Thursday, June 16, 2005

broken finger

i thought it would be funny to type out a post because my fvinger is broken andf i can[t type andf look at the screen at the same time. it also takes too long to hit the back keuy left anf right sop i'm just going witrh it. one hanfded. trying to do my best but oh well... now i know what my dad feels like when he sitsd dowen to typer.

i have been thinking a lot about being a good lreader and waht it means to be a servant leader. i a mwith a bunch of people who are all uased to beingf leaders anfd it is a huge stretch fior mer to submit to so mANY STRIONG PERSonalitiers. i thionk the lesson is due however, that servant leaders are more respected and trustedt than forceful leaders. there is a lot to say fotr stepping baCK ANF SAYING I'M sure youy can xdco this as well as i can if not better.

well that took about twenty minutes andf my good hand is cramping up now. more later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Leader in Training

Well, I'm learning a lot about what it means to be a leader. I have learned that I used to be the guy who takes charge and pushes other people out of control, and I am learning a lot about stepping aside, being a little more of a wall flower, and letting other people learn the lessons I learned about leadership. This is proving to be one of the best lessons of my life.

I am really enjoying my time out here, but as I move on in my training, I have come to realize that the best leaders, the most respected leaders in this community are the ones who aren't pushing themselves into positions of leadership. They are the ones who are doing what they consider to be the will of God, and as they do it, they are being rewarded with the respect and trust of those around them.

I want to be that. I want to be a safe place. I want to be someone people can turn to, and someone less concerned about advancement and more concerned about mutual edification. I hope this becomes a characteristic of my life. Pray for this.

First Week of New Staff Training

Well, here I am at New Staff Training for the CCO. Everything feels differently to me. I am around a bunch of people I don't know, and to be honest, the most difficult thing about it is walking into a room and not hearing everyone shout my name. (Not that that always happened in Canton, but people were generally excited when I walked into a room, and here, no one cares because no one knows me.)

Things have been going incredibly well. I am learning a TON. I have already learned a lot about sacrificial leadership, and I am developing skills of a leader that carry me beyond the "Do everything because I'm better at it than everyone else" approach. I didn't realize how much I do that, but I really do. Watching this community of leaders has shown me how crippling that attitude can be and it has been a real struggle for me to step back and say "I'm sure these guys can take care of it." I guess my pride is getting a bit of a check out here, but hey, it's about time.

I've been very active, and this whole community really sponsors an attitude of stewardship in everything. No one litters, we all recycle, we turn lights off when we leave a room in order to conserve energy, we carpool everywhere we go, we don't use any styrofoam or disposable plates. We only buy no-name sodas and everyone is very, very sensative and kind to the feelings of others. On the whole, this is a wonderful experience for me.

I think the most difficult thing for me is going to be the cook groups. We have been placed into groups of 6-8 people. In order to make sure that summer training does not come out of the new staff's pockets, a lot of money has been raised for each of us here. However, not enough has been raised to let us go out to eat every night or anything. Instead, each cook group is given $4 per day per person. We then take that money and buy what food we can at the grocery store. I'm sure you know that $4 per day is not a whole lot of money, but we've been doing pretty well so far. We went shopping last night, and I actually asked if I could stay back because I was worried that if I went, I would get all fussy and start making people mad at me. I figured I really don't care what they come back with, but if I went, I could totally see myself saying "What the HELL are you buying ANOTHER stick of BUTTER for!!" So I stayed back and everything went well.

Tonight, I get to see Chris and Jessika White. They are leading our Bible study. And, I start my first graduate level class in about fifteen minutes. We are taking two courses on how to effectively minister and both courses are at the graduate level. Because I will be doing my Master's of Divinity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary while I am here, I am officially beginning my master's this morning. I can't tell you how exciting this all is.

Well, everyone else is waking up and beginning to congregate in the hall, I should go. Till next time.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

A friend of mine asked me recently if there was such a thing as baptism in the Holy Spirit, and if so why she had never heard of it before. I responded with the following email, but I wonder how much of it I got right. Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready to get into this whole discipleship leading thing that I'm training for right now.

Dear Friend-

I'm not sure about this one. This is one of those things that Christians tend to go around and around about. Many Christians will tell you that Baptism in the holy spirit happens when you accept Christ into your heart. (I would be one of these.) Many say that baptism into the Holy Spirit is a fuller realization of Christ in our lives. I'm not sold on the idea that there is such a thing as baptism in the holy spirit that is separate from the baptism into the blood of Christ.

