Showing posts from 2010

What I Learned About Progressive Sanctification From Alcoholics Anonymous...(Sort-of)

The subject of this post is somewhat connected to the last...but from a different perspective. A couple of years ago I took a counseling class on "Addictive Behaviors in Family Systems." In it, I learned that many counselors believe that their job is not usually to take an "all or nothing" approach with those who come to them for help in overcoming an addiction (such as alcoholism). In fact, the client chooses for him-/herself what his/her goal will be...whether he/she wants to quit the behavior altogether, or just limit it in some way (how often, how much, etc.). The counselor, then, assists the client in reaching this goal.

How do I relate this concept to pastoral ministry? The correlation to pastoral counseling, especially in the area of addictions, seems obvious. But is it? Is it the pastor's duty to urge everyone to perfection immediately, or should some people be steered closer to Christ in incremental "stages"? (I've heard the idea that if …

Overcoming Unfounded Condemnation

I'm reading a book for one of my classes right's called Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima. It is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I'm finishing up chapter 17 right now, which discusses the Scriptural description of grace that frees us from the expectations of others. One of the Scripture passages discussed in this chapter is one that I have been looking at quite frequently lately, and I have felt like there is something there that I'm just not getting. After reading this chapter...I get it!! (The passage is Colossians 2:16-23.)

As Christians, we believe that the God we believe in has revealed Himself personally in Jesus Christ. If we really believe this, then we must view our relationship with God in light of what Jesus taught about Him. And Jesus taught that in Him we have freedom to live in right relationship with God without worrying so much about unbearable expectations and legalistic demands that ar…

I Surrender

I went out to Shoal Creek for a little while this afternoon, and I was the only one there! It was so peaceful...there was a backdrop of rich fall colors and a cool breeze! I love the constant, heavy sound the water makes as it dives over the rocks.

As I sat there on the rocks (enjoying my Americano from
Starbucks!), I couldn't help but think about worship. I've been in
a "poetic" mood the last couple of days, and I was composing a poem in my head. My intention was not to share it with anyone; I was simply inspired to worship God in a creative way as I beheld His majestic scene before me.

It reminded me of David. I wonder how many times he sat under a tree, looking out at his grazing sheep, and composed songs for his God, the thought never crossing his mind that anyone else would ever be privy to his intimate words of worship. He didn't write them in order to make a living. He didn't even write them with the hope that others could identify and worship along with …

It All Begins Again...!

Since August of 2002 I have been a full-time college student. I graduated with my bachelor's degree in May of 2007, but spent the next year completing the work for my internship and a couple final classes before enrolling in a graduate program in August of two-thousand-eight. While I was a student I ALWAYS had a job, and in fact, usually had more than one (for a few weeks in 2005 I actually had 5 jobs at one time!). I had no problem working full-time and being a full-time student. Until a couple of years ago. It culminated in me quitting my full-time editing job, which I loved and had worked at for 4 years, in April 2009. I thought it would help me focus better on the education I was beginning to neglect.

Last fall, while unemployed, I returned to my graduate studies...while dealing with several major family issues...and by the end of the semester, I had not completed a single one of my courses. I got 3 incompletes. (I finally finished them this summer.)

So basically, I have been un…

Divine Suffering: Consolation in Grief

I am in Ohio right now for my brother and sister's high school graduation, and for the last week I have been staying in my sister's room while she is housesitting with a friend somewhere else. My sister's room was my old room when I lived at home. It was the room wherein I grieved my brother's death 12 years ago. And it was the room that my sister laid in over this past year after numerous aggressive chemotherapy treatments, not knowing if she was going to live or die. This room has witnessed a lot of emotional pain and suffering.

I have a friend in Joplin named Millie. She is 96. Every so often she asks me what I think of death. She asks, "Do you think that, when we die, we go straight to heaven...or do you think we will be in a grave, waiting for whatever happens until heaven is a reality...?" I imagine if I were 96 I would want to know the answer to that question, too. And I believe that, as a minister, it is my duty and my privilege to share with Millie (…


I walked into my general bishop's office today, and the first thing I saw was a motivational picture with the word "INTEGRITY" in big, bold letters. And tonight my friend Sherene spoke at a women's service at our church, and her main text was Matthew 22:14, which reads, "For many are called, but few are chosen." Around 3:00 this morning I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, and I was actually thinking about that very verse, not knowing Sherene was going to speak on it tonight. I think it has a lot to do with integrity.

I can't remember whether it was C. S. Lewis or A. W. Tozer (I think it was Tozer), but I read a statement by one of them a few years ago that has always stuck with me. He said we Christians tend to draw two vertical lines in front of us; one represents me, and one represents the world. And no matter how much the "world" line moves, as long as the "me" line stays so far away from the world, we think we are doing okay. The…

Changes Coming Soon...

I'm going to be sprucing up my blog a bit...making it more thematic than just whatever I feel like writing about on a given day. It will probably be somewhat theological in nature...maybe leaning toward pastoral ministry/church planting. Tune in next time for more info!

Me, Being Open and Honest

Sometimes I feel like I am an elderly person, at the end of her life, looking back to when I was twenty-eight (my actual current age), and realizing the brevity of the years in-between. I am keenly aware lately of the fact that I will die someday, yet that truth seems surreal to me, like fiction.... And as I think about it (I can't seem to stop), I can't help but fear that when the end comes, the journey will not have been worth it. For all my yearning for solitude, I fear being alone. How is that possible when I'm surrounded by so many people?

Some Good Times With Mom and Dad

Today I want to share some happy memories of my parents.

First Dad. When I first got my driver's license, I worked at McDonald's in Carey (about a 20-minute or so drive from our house in Sycamore). Occasionally they would let me drive the van to work. They did not have insurance that would cover me as a driver, so Mom almost never let either my older brother or me drive, and when she did, she was extremely cautious and worried the whole time.

One day I decided to take the scenic route to work, and took some back roads that went past my Uncle jim and Aunt Betty's house in the country. So, even though there were no cars there and likely no one was home, I was so excited to be DRIVING past their house that I started honking and waving...and NOT taking my foot off the gas.... I forgot there was a sharp turn in front of their house...with a steep ditch and a field beyond....

Long story short, I left van tracks in the field. It was not my aunt and uncle's field. I got out of th…


For the last week, I have been going through boxes...a lot of them...boxes of...stuff. It's stuff I've accumulated since I was 13 or 14 - school work, notes, pictures...folders, papers, notebooks...bills and junk mail...just a ton of stuff I either wanted to save for sentimental reasons, or stuff that got piled up and boxed up because I just didn't want to go through it at the time. This stuff has been moved with me from place to place, everywhere I've moved in the last 10 years. I thought it was time to go through it and get rid of it. I'm down to the last four boxes.

I found a little photo album my mom had put together for me of my high school graduation and party. There were pictures of my dad and my grandpa, both of whom are dead now. Dad wasn't smiling in any of the pictures...he just looked disinterested. That's how he looks in most pictures I have of him from special events and holidays from my and my siblings' childhood. It made me sad, and it br…

An Ode to My Love! :-)

My amazement at the love of God is continually renewed! The Bible says that when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us! It says that when we turn to Him, He will turn to us. And it is so true! I love it that if we have a question, or a need, or if we just want to be with Him, all we have to do is turn our eyes upon Him, and He faithfully answers, provides, and shows up! I love Him so much! He is changing me - and that is a good thing! What a wonderful Savior. I wish everyone could know this Best Friend of mine. He is nothing but Good.