idea that I can take one of the most offensive messages to these people and succeed? Why do I have such a passion for this vision, knowing that the Gospel will not be received easily and I will not be able to back down or water it down? Why me? How can someone like me do something like that?

I'm not sure how all those questions will be answered. I'm not totally sure if this is God's vision for my life and my legacy. All I know is that I will not let my life be a waste. I will not serve my God half-heartedly. I will not settle for the easy route. I will not dream small dreams. I will not fear the big dream, the big responsibility. I will not believe that God can't make it happen. I will not go through life without the faith that God can make ANYTHING happen. That's why we don't have a miraculous movement wiping across the face of this planet with the love of Christ. That's why we haven't seen another Great Awakening. We don't dream big. We don't put into action a faith that takes risks and gives up EVERYTHING for the sake of God's redeeming love being manifested in lives all across this world. We don't live like we believe God can move. We are nobodys! We are SELL OUTS! I beg you (and I'm screaming at myself here), don't live like a complacent sell out! Dream big. Give God the credit He deserves by dreaming bigger than you could ever imagine. Not because you are so skilled, talented, or amazing, but because He is more amazing than we have realized.

As I pray over this vision and seek to discover if it is God's vision, I also pray that God would ignite a passion in others for a greater vision of what God can do; not only that, but especially that He would ignite a deep passion in some people for this vision, for Boston. I don't expect anybody to want to come with me. To be honest, Boston is not the city that I would choose to live in if I could make the choice. I would love to live the remainder of my life in North Carolina. But my desires and your desires should have no bearing on this issue. I can't feel good about myself when there are (just as an example) 10 Wesleyan churches with an Asheboro address and yet no Wesleyan churches in many other areas just within our own country, including the whole state of Massachusetts. I would love to pastor in NC, but I feel too guilty about hoarding the joy of redemption in the "Bible Belt" of the South when there are millions elsewhere. However, I won't be able to push people out of their own ideas so that they would go to the harder places and do the harder thing. God will have to move in those people for that to happen. So I pray fervently that God will move people to get out of their own desires about how their life should go, and look to see how they can sacrifice it all for a greater cause. To be honest, among those whom I pray God will move, I am already praying that God would already be stirring into the heart of some amazing woman out there, whoever and wherever she might be, a deep passion for this cause, of doing the hard thing, going to the hard place, and sacrificing it all for the cause. This is my adventure, my mission, that I am seeing right now. But I can't expect her to join me on it unless God ignites her heart for the Gospel and for people, wherever or whoever those people might be, and makes her willing to risk it all for those people's sake.

We shall see how God chooses to move. I look forward to great things that He can do, if we will be willing to risk it all. For now, I will just dream...and will always dream big.

04 January 2006

What a break!

I have had such an amazing break. It has been an endless time of good days and good friends. I've worked at Jersey Mikes while being home. I've caught up with high school friends and others. I've been to Starbucks countless times. I've spent time with my parents. I had a good Christmas. I traveled to Orlando for the Logos '05 Wesleyan Southern Area Youth Convention. I got to interact with a couple thousand people there while helping out at the SWU booth. I got to see many different people that I know from different places from traveling on the ministry team while I was there. I just got back tonight from Chapel Hill, where I watched the Tar Heels beat Davidson College 82-58! Good days.

Logos 05 was really fun. I loved talking with so many people at the SWU booth and seeing lots of people that I know or haven't seen in a long time. I got to catch some lunch with Daron Earlewine (lead pastor at The Crux in Indianapolis). We had a good conversation about the Church, implications of the urbanization movement and how the Church needs to respond, my thoughts about Boston and church planting, the possibility of internship at The Crux next summer, etc., etc. I'm really hoping that all works out to do the internship up there. That would be priceless experience working with Daron and The Crux. That would give me a great summer plugged into urban church ministry learning from the guy who did the church planting, giving me the opportunity to wrestle with all of those ideas and figure out more of where God is leading me.

My time at Logos made me think and wrestle with a lot of things. There were a lot of personal discipline things that I had to wrestle with, dealing with areas of my life that are not where they should be. I gained a new drive for pursuing holiness in my life, not just complacent Christianity. While there, I wrestled a lot with ideas of where I am going and what I need to do with my life. I gained a lot of faith in God while wrestling through these ideas. I had a wonderful experience of remembering my daily necessity of grace from God, a concept that I knew before but needed a deep reminder. Sometimes I get far away from that concept and start becoming self-reliant.

I have to praise God for many things in my life. Right now, I have to praise Him for continually:
1. Breaking my heart for people and the hurting of this world
2. Providing me with a network of friends and people who, for some reason, believe in me
3. Convicting me of my lack of sacrifice and discipline for Him
4. Providing me with opportunities which are helping me grow and work towards serving Him in the ministry
5. Showing me that I have to go out of the norm, going to the hard places, doing the hard things, and sacrificing on the way.
6. Comforting my fears as I look ahead at dreams and visions of mine, when all I can see sometimes are the impossibilities and obstacles
7. Pouring light into the gray of my life to break me out of the complacency that I slowly sink myself into
8. Giving me grace for the same crap that I allow in my life
9. Being infinitely patient with me

There are enough reasons to be listing through the night. Those are but a few on my mind right now. Thanks be to God.

Quick Fact:
• 1 out of every 3 Boston residents is a member of the 20-34 year old age group.
• Boston has the 2nd largest (33%) concentration of 20-34 year olds of any major city in the country.