|Preaching at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Syracuse today.|
"In my house, I'm a big deal. That's all that matters."
|Preaching at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Syracuse today.|
|God has money in places you have never heard of and can't fathom. Over the past year it has showed up in my mailbox, my bank account, he decreased and increased my mortgage, people have paid my bills including my kid's orthodontia bill, Little League and others. We received gift cards, furniture, car repairs, toys for kids, clothes, food, bread, some of it timely within hours. One day someone unexpectedly showed up at the house with a check for $500 about 2 hours before an important bill was due.|
We are truly limited in understanding God and knowing all he knows. Throughout this year he has motivated people to help us -- people that we didn't know, and situations came to pass that we had no advance knowledge of that helped us financially. It has reinforced my trust that God can provide with solutions that I have never considered, knew about or even believed with possible.
|Network of Giving - Home|
Network of Giving is a not for profit organization that aids churches in online giving. They charge a 3% fee for donations but at the end of the year if they turn a profit, they'll redistribute it to the recipient organizations. They're hope is that they will increase the number of participating organizations and bring their fee down to 1% or less.
A 7 Days Challenge | ONE Extraordinary Marriage
Over the years I have reported on many "marital relations challenges" from churches. Honestly, I don't think these are publicity stunts but are ministries seriously interested in engaging the issue of marital intimacy and supporting the institution of marriage. The above link is to a marriage ministry promoting a marital relations challenge between June 6-12. Sign up people. Share the love.
Getting the Boot
Another Church Getting Intimate
Call to Action. Yep. That Kind of Action.
|I was laid off the week of Thanksgiving. Christmas was coming soon. So I went to sign up for the Salvation Army's Christmas Bureau -- their program for giving low income families Christmas gifts for their children. We qualified for it even when we had a salary but never utilized until the layoff.|
I went to the meeting place where I had to sign up. I took a number, waited until I was called, showed my documentation and stated I had no income. The compassionate women made a heavy sigh of understanding and shook her head. We were signed up to receive free gifts for low income families. I was a low income family. Ugh.
I walked out and literally heaved and sobbed. It was unbearably excruciating. Perhaps they should have been tears of joy at God's provision for my family but my soul just ached and I wept in my car until I could compose myself, go home and not traumatize my family.
A couple weeks later we went to the OnCenter in Syracuse with several thousand of other low income families to choose gifts for our children. We could choose a toy and book, then were given a paper bag for stocking stuffers and a box of food for our family.
Again, you would think I would be grateful and relieved. I guess I was. Kind of. But really I cried with an deep inner anguish. I felt so out of place. It was like I was living a life that was not my own. It was a bad dream.
So I learned that sometimes generosity hurts. It was necessary and needed for my family. I was thankful. But the gift reminded me of my own shortcoming and inability to provide. The gift pushed me face to face with my great need. Maybe my pride was hurt and I was embarrassed. Maybe I was just sadly reminded of the depth of my situation. But being the recipient of this generosity just hurt. Even as I type this I'm still processing it, wondering why it hurt so much. But it did. And it has given me great depth of insight into the possible feelings of those I give to and great compassion for them as well.
As I look over the past several months, I'm so grateful for all of the generous gifts we have received -- big and small. Many seemed like stunning miracles in our life. But some were painful to receive.
I'm sure you are generous to many people. Thank you and God bless you. The recipients of your generous gifts are grateful I am sure. But don't be surprised if they don't appear that way immediately. Your gift may expose their need and that hurts. Be patient and compassionate with them.
|I've been reflecting on the possibility that God can use a secular government program to provide for His people. For a long time during this season of under employment I just couldn't accept that this might possibly be right or be God's will or God's best for us. Certainly God would not provide for us through the government or through not working. I was supposed to provide. Right?|
And then my wife wondered out loud about the story of Joseph. Through all his tribulations and being put in jail, then he worked his way up the food chain in the Egyptian leadership chain, and essentially ran a government funded welfare program that ended up feeding God's people. Joseph foresaw the famine coming and stored up grain for the years the Egyptian people would be in need. The Hebrew people -- Joseph's family -- eventually came to the Egyptians for help, and Joseph, one of their own, was there to be generous to them. Everyone believed it was God's provision and plan. Even Joseph said, "You meant it for harm but God used it for good." Everyone believe it was God's provision, but in truth, God's provision came from the hand of an evil empire that participated in human trafficking, slavery, degradation, idol worship, etc. It was welfare.