The reason that the Church seems to find a dichotomy (in my mind) lies in the fact that in scripture, many people of Christ's time were baptized with water, and then later with the Holy Spririt. I do not understand the significance of being baptized with water before the death of Christ but apparently it served as some sort of sign that the Christ was coming. (In the gospel of John, when John the baptist is baptizing the people in the desert, the Jews ask him how he can be baptizing if he is not the Prophet or Elijah. Apparently there is a prophecy or a non-canonical book somewhere that says that "The Prophet" or Elijah will come and usher in the messiah by baptizing people. This was what John the baptist was doing. I have to look further into this to understand it more fully.)

At any rate, these people who were baptized under John were not baptized under the Holy Spirit, and even John said this. Christ's disciples also baptized people in the desert, and they also did not baptize people in the Holy Spirit. The reason for this was because Christ said that the "Helper" or "Councellor" could not come until he had died. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God, and the spirit of God could not rest in unjustified human bodies because we were unworthy of the indwelling of God. However, after the atonement of Christ, we were gifted with Salvation, thereby making it possible for the Spirit of God to dwell in us. Therefore, those who believed in the salvific force of the blood of the Christ were granted baptism in the Holy Spirit. These people were the only ones (in my opinion) who could have experienced a baptism by water, and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Not because they were ultra-saintly, but because of the time that they lived in. Before the death of the Christ, only water baptism was possible, after the death of the Christ, baptism in the Holy Spirit necessarily follows a water baptism into the blood of Christ.

The reason I believe in one baptism lies around the nature of the Trinity. God is one. Once I have accepted the salvation of Christ, God saves my soul. As he saves my soul, he comes to dwell in me. (Romans 8:9 - You, however , are controlled not by the Sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.) This verse tells me that once I have been adopted into Christ, I have been adopted into God. God is inseparable, and therefore when I am baptized with water, I am forgiven of my sins, I am grafted into the family of God, and I receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is absolutely a thing, however, if you are Christian, I believe you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

If you want the gift of tongues, pray for it. (Scripture clearly tells us to eagerly desire the greater gifts. (Read I Cor 12:27 - 13:3 to find out which gift Paul tells you to most eagerly desire.)

In short, I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but I do not believe that Christians can get part of God, and then get more of him later. We get all of the inseperable God at the moment we commit ourselves to him. The reason the Apostles did not recieve this was because they committed themselves to the Christ before he ascended into Heaven.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Listening to Strangers

Last night an old friend had a CD release party in town here. I ended up deciding to go, and I had a blast. Apparently there were a few critics there and they all loved him. (Or so said the manager.) But anyway, on to the story.

After the concert, I went outside to have a cigarette. (I quit again this morning by the way.) At any rate, I sat down outside on the curb and this girl asked me if I had ever been to the record store next door. I said no, and we got to talking. She was waiting for friends, and we ended up being able to talk for about thirty minutes. She asked me what I do and I told her that I was going to be a college missionary. Of course, that started the whole, "Are you super religious?" discussion.

Well, we talked for about thirty minutes about some very real issues. She told me all sorts of things about her as a kid, and I asked her how she felt those things had made her grow into the person she is today. She asked me a bunch of questions about Christianity, and I asked her a bunch of questions about her particular brand of agnosticism and we both had a really great discussion. In the end, we were discussing the garden of Eden, and her friends showed up and she had to take off for the concert she was waiting for. I said goodbye and I'll never see her again.

Then I went inside and had a beer with these two girls I had met at the concert and the one girl wanted a cigarette, so we went outside. Once we got out there I said, "So Jackie, what are you about?" and we got into a long discussion on her rich mother who recently disowned her and about my religion. (She also asked what I did for a living which started that discussion.) She really opened up a lot about some of the pain she was experiencing because of the trouble with her mom, and the pain she had to deal with because her father had cheated on her mother and they were divorced. It was really something, and I was really starting to feel for her. I saw this person who was a perfect stranger ten minutes ago blossom into a real life and blood human being. It was wierd.

Then I went inside and almost immediately, struck up a long discussion with my friend's sister Molly, who I haven't had an opportunity to talk to in a very long time. I don't know how we even got into it, but we had a long talk about insecurities and the things that make us feel stupid or scared. She and I both started sorting through some pretty personal issues that we are wrestling with. And then turned around and had a good time with everyone else.

