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I’ve been thinking a lot about our upcoming move.

My recent musings have turned in the direction of ease. Specifically, what we as Christians are called to – is it a life of ease, or a different kind of life? A life of toil, sacrifice, challenge, hard work, cross-bearing?

David accepted a senior pastor position at a small, rural church.

We’ll be moving from our city home in a poor urban neighborhood to a relatively wealthy small town. Objectively speaking, this town is probably just solidly middle-class and comfortable – but compared to what we are accustomed to (and to what I really have loved), it’s picturesque and affluent.

We will be moving from a small and struggling inner-city church, where every day brings new crises and fresh loss, where every small victory is celebrated fiercely because we so often see failure, to a regular small church – like the small churches I’ve been in and out of all my life, wonderful groups of people who have regular, comfortable lives.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. I know that inner-city ministry isn’t for everyone, and that’s not where I’m going.

Where I am going is this: I don’t believe that we’re called to live comfortable lives. I don’t believe that being a Christian should be easy. I do believe that it should be fulfilling and exciting, but I also believe that we should be living our ministry in a way that interferes with our “daily” lives.

I worry that our new church will be comfortable for me. Too easy.

Where I am now, I’m constantly busy, often exhausted. There is too much work for too few workers. It’s hard. And heartbreaking. And I love it – there’s something very fulfilling about being useful. In one sense, any sane human can contribute as well as any other – just be being there and being willing to work;  in another sense, I am important. We each have gifts that make a real difference – something that makes us uniquely useful. This is how I have come to understand what Paul talks about when he talks about how the church should be.

We will go to a church that has survived and even grown a bit in the absence of a pastor. They are ready for a fresh vision, and a strong teacher – but the congregation has what they need. There are well-established ministries, and they’ve established a good rhythm.

I worry that, because I won’t see immediate in-my-face need and won’t feel the urgency of  too few hands, I’ll drift back into just being a nice Christian girl who goes to church on Sunday and Wednesday and can separate her walk from her life.

That’s what’s on my mind this week.

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Last night, we had some good friends over (11 total?) to watch Jesus Christ Superstar with us. Our pastor talked a little about it before we actually got around to turning it on. There were a few kinds of people there – one kind had never seen the movie, so it needed a little introduction, and another kind had seen it many times and was likely to be silly throughout. The pastor saying something at the beginning put everyone into a somber enough mood that we could watch the movie and think about its subject rather than its execution. (No pun intended.)

Dave’s Dad, David tells me, has listened to the record/CD every year on Good Friday for as long as he can remember. I like the idea – we might watch this DVD every Good Friday. It was a good way to spend the night.

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We went to church this morning. Myparents’ church recently split when their pastor left, so the remaining members are in the middle of a pastor search. The interim pastor gave the sermon today and at the end gave an invitation.

It really, really bothers me when preachers ask to have “every head bowed and every eye closed” when they give an invitation. There was nothing private about what Christ did for us. If you’re making a statement of belief in Jesus, it should be bold and unapologetic. Christianity, true Christianity, will change your life dramatically – it’s not a lifestyleto step into half-heartedly, it’s a worldview change, a paradigm shift. I think it’s inappropriate for apastor tominimize thegravity of the decisionto follow Christ byallowing people to slink into the relationship. I think it undermines the importance ofthe commitment and makesthe relationship seem like it doesn’t have to be THE priority of your life.

That said, I think the “close your eyes” approach can be appropriate in youth ministry because kids are so wrapped up in what their friends and peers think of them, but adults should be able to make decisions – especially such important decisions – without basing themin vanity. If you’re not ready to stand up and stand out for Christ, are you ready to commit to a life in him and for him?

I sound judgemental, and this is something I struggle with – snap decisions about things I hear and see, and the people that say and do them. I need to think more, but I wanted to post my initial thoughts here so I could hear what some of you think.

So, what do you think?

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I have a job! More accurately, I have a contract position until the end of the year… but it pays so well that I’ll be making a year’s salary in that time. =) Completely out of the blue, I got a call (Thursday night) from a company I’d previously interviewed with – something of an emergency nature had come up and they needed another “resource.” My interviewer had kept my information handy and pulled it out right away… He wanted to meet with me as soon as possible, so (because I was headed out on vacation) we had to meet at 8am on Friday morning. I went in thinking I’d get another interview – I came out with a job and security clearance. =) God’s awesome!

I’ll be working for Clarian Health (a network of hospitals in Indianapolis) with a contracting company, Sedona Learning Solutions, to develop manuals and training material for software used by physicians. Don’t quite know yet what that means, but I’m excited. I find myself doubting my ability to do the job already – before I even know what I’ll be doing! But that’s just my nature. My overwhelming emotion is thankfulness.

So, thanks to you guys for praying for me!

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Last night, I went to our monthly deacons’ meeting at church. Usually, the meetings last 3 hours and are so filled with issues and details that they’re exhausting. That’s not a complaint, though. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve my church by being a part of the board.

Last night’s meeting was… refreshing. Instead of the normal scheduling and building details and general concerns, we spent a lot of time dealing with a particular issue. Here’s the situation:

We’re an inner city church. Inner city churches struggle, most often openly, against drug addiction and substance abuse. A group of members of our church are engaging in drug and substance abuse. Despite repeated attempts to have them even acknowledge the sin involved, this group continues in their behavior, even defending it as something good.