Though I am not comfortable with it, I have learned to receive welfare with thanksgiving to God. Hmmmm. Even as I type this I'm still not sure. What say you?
|Good question. I haven't posted in a month which is the longest interval since I started blogging in June of 2004. I have so much to say and have 210 drafts as potential stuff I have wanted to blog about but haven't published. My blog voice has been hoarse over the past couple months.|
Being underemployed and out of regular contact with colleagues and friends has left me somewhat thoughtless. The Scripture says, "Iron sharpens iron." I definitely have not had enough of that in recent times but I am so very thank for DRH, Jason and Scott who minister to me and help me think deep thoughts. I'm just not that sharp at the moment. I've also had some issues affecting my sleep and haven't been fully awake for a couple months.
So I want to get back in blog action. I still have a lot to say about sex and marriage, church planting, theology, pimping the Anglican Mission, thinking missionally, evangelical culture, the Anglican crisis and other stuff. I have some more posts about Lessons Learned From Being Unemployed that will be forthcoming shortly.
I think I also have been somewhat affected by the Facebook status line, which has made think in sound bytes instead of comprehensive posts.
So what have I been up to lately? I work on a case by case basis as a Private Investigator, or as my son Benny likes to think: I'm a spy. Another way to think about it is as a paid stalker. I'm probably the only ordained PI out there but it's entertaining. It's not an everyday job but whenever they have work for me.
I recently was out in OH at the Great Lakes Conference Ministerium Annual Meeting. Traveled with the boys from Grace Cov in Clay. Saw a lot of good people like Vernon the Demolish Derby Dude, Nate whose ecclesiology is whacked but has me thinking deeply about the future of the church and congregations, Weebs was our speaker and of course saw Lucco and the Shermanator. It was all good.
We've been going to church at Grace on and off over the past months instead of Catalyst. Miss Mazz and the Catalyst people. I'm not sure it was a real intentional change. I had so many speaking engagements in other churches that we didn't go to Catalyst for a couple months in the fall and then the same thing happened again in the winter. After the second incident the family really wanted to explore some other options. Still have a deep affection for Mazz and Catalyst.
We're still hoping to plant a church in CNY. Phoenix, NY is still very much on our radar. Honestly I want more than Phoenix. I'm thinking long and hard about new churches in Liverpool, Mattydale, Cicero, Brewerton, Central Square, the north side of Syracuse and the Rt. 57 corridor from Liverpool to Fulton. When I say "We" I'm not using the royal we and talking about myself in plural. "We" is my wife and mission partners like Scott Emery.
Just wondering out loud, how can we plant more than one church at once? Any ideas? Would you like to be part of a church plant in Central New York -- particularly one of the above named communities? Let me know.
Although I am part of a great church planting tribe, the Evangelical Covenant Church, we are very seriously considering planting with the Anglican Mission. Can you imagine, Fr. Steven M. Evans with the collar, vested and serving the eucharist? Could happen.
I've been trying to rouse some interest for an Anglican Church plant in Rome, NY but it hasn't really resulted in much. I did create a web site for Oneida County Anglicans but it doesn't have much traffic and it's outdated like this site.
This week I'm at the Ecclesia Church Planter's training with Scott and hanging with the likes of missional church planters/leaders Dr. David Fitch, Bob Hyatt, Chris Backert, JR Briggs, JR Woodward, Doug Paul, Winn Collier, and others. I received some free books: Let God: The Transforming Wisdom of Fenelon edited by Winn Collier and ViralHope: Good News from the Urbs to the Burbs (and Everything in Between) by JR Woodward aka DreamAwakener. UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLY good stuff.
We're at Richmond Hill, an intentional ecumenical community and observing the daily hours, which I'm thoroughly enjoying. While I'm here, I also went to Trader Joe's on the search for 2 buck Chuck's which is now $3.29. I bought several.
Little League has started and my three boys are playing at three different levels so I am at a game or a practice 5 out 7 days a week. My family is huge fans of Liverpool Little League. In three years with my boys playing on a total of 13 different teams, I have never seen a parent, coach, player or umpire act inappropriately. This league is so classy. So many positive people and so many people who give extremely generously of their time and invest in my kids lives. I'm extremely grateful.
Full time ministry options remain very few and far between. I am exploring some retraining options and hope to announce something about that soon. Good things are coming my way and I'm excited.
Please, please, please post a comment and let me know what you like or don't about the Land of the Ultra Rev. And tell me about your life. Thanks.
|The ultrarev is not dead, just extremely sleepy. Hoping to resume blogging very shortly.|
I'll be preaching at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Syracuse on Trinity Sunday, May 30th. Come worship with me and the good people there.