I don't know what it was about last night but I just found myself wandering from deep discussion to deep discussion. And it isn't that I was trying to do it on purpose, God just had me there, at that bar, for a very good reason.

Well, I got home, and I started thinking about it this morning. I would say I had pretty successful discussions with these three women, and it's because I was asking them questions about themselves. Two of the women were perfect strangers, and one I haven't talked to in years. But each time I asked a question like "What are you about?" of "Does that keep you up at night?" the discussion just ran. I found that people love to talk about themselves, and we shouldn't be as afraid of discussing personal issues as we usually are. It's probably very, very healthy to dig up real personal stuff and share it with a perfect stranger who'll never ever see you again. And I'm convinced now that all you have to do is ask someone "What are you wrestling with right now?" and they'll start talking. Of course, you can't just pop in and say that, but if you get to know someone a little bit, you can really have some wonderful discussions by caring about what people say in response to real questions.

So yeah, it was an interesting night last night. I would encourage you, next time you are out somewhere, ask the stranger next to you a question like, "So, what are you about? What gets you going?" And watch the conversation go. Try it, it's fun.
Plus it avoids the weather talk. I hate talking about the weather.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Tie Ball Game

I was thinking this morning about the Superbowl. Not sure why, but I was. And I got to thinking about the one where that guy was a yard away from the touchdown, but he didn't get it in. If he had pushed that football one inch further, they would have won, but he didn't and they lost.

I love football, and I don't want to disrupt the sport at all, but it got me thinking. The point of the Superbowl is to say that this team is better than that team right? Well, what happens when the game ends in a tie? We go into overtime to decide who wins. Now, think about it. We don't go into overtime to decide who is better than the other, we go into overtime to decide who wins. There is a difference. I would really love it if we ended games in a tie. Even the Superbowl. No, especially the Superbowl. I think there is something to be said about two teams getting all the way to the final dance and playing their hearts out for hour after hour. If one team is unable to trump the efforts of the other team, maybe they should line up and say to each other, "Great job, we just couldn't beat you." If the Superbowl ended in a tie, I think it would be a more accurate analysis of the teams. Rather than going into overtime and having one team beat another team by an inch or two, we would say that both teams were equally strong.

Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing for football to get rid of overtime. If two teams finish the regulation time and the score is tied, that's that. Sure it's a bit like kissing your sister, but honestly, if one team can't beat the other in regulation, we should be able to say that they are equals.

I wonder what it says about American society that we refuse to allow games to end in a tie. Does it say anything? Does it say that we don't like people being equal? Or is that going too far?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Late Night Transparency

It's late. I was up past 3 last night, and I woke this morning at 6. I've been going all day-in fact, I've been going all week. But that's a good thing.

I am done with my job. Last friday was my last day. Saturday I go into a 6 1/2 week intensive training seminar for my new position as a college missionary, and I fear that I am not ready. But maybe that's mostly because it's late.

I think it just started hitting me on the way home. I watched Sideways at J.P.'s house tonight, and when I got in the car I was thinking about my own emotions, feeling a bit like the guy in the movie, and I realized with a sense of finality that I am leaving. Over the Rhine was playing on my radio, and I kept repeating the same song over and over. More because the slow reflective groove felt the mood than because of the lyrics. But as I drove slowly home, I realized that I'm really doing it. I'm really leaving everything and moving to be a college missionary. I have really thrown away my steady salary for an income that is reliant on the generosity of other people. And I got a little sad and a little scared.

I'm sad to be leaving everyone, but that's not all that bad. I'm scared because I don't feel ready. I don't feel ready to be a missionary. I'm a joke. I'm not the guy that people would see as being a missionary. I drink too much. I smoke too much. I swear too much. (I promised myself I would never be so transparent on my blog, but it's late and I don't really want to call anyone, so here I am.)

At any rate, I have begun to understand that it's okay. Not that it's okay for me to be doing those things, but it's okay for me to consider myself a Christian in spite of my incorrigibility. God loves me, and he is working on making me into a better person. I am working on being more pliable, and I'm going to trust that God will continue to mold me as I yield. I pray that I yield more often. And Meg was right, it's better to go into this situation thinking you aren't spiritually cut out for it than to think you are. Knowing that I need to work on myself ensures that I will work on myself. I guess, in a way, I am afraid of the day when I think I'm done.

Don't worry. I know I'm not. But like I said, it's late, and I should get some sleep.