One of this group is of particular concern – this person is gifted by God with an amazing natural ability to lead people, and regardless of this person’s intent (or even desire), people are following. This person’s defiance and justification are being adopted and echoed by every one in that group, and families already broken are being severely affected.

I imagine that some churches would turn the other way – especially when a confrontation gone wrong could end in a large group of members leaving the church and families of children being abandoned to the neglect of using parents… Maybe others would follow the Matthew 18 guidelines to the letter (one-on-one, group-on-one, church-on-one, then removal from church) and say they did their duty.

At the deacons’ meeting, we of course talked about the biblical models and about what will be our church’s approach to these people. There will be no condoning of sin (a little yeast)… But that said, it was amazing to see the love that the deacons have for this member and this group that follows… and how evident our desire for their complete restoration.

It amazes me how fervent prayer about something so potentially deathly to the momentum of the growth of our church, something that could spark cynicism in all of us, unites us and gives us hope.

We know that the draw and the hold of sin is so strong… but the power of God is so much greater. =)

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do you remember the road runner cartoon? wile e. coyote would be running after the road runner, doing the thing he did… then, all of a sudden, he would look down and there was no road. he’d look behind him, and there’s the road runner staring back at him from the edge of a cliff.

I don’t feel like I’m off the edge of a cliff or anything, but last night, after a long GOOD talk with my roommate, I realized very suddenly some things that are really bothering me. deep down bothering – causing stress enough that I’ve been pulling away from relationships with Bethany and with my church. it was jarring… I’ve been thinking that I’m fine. now I think I have a lot to think about.

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worship is…


Dave says “it can be an emotional experience, but it can also be an intellectual experience where you connect with God and express praise and adoration. it’s anything that lets God know how much you value him (and why).”


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my fiancé, the preacher


sermon #2: “great expectations” (John 9)

it was good! of course it was – he never does anything halfway or in mediocrity. =) I was proud of him – the next time he preaches, you all have to come see him.

I’d summarize, but I’d do it very poorly – he said a lot of neat stuff in there.

and… imprecatory preaching. =) not by my David, but by the pastor of the church during communion. it was intense for those of us who knew what was going on. there exists a situation that’s not widely known about, save to the deacons and the pastor, that was addressed in a very blunt manner during the service. without naming names or giving the situation away, the pastor made it very clear that if the people involved were not willing to talk about it in person in private, that he’d confront them from the pulpit. it was done very well – only those of us who knew what was going on had any idea of anything out of the ordinary (except that the pastor was a little fired up), but the people to whom it was directed CAN’T have missed its significance. it was neat to see that side of a pastor’s duties – what *do* you do with congregants who defy Biblical teaching but won’t discuss it?

[Listening to: Jars of Clay – My Heavenly (from Who We Are Instead)]
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made it home. spent about an hour on the runway, an hour and a half in the air, and an hour and a half in the van to get here, but i made it. it’s amazing that for my parents to drive to the airport in Baltimore, it takes as long as it takes for me to fly from Indiana. that is, it would be that way if the plane didn’t have “computer problems” and if we didn’t have to de-ice the wings.

it’s good to be home. I’m so thankful that I have such a great family. they may be overwhelming to some, but they are my favorite people in the world. there’s just something about being home with my family that fills the cracks – the things I’m missing. those missing bits are vague – I don’t have specific names for them. some of them resemble things like unconditional love, affirmation no matter what… there isn’t a soul in the world who loves me more than my mother does. =) and I would rather sit at my father’s feet as he plays the guitar than be anywhere else in the world. and good or bad, who knows me better than my sisters?

I was thinking tonight during the Christmas Eve church service instead of listening to the “meditation” – I know, I know… if I was taking Christmas seriously, I would be listening intently to the preacher… blah blah blah. I know what Christmas is about – and in my life, it’s been reflected in my family. selfless love? my parents sacrificed so many things to make my life as amazing as it’s been. Christ coming to earth? my family has shown me so clearly what it means to live for Christ, to strive to be Christlike, to appreciate the gift of salvation. so I thought about my family while the preacher was preaching something about peace.

I’m so grateful! that’s what Christmas is to me. being thankful. and being expectant. I’ve been given so much… and “of those whom much is given, much is required.” Christmas reminds me to be on the lookout, and to be willing to be used.

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I’m finally clean. yay for showers and razors!

church campout was yesterday until today – we all went to Brown County for an overnight camping trip. boy, were we *dirty* when we got home! but how much fun – and what a great turn out! for a small, small church, 40 people is great!

one of the coolest things about my church is its willingness to go out of its “comfort zone.” that term was thrown about quite a bit at Taylor – I always disliked it. thing is, though, it actually fits. most of us have a circle, some wider than others, of things we accept and understand. beyond that border, outside of that “zone,” we lose our confidence as we step out into the unknown. while it can be an amazing experience, trusting God – knowing we’d flounder if left to ourselves – so often we opt out and stay within the lines our reservations and doubts have drawn. breaking the boundary of the familiar is difficult, but essential (I think) to effective ministry – and I think Woodruff Place is doing just that.

this camping trip was a neat experience for all of us – it was the first (ever!) chance for some of us to leave the city, and the first time for some of us to get to know each other. the best part: realizing (once again) that my church is still a church outside the walls of the building in which we worship.

[Listening to: Thievery Corporation – Lebanese Blonde (from Garden State)]
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